Categories
Holidays Travel Weather

Chasing the sun in Victoria

Sunset
Sunset at the beach

Despite the small size of Victoria compared to other states in Australia, there can be significant variations between the lengths of days, sunrise and sunset times, and actual periods of sunshine.

Do you like things early?  Then Mallacoota is the place to be. Of all the towns in Victoria, it has the earliest sunrise at 5:36am around the 21st of December.  Mallacoota is also known for its early sunsets in winter – the sun will dip below the horizon at just 4:50pm on the 21st of June.

Perhaps you like things late? Then head to Portland, in the far west of the state. Sleep in during those chilly winter mornings, with sunrise at a leisurely 7:51am on the 21st of June. Fast-forward 6 months, and you’ll definitely make the most of those balmy summer nights with sunset not occurring until 8:57pm.

If you want to minimise or maximise the actual hours of daylight you experience, then it’s a toss up between the remote southern coastal extremes of Cape Otway and Wilsons Promontory.  For those craving light, visit Cape Otway and enjoy the longest day in the state on the 21st of December – 15 hours and 4 minutes. For those that love the nocturnal way of life, then Wilsons Promontory comes in with just 9 hours and 25 minutes of daylight on the 21st of June, resulting in a really long night of around 14½ hours.

Mildura
Mildura on the Murray River – the sunniest area in Victoria

Of course, daylight hours for sun lovers means little if there’s cloud cover. The best places in Victoria to maximum your sun exposure are the towns along the Murray River from Wodonga westwards. The pick of the crop is Mildura which typically enjoys more sunshine that any other area in Victoria during those short winter days.

Categories
Public transport Travel

Station patronage on Melbourne’s rail network

Each financial year, passenger numbers at each of Melbourne’s railway stations is collated and published by Public Transport Victoria.

Public Transport Victoria

 

The table below shows the top 20 most used Melbourne railway stations in the 2011/2012 financial year (1st July 2011 to 30th June 2012), with a comparison on how each of those stations fared from last year.

Rank Change
this year
Station Millions of
passengers
1   Flinders Street 26.187
2   Southern Cross 16.828
3   Melbourne Central 14.333
4   Parliament 10.734
5   Flagstaff 4.982
6 +1 Footscray 4.199
7 -1 Caulfield 4.065
8   Box Hill 2.743
9 +3 Dandenong 2.658
10 -1 Frankston 2.472
11   South Yarra 2.399
12 -2 Glenferrie 2.356
13 +1 Richmond 2.070
14 -1 Camberwell 2.052
15   Sunshine 1.981
16   Glen Waverley 1.801
17   Oakleigh 1,760
18 +3 Clayton 1.721
19 +4 Laverton 1.716
20 +2 Essendon 1.671

The top 5 busiest stations are all the ones that immediately service the Melbourne CBD. They are the above-ground stations of Flinders Street and Southern Cross, plus the City Loop underground stations of Parliament, Melbourne Central and Flagstaff.

Of all the stations that were open for the entire 12 months of last financial year, Wattle Glen (on the Hurstbridge line) and Officer (on the Pakenham line) were the least used.

For the full patronage data for every single railway station over the last four financial years, see Melbourne metropolitan station by station patronage data.

Categories
Driving exploring Holidays Road trips Travel

End of freeway destinations from Melbourne

Map of Victoria
Driving from Melbourne to the end of its freeways in regional Victoria

If you’re in Melbourne, you may decide that for a hassle-free and non-stop drive into regional Victoria for a day out or extended stay, you’d like to travel to the end of one of the city’s several freeways.  Let’s see where you can go.


M1 – MONASH FREEWAY / PRINCES FREEWAYto YARRAGON

Follow the Monash Freeway through Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, then eastwards from Berwick towards Gippsland where it changes its name to the Princes Freeway.  Exercise caution when driving along the section between Nar Nar Goon and Longwarry North – the freeway drops to a lower standard and includes several busy level road crossings, but you won’t have to stop at those.  Eastwards from Longwarry North, the freeway returns to a high standard again, and the speed limit rises to 110 km/h.

