Victoria is the southernmost of the eastern mainland states of Australia. Roughly triangular in shape, it is home to more than a quarter of Australia's population, but makes up only 3% of the country's area. New South Wales lies to the north and northeast, with the Murray River forming most of the boundary between the two states. South Australia lies to the west, and the southern coast forms the other side of the triangle. Melbourne, the state capital and largest city, is nestled on Port Phillip in the centre of Victoria's coastline.
The state and cultural capital and one of the world's most livable cities.
|The Murray (Sunraysia, Mallee)|
Bordering New South Wales to the north and South Australia to the west, it's a sunny, farming region in the north-west, and a fertile farming region in the south-eastern area.
|Wimmera (The Grampians)|
A large region in the west, home to the southwestern-most parts of the Great Dividing Range. Best known for Grampians National Park, which is home to 70 percent of Victoria's Indigenous rock art, and for its natural scenery.
|Goldfields (Central Goldfields, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Pyrenees)|
For a period of time immigrants came from all over the world for the new gold rush in the Victorian hills north of Melbourne. The gold rush is long past (leaving a legacy of architecture in Melbourne and the surrounding towns), but there is much history to experience in this easy day trip from Melbourne.
|South West Coast (Great Ocean Road,The Otways)|
Home to the world's largest war memorial and some impressive coastal cliffs and seascapes.
|High Country (Alpine)|
Where you'll find most of the state's ski resorts, a two-hour drive (minimum) from the state capital.
|Gippsland (Wilsons Promontory, Phillip Island)|
Home to large coastal plains stretching from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne 700 km east to the New South Wales border.
|Yarra Valley |
Victoria's premier wine growing (and tasting) region, just out of Melbourne
|Mornington Peninsula (Rosebud, Sorrento, Hastings, French Island)|
A peri-urban area just to the south of Melbourne along the Port Phillip Bay.
|Greater Geelong (Geelong, Lara, Queenscliff)|
The second largest city in Victoria to the west of Melbourne covering both city, country, beach, and wineries.
- 1 Melbourne - the lively state capital and largest city
- 2 Bairnsdale - a laid-back city in the heart of Gippsland
- 3 Ballarat - the gateway to the Goldfields
- 4 Bendigo - a city of old Victorian buildings built on gold money
- 5 Geelong - Victoria's second largest city and the beginning of the Great Ocean Road
- 6 Mildura - perched on the edge of the outback in the state's far north-west
- 7 Shepparton - a vibrant city in Victoria's foodbowl, home of the agricultural industry
- 8 Warrnambool - a historic maritime city on the Shipwreck Coast
- 9 Wodonga - The twin cities of Albury and Wodonga span the Murray River.
- 1 Budj Bim National Park – a world heritage site home to the oldest aquaculture systems
- 2 Dandenong Ranges – towering forests line the side of majestic mountains overlooking Melbourne
- 3 Grampians National Park – rugged mountain ranges, perfect for bushwalking and birdwatching, and 80 percent of Victoria's rock art is here
- 4 Great Ocean Road – the famous scenic journey along the south-west coast of Victoria
- 5 Mornington Peninsula – sun, fun, wineries and golf on Melbourne's doorstep
- 6 Mount Buller – the state's most popular ski resort, appealing to both beginners and the experienced
- 7 Phillip Island – penguins, beaches, wineries and nature parks teeming with wildlife
- 8 Port Campbell National Park – home of Victoria's icon, the 12 Apostles
- 9 Wilsons Promontory – a large peninsula of mostly wilderness, offering spectacular bushwalking and diving
Victoria is the smallest and most densely populated state on the Australian mainland. Parts are ideal for touring, without the long distances between towns common in all the other states.
Victoria keeps the time as New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania (AEST), and is always half an hour ahead of South Australia. During winter, Victoria follows the same time as Queensland but is an hour ahead during summer.
Standard time is 10 hours ahead of GMT and summer time (from the first Sunday of October to the first Sunday of April) is 11 hours ahead.
On 1 July 1851, Victoria was established as a new colony from New South Wales. Days later, gold was discovered near Ballarat and Bendigo.
Victoria has good cross border road connections into its neighbouring states. The main routes from the north are the Princes Highway following the coast and entering the state near Genoa, the Hume Freway from Sydney entering the state at Wodonga, the Newell Highway entering the state near Shepparton and being the main route from Brisbane, and the Sturt and Silver City Highways entering at Mildura. From the west, the Princes Highway is again the coastal route, and the Western Highway the more direct route.
Melbourne (MEL IATA) is the main entry point to Victoria by air and Tullamarine airport 24km to the north of Melbourne City has direct flights to all Australian capital cities, and many international destinations.
Avalon airport is close to Geelong, around 57 km south-west of Melbourne, and Jetstar operates some low-cost flights there. Useful to access Melbourne on the cheap, and for better access to the Great Ocean Road.
Rex fly to Mildura and Albury from Sydney, giving easier access to the north and the north-west of the state.
Victoria is serviced regularly by one boat route, which travels between Victoria and the island state of Tasmania. The Spirit of Tasmania arrives daily (twice daily during peak season) at the Spirit of Tasmania Quay in Geelong. To encourage tourism, the Tasmanian state government subsidises fares and it can be a relatively inexpensive way to get to Victoria, especially if you are taking a vehicle. If travelling without a vehicle, it is usually cheaper and more convenient to arrive by air. The boat offers deck travel or for a higher price cabins are available. Most people travel by boat overnight, with it being an approximately 10-hour trip.
Melbourne has an integrated bus, tram and train network. Information about public transport across the state is available at Public Transport Victoria (PTV).
