- Great Ocean Road – This is a must see! When my family came to visit me in 2012, we went on a day tour along this beautiful coastal drive. We spotted koalas in their natural habitat, fed gorgeous native birds, trekked through a rainforest and, of course, saw the world famous 12 Apostles. We went with Bunyip Tours who were fantastic. There are many tours available or if you are feeling adventurous, you can rent (or hire as the Aussies say) a car and drive there yourself. If you don’t like to be on a schedule and want to make your own stops along the way, I would recommend this option. The roads can be pretty windy at times but if you don’t get carsick (I throw up on the Tea Cup ride at Disney World) then you will be just fine! (Keep in mind that they drive on the other side of the road so if you’re from a country like Canada that drives on the left side, this may take some getting used to). I’ve done this drive a few times, stopping at different places along the way each time. Some of my favourites are Apollo Bay, Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch & Bells Beach.
2. Phillip Island – Penguin parade! Yes, I said penguin parade. Okay so this can be a little touristy but…how often do you get to see some of the smallest penguins in the world march out of the water like drunken sailors to get back to their burrows on land? Sounds amazing right? Well it is. Minus the crowds. I am not one for crowds. In fact, I try to avoid them at all costs and do things that are slightly less touristy. However, one google search of these little guys and I decided to take the risk. I’m glad I did because it’s something I will not forget. You can also take day tours that make stops along the way. I took another tour with Bunyip Tours that stopped at the Moonlit Sanctuary, a beautiful surf beach & the Koala Conservation Centre. You aren’t permitted to take pictures at the Penguin Parade, so instead, here is a picture of a koala.
3. Yarra Valley – The beautiful wine region of Victoria is just an hour outside Melbourne CBD. If you love wine or even if you’re not a big drinker, the Yarra Valley has something for everyone. The wineries are beautiful, the scenery is stunning and there is an amazing dairy (CHEESE George!) that you must visit. You can sample a variety of their delicious cheeses, grab a tasting platter & coffee while looking out onto their beautiful farmland.
Here are a list of some of my favourite wineries (You can trust me on this, I’ve done a lot of sampling…for educational purposes of course):
- Yarrawood Cellar Door & Cafe: After you’ve had a sample or two (maybe three…I’m not here to judge) of their delicious wines, grab some lunch on their patio. You might even catch some live entertainment if you’re there at the right time. I’ve been there a handful of times and have not been disappointed.
- Zonzo Estate: This place has great pizza! Need I say more?
- Yering Farm: I took my family here and we all loved it. The wine was great, the staff was very friendly and the scenery was beautiful.
- Immerse Winery: I went there for a good friends wedding and it was beautiful. Not only were the grounds lovely but the service was great and the food was delicious.
- Domaine Chandon: The views of the vineyard are absolutely stunning and they have an excellent variety of food & wine pairings.
- Di Bortoli Wines: They serve wonderful Italian dishes and their wines are fantastic. They have all the traditional favourites like gnocchi, risotto & tiramisu – delizioso!
Again, there are a variety of tours offered or if you have a sober driver you can explore the area on your own. Stop for lunch, visit the Chocolaterie (this is a must if you are human and like chocolate) & don’t forget to keep hydrated (with water of course)!
4. Healesville Sanctuary – This wonderful sanctuary focuses on animals that are native to Australia. It’s very well maintained and quite informative, especially if you’re not from this part of the world. Their Spirits of the Sky show is a must – you will see birds of prey and parrots up close and learn more about them as a species. Healesville Sanctuary has a wide variety of animals such as kangaroos, koalas, wombats, Tasmanian devils, dingos & even a komodo dragon. Healesville also has some great restaurants. I’m a big fan of the Healesville Hotel – they have great food and a lovely patio.
6. The Dandenongs – SkyHigh Mount Dandenong (the highest point in the Dandenongs) offers a spectacular view of Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay. You can also go for a hike, take a stroll through the National Rhododendron Gardens or enjoy a picnic at the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
You can check out my favourite things to do in Melbourne here.