If you’re hungry along the way or need fuel, service centres with direct access to both sides of the freeway are located at Officer and Longwarry North.

Yarragon
Yarragon – a tourist village located 116 kilometres from Melbourne

The freeway ends at the charming town of Yarragon where you’ll stop at your first set of traffic lights since leaving Melbourne. This tourist village features an attractive strip of shops which overlook an extensive garden with manicured lawns, colourful flowers, a rotunda and lots of seating. Browse through antique and craft shops, drop into the Town & Country Gallery, or treat yourself to some refreshments or a meal at the local hotel or one of Yarragon’s cafes or restaurants. Yarragon is set against the backdrop of the Strzelecki Ranges, so you can take a scenic drive southwards from the town up into the hills.


M11 – PENINSULA LINK / MORNINGTON PENINSULA FREEWAYto ROSEBUD

Depending where you are in Melbourne, you can access Peninsula Link and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway by starting off on either the Monash or Eastern Freeways, then using EastLink (a toll road) to reach the start of Peninsula Link at Seaford.

The high-standard Peninsula Link and Mornington Peninsula Freeway heads inland through the rolling countryside of the Mornington Peninsula, squeezes between the towering peak of Arthurs Seat and the beach-side suburb of Dromana, then arrives at the Jetty Road roundabout in the residential area of Rosebud.  Head northwards along Jetty Road for just over one kilometre and you’ll reach the commercial centre of Rosebud, which is separated from the beach by a bushy foreshore.

Rosebud
The beachside town of Rosebud – 73 kilometres from Melbourne

Rosebud is one of the largest centres on the Mornington Peninsula, with an extensive array of shops fronting Point Nepean Road, the Rosebud Plaza Shopping Centre and several major supermarkets. One of Rosebud’s interesting features is the extensive foreshore reserve which acts as a thick buffer along the beach. This reserve is home to picnic areas, community facilities and designated camping areas in some of the bushy sections. Rosebud is excellent for swimming with the calm and shallow waters of the bay making it ideal for children and families. For surfers, the ocean beaches fronting Bass Strait on the other side of the Mornington Peninsula, such as Gunnamatta and St Andrews, are a short drive away.


M1 – WEST GATE FREEWAY / PRINCES FREEWAYto GEELONG

Head westwards along the West Gate Freeway, crossing the iconic West Gate Bridge which spans the Yarra River and surrounding industrial areas.  The road then becomes known as the Princes Freeway as it heads south-west towards Geelong.

Service centres are located on both sides of the freeway between Little River and Avalon Airport, providing a convenient location for topping up with fuel or grabbing a coffee to keep you going.

The Princes Freeway skirts around the edge of Geelong’s sprawling suburbs and reverts to standard highway conditions in Geelong’s outer south-western suburb of Waurn Ponds, with several freeway exits providing access to Victoria’s second largest city.

Geelong
Geelong – the city on the bay, 75 kilometres from Melbourne

The city centre of Geelong fronts the waters of Corio Bay where there is an attractive waterfront precinct, a sandy beach, safe swimming enclosure and plenty of boating activity. Attractions galore can be found within Geelong including the National Wool Museum, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, several galleries, botanic gardens and the beautiful parkland along the Barwon River. Shopaholics will be right at home in Geelong, with its extensive collection of retail stores on the streets of the city centre, plus a selection of undercover shopping centres. Further afield, Geelong is the gateway to the emerging Bellarine Peninsula and of course Victoria’s internationally famous coastal drive, the Great Ocean Road.


M8 – WESTERN FREEWAYto BALLARAT

Access to the start of the Western Freeway is via the West Gate Freeway (M1) and/or the Western Ring Road (M80).  The high-standard roadway heads through Melbourne’s western suburbs on its journey westwards. Take care when driving on the section between Rockbank and Melton as there are several local roads which have direct level crossing junctions with the freeway. You’ll travel through the scenic valleys and farmland surrounding Bacchus Marsh, then on the eastern outskirts of Ballarat, the freeway standard drops again at Warrenheip with several local road crossings near a group of service stations.

