In June I got the chance to jet over to Melbourne where I spent 8 days wandering around the city, visiting one of my good friends and exploring the city and surroundings. I did LOADS in the 8 days I was there and no, I don’t think 8 days was too long at all for Melbourne.
So what did I get up to? A LOT. But if I was to make a bucket list for Australia, here is what you should include in your next visit to Melbourne!
KingLake National Park
In 2006 this beautiful National Park was devastated by a raging bushfire started by lightning in which around 98% of the National Park forest was affected. The town of Kinglake was devastated, wildlife was destroyed and driven away, many people lost their lives, homes and families.
Since 2010 a conservation effort has been put in place and slowly over the years the park is now starting to recover and becoming reopened to the public.
So why should you visit?
Only a short 50km drive outside of Melbourne City Centre, escape to the country, or the ‘bush’ as Aussies call it, for a day to experience the beauty and scenery in Victoria.
The wildlife is slowly returning and the forest is recovering. With such a huge recovery and conservation effort after the fires, the park trails are more defined and looked after, viewing points have been restored and information about the park and new trails have been opened.
It is one of the most surreal landscapes, black trees with green leaves makes for an eerie feeling. The fact that in some parts the birds and wildlife has yet to return despite the new trees and forest recovery is where you will really hear real silence. It is also the only forest walk I’ve done where I have heard a tree falling twice.
Where wildlife has returned, you are more likely to see it. I was not lucky enough to spot a koala or a Kangaroo but their presence was there. However, we did spot a Wombat – yes, awake during the day, I think this one was confused – rummaging around for food on the forest floor, possibly the most incredible experience.
Hikes for everyone! You can choose a quick 5 minute (if that) walk from the car park to the beautiful Mason Falls, take in the stunning view – tip: go just after rain, the waterfall will be incredible! – or walk up the (secret hidden) stairs and choose a small trail walk or a longer 15km round trip walk from the Falls to Mt Sugarloaf – which, if you’re lazy, you can also drive to.
Great Ocean Road – Of Course!
You can’t visit Melbourne (or Australia really) without at least taking a peak at the 243km stretch of beautiful, adventurous driving road. Despite the name the Great Ocean Road follows the coast but not necessarily with an ocean view. While you drive this road you will experience cliff faced coastal drives, farmland, beautiful lush enchanted forests and even petrified forests.
This road trip is great for scenic lovers and wildlife lovers combined, not only will you get incredible views, sunsets, skies and scenery. You will also encounter all sorts of wildlife from the adorable Koala’s and Kangaroo’s to the silly cows and depending on the time of year, you may even see a Snake or two!
Top Tip: Set off EARLY. If you are doing this drive in a day leave as early as possible and make sure your route is planned out so you don’t lose the light at the end.
The Great Ocean Road isn’t just a drive, along the coast there are multiple mini hikes to more lengthy ones you can participate in – if you have time – where you will uncover beautiful rock formations, explore the bush in more depth and discover waterfalls (of course).
You will not be short of picture stops. Finishing the day trip I had a ridiculously high number of coastal shots, just when you think the coastline can’t get more beautiful you turn a corner and BAM more beauty hits you. There is no shame at stopping at all the view points, you came all this way!
Self Drive all the way baby!
If you can, find a friend (or not) and self drive the GOR. While day tours can be enticing and seem to take the stress out of the drive, planning and time of it all you have the lower points. Less time for photo stops, you will probably have 20 minutes to snap and experience the 12 Apostles, which I don’t think is enough to let this legendary site fully sink in. You came for experience not just the photo remember. You will spend more time in the seaside towns which, in my opinion, are nothing special and certainly not what you came for.
Do the drive over two days: Yes, I did the GOR as a road trip in a day but I would HIGHLY recommend you spend an overnight somewhere. We lost the light coming into the seaside town of Torquay and so had to miss that from our stop. If I was to go back and do it again I would definitely check out some of the awesome Air BnBs on the GOR near the 12 Apostles. To say goodnight and wake up to that view would be incredible.
Healesville Sanctuary – Aussie Animals Only!
You can’t take a trip to Australia and not tick off the Animal Bucket List right? EXACTLY. Well you don’t need to head to the big Australian Zoo’s – or trek through the bush – to do this, they are all here in this Rural Aussie Animal only Sanctuary which is a Must Do when you visit Melbourne.
