Melbourne is food-obsessed, marvellously multicultural and a showpiece for Australian culture. Beyond the city limits, Victoria offers rich history, stunning wilderness and culinary excellence.
Food & Wine
Melbourne loves its food. A passion for street food and experimental fine dining has been grafted onto a long-standing multicultural culinary scene that has few peers. Regional Victoria is in no way playing second fiddle to this – its epicurean credentials continue to skyrocket in small country towns such as Kyneton, Beechworth, Birregurra and Red Hill. It also has a swag of respected wine regions, from the Yarra Valley to the King Valley, Mornington Peninsula to the Bellarine Peninsula. There’s also a catalogue of boutique breweries and coffee roasters to round it out.
Victorians are spoiled for wilderness. Southwest, the Great Ocean Road snakes along one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines, while the further east you go the wilder the coast gets, from wildlife-rich Wilsons Promontory to Gippsland’s aptly named Wilderness Coast. Also east, the wild rivers and epic forests of Errinundra and Snowy River yield to the picturesque mountains of the High Country, where year-round activities make it an adventure destination of the highest order. Northwest, almost in the outback, desertlike national parks occupy vast swathes of the state. Opportunities to explore are endless, whether on two legs or skis, two wheels or four.
In the 19th century, gold-rich Melbourne and small towns in Victoria were stamped with architectural wonders. These days many of those grand buildings survive as luxury hotels, theatres bursting with talent, top-notch restaurants or colourful state-of-the-art galleries. Seek out the cultural goldfields area, in particular, with towns such as Ballarat, Bendigo and Castlemaine, or the preserved sandstone buildings crammed with history in Beechworth. Melbourne in particular is an art lover’s smorgasbord (with signature art-strewn laneways so intimate they feel like they’re indoors), but regional Victoria holds its own when it comes to reasons to pray for a rainy day.
Victoria’s history is epic, but couldn’t be more accessible. The state’s Indigenous story serves as a subtext throughout, but it takes centre stage with rock art and creation stories at Gariwerd (the Grampians). Fast forward a few millennia, and Victoria’s 19th-century gold rush left behind some of Australia’s most atmospheric old towns, among them Ballarat, Castlemaine, Maldon, Kyneton, Walhalla and Beechworth. And the old Murray riverboat culture of Australia’s pioneering days lives on in Mildura, Swan Hill and, especially, Echuca.