HYDERABAD: The state of Victoria in the southern part of Australia boasts many interesting places for the tourist. Surrounded by some of the best surf beaches in Victoria and with four townships, Phillip Island has a reputation as a coastal getaway with a bent for family fun. Here, you can see penguins, seals and koalas in their natural habitats, explore the heritage and natural attractions or soak-up the scenic coastline. Close to the city of Melbourne, Phillip Island and Yarra Valley are the best bets for a family holiday.
Fun on Phillip Island
Ride in a Steam Train
Puffing Billy is Australia’s favourite steam train and one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world. This century-old steam train continues to run on its original mountain track in the magnificent Dandenong Ranges 40kms east of Melbourne. Puffing Billy was built to serve at the turn of the century and is a genuine relic of the more leisurely days. Puffing Billy Railway is now a major tourist attraction and operates every day except Christmas Day, thanks to the tireless efforts of more than 900 dedicated volunteers.
Learn about chocolates and eat them too!!
Panny’s has a range of chocolate treats that cannot be found anywhere else. The chocolate fondue experience is a constant favourite and has been joined by an extensive range of over a dozen chocolate sensations. With an assortment of cakes, pastries and truffles and superb coffee, there are more than enough reasons to drop by here.
A Maze’N Things
It is a magical world of illusions, puzzles, mazes and mini golf that provides hours of fun for the whole family. Easily one of the most entertaining family attractions Phillip Island has to offer. In one location you can be shrunk in their shrinking room, become lost in one of the mazes or fall down the “Look Out” slide. There are lots of activities to test your motor skills, perception and memory. It is a riot of laughter all the way.
Phillip Island Nature Park
Experience close koala encounters among the treetops on the elevated boardwalk. Learn about the koalas in the visitor centre where colourful displays tell the koala story. This unique setting will let you experience koalas in an environment representing their natural bushland habitat.
Eco Adventure Boat Tour
Experience the thrills of a one-hour high-speed tour along Phillip Island’s rugged and spectacular coastline to the local Australian fur seal colony. Watch the antics of playful seals as they surround the boat, ducking their heads in and out of the water.
The Phillip Island Penguin Parade, the star attraction of the Phillip Island Nature Park, attracts visitors from across the globe when little penguins make their way up Summerland Beach each night at sunset as they waddle past to their sand dune burrows. Over 500,000 visitors make the Phillip Island Penguin Parade the third-largest visited natural attraction in Australia.
Eat, drink and make merry in Yarra Valley
Located only 50 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD, the Yarra Valley feels a million miles away, with vast rows of vines and mountain ash forests. Indulge in some of the best cool-climate wines Australia has to offer with a tasting at one of over 50 cellar doors. Domaine Chandon offers some of the country’s finest sparkling wines in the Green Point room. Soak up the sun and view the picturesque scenery while tasting the unique flavors produced in the vineyards.
Producers of fine farm cheeses, the Yarra Valley Dairy specialises in both cow’s milk cheeses and goat’s milk cheeses, which are sold throughout Australia. Taste fresh cheese and get hooked!
Garden Tour and Lunch
“Coombe – The Melba Estate” was the former home of Dame Nellie Melba and is set across seven stunning acres of manicured gardens. The property includes the main formal private garden, a heritage-listed converted clock tower restaurant, with seating for 150 people, and offers exquisite seasonal and predominantly estate-grown produce in a beautiful setting. It is worth trying the famous Peach Melba here: Peach Melba is a dessert of peaches and raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream. It was invented at the fag end of the 19th century by the French chef Auguste Excoffier at the Savoy Hotel, London to honour the Australian Soprano, Nellie Melba. The celebrated soprano is immortalised through this dessert. After the ultimate dining experience at the estate, Peach Melba would be a fitting finale to the memorable tour!!
(The author is a documentary filmmaker and travel writer; she blogs at vijayaprataptravelandbeyond.com)