From the breathtaking, rugged beauty of the coastline along the Great Ocean Road, to the still calm of the Gippsland Lakes and the cosmopolitan cool of Melbourne, Victoria can offer wonderful family holidays to suit all tastes and budgets.
Melbourne is packed with things to do for visitors of any age. Kids will love the tram ride down to St Kilda pier, the children's museum at Melbourne Museum and the simulated underwater rollercoaster ride at the Aquarium. Parents will no doubt be just as thrilled by Melbourne's fantastic shopping, dining and nightlife, as well as the excellent National Gallery of Victoria and the leisurely cruises down the Yarra River.
Not far from Melbourne there are many options, including a visit to the fantastic Open Range Zoo at Werribee, or head to the Dandenong Ranges for a ride on the legendary Puffing Billy steam train. Kids also love to visit Phillip Island to watch the penguin parade at Summerland Beach, see the fur seals near the Nobbies or go boogie boarding or surfing at some of the best surf and swimming beaches in Victoria.
Just an hour's drive from Melbourne is the Mornington Peninsula, which looks remarkably like the boot of Italy. The region ranges from the small sandy beaches of Mt Eliza to the rolling waves of the Portsea Surf Beach, and offers many great family activities. Get lost at Ashcombe Maze and Water Gardens, glide over the treetops on the Arthurs Seat scenic chairlift or visit the historic Cape Schanck Lightstation. You can even get up close and personal with some endangered Australian animals after dark with a guided walk by lantern light at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation park in Pearcedale.
The Gippsland area is a place of great natural beauty, with the stunning Ninety Mile Beach, Wilson's Promontory and the many lakes offering excellent camping, fishing, boating, hiking and swimming. Inland, the tiny goldmining village of Walhalla is a hidden treasure, complete with its own Goldfields Railway.
The coastline along the Great Ocean Road is a jewel in Victoria's crown, with natural attractions such as the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge. Kids will love the wild surf, rugged cliffs and pretty beaches, with plenty of photo opportunities for the family album.
The alpine region is magnificent all year round. Imagine a fairytale village high in the Victorian Alps, nestled amongst the snow gums and featuring unique architecture of stone and timber buildings, all built in the spirit of the high country cattlemen’s huts. Plan a visit to Dinner Plain – the Alpine area’s best year round, family friendly destination.
With so much to see, start planning your Victorian holiday now. There is accommodation to suit everyone, whether you want a luxury city hotel, rural bed and breakfast, serviced apartment, private caravan park, bush camp, lavish seaside retreat or homely farmstay.
How do I get there?
There are a number of transport options available depending on where you're departing from. If you're planning to drive to Melbourne, allow at least nine hours from Adelaide, 10 hours from Sydney, 20 hours from Brisbane and up to two days from Perth.
There are also direct bus routes to Melbourne from Sydney and Adelaide.
International and domestic carriers (the major two being Qantas and Virgin Blue) fly into Melbourne from most capital cities several times daily.
When to go, Weather
January and February are the hottest months throughout Victoria, with average maximum temperatures around 20°C in the High Country, 25°C along the coast and up to 35°C in the north-west of the state. In winter, maximum temperatures range from below 10°C in the High Country (less than 3°C on peaks) to 13°C in coastal areas and 17°C in the north-west. Spring has the highest amount of rainfall, while Summer is the peak period and popular hotels can often be booked out. The ski season is from July to early September.
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||11 - 20°C|
||6 – 13°C|
Where to stay
Victoria attracts visitors from every walk of life, and the accommodation is accordingly varied and plentiful. Families on a budget will find roadside motels, caravans and campsites throughout the country. A great way to spend the night in a country town is cosying up at a charming bed and breakfast or rustic farm retreat, while Melbourne and other major towns have hotels and resorts ranging from modest to luxurious.
Click here for places to stay in Victoria.
Food and Drink
When it comes to eating out, Victoria is a haven for the keenest foodies as well as the fussiest kids. Victoria offers all types of cuisines from all nationalities, with its mixture of diverse ethnic cultures and many of Australia's most innovative chefs. In Melbourne alone, you'll find over 3,000 restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars dishing up every type of food imaginable and reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of the city. You'll find everything from unique modern fusion to Thai, Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, vegetarian and seafood specialities.
Around Victoria, there's everything from laidback cafes and family restaurants to fine dining establishments, many boasting unbeatable locations. Accessible and abundant, Victoria's gastronomic getaways allow you to sample such fresh local fare as venison, quail or trout, washed down with quality handcrafted wines.
Melbourne is known as the fashion and shopping capital of Australia. There's no shortage of choice when it comes to spending cash, from big departments stores to snazzy basement boutiques to sprawling markets and hole-in-the-walls hiding all sorts of unusual and unique treasures. Walking is the best way to shop, especially along Melbourne's delightful arcades and laneways. Outside the city centre, visit shopping precincts like Chapel Street in South Yarra, Acland Street in St Kilda and Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, especially on weekends. Here you'll find everything from retro homewares to funky shops selling cult-in-the-making jewellery. These strips also have stacks of streetside cafes, where you can refuel between sprees.
Outside Melbourne, the larger regional centres all have department stores and retail outlets, while locally-made crafts and collectibles can be found in towns and villages across the state. Look out for traditional aboriginal handicrafts and local produce like wines, cheeses and fruits.
Tullamarine (Melbourne) Airport is the second busiest in Australia, with international and domestic flights coming in 24 hours a day. Melbourne is well stocked with facilities including passenger lounges, chemists, restaurants and cafeterias, various retail outlets and duty free for international passengers. The Melbourne Hilton Airport Hotel is located near the international terminal.
Transfers from Airport
Melbourne airport is approximately 22 kilometres from the city - approximately 25 minutes' drive. Melbourne Airport runs the Sky Bus Super Shuttle which runs 24 hours a day between the airport and Melbourne city centre. Sky Bus tickets can be purchased at the airport or booked in advance from the Sky Bus website (www.skybus.com.au). Taxis are also available outside the arrivals area.
Getting around for families
Hiring a car or bringing your own is the best way to make the most of a trip to Victoria if you want to visit regional areas.
If you don't want to drive there are private and government-run trains and buses operating services connecting Melbourne with intrastate and interstate destinations , while scheduled flights link to regional centres. There are also ferry services to and from the popular beachside spots of Queenscliff and Sorrento.
Melbourne has an efficient public transport system consisting of trains, trams, buses and taxis. Travelling by tram is the best way to get around Melbourne's suburbs, and kids taking their first ever tram ride will find it a real adventure.
What to wear
Casual lightweight clothing is suitable for Summer in most of Victoria, although a light jacket or jumper will still be needed for cooler evenings and visiting mountain regions. Melbourne gets a fair amount of rain year round and the weather can change suddenly, so don't forget to bring along raincoats and umbrellas. During winter you will need to pack plenty of warm clothing. Pack a heavy waterproof coat, scarf and gloves. If you're visiting the snowfields, invest in good ski jackets, gloves, beanies, boots, thick socks and ski-goggles or sunglasses.
Click here for Things to See & Do in Victoria.
Click here for more information on Dinner Plain.