The bright lights of inner-city Melbourne might be Victoria’s flashiest attraction, but the state has a lot of great outdoors to explore, too. Get back to nature with these 10 awesome ecotourism experiences you can have in Victoria.
This 25-hectare biopark opened in 2001 with the mission to protect and conserve threatened Australian flora and fauna, constructing a home for more than 200 animals from 30 species within the Pearcedale Conservation Park on the Mornington Peninsula. You can meet plenty of Aussie animals
by day, but Moonlit Sanctuary comes alive at night, with lantern-lit tours to see nocturnal creatures like night birds, possums, gliders, quolls and bettongs.
Great Ocean Walk
Want to lap up the natural beauty of the Great Ocean Road
without puffing car exhaust fumes into the atmosphere? Then tackle the journey by foot. The Great Ocean Walk trail follows Australia’s most famous driving route for 100km along the coast, linking the iconic Twelve Apostles rock formation with the serene coastal town of Apollo Bay via the lush Great Otway National Park.
Peninsula Hot Springs
This slice of heaven on the Mornington Peninsula proves that ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘delightfully decadent’ aren’t mutually exclusive qualities. These natural geothermal hot springs are set among the idyllic coastal landscape, with 20 bathing experiences, such as a cave pool, sauna, Turkish steam bath, cold plunge pools, plus a luxurious day spa offering a range of pampering treatments.
A little further down the road from Melbourne
on Phillip Island, there’s a sunset experience that’s so adorable, it will melt your heart. Every evening at dusk on Summerland Beach, dozens of little penguins return to the shore after a day’s fishing at sea, scampering across the sand in front of their admirers sitting in viewing stands and boardwalks that don’t interrupt the natural state of the penguins’ sand dune burrows.
Grampians National Park
This nature reserve
supplies some of the country’s finest bush scenery, famous for its sandstone mountains, abundant wildlife and blooming wildflowers. Located about three hours’ west of Melbourne, don’t miss the towering MacKenzie Falls, the sweeping lookout from the balconies, and the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Halls Gap on your way into the national Park.
This Yarra Valley favourite has built a reputation as one of the best places in the country to get up close and personal with Australian wildlife, including kangaroos
, emus, koalas, wombats, dingos and platypuses. Then after you’ve met the locals at the Healesville Sanctuary, indulge in some of the food and wine experiences the Yarra Valley has to offer!
Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden
On Melbourne’s eastern outskirts is 36 hectares of pristine gardens, known as the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, and formerly known as the National Rhododendron Garden. This colourful Olinda attraction is home to hundreds of thousands of seasonal flowers
, including rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, cherries and daffodils.
Polperro Dolphin Swims
Swimming with dolphins is an experience that sits high up on many travellers’ bucket lists, and you can tick it off in Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne. Polperro have operated dolphin swim tours since 1986, departing from Sorrento Pier twice a day between October and May, and they’ve won multiple awards over the last three decades for giving visitors the opportunity to swim with dolphins without disturbing the wild bottlenose population.
Gippsland High Country Tours
Escape the hustle and bustle of Melbourne in Victoria’s High Country, situated three hours’ east of the city. This operator offers small-group tours of this tranquil corner of Australia, with 25 years of experience showing visitors the Gippsland region’s lofty eucalypts, deserted beaches and rugged fern-line walking tracks at a leisurely pace.
Enchanted Adventure Garden
Kids (and kids at heart) will love this eco-certified attraction in Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula. The Enchanted Adventure Garden is home to a series of hair-raising outdoors experiences, including tube slides, zip lines and their famous ‘tree surfing’ adventures, which incorporate more than 50 aerial obstacles per course.