Category Archives: Activities

The 12 Days of Christmas in Victoria

With Christmas just around the corner, here is our version of the timeless carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas“.

On the 12th day of Christmas, Victoria gave to me…

…12 famous apostles

12 Apostles
12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road

The 12 Apostles are Victoria’s most famous coastal attraction consisting of towering limestone stacks near Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road. However, they are the 12 Apostles in name only.  Just 8 remain standing today due to relentless wind and ocean erosion over the years.

…11 public holidays

Horse racing
Racing at the Melbourne Cup

There are 11 days of celebration in Victoria that are declared non-working days. Unique to Victoria is a public holiday to mark the running of Australia’s richest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, which is held on the first Tuesday of November. Due to the good weather that time of year, some people also take the Monday off work (sometimes illegitimately!) and turn the Melbourne Cup holiday into a mega 4 day long weekend.

…10 winter snowfields

Snowfields
Mt Buller snowfields

Victoria has 10 designated snowfields, all located in the east and north-east. They include large commercial resorts such as Falls Creek, Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Mount Baw Baw. For sightseeing snow and tobogganing that is very close to Melbourne, head to Mount Donna Buang, just over 90 kilometres east of Melbourne via Warburton.

…9 big things

Murray cod
The giant Murray cod at Swan Hill

Australia is home to many novelty structures that are vastly over-sized monuments to something of local significance. 9 of Victoria’s most iconic big things include a cigar, earthworm, koala, fish, a statute of Ned Kelly, pheasant, potatoes with forks, wine bottle and wool bales.

…8 diverse islands

A number of Victoria’s islands are uninhabited or inaccessible, however there are 8 islands which the general public are permitted access to and can reach fairly easily. The most visited is Phillip Island – within easy reach of Melbourne and internationally recognised for its penguin parade and grand prix. Also in Western Port is the heritage farm of Churchill Island and French Island with its significant koala population. Raymond Island, accessible by car ferry from Paynesville, is renowned for its native wildlife, while Griffiths Island at Port Fairy is linked by a pedestrian causeway to the mainland and is home to a large colony of mutton birds. Snake Island is Victoria’s largest sand island, located off the coast of Port Welshpool, noted for great fishing on its beaches. Gabo Island, located off the coast of Mallacoota, is home to large colonies of sea birds and features a pink granite lighthouse. And the final island is Swan Island, located off the coast of Queenscliff. Visitors are welcome to play at the local golf course which boasts being an all weather course given it resides on an island made up of drifting sand.

…7 historic paddlesteamers

Emmylou paddlesteamer
P.S. Emmylou, Port of Echuca

Echuca, once Australia’s busiest inland port, is home to 7 paddlesteamers that operate from the historic Port of Echuca precinct on the Murray River. Enjoy a short day cruise, a dining experience, special occasion or overnight cruise on one of the paddlesteamers Adelaide, Alexander Arbuthnot, Canberra, Emmylou, Hero, Pevensey or Pride Of The Murray. The paddlsteamer Adelaide is the oldest wooden-hull paddlesteamer that is still operating anywhere in the world.

…6 wine zones

Wineries
Montalto Vineyard, Red Hill

Victorians love their wine, and the state is divided up into 6 flourishing cool and warm climate wine zones. There are hundreds of wineries ranging from boutique family-owned establishments to large scale operations that export world-wide. Many wineries provide a complete destination experience with their own cellar doors, sales of local produce, restaurants and beautiful gardens.

…5 enthralling zoos

Lion
Lion, Melbourne Zoo

Zoos Victoria manages 3 zoos in Melbourne and its surroundings – Melbourne Zoo,  Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. There are two other zoos in Victoria which are well worth visiting. The Halls Gap Zoo, located in the scenic Grampians between Halls Gap and Pomonal, is home to over 160 species of animals, with a strong emphasis on native fauna. The Mansfield Zoo, located within picturesque parkland to the south of Mansfield, with particular emphasis on allowing visitors to feed many of the animals.

…4 mineral springs

Mineral spring
Sulphur spring, Mineral Springs Reserve

Victoria’s Macedon Ranges are home to Australia’s largest concentration of natural mineral springs, and one of the best places to see this is at Hepburn Springs. Head to the Mineral Springs Reserve where you will find the iconic Hepburn Bathhouse health complex, parkland and bush tracks. There are 4 mineral springs within the park that you can sample and fill up at – Locarno, Soda, Sulphur and Wyuna.

…3 gold mines

Gold mine
Central Deborah Gold Mine, Bendigo

Victoria’s gold rush period of the 1850s has left the state with a lasting legacy of history, wealth and prosperity. Get a taste for what life was like for miners in those days, as they toiled for riches without the equipment and technology of today, by visiting 3 of Victoria’s gold mines that are open for public underground tours. Descend 61 metres below the surface and walk in the foot steps of past miners at Central Deborah Gold Mine in Bendigo. Visit Sovereign Hill at Ballarat and take a fully guided tour in a mine tram for a unique themed underground experience. Or head to the quaint village of Walhalla, where time has stood still, and take a guided tour of the original workings of the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine.

