INDULGE YOUR SENSES in Melbourne’s laneways, savour the finest and most authentic food in distinct districts and enjoy the best in art, sport and fashion.
And when you’re ready to venture beyond this slick city where there’s something new to discover every few tram stops, set off for the wild majesty of the Great Ocean Road, the world-class wineries of the Yarra Valley or a multitude of other options like these nine signature Victorian experiences.
You will want to stay awhile in Victoria and make memories. This great state is definitely one to remember.
The tiny town of Birregurra, 40-odd kilometres inland from the Great Ocean Road, is the unlikely setting of one of the world’s best restaurants. Chef Dan Hunter’s inventive degustation meals – featuring anything from wallaby tartare to oyster ice cream topped with nori powder – have earned Brae 44th place on the coveted San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Make a night of it and book into one of Brae’s six suites. Alternatively, dine at Attica in Melbourne. Currently ranked number 32, it’s an exercise in fine modern Australian dining.
Enjoy up-close seal encounters without getting wet on a Wildlife Coast Cruise from Phillip Island. Australia’s largest fur seal colony lives just off shore, where thousands of playful seals eagerly greet visitors. In winter, hop aboard a whale-watching cruise to spy migrating southern right whales.
It’s the industry accolade that every Australian winery seeks to achieve – five stars in James Halliday’s definitive Wine Companion. Willow Creek Vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula has received multiple nods for its elegant cool-climate drops, creating superb chardonnays and pinot noirs. The estate is also home to Australia’s most daring new design hotel, Jackalope, where the on-site restaurant, Doot Doot Doot, is considered one of Victoria’s best.
It ranks 11th in the Top 100 Golf Courses of the World, so no golfer should miss the experience of teeing off at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. There is plenty more where that came from; the Royal Melbourne is just one of a collection of eight challenging Victorian golf courses known as The Sandbelt.
The country town of Daylesford has become a top destination for food lovers thanks to the acclaimed luxury lodge The Lake House. Founder Alla Wolf-Tasker, who opened her restaurant and hotel some 30 years ago, is often credited with kick-starting Australia’s destination dining revolution. Make a day of your visit with a class at the celebrated cooking school or a treatment in the spa before sitting down to an exquisite lunch.
Take a private guided tour of Victoria’s Western Plains with Echidna Walkabout, and see some superb Australian wildlife in its natural environment. Amid the beauty of three classic Australian landscapes – wide, outback plains; gumtree woodland; and expansive wetlands – you’ll spot native bird species such as sulphur-crested cockatoos, emus, galahs, superb fairy wrens and tawny frogmouth owls, as well as wallabies, echidnas and, of course, kangaroos and koalas.
Pinot lovers know that Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula produces some excellent wines; get an insight into how it’s done with The Ultimate Pinot Lovers Road Trip at Montalto vineyard. Start with barrel tastings of the current single-vineyard vintages before heading out among the vines to examine how the conditions of each plot affect the wine. Wrap it up with a five-course degustation lunch accompanied, naturally, by matched wines.
To Australia’s Aboriginal people, the bush is filled with plants that can be used for medicine and tools as well as food. See the landscape in a different light on an Aboriginal heritage walk through Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Here on the ancestral lands of the Koolin nation, an Indigenous guide will take you through a smoking ceremony and then lead you deeper into the world’s oldest living culture.
Over four generations, the De Bortoli family has built up its iconic winery in the Yarra Valley, along the way producing some classic wines, including Australia’s most celebrated dessert wine, Noble One. Savour the experience with a winery tour followed by an Italian feast at the winery’s Locale Restaurant. Helicopter transfers available.