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- Visiting Australia & Oceania
Bucket List: Travel to Victoria, Australia (Melbourne Area)
Add the Victoria, Australian Coastline to Your Bucket List!
South Eastern Australia is one of the most fascinating places on earth and was definitely worth adding to the bucket list. The trip was adventurous with incredible wildlife sanctuaries, glimpses of parrots flying in the wild, koalas in the trees, wallabies and echidnas, mobs of kangaroos off the beaten path, and we even got a sighting of the elusive Kookaburra! These creatures were witnessed the way nature intended, roaming freely and in the wild. For a closer look and more organized experience, these animals can also found in some of the most amazing zoos and animal parks in the area. Many places even allow feedings and interactions with the animals.
I was astounded to discover how wonderful Australia really was when my family and I traveled there for a wedding a few years ago. We squeezed a lot of sight-seeing into a 10 day trip and probably should have stayed for 2 weeks, but we made do with the time we had to work with. It was more incredible than I had ever imagined!
Here's a list of attractions that we experienced while visiting South Eastern Australia (in the Victoria, Melbourne area). We rented a car, but had to get used to driving on the left side of the road (and right side of the car, for that matter). We were given the word of caution about the poisonous spiders, snails, and plants (among other dangers) to look out for during our trip. We were told to always check our shoes before putting them on. Thankfully, we never encountered anything that posed a threat.
Places to Stop Along the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is a scenic byway (from Torquay to Warrnambool), which has breathtaking views and many attractions to experience along the way.
We traveled on the Great Ocean Road in this order:
• Barwon Heads Beach
• Anglesea for a quick lunch in town, then over to the golf course.
• Great Otway National Park (only had time to drive through, unfortunately).
• 12 Apostles arrived at sunset.
Barwon Heads Beach and Bells Beach
These beaches are very beautiful (and popular for surfers). We noticed signs that warned visitors not to touch the snails because they could be poisonous. In some of the small sandy tide pools, we found live sea anemones. We even saw some pufferfish that had been washed up on shore. Due to the warnings on the signs posted, we opted not to touch anything, since there are other sea creatures in Australia that are poisonous besides snails. We proceeded with caution, but took some very wonderful pictures.
Anglesea Golf Course
We made a quick pitstop to get a glimpse of this kangaroo-occupied golf course. It was a comical sight! It didn't appear that we could get into the golf course without a membership, but we looked at the sights from behind the gates. It was worth a quick look.
Kennett River (Parrots)
When we first pulled onto Grey River Road for our Kennett River experience, we saw other tourists feeding apples to wild parrots. The tourists handed us an apple, so that we could have a turn. We took many pictures of all of the different birds landing on us, trying to get their share of the apple. It was an unforgettable experience!
Kennett River (Koalas)
Driving through the back roads of Kennet River proved even more amazing. We saw koalas in the trees and opened the car windows to hear the koalas grunt. We also saw a few other animals, such as an echidna that walked across the road in front of our vehicle, a wallaby hopping along a trail, and a Kookaburra resting on a dirt mound on the side of the road. It was a picture perfect day!
I have no fear of losing my life — if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it.— Steve Irwin
Great Otway National Park
While traveling down to the southern-most tip of the Great Ocean Road, we drove right through the lush green tree ferns of this beautiful rainforest. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to stop and explore this national park, because we were running out of daylight on our way to see the 12 Apostles. Hopefully someone else reading this can fill us in on this place. It seemed as if we were driving through a time warp to a whole different world. It was amazing how quickly the landscape changed, while driving through this area. We really wished we had more time to stop and see this fascinating park.
Twelve Apostles Marine National Park
We got to see the picturesque views of these intriguing rock formations by the sea created from years of land erosion. It was stunning to see at sunset! Many photos were taken because they were just so spectacular. Definitely pay attention to the warning signs that are posted. They don't want you getting too close to the unstable cliffs and they ask that you stay behind the fence. The signs actually say "You may fall and DIE!" Which seems very blunt, but true.
NOTE: it may be difficult to find a place that is still serving dinner after sunset in the surrounding areas, so plan ahead!
Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Places to Stop in Mornington Peninsula
After our adventures on the Great Ocean Road, we traveled on to the Mornington Peninsula area, where we found even more adventures, including:
- The Briars: gardens and visitor center
- Arthurs Seat State Park: on a huge hill overlooking the stunning views
- Ace-Hi Ranch: offers a variety of activities
- Bushranger's Trail: stop for a hike with great views
- Ashcombe Garden Maze: lose yourself in mazes of flowers & hedges
- Moonlit Sanctuary: interact with their nocturnal animals
The Briars (Mount Martha, VIC)
This 1800s homestead and gardens features a visitor information center, wildlife sanctuary, boardwalk, woodland walks, gardens, and vineyard. We did some hiking through their back woods, took in the beauty of the natural surroundings, and made a pitstop at the visitor center.