…2 folklore legends

Ned Kelly
Ned Kelly statue, Glenrowan

There are 2 Australian folklore legends which Victoria is synonymous with. The Man from Snowy River, portrayed in Banjo Paterson’s poem, was written in 1890 and is believed to have been inspired by Corryong stockman Jack Riley. Ned Kelly, the infamous, daring and charismatic bushranger, who spent years defying the law, was eventually captured in the small town of Glenrowan where a large monument dedicated to him stands there today.

…and 1 award-winning city

Melbourne
Tram at Flinders Street Station, Melbourne

Melbourne was named by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the world’s most liveable city in 2014, scoring very well in areas of health, education, safety, stability and infrastructure. Visit Melbourne today and experience its multicultural heritage, great shopping, abundance of parks and iconic sporting events.

Queensland Vs. Victoria for shopping hours

As highlighted in our post from last year, Queensland Vs. Victoria for Summer Holidays in the Sun, visitors enjoy several hours of extra daylight in the evening when choosing to holiday in Victoria during summer rather than in Queensland.

Extra daylight is not the only thing visitors to Victoria enjoy more of. Queensland has some of Australia’s most restricted trading hours. This means that when in Queensland, you do have to plan your holiday around shopping hours. In Victoria, you are set free from those restrictions.

Pelican Waters Shopping Village
Shopping in Queensland – restricted trading hours apply.

To illustrate the differences, let us consider the trading hours for the Woolworths chain of supermarkets in various locations across Queensland and Victoria.

First, let’s look at the major population centres in Queensland.

Area of Queensland Day Opening hours
  • Brisbane suburbs
  • Gold Coast (*)
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Major regional cities
Monday to Friday 8am to 9pm
Saturday 8am to 5 or 5:30pm
Sunday 9am to 6pm
(*) Extended trading hours apply to a small number of highly popular tourist areas along the Gold Coast which permits some supermarkets to open later on weekends.

 

Once you start going to smaller cities and towns in Queensland, both along the coast and inland, you will struggle to even find a supermarket open on a Sunday.

Area of Queensland Day Opening hours
  • Bowen
  • Charters Towers
  • Dalby
  • Roma
  • Mt Isa
  • Warwick
Monday to Friday 8am to 9pm
Saturday 8am to 5pm
Sunday closed

 

In Victoria, Woolworths trading hours are much simpler and longer than those in Queensland, particularly on weekends.  This is of great benefit for those who are enjoying a weekend getaway and are trying to fit as much into their schedule as possible.  Importantly, these longer trading hours not only apply just to Melbourne’s suburbs and regional cities, but also to smaller country towns throughout Victoria.

Trading hours in Victoria
Monday to Friday 6-7am to 10-midnight
Saturday 6-7am to 10-midnight
Sunday 6-7am to 10-midnight

 

Woolworths
A Woolworths supermaket in Victoria, open 7 days a week and long hours, for the convenience of locals and visitors.

Visiting Queensland on a Saturday? Chances are major supermarkets only open after breakfast and close before dinner time.  Needing to shop on a Sunday? Good luck in finding a major supermarket that is actually open in smaller regional areas of Queensland.

Visiting Victoria?  Enjoy our unrestricted trading hours and shop virtually whenever you want, every day of the week.

Experience the history and heritage of Victoria’s Gold Rush era

Melbourne and the state of Victoria boomed in the 1850s after an influx of people from around the world entered the region to try their hand at winning big in the gold rush. In fact, in 1852 more immigrants leaving Britain purchased tickets to Melbourne than to any other destination around the world. While the capital and its surrounds have changed dramatically since then, there are still remnants of the era existing in the state that visitors can explore. If you want to visit Victoria to experience sites of the gold rush past, then read on for some of the top tourist attractions on offer.

 

Arrive in Melbourne by ship

spirit of tasmania
Spirit of Tasmania – a trip to remember

You can start your journey like so many goldminers did in the 1850s – by ship. However, unlike the gold rush prospectors of the past who battled appalling conditions, scurvy and other diseases on the journey, today’s tourists can instead visit Victoria on the Spirit of Tasmania, a stylish and comfortable cruise liner operating twice daily between Tasmania and Victoria. You can put your car on board in Tasmania and then enjoy a pleasant journey across the Tasman to Melbourne. Once there you have your vehicle on hand to tour around the best historical sites in and near Melbourne.

 

Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill – it’s pure gold!

