Welcome to Victoria, a state of Australia that truly packs in more than its fair share of excitement, fun and beauty. After all, aside from Australian Capital Territory, Victoria is the smallest state of Mainland Australia. It borders New South Wales to the North and South Australia to the West and is flanked by the Indian Ocean and the Tasman Sea, so it would be fair to say that no two destinations in the state are the same. If you are not from Australia, chances are you are looking for a guide on what to do. In this Itinerary, we thought we’d take you away from the ocean (that’s covered in Three Day’s on the Great Ocean Road) and move you into the beauty of inland Victoria en route to the ACT.
The Mornington Peninsula – the original summer playground for Victroian’s since the 1870s – is a boot-shaped land strip located South of Melbourne and is flanked by Western Port, Port Phillip and the Bass Strait. And as you will come to expect of all things Victorian, the Mornington Peninsula packs a lot more in than you would possibly expect for a small coastal region. In fact, the peninsula is home to Sorrento, Fingal, Portsea and it’s namesake – Mornington. So, let us say it up front – plan to have at least two days here at least if you want to sample the best it has to offer.
On day 1, there is a lot to fit in, so make sure you are up early or that you start your day in Mornington proper so you can squeeze as much as possible into 24 hours. We are suggesting you start the day at Il Piccolo Bar, a popular local café that serves up amazing coffee and a wide variety of awesome food. In fact, from breakfast through to Dinner, the team here are amazing and ready to help you get charged up and ready for the open road.
Once you are fuelled up, jump in your campervan and head north some 15 minutes to McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery. Free for the public, McClelland Park is set over about eight hectares the park includes both beautifully landscaped gardens and indigenous bushland. But why you would go is to see the beautiful and at times thought provoking sculptures which are placed throughout. In fact there are over 100 pieces which address challenges facing both the local area and the world. Allow yourself a couple of hours to get the most from it.
By now you may be getting a bit peckish, so it will be time to see just how good the culinary delights of the area can be. Barmah Park Restaurant and Cellar Door. A simple 15-minute drive away, Barmah Park has an amazing cellar door serving up Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and other amazing wine varieties. Sample a few before heading over to the brilliant café-style restaurant (open 5 days a week) which offers a modern Australian menu packed full of surprises. With over 150 Google reviews at an average of 4.2, you know you are in for a treat.
To round off the day head over to the Dromana Drive-in and catch a movie before winding down for the night ready for day 2!
After a good night’s sleep, it’s time to get up and hit the road. Today, why not try Georgie Bass Cafe and Cookery. These amazing kitchen gardens combine seasonal produce with a range of healthy and filling breaky options that will fill you up and then some.
And you will need this sustenance because today (weather permitting) we think an hour or two of stand up paddle boarding at Portsea is just the way to start. BayPlay Adventure is an aquatic specialist offering a range of small group tours – from paddle boarding to SCUBA diving – and would be a wonderful visit during summer if you are so inclined.
Jump back in the campervan, have a quick shower and then head over to the other side of the peninsula and get your sleuth on in Australia’s oldest hedge Maze at Ashcombe Maze. With thousands of metres of pathways and over 1000 cypress trees framing the maze, the hedge maze is 3 metres high and 2 metres thick, meaning you will need to be patient if you are to find your way out. If you are not sure of this, maybe try the Flowering Lavender Labyrinth which has over 40 different types of lavender. This is a year round option, so make sure you get here.
By this time you will be famished and given this is Mornington – known for its wine and restaurant pairings – we think a stop at Paringa Estate is well worthwhile. Open every day, the cellar door is home to some of the best wines in the region, so sample a few whilst they ready your table. Then sit down for a meal which will have you wishing you had two stomachs. No really, the food is that good!
To close off the day a trip to Peninsula Hot Springs will serve you well. Natural thermal waters feed over 50 different bathing experiences which draw on different inspirations – we are talking Turkish baths, geothermal experiences, ice caves, plunge pools and even a hilltop pool. And that’s just scraping the surface. Ranging in price from just $35, there is plenty to do here before you jump back in your camper. As it can get busy, we recommend getting in touch ahead of time to secure your place. And if you are finding it hard to leave, worry not, they have a great place to eat here, so you can eat, relax and take in the sunset. Perfect really.
Australia is known the world over for its beautiful beaches. But, for whatever reason, the beaches of Wilsons Promontory – particularly Squeaky beach which has pristine waters and sand is which is framed by jutting granite mountains – are often overlooked as a get to beach destination. Personally, we like it that way as it means more for seclusion for us and more time to take in the beauty of this area. We recommend getting here after the bustle of moving around and take some time to yourself.
Whether it is hiking and exploring the numerous bush trails, climbing to the top of Mount Oberon for a panoramic view, or fishing, camping and swimming, there is enough nothing to do, to keep you busy for a day if not more. Check out the Tidal River Campground (you may want to book ahead especially in the warmer months)as a place to crash for the night(s) as this puts you in the heart of it all and the grounds are great!
We say day 4, but truth is, after Wilsons Promontory, it may be day 6 or 7. Either way, when you make the move, you will want to be on the road early as there is a lot of beautiful countryside to see as you head deep into Gippsland territory in Victoria’s North Eastern Corner. Oh and it is a few hours away. There may not be much to do on the drive, but trust us, you will want to get here so you can then look to enjoy a few days in this pristine area.
Best known for its picturesque lakes, amazing camping grounds, waterfalls, great fishing locations and the famed Ninety Mile Beach, this region of Victoria is as popular with families as it is with nature seekers looking to retreat and chill. One of the key attractions of the area is the Buchan Caves. Formed over thousands of years as water flowed through the limestone, this cave system is breath taking. Once you are done set up for the night at the Wilderness Retreats Reserve.
From there, head on over the border and check out all the ACT has to offer.