By Chris Burns, Hop To It Tours
Melbourne, often rated by the Economist as the world’s most liveable city (second this year to Vienna) and a top 10 city in the world to travel to for safety, is an amazing place to visit. Most of the time though, when people try to plan their Australian trip it gets overlooked, as it doesn’t have the supposed iconic site, like the Sydney Opera House or Great Barrier Reef.
This is true, but what Melbourne does have, in abundance, which very few places in the world do is an awesome vibe, and that’s why the Economist rates it so highly.
As Melbourne is one of the most multi cultural cities in world those cultures have created a city of great fusion, which you especially sense in its food scene. The café culture in Melbourne is second to none and is the home of the smashed avocado and the coffee snob (we take pride in being called that). The laneways in Melbourne are famous for this culture and the artwork that ensues. Melbourne is also known as the sporting capital of the world. Every year millions of people flock to it to watch the Australian Open tennis, Formula One Grand Prix, Melbourne Cup Horse Race, AFL Grand Final, Boxing Day Cricket Test and all the one off events in between. Just recently Melbourne hosted Team USA vs the Australian Boomers in basketball and had over 50,000 people to each game! Regular sporting events at the MCG fit 100,000.
Now having stated a few reasons why Melbourne is an extremely cool place to hang out, I want to specify why it’s an awesome place to base yourself whilst you see what we have beyond Melbourne. This is because we have a little bit of everything and you’re going to need time to explore!
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s great road trips (just Google that phrase to prove it). A 243km windy road on the southern coast of Australia between Melbourne and Adelaide, the Great Ocean Road is famous for its surfing, lush rainforest
and iconic rock formations, none better than the Twelve Apostles. Along the drive are many great laid-back towns to stay in and the opportunity to see wildlife, such as koalas. Along the Great Ocean Road activities such as surfing, hiking, swimming, zip lining, adventure courses, wine and food tastings, sky diving, helicopter rides and more await you.
You can check out our 3 day Great Ocean Road blog for more information.
The Grampians National Park
Located three hours from Melbourne, Grampians National Park is a nature reserve known for its sandstone mountains, wildflowers and wildlife including echidnas, emus and wallabies. Near the village of Halls Gap, the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre gives insight into local Aboriginal history and rock art. Trails lead to waterfalls like towering MacKenzie Falls and lookouts such as the Balconies and the Pinnacle. The campsites here are so peaceful as they are in the middle of nature.
The Grampians is a great place for short hikes and rock climbing (rumour is rock climbing might be on the endangered list though). The diversity of the hikes is great and the views spectacular.
You can see a video of A Day in the Grampians here.
Phillip Island is in the middle of Western Port Bay on the opposite side of Melbourne from the Great Ocean Road. Though these days it may be most famous for being where Chris & Liam Hemsworth are from, it traditionally is most famous for the nightly fairy penguin parade. Each day the penguins go out into the ocean in search for food and return to Phillip Island at sunset. This has become a major tourist attraction with thousands turning up most nights.
Phillip Island is also great for surfing, has a koala conservatory you can visit, hosts the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and has a great lookout point called Nobbies Lookout where you can gaze out to seal rock and quite often spot them.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Located 3 hours east from Melbourne, Wilsons Promontory National Park is a place that Melburnians love but not too many tourists make it to. Being on the southernmost point of mainland Australia has meant that many beautiful beaches have been carved out over the millennia and amazing hiking and camping can be done, whether it be short hikes or multi day ones. Little Oberon Bay, Squeaky Beach, Mt Oberon Summit are all great half day hikes and then there’s the gorgeous Wilsons Prom southern circuit to do if you have three days. If you’d rather take it easy then just camp out and enjoy Tidal River.
Wildlife is also abundant here, kangaroos, echidnas and emus are all easy to find.
Phillip Island and Wilsons Prom can be combined into an overnight trip. See the Tour Infosection for more details
A growing international tourist hotspot, but one the locals have hung onto for years, the Mornington Peninsula is one of my favourite places to go as it is only an hour from Melbourne and has a massive range of things to do.
Beaches such as Portsea, Sorrento, Gunnamatta and Point Leo offer excellent surfing (and/or sunbaking). Portsea front beach also has a chance to kayak in the Dolphin Sanctuary or snorkel around the pier where sea dragons live. The sand-belt golf courses are amazing and available to the public and the coastal hikes are spectacular. Peninsula Hot Springs is perhaps the best place in Australia to go and relax. They have a stack of thermal pools and have set it out for perfect tranquillity.
The Mornington Peninsula is also a major wine region. Montalto, Tucks, T’Gallant and Point Leo Estate are just some amazing wineries to go and visit and do a tasting.
For a better feel why not watch our video on A Day in the Mornington Peninsula
The Yarra Valley is just over an hour away from Melbourne and is one of the best-known wine regions in Australia. As such a day of wine tastings should be on the cards at famous wineries such as Chandon, De Bortoli, Rochfords, Oakridge and Yering Station, just to name a few, are all available to try wines at their cellar door.
Other famous culinary experiences await here including the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Yarra Valley dairy and Four Pillars Gin and then there’s the great local bakeries and cafes to try.
To change the pace up, on the way why not take a trip on the Puffing Billy Steam Train, which leaves from Belgrave in the Dandenongs, or if you want a taste of local wildlife then head to Healesville Sanctuary.
If you’d like to do a private tour to either wine region go to our Tour Info section for more details.
In conclusion, there is so much to do, not just in Melbourne, but also just beyond it. If you’re going to travel down this way then why not do it justice and stay for a while!
At Hop To It Tours we like to show it off in the best Aussie style possible. Come join us on our 3 or 4 day campout to the Grampians, Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles. This is a small group tour so it’s a great way to make new friends and not break the bank in seeing what the regions beyond Melbourne have to offer!