Arthurs Seat State Park (Arthurs Seat, VIC)
Ace-Hi Ranch (Cape Schanck, VIC)
We could have chosen from a variety of activities, such as horseback riding, rock climbing, or archery, but we chose to purchase animal food and entered the gates to feed the kangaroos, emus, and wallabies. It was a memorable experience, but a little unnerving, since the very large animals quickly approached us looking for their food (we were inside the gates with these large animals). Luckily, they seemed used to being around people, so we were definitely more scared than they were. But as always, I would suggest to use caution around animals, especially in this situation.
Bushranger's Walking Track (Cape Schanck, VIC)
We took a quick hike down part of this trail (Two Bays Walking Track) and discovered mobs of wild kangaroos. On the hill above us, we saw one group of kangaroos and on the hill beyond a small valley, we found another group. We witnessed two kangaroos fighting. As we walked along the trail out in the open fields, we made sure to be respectful and kept our distance from the mobs of kangaroos. Wild animals are very unpredictable, so we proceeded with caution.
Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens (Shoreham, VIC)
Move over corn maze! I've never seen anything like the beautiful gardens of the Ashcombe Maze. There were a few different mazes to try. This attraction featured a Hedge Maze, Lavender Labyrinth, and Rose Garden Maze. It was a fun and relaxing adventure, although the hedge maze made me feel a little claustrophobic, since the walls were so tall, but for me it doesn't take much. It was definitely worth the visit!
Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park (Pearcedale, VIC)
We visited the Moonlit Sanctuary after sundown to witness and interact with some of their nocturnal animals. The Tasmanian Devils were feisty little critters with big personalities and so much fun to watch (caged and out of reach, thankfully). We had the option to hold a python and feed wallabies by hand, which we did. The entire evening at this special place was quite fascinating!
Phillip Island, Australia
Traveling Toward the Phillip Island Area
After our adventure through Mornington Peninsula, we drove on toward Phillip Island. On the way, we stopped at Maru Fauna Park to try some close animal encounters, then reached our destination at Phillip Island to see the amazing penguins!
Maru Fauna Park (Grantville, VIC)
This was a pitstop we needed to make, while traveling toward Phillip Island. We opted to try the animal Close Encounters package. We petted a dingo, fed a koala, and held a wombat, which was feisty and squirmy. The caretaker had to hold the wombat still for us to pet it. This may be why it doesn't look like they offer that animal in the close encounter package anymore. They have a very interesting setup and was worth the unforgettable experience. We even saw these seemingly innocent, but very ferocious Tasmanian Devils. You can't get too close to them because they will bite. Luckily these two were caged, but they posed nicely when I took their picture!
The Penguin Parade is one phenomenon that we couldn't miss! We sat in the sea-side bleachers at dusk, and waited for just the right moment to see hundreds of little penguins swimming to shore, after hunting for food. They waddled their way into the sand dunes to find their nests. We will remember this experience for the rest of our lives. It was truly amazing! I wish I could have taken more pictures, but the one above of the little penguin under the boardwalk was the only one that came out, since it was just barely light enough in that spot.
Wine tasting in Yarra Valley
We enjoyed wine tasting and spectacular views, while visiting these exquisite vineyards in Yarra Valley. The two places that we had time to visit (Domaine Chandon Winery and Rochford Wines) in Coldstream, VIC were sensational! It was such a wonderful area to visit and the wine was fantastic!
Healesville Sanctuary (Healesville, VIC)
This zoo displayed an impressive collection of animals and some that we hadn't yet seen. There were flying foxes, platypuses, koalas, wombats, echidna, and so much more! It was a great way to spend a good part of the day.
VIDEO: Travel From the Great Ocean Road and Mornington Peninsula, to Phillip Island!
As for the city of Melbourne, we merely grazed the surface by stopping in to attend a wedding, so we weren’t able to see the many other attractions that this city had to offer. Please leave details in the comment section below, if you've been lucky enough to explore more of this amazing city.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever anticipate seeing so many breathtaking views and such incredible wildlife, while visiting South Eastern Australia. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. We even learned some Australian lingo during our visit ("sunnies" = sunglasses, "brekkie" = breakfast, "pin or sign" = debit or credit, "How are you going?" = How are you doing?). Australians are very conservative with their water (toilets have a 2-button flush system for doing number 1 or number 2), since the region is so prone to drought. They keep large buckets to catch rainwater in to use later (for tasks such as washing cars or doing laundry). They are also concerned with the amount of trash that is discarded. We actually found it difficult to find a trash receptacle in public places, so we had to take the trash with us (and only used the waste basket in our rental home). We tried our best to be mindful of anything else we needed to discard to lessen the accumulation of any more waste material.
NOTE: It is worth looking into the possibility of road closures or construction before a trip to this location, since this dry region is so susceptible to wildfires. Thankfully we didn't experience anything of that nature, but the risk exists and is worth noting.
© 2017 Joan Dragonfly