The Western Freeway skirts around to the north of Ballarat, and there are several freeway exists which lead into the city centre and suburbs. The freeway ends to the west of Ballarat and becomes the Western Highway.

Ballarat
Ballarat, the city of gold, 113 kilometres from Melbourne

Ballarat is a city of grand architecture and many attractions due to its rich gold mining heritage back in those “gold rush” days of the 1850s. Re-live those days by visiting Sovereign Hill – a recreated gold township with activities for everyone of all ages. Visit the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka which commemorates the miners’ rebellion which is regarded as the birth of democracy is Australia. Other attractions include the Ballarat Aviation Museum, Bird World, the Ballarat Wildlife Park, Kryal Castle and Her Majesty’s – one of Australia’s historic theatres. There’s plenty of shopping in Ballarat, and if you want some time out, head to the beautiful botanic gardens and the parkland which surrounds Lake Wendouree.


M79 – CALDER FREEWAYto BENDIGO

The Calder Freeway commences in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Essendon, and drivers can enter it either via the CityLink section of the Tullamarine Freeway (a toll road) or the Western Ring Road (M80).  As the freeway reaches Melbourne’s outskirts, take care around the Calder Park area as there are several level road crossings which intersect the freeway.

The Calder Freeway heads north-west from Melbourne and crosses the Great Dividing Range at Macedon.  It doesn’t quite make it to Bendigo, dropping down to highway standard north of Harcourt, however it’s still a non-stop journey along the Calder Highway through the Greater Bendigo National Park and to Bendigo’s far southern suburb of Kangaroo Flat where you’ll stop at your first traffic light since Melbourne.

Bendigo
Bendigo, the jewel in Victoria’s crown – 148 kilometres from Melbourne

Bendigo, like Ballarat, is a city of grand architecture and wealth thanks to its rich gold mining history.  Bendigo and its suburbs are ringed on most sides by bushland, creating the impression of a city within a forest.  Within this city you can go underground into a real mine at the Central Deborah Gold Mine, take a trip through the city on its famous “talking tram”, get hands-on at the Discovery & Technology Centre and connect with the heritage of Bendigo’s Chinese people at the Golden Dragon Museum. Beautiful gardens are a feature of Bendigo and highlights including Rosalind Park with its lookout tower, Lake Weeroona and the White Hills Botanical Gardens.


M39 – GOULBURN VALLEY FREEWAYto SHEPPARTON

The Goulburn Valley Freeway starts 100 kilometres north of Melbourne, just outside of Seymour. Access from Melbourne is via the CityLink section of the Tullamarine Freeway (a toll road) and/or the Western Ring Road (M80), then head north along the Hume Freeway (M31) until you reach the exit to the Goulburn Valley Freeway.

The Goulburn Valley Freeway continues its journey northwards, roughly following the Goulburn River and drops down to highway standard on the southern outskirts of Shepparton as it makes its way into the city centre.

Shepparton
Shepparton, in the heart of Victoria’s prime fruit-growing district – 176 kilometres from Melbourne.

Shepparton is located within one of Victoria’s richest fruit-growing districts and is home to SPC Ardmona which has a factory direct sales outlet which is open to the public.  Shepparton has a strong cultural background and the city is home to museums, galleries and festivals.  There’s an extensive shopping precinct in Shepparton with its heart being the Maude Street Mall. If you’ve got kids, take them to Kids Town – one of Australia’s best community playgrounds. Natural attractions in Shepparton include Victoria Park Lake, on the highway just south of the city centre, the Goulburn River and the reserves and forests which line this iconic waterway.


What about the Hume Freeway (M31), you may ask? This freeway-standard roadway continues non-stop from Melbourne’s northern suburbs and across the Murray River into the neighbouring state of New South Wales, thus there is no end point for this freeway in Victoria. When the Holbrook bypass opens later in 2013, you’ll be able to drive from Melbourne to Sydney without stopping, although you should stop regularly for rest breaks of course.

