Here are my top 50 favourite photos from last week’s five-day jaunt across Victoria in Australia. This was thanks to Tourism Victoria and the Herald On Sunday and was a fun revelation in terms of all the other things to see in the state beyond Melbourne.
As for Melbourne itself, it’s undeniably one of the world’s greatest cities and a Hidden Secrets Laneways tour showed even more of a city I thought I knew pretty well. But this trip was really about the gems of Victoria outside of Melbourne.
The photos begin in Geelong – a coastal city of 250,000 about an hour south of Melbourne. I went rock-climbing at the excellent The Rock Adventure Centre, sampled craft beers and was given a lesson in Geelong’s industrial history at the acclaimed Little Creatures brewery, dined at the Asian-fusion restaurant Jack And Jill before a night at Geelong’s premiere hotel, the waterfront-facing Novotel.
The photos then take in the Great Ocean Road and a helicopter tour over the famed 12 Apostles. Then it was inland to small town of Dunkeld and the gorgeous Royal Mail Hotel. You can stay in century-old cottages facing the bush-clad Mt Sturgeon with kangaroos hopping about in the foreground. The Royal Mail wine-cellar is said to be one of the most extensive (and valuable) in Australia and the five-course degustation was outstanding.
Then it was to the Grampians National Park – the antithesis of Australian stereotypes of dry, flat lands. Hilly and lush with remarkable rock formations, the Grampians were my highlight of the trip.
Next was the town of Mildura (staying in the Mlidura Grand Hotel) in the state’s north-east to visit the World Heritage Listed Mungo National Park. This is amongst the most significant archeological sites in Australia and arguably even the world with what this surreal landscape reveals of human history and climate change. Human remains tens of thousands of years have been found here, most notably the oldest cremated human bones ever discovered. Graham Clarke at Harry Nanya Tours was a terrific and knowledgable guide with an inspiring passion for history, the environment and for social justice.
Flying from Mildura to Melbourne for a final night, the modern Indian restaurant Tonka (Indian cuisine served tapas-style, order the tandoor chicken, you won’t regret it) and the Crown Metropol and its 28th floor rooftop pool were the perfect finale to an action-packed week. And as said before, the Hidden Secrets Laneways tour showed more nooks and crannies than even most savvy Melbournites are aware of.
Stay reading for a series of articles about this latest adventure, including a 1200-word feature article in the Herald On Sunday. Thanks again to Tourism Victoria for looking after me so well. Enjoy the photos!