The Top Ten Victoria Tourist Destinations
A cosmopolitan metropolis that is a huge player on the world tourist stage, Melbourne is the sort of city that has something for everyone. Sporting fanatics will feel right at home, with institutions such as the Rod Laver Arena and the Melbourne Cricket Ground playing host to the worlds biggest tournaments. Arts and culture lovers have the Melbourne Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria and many other cultural institutions to indulge in. The Yarra River and the beautiful beaches provide a basis for outdoor pursuits of all descriptions too.

Snowy River National Park
The remote wilderness features of Victoria's most beautiful National Park include pine forests, majestic gorges and wide rivers. Pick up a hire car in Buchan and head along the Barry Way to the Park, stopping in at the Buchan Caves if you have the chance. The Park is the highlight of the Victorian High Country, and is also close to popular alpine towns such as Jindabyne. One of the most popular features is Little River Gorge, the deepest gorge in the country. Bushwalkers will love the 18 kilometre Silver Mine Track, which takes 9 to 10 hours to complete.

Mornington Peninsula
Just an hour outside of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula has a distinctly Mediterranean feel to it. A centre of culinary excellence, enjoy fine food and wine in towns like Flinders, Sorrento and Mt Eliza, and stop in at the cellar doors and sample the local drop. The beaches are stunning, and the hinterland is lush and very agriculture oriented, so take your picnic basket and stock up! Golf is also a favourite pastime, and there are 18 courses here including the long established Portsea Golf Club, and the Greg Norman designed Moonah Links.

Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is something of a rite of passage for visitors to Australia. It begins 74 kilometres west of Melbourne in the city of Geelong, and runs down the coast for about 270 kilometres, past some of the most stunning geological formations and ocean views in the world. Winding through thick forest and along steep cliff faces, the drive takes you past peaceful coastal hamlets such as Lorne and Apollo Bay, and of course to the inimitable Twelve Apostles, which are near the town of Port Campbell. If youre a surfer then stop in at Torquay, home to the famous Bells Beach.

A rural centre in the north west of the state, Mildura is a friendly town on the banks of the Murray River. The River is like an aquatic playground for the town, with activities like fishing and canoeing being especially popular. The historic paddleboats that run up and down its length are great for an evening cruise or a day on the water. The Mungal National Park is a great place for a camping trip, and if you are planning a trip here try and make it coincide with the Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival, which takes place in March.

Lakes Entrance
This popular holiday spot east of Melbourne is on the coastline where the Gippsland Lakes and the ocean meet. The landscapes are water dominated, and the views from the town are spectacular, especially at lookouts such as Flagstaff Lookout. It is close to the famous ninety mile beach, and marinas and an attractive foreshore line the main esplanade in town. The waters of the Bass Strait are popular amongst fishermen, surfers and swimmers, as are the smoother waters of the nearby lakes.

Grampians National Park
These are the perfect destination for lovers of the outdoors. Bushwalking, mountain climbing and camping are all favourite pastime in these lush mountains that are characterised by their rugged views and plethora of wildlife. Halls Gap is the main town in the Grampians, and is the perfect place to base yourself and explore the Park from. Unleash you inner adventurer and enjoy abseiling down sheer rock faces, or canoeing down white flowing rivers. Halls Gap is a three hour drive from Halls Gap in your hire car.

Apollo Bay
Situated on the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is a quaint coastal village built on the shores of a serene, calm bay. Towering up behind it are the Otway Ranges, which provide a myriad of bushwalking opportunities where hikers can enjoy the thick forest and the gorgeous ocean views. There are plenty of nearby waterfalls, including Triplet falls and the Erskine Falls. Apollo Bay relies heavily on fishing for its income, and in the harbour the fleet comes in every day with the freshest seafood imaginable. Every year the Apollo Bay Music Festival is held here, which attracts people and artists from all over the world.

Yarra Valley
Under an hour from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is at the forefront of fine dining and wine production in Melbourne. It is a beautiful and fertile region made so by the wide flowing Yarra River, the centrepiece of the valley. There are lots of small, cosy towns to stay in such as Lilydale and Wandin, and in the larger town of Healesville there is the ever popular Healesville Sanctuary. A rich culture pervades the valley, and it displays itself in the numerous arts studios and galleries open to the public. Redgum Australia, in Lilydale, is the most comprehensive gallery and a great place to pick up a souvenir.

Phillip Island
Home to the Phillip Island Classic, Phillip Island is well known to motoring enthusiasts. It is just as well known to tourists and holiday makers, for its blue beaches, lush hinterland and high density of Australian wildlife. Especially well known is the 'Penguin Parade' on Summerland Beach, where a large colony of Little Penguins have made their home and parade up the beach from the surf every evening. There is a marine centre, Nobbies, and a viewing platform to watch them from. Another highlight of the island is the Koala Conservation Centre.

Gavin Wyatt