Out and about around Melbourne and Victoria
If you’re based in Melbourne for any length of time, there is plenty to keep you entertained within the city during your stay (more on that soon!), but there is also so much to see if you have time to head out into the surrounding area, including the world famous Great Ocean Road.
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is a stretch of highway that runs all the way along the coastal region of south-west Victoria. It is about 247km long. Following the coast all the way, you will see some of the most spectacular coastal scenery including rugged cliffs, sandy coves, special rock formations and even a quaint fishing village.
The highlight is the Twelve Apostles, a group of limestone stacks rising impressively out of the Southern Ocean. Currently there are 7 apostles still standing, but the sights are no less jaw-dropping. Aim to arrive there for a sunset (or sunrise if you’re an early bird!) if you want to take home some truly amazing photos.
The Great Ocean Road can in fact be driven in 1 day from end to end, but that would be crazy! Give yourself at least 2/3 days to drive to the end and back, making sure you have plenty of stops along the way – there are hotels and campsites for accommodation. Hiring a vehicle is easily done from Melbourne, although there are also backpacker tours of various lengths available if you don’t drive. Adelaide is not technically the end of the Great Ocean Road – it’s a lot further on, but it is usually possible with the larger car hire companies to pick up your vehicle from one city and drop it off at the next, if you would like to make you Great Ocean Road experience part of a longer holiday.
Phillip Island is situated in Western Port Bay, to the South of Melbourne and East of the Mornington Peninsula. Named after Arthur Phillip, the first Governor of New South Wales, this little island is visited by 3.5 million people annually.
Packed with wildlife, the key draw for tourists is at Summerland Beach, where you can see fairy penguins waddling ashore as dusk falls, although there are also plenty of koalas and waterbirds to be seen in the area.
The island’s location lends itself to perfect surf conditions, and hosts a number of different surf events and competitions. If you like a bit more speed and noise than the usual relaxed pace of the island, then this is also the place to come for the Motor Bike Grand Prix, each year.
Transport yourself to a different world in the lush and peaceful Yarra valley, just an hours drive out of Melbourne. Stretching up into the Dandenong mountains, the Yarra Valley is a fertile region full of vineyards. The produce from the 40 wineries in this region are well known globally as Australia’s finest Pinot Noir and sparkling white wines. Throughout the Yarra, there are also many restaurants serving local and international food, cafes as well as luxurious accommodation to help you escape the busy city and relax.
Of course, we know that on an intern’s budget, drinking the wine may not be the only thing on your mind in the Yarra Valley, if you are looking for fruit picking work during your working holiday, then this could also be a place to seek work. The grape picking season in the Yarra runs through February and March, although of course it is extremely popular with backpackers, so make sure you get in early if you want to take part.
Bells beach is a renowned surf beach which is located 100 km south-west of Melbourne. There is not really much “beach”, there is however a beautiful rocky cliff and the nearby small town called Torquay which is home to two of the most popular surf brands Rip Curl and Quiksilver.
Bells Beach hosts one of the world’s longest running surfing competitions, the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival.
The Dandenong Range, is a low mountain range of rolling hills covered in lush temperate forest. The Dandenongs are located where Melbourne’s eastern suburbs meet the mountains and forests, less than an hour from the city. Protected parklands preserve the natural beauty of this area, which is a bushwalking and cycling paradise. Climbing to the peak of Mount Dandenong (633 metres), will give you a panoramic view of the city.
It won’t feel like it, but the area is home to 100,000 residents, being so close to the city, and there are plenty of restaurants, shops and B&Bs if you want to take a longer trip to the Dandenong. Head back to your Melbourne home via the Yarra Valley, which we mentioned above.