Victoria is a state in Australia, in the south-east corner of the country. Its capital, largest and most-populated city is Melbourne. Victoria is Australia's most densely populated state and its second-most populous state overall. Most of its population lives concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its state capital and largest city, Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city. Geographically the smallest state on the Australian mainland, Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales is to the north, the Tasman Sea is to the east, and South Australia is to the west.
From towering rainforests, ski resorts and endless golden bays, to craggy ocean cliffs, rolling green hills and red sandy deserts – discover the diversity and beauty of Victoria’s regions. Many people travel within Victoria for its natural attractions, history, local food and wine, or to participate in the major sporting, fashion and cultural events.
Finding the Victoria’s many highlights is as easy as packing a camera and a map. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
Food and wine lovers know the state for its array of superb restaurants to the citrus fruits of Mildura and the fresh seafood at Lakes Entrance, Victoria is a food lover’s paradise.
Victoria also serves up lashings of history. In its earliest days, this was a state besotted with gold. By the mid-19th century, tens of thousands of prospectors had travelled to Victoria’s goldﬁelds with their picks and prospecting pans. Now, these towns have become lively modern cities, balancing stunning period architecture with art galleries, cosmopolitan cafés and luxury retreats.
At Phillip Island Nature Park, visitors can meet koalas and watch the Little Penguins as they waddle out of the ocean at sunset. Try Logans Beach near Warrnambool to see Southern Right Whales as they return to the waters to calve. Moving inland, Daylesford is the spa capital of Victoria, where visitors can sample the rejuvenating mineral waters.
Elsewhere, natural wonders like the rugged Grampians provide archetypal Victorian bushland: ancient yet beautiful. The Great Ocean Road, with its scenic coastline, is another unforgettable icon of regional Victoria. The majestic Murray River, with its breath taking sunsets, stretches across the top of the state, while the Great Alpine Road offers endless views of snow-tipped mountains, ﬁelds of wildﬂowers and rustic country towns, before arriving at the spectacular Gippsland Lakes, Australia’s largest inland lake system.
Melbourne is food-obsessed, marvellously multicultural and a showpiece for Australian culture. Beyond the city limits, Victoria offers rich history, stunning wilderness and culinary excellence.
Food & Wine
Melbourne loves its food. A passion for street food and experimental fine dining has been grafted onto a long-standing multicultural culinary scene that has few peers. Regional Victoria is in no way playing second fiddle to this – its epicurean credentials continue to skyrocket in small country towns such as Kyneton, Beechworth, Birregurra and Red Hill. It also comes with loads of respected wine regions, from the Yarra Valley to the King Valley, Mornington Peninsula to the Bellarine Peninsula and Rutherglen. There’s also a catalogue of boutique breweries and coffee roasters to round it out.
Victorians are spoiled for wilderness. Southwest, the Great Ocean Road snakes along one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines, while the further east you go the wilder the coast gets, from wildlife-rich Wilsons Promontory to Gippsland’s aptly named Wilderness Coast. Also east, the wild rivers and epic forests of Errinundra and Snowy River yield to the picturesque mountains of the High Country, where year-round activities make it an adventure destination of the highest order. Northwest, almost in the outback, desertlike national parks occupy vast swathes of the state. Opportunities to explore are endless, whether on two legs or skis, two wheels or four.
In the 19th century, gold-rich Melbourne and small towns in Victoria were stamped with architectural wonders. These days many of those grand buildings survive as luxury hotels, theatres bursting with talent, top-notch restaurants or colourful state-of-the-art galleries. Seek out the cultural goldfields area, in particular, with towns such as Ballarat, Bendigo and Castlemaine, or the preserved sandstone buildings crammed with history in Beechworth. Melbourne in particular is an art lover’s smorgasbord (with signature art-strewn laneways so intimate they feel like they’re indoors), but regional Victoria holds its own when it comes to reasons to pray for a rainy day.
Victoria’s history is epic, but couldn’t be more accessible. The state’s Indigenous story serves as a subtext throughout, but it takes centre stage with rock art and creation stories at Gariwerd (the Grampians). Fast forward a few millennia, and Victoria’s 19th-century gold rush left behind some of Australia’s most atmospheric old towns, among them Ballarat, Castlemaine, Maldon, Kyneton, Walhalla and Beechworth. And the old Murray riverboat culture of Australia’s pioneering days lives on in Mildura, Swan Hill and, especially, Echuca.
Victoria’s beaches are spectacular, from wild coastlines with world-renowned surf where the winds whip in from Antarctica, to gentle bay beaches ideal for family holidays.
Ninety Mile Beach One of the longest stretches of sand on the planet.
Squeaky Beach Wilsons Prom’s most celebrated beach comes with its own sound effects.
Cape Bridgewater A near-perfect arc of white sand in the state’s far west.
Bells Beach Natural amphitheatre where the surf is the stuff of legend.
Croajingolong National Park Remote, rugged and pristine beaches in the state’s far east.
Cape Conran Coastal Park They don’t call this the Wilderness Coast for nothing.
Port Phillip Bay Barely a ripple disturbs beaches at Mornington, Mt Martha and Sorrento, which combine proximity to Melbourne with a family vibe.
Bellarine & Great Ocean Road Spoiled for choice, from family-friendly Point Lonsdale to the long stroll-worthy stretches at Ocean Grove and Fairhaven, and holidaymaker favourites Apollo Bay and Lorne.
Victoria’s historic settlements brim with beautiful period architecture. Most owe their existence to the state’s glittering gold-mining heritage, while signposts to bushranger exploits also survive.
