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Best regional destinations in Victoria
Victoria is one of Australia’s smaller states by area – roughly a quarter the size of South Australia and 10% the mass of Western Australia – and as such it doesn’t have many regional airports. That’s not to say it has none – and the places you can fly to are certainly worth visiting.
Found in north-west Victoria, right on the border with New South Wales, is the town of Mildura. On one side, Mildura has the Murray River. On the other, Outback. If you’re looking to get out to nature, this could be your calling.
For those who prefer dry land, organised tours into the dry Mungo National Park will take you into areas of Outback that feel like nothing else you’ve seen before. Go in a 4WD, by scenic flight or get dropped off with a mountain bike. Like other Outback areas, seeing Mungo as the sun rises or sets is a magical opportunity.
Although Wodonga doesn’t have an airport, its NSW partner Albury does. Fly into New South Wales and then head over the river back onto Victorian land.
Wodonga grew during the gold boom as its port was an important part of the precious mineral’s transportation. The river is still a major aspect of the town’s identity, and there’s plenty to see on a day trip too.
Around 60 km away, you can discover Mount Lawson State Park, an area of diverse growth that covers more than 32,500 acres. Also nearby are the highly-rated Gapsted Wines and Cheeky Peak craft brewery for those who want to indulge in some local delicacies.
Best places to visit in Victoria by train
From gold mining to whale watching, discover the top spots that you can visit by train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross or Flinders Street Station.
Ballarat and its goldfields
Ballarat is Victoria’s third largest city and has regular train arrivals from Melbourne.
The city is famed for its proximity to the gold rush of the 1850s and is one of the few towns of this era to have continued growth after the miners moved on. Starting at the train station, Ballarat’s immense wealth is obvious in its architecture.
Tours of the gold mining areas are popular, as is the trip to Sovereign Hill, a recreated mining town from the area’s boom time. Elsewhere, you can visit the Ballarat Wildlife Park or Ballarat Botanical Gardens to connect with nature.
The Ballarat Line has almost hourly departures from Southern Cross Station, with the journey from Melbourne taking just 90 minutes.
Geelong and the Great Ocean Road
Geelong is second only behind Melbourne in terms of size, making it one of the most lively places to visit in Victoria.
Situated on the water, Geelong is considered by many to be the starting point for Great Ocean Road trips, perhaps one of the most iconic road trips in Australia.
If that isn’t enough, plan a cruise on the bay, a trip to the Eastern Beach Reserve and a stop at Little Creatures craft brewery.
From Southern Cross Station, a train on the Geelong Line takes about an hour to reach its destination.
Warrnambool and its whales
Located on the far side of the Great Ocean Road is the town of Warrnambool. If you love marine life, you’re in for a whale of a time.
Every year from June to October, southern right whales return to the area to give birth and raise their calves. They’re often less than 100 metres from the town (or the popular viewing spot at Logans Beach) giving you some of the best (dry) vantage spots to whale spot in Australia.
Also in the water are a host of shipwrecks who failed to navigate the treacherous waters. Included among these it the Loch Ard, which has become a main feature for tourists. Another must-see is the Tower Hill Reserve. Found in an extinct volcano crater, this spot is full of native flora and fauna. If you want to see Australian animals, it’s a great place to spot wild kangaroos, koalas and emus.
There are five train departures from Southern Cross Station every day (three at the weekend) that take you to Warrnambool. These take four hours or more and include a change of train in Geelong, another of the best places to visit in Victoria by rail.
Best Victoria road trip destinations
Whether you live in Melbourne or you’ve got a hire car to help extend your reach, Victoria has plenty of great places to visit by car.
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is a must-see for visitors to Melbourne and one of the attractions that locals revisit time and time again. Whether you hire a car or take an organised tour from Geelong, visiting the 12 Apostles, Bells Beach and the other highlights of the famed road is a must-do.
Built by returning soldiers from World War I, this heritage-listed road stretches for almost 250 kilometres along the coast. You can camp at one of the many caravan parks, or check in at a cosy bed and breakfast.
Australia is full of amazing wine-producing areas and Victoria’s claim to the throne comes in the Yarra Valley.
Just an hour to the east of Melbourne CBD, the Yarra Valley is a great option for a quiet weekend away. The wines are the obvious drawcard, but early morning hot air balloon rides, specialty chocolatiers and the Healesville Sanctuary where you can get up close and personal with native animals.
Up towards the NSW border is Yackandandah, a small town with a lot of charm. It’s fair drive, so best to break it up over a couple of days and take in the sights along the way. Like much of rural Victoria, Yackandandah is a former gold mining spot, but this one still has an immaculately carved mining tunnel that you can book a tour to see.
When you arrive, you’ll be greeted like a friend. Make sure to join a tour from the visitor centre and eat in as many local cafes and restaurants as you can.
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Popular questions travellers have about visiting Victoria
Starting from Melbourne, there are lots of places you can go just for the day. As well as checking out the train timetable from Southern Cross Station, you can drive out to Geelong, Mornington Peninsular or along the Great Ocean Road.
While Melbourne is the hotspot of tourism in Victoria, other areas like Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong are all incredibly popular with tourists.
There are two main train stations in Melbourne: Southern Cross Station (Spencer Street) and Flinders Station (Flinders Street). From these two, you can easily travel across Victoria.