Regional Victoria

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Mallacoota

Relaxed Mallacoota is completely surrounded by the internationally acclaimed Croajingolong National Park, and is one of the nicest towns in the state. Its long, empty ocean beaches, tidal river mouths and vast inlet are a paradise for swimmers, surfers, anglers and boaties. At Christmas and Easter it's a crowded family holiday spot, but most of the year it's pretty quiet. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Mallacoota is by boat. The calm es-tuarine waters of Mallacoota Inlet have...

Indigenous Victoria

Australia's first inhabitants made the journey from Southeast Asia between 70,000 years and 40,000 years ago. For the Wurundjeri people who lived in the catchment of the Yarra River, where Melbourne is today, the land and the people were created in the Dreaming by the spirit Bunjil - 'the great one, old head-man, eagle hawk' - who continues to watch over all from Tharangalk-bek, the home of the spirits in the sky. The Victorian Aboriginal peoples lived in some 38 different dialect groups that...

Apollo

Apollo Bay is a lovely place, one of the Great Ocean Rd's major attractions. While this former fishing town is more relaxed and less trendy than Lome, property moguls seem to be using her big sister to the northeast as a template for Apollo Bay's impending rampant overdevelopment. When every shop is a surf-boutique or coffee shop there'll be nowhere to buy an onion. Locals - fisherfolk, artists, musicians and sea-changers - seem to be resigned to this, and while they lament the loss of the old...

Castlemaine

Kick back and relax - you're in Castlemaine, a town where artists live amidst splendid architecture and gardens. Besides, this is where (surprise, surprise) Casdemaine XXXX beer-brewing company (now based in Queensland) and Casdemaine Rock, a hard-boiled lolly dating back to the gold rush days, began. It's also the 'Street Rod Centre of Australia', where hotrods have been built since 1962. Farmers first moved into the district in the 1830s. But that all changed when gold was discovered at...

Croajingolong National Park

Croajingolong is one of Australia's finest national parks, recognised by its listing as a World Biosphere Reserve by Unesco (one of 12 in Australia). This coastal wilderness park covers 87,500 hectares, stretching for about 100km from Bemm River to the NSW border. Magnificent, unspoiled beaches, inlets, estuaries and forests make this an ideal park for camping, walking, swimming and surfing. The five inlets - Sydenham, Tamboon, Mueller, Wingan and Mallacoota (the largest and most accessible) -...

Little Desert National Park

It you're expecting rolling sand dunes, you are in for a surprise the soil here is sandy, but the park is rich in flora and fauna that thrive in the dry environment. There are over 670 indigenous plant species here, and in spring and early summer the landscape is transformed into a colourful wonderland of wildflowers. Over 220 species of birds have been recorded here, and you may also see possums, kangaroos and reptiles such as bearded dragons and stumpy-tailed lizards. The best-known resident...

Grampians National Park Gariwerd

The Grampians are one of Victoria's most outstanding natural features and a wonderland of flora and fauna. Major Thomas Mitchell named the ranges the Grampians after the mountains in Scotland. In 1836 he eloquently described them as a noble range of mountains, rising in the south to a stupendous height, and presenting as bold and picturesque an outline as a painter ever imagined. It's really something to be surrounded by these spectacular shapes. Other attractions include an incredibly rich...

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Wahgunyah 334 Walhalla 283 walking 281 Wangaratta 341-2 Warby Range State Park 341 weather 12, 348-9 Whroo Historic Reserve 338 Williamstown 95-6,96 accommodation 194 food 144 Wilsons Promontory National Park 278-81, 279,8 Windsor 82-6,84-5 accommodation 191-2 drinking & nightlife 156-7 food 141-3 shopping 117-19 windsurfing & kite-surfing 173 wine festivals 13, 265, 306, 325, 328,332, 334, 335 wineries 207, see also Drinking index Wodonga 342 women travellers 358-9 work 359 Wye River 233...

Baw Baw National Park

All walks are rewarding in Baw Baw National Park, an offshoot of the Great Dividing Range encompassing the Baw Baw Plateau and the forested valleys of the Thomson and Aberfeldy Rivers. Walk along marked tracks through sub-alpine vegetation, ranging from open eucalypt stands to wet gullies and tall forests on the plateau. The 3km Mushroom Rocks Walkfrom Mt Erica car park leads to huge granite tors (blocks of granite broken off from the massif). The main access roads are the Baw Baw Rd from...

Festivals Events

There are festive occasions throughout the year, plus regular caf concerts and theatre productions backed by the Performing Arts Centre. Festival highlights High CountryAutumn Festival (www.mansfield-mtbuller .com.au) Markets, picnics and a rodeo in early March. Upper Goulburn Wine Region Vintage Celebrations ( 5777 3447 www.uppergoulburnwine.org.au) Local wines, musicians and chefs make forthree fun days in April. Mansfield-Mt Buller High Country Spring Arts Festival ( 1800 039 049...

Erskine Falls Walking Tracks

Lome is packed - 'Full ' say the locals. During summer weekends and holidays it's hard to find a car park let alone a bed for the night, and making your way down the main street can be a challenge, with all the caf tables on the footpath, window-shoppers and folks ambling along in holiday-mode. Thanks to its natural beauty, great restaurants, boutique shopping and proximity to the big smoke, Lome is extremely popular for weekending Melbur-nians - it's like an outpost of South Yarra chic. It's...

St Jeromes Shit Town

7 Caledonian Lane S 8am-late Mon-Fri, noon-late Sat amp Sun Tiny St Jerome's does great coffee and toasties all day for the students that flock here. Come sundown, its time for long-necks and beats in the cloistered back alley. It's also time for Shit Town, its twisted next-door sister, to open the door actually a hole in the wall . Here the 80s crack-house aesthetic is fully realised and the music is loud and left-field. 3 9658 8808 www.transporthotel.com.au Federation Sq Sl1am-late A...

Beechwrth

The National Trust rated Beechworth as one of Victoria's two 'notable' towns, and you can see why. It's a living legacy of the gold-rush era. In the historical and cultural precinct, the buildings built in the 1850s are built from a distinctive honey-coloured local granite - you can feel the past as well as learn about it. There are many attractive shops along Ford St, for every type of shopping spree, and the scenic countryside is just made for picnics, walking, cycling and tours of the...

Lake Eildon National Park

Surrounding most of Lake Eildon, Lake Eildon National Park covers over 27,000 hectares and provides excellent opportunities for walking and camping. Various 4WD tracks lead off the road into the park and across to the lake. There are walking tracks throughout, including CandlebarkNatureWalk. From the 1850s, the areas around Lake Eildon were logged and mined for gold, so much of the vegetation is regrowth eucalypt forest. There are several busy lakeside camping areas unpowered sites per4 people...

Itinerary Builder

Melbourne's compact city centre and straightforward public transport system make discovering its delights easy in just a couple of days. Do get familiar with a tram map and get your walking shoes on, but resist the urge to overschedule. Melbourne is at its best when you take it nice and slow and leave space for serendipity. National Gallery of Victoria Australia pSO Eureka Tower amp Skydeck 88 p62 Docklands p65 Australian Centre for Contemporary Art p62 National Gallery of Victoria Australia...

Eating Drinking

Beach House 5562 2223 Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club, off Pertobe Rd mains 12-22 S breakfast, lunch amp dinner The views from Beach House are amazing, ensconced in the Surf Life Saving Club's former function room - sip your cab sav whilst watching the surfers and yachts below. It's a bit daggy, with plastic chairs and tables and grubby carpet, and the food's more good than outstanding, yet there's something really nice going on here. If things aren't busy the wait staff will sit down for a...