A vacation in Victoria
In Victoria, you can just sit back and enjoy the beauty of nature
BLESSED BY NATURE Victoria’s waterfalls (top) and the splendid coastline
The Yarra, the predominant river in Victoria, is a river of many colours. A bright green running through forests, a clear blue running through the sparsely populated but fine-looking suburbs, silver and glass reflecting off the skyscrapers in Melbour
ne City and a muddy green in poor visibility.
Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, can be explored in a pretty short time, as our ambitious film directors try (and sometimes even succeed) to fit it all into five-minute song sequences. But the true beauty of Victoria lies in its countryside, in its mountains and hills and hidden reservoirs. In its glens and gullies. In its lakes and rivers and the wildlife that abounds in its concealed conservation areas.
Oh and vineyards! And strawberry farms. And in its burgeoning cherry and apple trees just waiting to be picked. And not to mention its astounding coastline.
The Dandenong and Brisbane ranges loom just outside of Melbourne. There are numerous forest parks and beautiful walks up the mountains that make the exercise a pleasure.
These mountains are called the Australian Blue Mountains as the vegetation is primarily contributed by the various trees of the Eucalyptus genera, locally referred to as gum trees. There is a heady smell of eucalyptus in the air, he
ightened on tree covered, canopied walks after a fresh bout of rain.
As the southern coastline of Victoria is covered with hills, there is not a frame that has the deep blue of the sea without the verdant green of the elevated forests.
There are various vantage points along the coast which offer both the spectacular view of the bay and the city skyline, one of which is Arthur’s Seat on the Mornington peninsula. There are beautiful gardens sculpted and landscaped in the clearing pockets of the forests.
In some gardens, tall hedges grown into complex mazes, where the adventurous try to find the centre of the maze and exit safely.
There are several wildlife conservatory areas in Victoria, but combined with beautiful beaches and the slow and lazy Tidal River and scenic climbs ending in panoramic views make Wilson’s Prom (short for promenade) the best of them.
Each kilometre of the 130-km coastline here is a fascinating mix of fern gullies, meandering distributaries, granite ranges, gum tree forests and a glorious aquamarine Bass Strait. Wilson’s Prom also lays claim to being the southernmost point of the Australian mainland.
There are many activities for visitors at The Prom: there are camping grounds, canoeing and kayaking, motor-boating, fishing, treks and climbs, bush walking, mountain biking and many sea related activities such as snorkelling and surfing. The adrenalin and thrill seekers can climb rocks, abseil and raft. And for the visitors who are not easily spooked, they also have night walks amidst the forests sounds.
There are various beaches along the coast and no two beaches are alike. The clean water sparkles off a different shade in each.
Ranging every shade from murky green to aquamarine, to cerulean to the deepest inky blue, the sea is a chameleon, reflecting the aquatic algae that drain into it and the variety of plankton it supports. And the one beach that a visitor to Wilson’s Prom must not miss is the Squeaky Beach. Yes the sand squeaks loudly when one walks on it!
The sheer number of kangaroos and colourful lorikeets which flock around humans bearing birdfeed in wildlife conservatories bear proof to the conservation efforts in Victoria. Koala and platypus spotting becomes a game.
Birds are aplenty in this garden state. Almost every backyard boasts a kookaburra on the omnipresent gum trees. What is spooky to hear is their eerily human-like laughter.
There are finches, and water hens and beautiful swans in every pond and lake. Lyre birds, which are tricky to spot, can mimic (artificial or natural sounds) with extraordinary ability.
The Great Ocean Drive, which is a world heritage wonder, is a standard tourist destination for anyone visiting this part of the world. A long drive of 241 km, it is the most spectacular coastal drive in the world with grand seaside towns.
It curves and swings, hugging every indentation along the coast. Most visitors break their journey at one of the picturesque towns such as Anglesea, Apollo Bay or Port Campbell. The twelve apostles really do live up to their name, gigantic masses of limestone coast that have been cut off from land by the relentless surf.
Other things to do
The Tooronga falls and the Amphitheatre falls, which are north of the town of Noojee: the single-file walkway to these breathtaking falls is a steep climb up, hugging the side of a mountain amidst dew dripping evergreen forests and fern.
The historic lighthouses along the coast: each lighthouse has a story behind it and some of it is horrific. These are wonderlands for history/trivia buffs. Some of the lighthouses allow visitors to climb up to the top and enjoy the view.
Wineries: the best of Australian grapes and viticulture is available in Victoria’s countryside. Most small scale wineries have free wine tasting and they have beginner’s wine appreciation sessions for the un-initiated.
An extended stay in Victoria is ideal for lovers of nature. Whether travelling individually or in small groups, and if cost is an issue, comfortable but cheap student dormitories are available in every little scenic town.
The best time to visit
Both spring and fall bring around comfortable temperatures for a fun and bustling vacation in Victoria. There is no other easily accessible place on earth that nature has done so much for.
It’s time to get out the goggles and backpacks when adventure and wanderlust call out from Victoria.
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