Give yourself a whole day to explore, wander and marvel through this awesome Sanctuary caring for a variety of animals. At only $32.00 (AUD) for a day ticket you then have the option to add-on a ‘Magic Moment‘ with one of the native animals in the zoo.
What does a ‘Magic Moment’ mean? Well, it basically means your dreams (if you are someone like me) come true. They are only $12 (AUD) per person to add-on and this gives you some one-on-one time with your selected animal. You should have the opportunity to meet; Koala’s, Pythons (if you want to be brave), Little Echidnas, Feed the Kangaroo’s, Cuddle a Dingo, Measure up with the Emu’s or if you are extra lucky, Wade with the playful Platypus!
While you are interacting with your dream Aussie animal there is a photographer on hand capturing those special moments – so you don’t have to worry about capturing that selfie – of course you have to pay for the photos after. I got all my photos on a USB for $50 (AUD) which is pretty reasonable – I now have about 100 photo memories of feeding the Roos – or you can choose your best few and have them printed.
The Zoo does a lot to protect the native Aussie Species. You will learn how many are being threatened by diseases, how the Zoo is helping in conservation efforts, protection and promoting breeding to ensure longevity of species now endangered.
Puffing Billy Steam Train Adventure
Calling all Hogwarts Fans! You can have a Harry Potter Adventure down under!
Kept going by the conservation efforts of volunteers this steam train runs almost everyday of the year. Experience the authentic steam engine pulling you from the Belgrave station to the Emerald Lakes. Hop off for an hour and explore the beautiful park; take a picnic, marvel at the parks beauty on one of the many mini walks before returning to the cafe for a yummy hot chocolate.
Seating on the train is optional (kind of), if you want the best experience; jump up onto the window of the carriage and sit handing over the edge with just two little bars stopping you sliding out. Hang out the trains window, feet dangling and experience, what feels like, a train ride experience you’d only get in Asia. Watch the beautiful scenery open up in front of you – just make sure your shoes are firmly attached, the train will not stop for missing shoes, phones or cameras! So watch those selfie sticks! – and get some epic shots.
For only $55.00 (AUD) open return, this is a great day trip, transporting you into a land only Harry Potter regularly experiences.
Melbourne City – Street Art, Coffee & More
It is not surprising Melbourne is often voted the most livable city in the world/the best city in the world. Offering a scene to suit even the most fussy, it would be hard to be bored in this city of wonder.
First thing to look for when arriving into Melbourne is, Coffee, of course. In the city make sure you check the side streets this is where you will find the best, cutest and most ‘out there’ coffee shops. I highly recommend checking out Captains of Industry for an awesome Breakfast Bun and super strong coffee in the quaintest setting. Just make sure to get here early before the rush! Manchester Press has some incredible Bagels, get here early of sign on the waitlist – yes, the coffee place has a waitlist – it is so worth it!
Visit Melbourne’s Night Markets for some incredible food, you will literally be spoilt for choice – I wandered around for an hour and still couldn’t decide – they have everything from awesome Aussie burgers to Ethiopian food to the biggest Ice cream Sundays I have ever seen! If you are in Melbourne over winter check out Queen Victoria Night Market and thank me later!
Take a wander around Melbourne and check out some of the incredible street art on display, most famously, Hosier Lane. I would recommend jumping onto a street art walking tour. Some of these tours are free others will charge but they are worth it. If you have a horrible sense of direction, like me, this will ensure you see the best of the art on Melbourne’s streets.
At around 4pm head over to the Eureka Tower to capture some incredible views of the city’s skyline. Standing at 297 metres, the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere, purchase a ticket to the viewing deck for $20 (AUD) and take in the incredible 360 degree views.
Why head at around 4pm?
Well if you are travelling in Fall/Winter the sun will set earlier. This way you don’t have to fork out extra money to see the city views in the Sun and the Stars. If you time it right, you’ll get there in the sun and you’ll leave well after it is set, enjoying the view in the daylight and the night.
Personally, I wouldn’t waste the money on the ‘Edge’ experience. It promises a much more exciting experience than what it actually is, you also can’t take your own camera’s in with you (or phones) and the pictures they take of you, are pretty rubbish to be honest.
You can get a much better view from the outside observation deck which is free to enter.
Have you travelled to Melbourne?
What would you put on your Bucket List for Melbourne?