WHILE DOCKING IN THE MELBOURNE CBD is a treat for guests and crew, it’s just the beginning of the treasures in store as you cruise the spectacular Victorian coastline, anchoring off the exquisite beaches of Wilson’s Promontory, bathing in the hot springs of the Mornington Peninsula, submarine wreck-diving in Port Phillip Bay, and visiting the penguin parade at Phillip Island.
Inland, the rugged Grampians tempt hikers and the Yarra Valley is a wine lovers’ paradise, while paddle-steamers meander up the river to historic mining towns. And, of course, there’s one of the greatest road trips on earth along the Great Ocean Road. You’ll want to take your time in Victoria.
Cruising Victoria was one the highlights of our one-year cruise of the east and south coasts of Australia. Like South Australia, it is often overlooked as a yachting destination, but having spent nearly a month cruising there, I would highly recommend it for the more intrepid and inquisitive owners and charterers.
Most of the cruising we undertook was around Melbourne, the state capital. As a city, it has a great deal to offer yacht guests and crews. We berthed at Melbourne Superyacht Marina at Docklands, one of the best marinas we berthed at during our time in Australia.
Located right in the heart of the city, crew and guests could easily access the city sights – yet more than that, the marina staff were extremely helpful and attentive. We were the largest yacht to have ever berthed at the marina and yet the staff were very professional.
The marina sits at the top of Port Phillip Bay, a busy commercial waterway, so navigating requires a pilot on board, and the Bolt Bridge imposes a 24-metre height restriction.
We used the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne as a base to expose our guests to the cultural, historical and natural assets of Victoria and beyond. This included a trip to Mildura to sample local wines and cruise the Murray River on a 110-year-old paddle-steamer.
There are regular short flights from Melbourne to Mildura and, from there, it is a thrilling 100-kilometre drive – or short scenic flight to the airstrip at Mungo Lodge – into the Mungo National Park on the New South Wales border. This spectacular park is the resting place of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man, two Aboriginal people whose remains date at 42,000 years. They lie in an Indigenous sacred site and a landscape that bears the evidence of a 100,000-year natural history.
Closer to Melbourne is the one of the greatest road trips on the planet: driving the Great Ocean Road past the Twelve Apostles.
Although these statuesque limestones stacks are on the coastline, it is not recommended to cruise there due to their exposure to the Southern Ocean.
Melbourne also has exceptional museums, art galleries, food festivals and sporting events to tempt guests, including the Melbourne Grand Prix and The Australian Open. There are also a mind-boggling array of cuisines to sample, with different areas of the city often specialising in different ethnic cuisines.
The vibrant bayside suburb of St Kilda was a favourite of our guests, while offshore in Port Phillip Bay, advanced divers can dive a huge array of WWI submarines and shipwrecks at the Ships’ Graveyard.
You’ll find the majority of the great cruising Victoria has to offer at the mouth of Port Phillip Bay. We cruised the Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island (home to the famous motorsports race track and penguins), as well as Norman Bay, Refuge Cove and Little Waterloo Bay on Wilson’s Promontory.
Most of Wilson’s Promontory is protected national park, so shore trips offer fantastic bushwalks and wildlife encounters. The beaches are magnificent, with huge boulders towering over soft white sand and turquoise sea.
If you have time and can pick a weather window, it is worth making the 100-nautical-mile journey south-east to the Furneaux Group, where you’ll find Flinders Island and also the Kent Marine Group Park in the Bass Strait. Flinders Island is shaped by the natural elements, resulting in great natural beauty, and the gourmet produce here is sensational.
Summer is the best time to cruise, with the prevailing winds from the south/south-west. North-east anchorages are ideal to discover the many wonders of the Victorian coastline.