The city of Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, with an impressive collection of beautiful Victorian era buildings, art galleries, theatres, museums, shopping complexes and gardens. It is regularly voted one of the most “liveable” cities in the world, perhaps because of this cultural richness as well as the beautiful weather, great nightlife, easy to use transport system and excellent dining.
But once you have gotten your fill of theatre, music, dining, drinking and gallery hopping, Melbourne also serves as a great jumping off point for exploring the surrounding area. There are plenty of great day trip options just outside of Melbourne, so why not rent a car and go on an adventure?
Take a Drive on the Great Ocean Road
This 243 kilometre stretch of road runs all along the South Eastern coast of Australia, between Allansford and Torquay. It was built by the returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and it is dedicated to the soldiers who were killed during World War I, making the road itself the world’s largest war memorial.
Along your journey on the Great Ocean Road you will see the 12 Apostles, which is a stunning limestone rock formation located off the short of Port Campbell National Park.
See the Penguins on Phillip Island
Imagine watching the sunset over the ocean, then seeing dozens of adorable Little Penguins waddle across the sand – returning home after a full day of fishing. These little birds are the smallest penguins in the world and they can be observed from a viewing stand on the beach. The penguin parade takes place at sunset, so instead of heading back you might want to turn your day trip into an overnight stay.
While you are on Philip Island, you can also visit the Koala Conservation Centre. Located in a eucalyptus forest, this protected site gives you the opportunity to get a close view of these lovable marsupials.
Take a Wine Tour in the Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley is a beautiful wine-growing area located just on the doorstep of Melbourne. There are many wineries that are clearly signposted and many of them are accessible from the highway.
You could rent a car and drive through the Yarra Valley, but then you wouldn’t be able to sample the wines along the way. (Police regularly set up check points around the Yarra Valley to test the alcohol level of boozing tourists!) Instead, book a wine tour that will shuttle your merrily sloshed self around to all of the best vineyards so that you can drink to your heart’s content.
Also, be sure to visit the interesting Glass Blowing Studio in Healesville, where you can watch the glass blowers work and buy some of their beautiful creations.
Although Melbourne has so much to offer visitors, there is plenty waiting just outside its borders as well. During your visit, take the time to get out and explore the surrounding area. You will find fascinating wildlife, stunning scenery, delicious wine and you will come back with plenty of stories to tell.