Categories
Accommodation Advertising False billing Payment Scams Websites

Holiday Great Ocean Road & www.holidaygreatoceanroad.com false billing scam

Accommodation businesses operating within the Great Ocean Road region in Victoria have been on the receiving end of a false billing scam. It has been operating since 2012, resulting in bills being sent out for unauthorised advertising on a tourism website.

Invoices are being sent out by Holiday Great Ocean Road for advertising on the www.holidaygreatoceanroad.com website.  A sample of a typical invoice they post out in the mail is shown below.

Invoice - Holiday Great Ocean Road - www.holidaygreatoceanroad.com
An example of an invoice sent out by Holiday Great Ocean Road – www.holidaygreatoceanroad.com (recipient’s details blanked out)

Note the key characteristics of this invoice:

  1. It originates from a company titled Special Days Pty Ltd which is based in Sydney
  2. The company’s ABN is 37 086 159 211
  3. Their postal address is PO Box 4050 Parramatta NSW 2124
  4. Their billing enquiry phone number is 1300 656 789
  5. Their FAX number is 1800 198 388
  6. The invoice amount is $108.90 (i.e. $99 plus GST)
  7. The advertising commencement date, conclusion date or duration is not stated
  8. In order to convince the recipient of its authenticity, the “reference” box states the name of who has apparently authorised the listing, usually without a surname

Most people who receive an invoice like this never actually signed up for a listing with Holiday Great Ocean Road.  The first they find out about it is when a bill arrives in the mail. If they ignore the bill, they may receive more of the same invoices in the future.

Despite the fact an advertisement on Holiday Great Ocean Road has usually never been ordered by the recipient of the invoice, a cover letter is included which includes the following claims:

  1. “I emailed you several times and phoned your business but I was unable to get a  response.”  This statement is generally false as most accommodation providers have never been contacted by phone or email prior to the invoice arriving in the post.
  2. “Once the listing is deleted you can lose your ranking on holidaygreatoceanroad.com for key words as well as your Google ranking as the site is optimized for your establishment.”  This is a very misleading claim. Firstly, the www.holidaygreatoceanroad.com website receives so few visitors (not even Alexa.com has any data for it at the moment) so it is unlikely that a listing, or lack of one, will make any difference to a business. Secondly, because www.holidaygreatoceanroad.com is so poorly ranked in Google, there is only minuscule Google ranking value provided in the form of a link to an accommodation provider’s own website.

Accommodation listings on the Holiday Great Ocean Road website are typically created by copying information, including wording and photos, found on other websites that an accommodation provider is listed on.  This process may be automated which means vast numbers of listings can be created with very little time and effort. If this data collection process occurred a long time ago, it may mean information they are displaying can be quite out of date. This may negatively impact upon your business or mislead people who do happen to view your listing on the Holiday Great Ocean Road website.

Unfortunately, some accommodation providers have paid the invoice for advertising they never ordered due to confusion over business names. The Holiday Great Ocean Road / www.holidaygreatoceanroad.com name and website address may be confused with a well-established business with exactly the same name but different website address – Holiday Great Ocean Road / www.holidaygor.com.au. It must be stated that the latter (www.holidaygor.com.au) is an award-winning and reputable accommodation booking service which has operated with the utmost of integrity since its commencement in 2002.

It is extremely important that accommodation providers keep current list of all organisations they are advertising their accommodation with to ensure that any false bills, particularly those with similar names to reputable businesses, are quickly identified. Should there is any doubt about the authenticity of a bill, contact the sender and ask for proof of authorisation.

For more information refer to the false billing scams information page on the ScamWatch website which has been set-up by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

If you’ve unintentionally paid money to Holiday Great Ocean Road, or even if you just receive one of their unauthorised bills in the mail, you can lodge a report with the ACCC by visiting their report a scam page.  Specify “false billing” as the scam type in your report.