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Victoria is Sovereign Hill, an outdoor museum in Ballarat that tells the story of the region during the gold rush. Visitors to Sovereign Hill can enjoy feeling like they have stepped back in time on Main Street, where costumed actors parade up and down, or try their luck panning for gold. Children will love visiting the on-site theatre to watch a show or watching steam-driven machinery in action, as well as the multi-million dollar sound and light show that is presented at night. Adults are sure to enjoy the fully-guided gold mine tour, a horse-drawn coach tour of the town, or getting a glimpse of the many gold nuggets in the museum. Family tickets are available for around $117.

 

Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum
Melbourne Museum – explore life in Victoria

Located in inner-city Carlton, the Melbourne Museum provides an affordable day out for families. With tickets just $10 for adults and free for children, parents don’t need to spend a lot to take their family to this museum for an exploration of life in Victoria over the ages. The museum covers a wide array of subjects in its eight galleries, from the state’s culture and history to its natural environment. The Melbourne Story exhibition features over 1200 objects from Museum Victoria’s vast collection, including a Cobb & Co Coach and a gold mining model from 1858.

 

The Old Melbourne Gaol

Old Melbourne Gaol
Old Melbourne Gaol – a crime & justice experience

Built in the mid-1800s, the Old Melbourne Gaol housed criminals, petty offenders, the mentally ill and the homeless during the peak Gold Rush period. At the oldest prison in Melbourne families can explore the three levels of the gaol and see Ned Kelly’s death mask; take a tour of the cells and visit the Police City Watch House; take part in a trial recreation at the old Magistrate’s Court; or take an evening tour of the facilities…if they dare! Family passes cost around $55 for the day.

 

Melbourne Walks

Goldrush cottage
Visit Melbourne’s oldest residence on a Melbourne Walks tour

Melbourne Walks is a company that operates walking tours throughout Melbourne. For tourists who would like to learn some more about the Gold Rush period, they can embark on a cottage tour of the city’s oldest residence and its surrounds. The gold rush cottage is owned by George and Lola Russell and was built in 1850. Tours cost around $70 per person, last for approximately 2 and a half hours and include morning or afternoon tea.

6 must see attractions for kids in Melbourne

Melbourne is a magic city for a fun and family friendly holiday. It’s easy to get around, there are loads to see and do and the kids will be delighted by the novelty of travelling around on the vintage trams. There’s also lots of budget accommodation and fantastic cheap eats, so a holiday in Melbourne needn’t break the family budget.

Here are six must see attractions in Melbourne and surrounds that all the family will enjoy.

 

1. Watch the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Penguin Parade
The nightly penguin parade at Phillip Island

Take a waddle on the wild side at the famous Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, a 90 minute drive from Melbourne. Every evening at sunset thousands of little penguins (the world’s smallest and cutest) cross the beach and settle into their burrows for the night. A family ticket for two adults and two children costs from $56.50. While at Phillip Island, be sure to stop by the Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Heritage Farm.

Phillip Island tours from Melbourne

 

2. Visit Melbourne Museum

Phar Lap
Phar Lap – Australia’s wonder horse

Located in Carlton, the award-winning Melbourne Museum explores the nature, culture and history of Victoria. Highlights include a complete skeleton of a blue whale, the famous race horse Phar Lap, a living rainforest, the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre and an IMAX theatre. Entry is around $10 for adults, while children up to 16 years of age are free.

 

3. Old Melbourne Gaol

Old Melbourne Gaol
Old Melbourne Gaol – a crime & justice experience

Located in Russell Street in Melbourne’s CBD, the Old Melbourne Gaol precinct includes Melbourne’s oldest gaol, the historic Magistrate’s Court and former Police City Watch House. A day tour ticket for two adults and two children costs around $55, or thrill children over 12 by taking The Hangman’s tour or an evening ghost tour by candlelight.

 

 

 

4. Travel on the Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania
Spirit of Tasmania – a trip to remember

Take the kids ‘overseas’ on a side trip to Tasmania cruising across Bass Strait with the Spirit of Tasmania. Choose from day or night sailings between Melbourne and Devonport and enjoy a range of facilities on board including dining and bars, a playroom, games arcade and cinema. Adult day tickets start from around $79 and children $5. Take your car along with you from around $89.

 

5. Eureka Sky Deck 88

Eureka Skydeck
Eureka Skydeck

Located atop the Eureka Tower in Southbank, the Eureka Sky Deck 88 offers awe-inspiring 360 degree views from the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere. For a real thrill seeker experience try The Edge, a glass cube that projects three metres out from the building. Family tickets for two adults and two children cost around $42. The Edge experience is extra.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Fairy Park

Fairy Park
Fairy Park – tales, myths and legends

A one-hour drive from Melbourne, Fairy Park at Anakie is a wonderland for the whole family. Kids can become a knight, a princess, a hero or a villain for the day and enter a world dedicated to storytelling, fairy tales, myths and legends. Tickets are from around $16 per adult and $8 per child, children under three years free.

 

 

These six must-see attractions are just the beginning of the many family-friendly activities on offer in Melbourne. So take the family to Melbourne for a fun-packed holiday of a lifetime.