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The Top 3 Holiday Spots Near Melbourne

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by Sean Goedecke (subscribe)
Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published March 21st 2012
Holidaying In Victoria

Between Easter, Christmas, Anzac Day and a dozen long weekends, the Australian year contains plenty of opportunities to take some time off.

There are moments we'd all like to recapture.

However, the planning and organizing part of a holiday can often feel like work itself, especially the task of choosing a destination. No matter how detailed your research is, you might still run afoul of fate, and all the pros-and-cons lists in the world can't account for sudden illness or accident. So why not take it easy? Don't worry too much in advance. Close your eyes and pick a place at random from this list it won't guarantee an incredible holiday, but you'll have a decent chance.

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay sits between Wye River and Cape Otway on the Great Ocean Road. It's a popular tourist destination, but not as crowded or busy as Lorne, for instance. The town backs onto a swathe of rolling green hills and faces the main swimming beach, which is just on the other side of the Great Ocean Road. This is a great place to take family rent a cottage or a small house and spend a few days relaxing in the cafes on the main strip or walking along the beach. Even in cloudy weather, Apollo Bay is impressive: above, the hills are wreathed in fog, and the grey ocean below stretches off into the horizon.

Apollo Bay
Don't worry, though - it is sunny during summer.

With Cape Otway National Park only a short drive away, Apollo Bay is the perfect place to explore some of the less developed areas of the Australian coast. There are plenty of excellent walking tracks, including some which visit the Cape Otway lighthouse, and you'll find at least a few deserted beaches on the way.

Phillip Island

Only ninety minutes' drive from Melbourne, Philip Island is a very popular holiday spot. It's got everything: clean swimming beaches, large campgrounds, good food and shopping, rocky island walks, and the famous Penguin Parade. Every day, national and international tourists come and see the little penguins emerge from the water and waddle over the sand. People cling to the edges of the boardwalks, waiting in silence as the first few penguins make their cautious trip to their burrows. Before long, the trickle has become a flood as hundreds of cooing penguins rush together up the beach, as if charging into an enemy position.

Little Penguin
Here's one looking adorably awkward.

The little penguin is the smallest kind of penguin in the world (in size, not number), which makes it unofficially the cutest kind of penguin in the world. Taking photo or video is not allowed at the Penguin Parade, since flashes of light can startle and disorient the penguins. The practical consequence of this is that visiting Phillip Island in person is the only way to see what the Penguin Parade looks like.


Like Apollo Bay, Lorne sits on the Great Ocean Road near the Otways. It's a seaside town, and a common holiday destination for hundreds of thousands of tourists. Swim in the beach or the Erskine river, wander up to the Lookout for views of the George River mouth, or do the eight kilometre hike in the Otways to the beautiful Erskine falls. There's fishing, surfing and a wealth of little cafes along the main strip, making Lorne the perfect (if a little crowded) place for a Great Ocean Road getaway. Great stretches of lawn sit next to the white sandy beaches, separated by a line of trees, and just around the corners of the beach are quiet rocky coves. It's the kind of place where time is so quiet you won't even notice it passing.

Lorne Pier
The main pier in Lorne, opened in 2007.

Lorne takes its position as a popular tourist town seriously, offering several events throughout the year. Visit on New Year's Eve for the Falls Festival and take in live music, dance, theatre and comedy acts, or head down in early January for the famous Pier to Pub swim. Unless you're very lucky, chances are you won't be able to enter yourself, so join the twenty-thousand strong crowd and cheer on the participants.

And Many More

The sheer number of holiday spots in Victoria is mindblowing I haven't mentioned the Grampians, Halls Gap, Mt Beauty or Lakes Entrance, to name just a few. The cities themselves are also popular destinations, from the bustle of Melbourne to the relaxing old-worldiness of Ballarat. Wilsons Promontory and Lerdederg Gorge National Parks offer amazing walking trails, both day hikes and overnighters.

Wilson's Promontory
A view from the top of Mount Oberon in Wilson's Promontory.

The Yarra Valley or the Mornington Peninsula are great spots for wine enthusiasts and those aspiring to become so. If you've been to these places and have a recommendation (or a condemnation), share it with us in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.
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Why? We all need to get away once in a while.
When: Whenever you've got some time off.
Where: All around Victoria.
Cost: Depends on where you want to stay.
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