Maldon Quintessential goldfields town where the past comes alive in architecture and antiques.
Kyneton Nineteenth-century bluestone buildings carry echoes of prosperous gold-mining days and now house excellent eateries.
Castlemaine Boom-era architecture provides a backdrop for a new boom in artistic endeavour.
Beechworth Almost uniform sandstone architecture dominates this historic settlement, which has a growing reputation for culinary excellence.
Yackandandah Its historic main street is the ideal setting for a slew of antique shops and associated paraphernalia.
Chiltern A main street that looks like it was built for a film set, surrounded by box-ironbark forests.
Echuca Wonderfully preserved old port that still sends paddle steamers out onto the Murray River.
Ballarat There’s no finer evocation of the gold-rush days than at Sovereign Hill and the stunning grand architecture lining Ballarat’s main streets.
Queenscliff Nineteenth-century buildings and maritime history combine in this quaint seaside town.
Walhalla Despite most of the sepia-toned period buildings being reconstructions, Walhalla resembles a living museum to the gold-rush heyday.
Pubs and band venues around the state play host to a range of musical talents. Open spaces – including wineries, country paddocks and spots by the beach – also get musical, particularly in summer.
Melbourne Pubs Melbourne loves its rock and roll in divey pubs and bars. From the Tote and Cherry to the Gasometer and the Espy, music is in the blood.
Melbourne International Jazz Festival Melbourne’s premier jazz festival attracts international and local artists at venues across the city.
Port Fairy Folk Festival Catch international and local folk musicians at the renowned folk festival in Port Fairy. For other coastal tunes, check out the massive Falls Festival in Lorne or the Queenscliff Music Festival; look forward to sea breezes and happy festival vibes.
Barwon Club Many seminal Victorian punk, rock and indie bands got their start at Geelong’s long-standing Barwon Club. Other great regional live-music pubs to look out for include the Bridge Hotel (Castlemaine) and the Karova Lounge (Ballarat).
Meredith Held in the outdoor amphitheatre outside the small town of Meredith, the sister Golden Plains and Meredith Music Festivals are wildly popular long weekends of camping and great live music attracting big-name international and homegrown acts.
Weekend markets are regular features across Victoria, from monthly food-rich farmers’ markets to craft markets in the small towns of Melbourne’s hinterland.
Queen Victoria Market From tacky souvenirs to delightful deli produce, it’s all here.
Rose Street Artists’ Market Clever and crafty artists gather each weekend to sell their wares and talk shop.
Camberwell Sunday Market Where Melburnians purge their belongings, and bargain and fashion hunters have a field day.
St Andrews Community Market Saturday market known for food in all its forms and its slightly alternative feel.
Red Hill Market Monthly craft, food and tasteful bric-a-brac market that’s the best of its kind around Melbourne.
Gippsland Farmers Markets Check the calendar to see what markets are on as you pass through the quiet towns of southern Gippsland.
Mill Markets Former factories and mills in towns such as Ballarat and Daylesford have morphed into a chain of retro-goods markets.
Abbotsford Convent Monthly slow-food and clothing markets, and a summertime Supper Market featuring live music.
Museums & Galleries
Melbourne is home to a number of excellent galleries showcasing an impressive range of homegrown talent as well as international heavyweights. Not all art is locked up indoors, either – the city’s laneways serve as urban galleries. Regional Victoria has its share of top-class museums and galleries, too, with beautiful pieces of national importance.
Melbourne Major galleries such as Ian Potter Centre, NGV International and ACCA, and smaller, impressive, contemporary spaces such as Tolarno and West Space.
TarraWarra Museum of Art Spot some of Australia’s best contemporary art in an impressive gallery in the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley.
Horsham Regional Art Gallery Check out cutting-edge photography, plus paintings by Brett Whiteley and Fred Williams, in an art-deco building.
Geelong Art Gallery Nineteenth- and 20th-century Australian and European paintings in a historic building in the heart of town.
Art Gallery of Ballarat This must-see gallery is the oldest and largest in regional Victoria, exhibiting the likes of Howard Arkley, Sidney Nolan and Tom Roberts.
Warrnambool Art Gallery One of the oldest galleries in Victoria; don’t miss Eugene von Guérard’s famous oil landscape Tower Hill.
Bendigo Art Gallery One of the best art galleries in regional Victoria with an impressive collection of colonial and contemporary Australian paintings.
A fabulous destination for nature lovers, Victoria has some of eastern Australia’s prime tracts of wilderness and most accessible native wildlife.
Cape Otway One of the best places on earth to see wild koalas, just off the Great Ocean Road.
Phillip Island The Penguin Parade gets all the headlines, and rightly so, but don’t forget the fur seals at Seal Rocks.
Warrnambool Watch southern right whales frolic with their young off Logan’s Beach from May to September.
Anglesea Kangaroos dodge golf balls on the fairways of the town’s golf course along the Great Ocean Road.
Wilsons Promontory National Park Glorious wild-coast scenery combined with bird and animal life in its natural setting; do the Prom Wildlife Walk.
Otway Eco Tours Paddle around on a guided canoe trip at dawn or dusk to try your luck at spotting the elusive platypus.
Healesville Sanctuary If you’re not lucky enough to spot native animals in the wild, check them out here – from koalas and Tassie devils to kangaroos and platypuses.
Cape Bridgewater Take a boat cruise or swim in a cage to get up close and personal with seals at the colony here.
Sorrento Swim with the dolphins in Port Phillip Bay.