Opened in 1970, Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum set in Ballarat’s 1850s gold rush era. Pan for gold in the diggings creek, be amazed by the $160,000 gold pour, journey underground into Red Hill Mine, and see the multi-million-dollar sound-and-light show, Blood on the Southern Cross, which depicts the 1854 Eureka Uprising. Sovereign Hill also features 60 historic buildings, including a range of dining options and on-site accommodation.
Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, VIC, Australia, +61 3 5337 1199
“Take a waddle on the wild side” at Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade, where you can see penguins in their natural environment. Explore the visitors’ centre before making your way down the boardwalk to the viewing area to see the little penguins wobble up Summerland Beach and into their burrows each day at sunset. Don’t forget to rug up as it gets chilly.
Penguin Parade, 1019 Ventnor Rd, Summerlands, VIC, Australia, +61 3 5951 2800
Hanging Rock continues to lure tourists, much as Joan Lindsay depicted in her ambiguous but fictional novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock. Formed six million years ago, this spellbinding geological formation is a great spot for families to bring their own picnics or take advantage of the on-site café. Hanging Rock also hosts concerts and has featured some of the biggest musical acts in the world, including Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and The Eagles.
Hanging Rock, 139 S Rock Rd, Woodend, VIC Australia, 1800 244 711
The 12 Apostles
The jewel—or jewels, rather,—of the dramatic Great Ocean Road are most definitely The 12 Apostles. Rising from the coast, this iconic group of windswept limestone stacks were formed by erosion during millions of years. Today, there are only eight left standing, and they are viewed at dawn or dusk from the lookout and walkways, which are open 365 days a year.
Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa
Submerge yourself within the restorative mineral waters at Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa. Just more than 10 minutes from Daylesford, the historic bathhouse includes a salt therapy pool that is heated to 38 degrees Celsius, as well as creekside bathing, an aroma steam room, and communal bathing in mineral rich waters. The sanctuary offers a range of hydrotherapies, spa rituals and revitalizing treatments. For continued relaxation, guests can stay at one of the retreat’s 10 five-star villas, which overlook the native bushland.
Although there are many worthwhile attractions in Grampians National Park, the most popular is The Pinnacle, a rocky spur that extends from a cliff face in Halls Gap. This natural lookout can be reached via a number of walking trails, including the family-friendly 4.2-kilometre return hike that begins at Sundial carpark. Whichever route you take, the hike is well worth the marvellous view from the top.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Located at the southernmost point of Australia’s mainland, Wilsons Promontory National Park is a 50,000-hectare reserve featuring scenic walking trails, an array of native wildlife, and spectacular bush and coastal landscapes. There are camping and accommodation options in the popular Tidal River, and the park also includes a visitors’ centre, general store, fish ‘n’ chips shop, a café and other amenities.
Kokoda Memorial Walk (1,000 Steps)
Built to honour the men who fought and died on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in World War II, the 1,000 Steps walk is a steep pilgrimage representative of the Golden Staircase on the Kokoda Track. The five-kilometre uphill hike includes 776 steps (no, there aren’t actually 1,000) that pass through ferns and manna gums. The steps attract fitness fanatics looking to challenge themselves and take approximately two hours for people of moderate fitness level.
Silo Art Trail
Set to become Australia’s largest outdoor gallery, the Silo Art Trail is a series of six decommissioned wheat silos that have been repurposed as colossal murals. Towering over the Victoria’s Wimmera/Mallee region, the trail will stretch more than 200 kilometres and will link some of the state’s smallest towns, including Rupanyup, Sheep Hills, Brim, Rosebery, Lascelles and Patchewollock.
Less than 10 minutes from Marysville, Steavenson Falls is one of the tallest and most spectacular waterfalls in Victoria. The falls feature five cascades that plunge 84 meters into Steavenson River valley. From the reserve carpark, it’s a 700-meter walk to the viewing platform below the falls. Along the way, you’ll see the turbine generator, and you might even spot a Lyrebird.