Touring Victoria by car is a straightforward and practical way of seeing the state. Distances between towns tend not to be as great as in other states, and it is unusual to drive for more than a short while without passing through a small town unless in the Victorian Alps, and in rare cases, the remote northwest.
Victoria has the most developed road network of any state in Australia, and most towns are accessible without using dirt or gravel roads. With a freeway network of over 1,100 km (680 mi), most important cities, namely Geelong, Ballarat, Ararat, Bendigo, Seymour, Shepparton, Wodonga, and Trafalgar are all connected to Melbourne via freeways. The only major exception is Mildura, which, in many ways, acts like it's in NSW.
Roads are indicated as freeways are called M-roads (why "M" when the favoured term for a controlled-access highway is freeway? No-one knows), A-roads for important roads connecting major cities but isn't a freeway, B-roads for roads connecting important regional towns, or C-roads, roads that connect minor regional towns together, but in general, there is no need to avoid a C-road if it clearly provides the quickest trip to where you want to go. Although small compared to the freeway networks found in many US states or Quebec, the major freeways are as follows:
- Traralgon. Unlike many other freeways, the Princes Freeway (east) becomes a dual carriageway between Nar Nar Goon (after exit 32) and Longwarry (west of the C421 exit), and again from Darnum to Moe. Princes Freeway (east). This freeway starts from the Princes Hwy (C101) interchange as a southeasterly continuation of the Monash Freeway and continues until
- Princes Freeway (west). Starting from the interchange between the Western Ring Road (M80) and the West Gate Freeway (M1), this freeway connects Melbourne and Geelong, heading in a southwesterly direction. After exit 37, the road continues as the Princes Freeway, but is only a dual carriageway up to Colac; after Colac, it continues as a single carriageway. The Winchelsea Bypass has also yet to be constructed.
- Western Freeway. Connecting Melbourne and Ballarat together, this freeway forms a core part of an eventual Melbourne–Adelaide dual carriageway. Starting from the M80 Ring Road, the road heads west as a full freeway until Ballarat, where a short 1–2-km section drops as a normal 4-lane highway. The freeway then continues on as the Ballarat Bypass, before continuing west as a dual carriageway until Ararat (with plans to extend this to Stawell in the short-term). This section is supposed to be a part of the Western Highway (as is signed on most signs), but some signs and sections may use the name "Western Freeway". However, the duplication project has been put on hold after an investigation was launched as the planned route cut through some sacred sites.
- Dandenong) to Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula. It connects with Eastlink/Frankston Freeway just before the freeway exits Melbourne metro. Mornington Peninsula Freeway. This freeway isn't truly an intrastate freeway, but it connects the Melbourne suburb of Dingley (near
- Albury towards Sydney. Although there is a 2-km section in Kalkallo that drops to a rural 4-lane highway, this is by far Victoria's longest freeway. Hume Freeway is by far the most significant rural freeway, and as it stands, it's the only Victorian freeway that connects with somewhere interstate, continuing north as the Hume Highway north of
- Seymour towards Shepparton. Goulburn Valley Freeway is a short 60-kilometre (37 mi) spur route braching off the Hume Freeway at
- Calder Freeway links Melbourne to Bendigo. Starting at the Tullamrine Freeway/Citylink (M2) interchange, the freeway continues northwest for 112 km (70 mi). However, the freeway ends at Ravenswood and continues north as an arterial road towards Bendigo CBD. The Bendigo Bypass, that is, the Calder Alternative Highway (A790), is not a freeway.
Unlike many other states, there are still many level rail crossings throughout the state. While the state government is on a long-term project to eventually remove all level crossings, these are still prevalent (even within Metropolitan Melbourne), often in the most unexpected places.
Victoria has the most comprehensive rail passenger service in Australia. The state's passenger rail service, V/Line provides rail services within the state. Connecting V/Line coach (i.e. bus) services extend to some towns that passenger trains no longer service, such as Mildura. As of the 31st of March 2023, all V/Line fares will be capped at the current Metropolitan Melbourne daily fare, which will remain at $9.20 for 2023. This represents up to 90% reductions in fares so travelling around Victoria by train is very affordable. That Myki card you bought to get around Melbourne can be used on V/Line as far as Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Epsom, Eaglehawk, Traralgon and Seymour. Travel to areas beyond these stations will require a paper ticket.
V/Line train services operate in five regions:
- Northern Victoria – to Bendigo and from there on to Swan Hill and Echuca
- North Eastern Victoria – to Seymour, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Albury
- Eastern Victoria – to Traralgon and Bairnsdale in Gippsland
- South Western Victoria – to Geelong, Colac and Warrnambool
- Western Victoria – to Ballarat and from there on to Ararat and Maryborough
Many services outside of those between Melbourne and the main centres of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Traralgon can be very infrequent, sometimes running only a few times a day.
The train service to Adelaide, The Overland, accepts travellers to destinations within Victoria. This enables travellers to go by rail to towns in western Victoria beyond Ararat such as Stawell, Nhill, Horsham and Dimboola.
Travellers can also take the NSW Trainlink XPT train to Sydney twice daily.
Outside of the rail corridors V/Line runs coach services to some towns. These often extend from train stations in towns with rail services.
Many other larger towns have local bus services servicing their suburbs or outlying towns. See the local guides.
Victoria has a number of rail trails, some of which can be reached by towns which have rail services. Bus coaches will sometimes take bikes if space is available in their storage areas. Wangaratta is one such destination easily accessible with your bike on a train, and you can easily reach Beechworth.
Victoria is also the state with the most ski resorts in Australia, although the only other two states to have skiing resorts are NSW and Tasmania anyway. This gives quite a wide variety of resorts to go to, and unlike in Sydney where going to the skifields would take about 6 hours at minimum and can sometimes take 8 hours, the closest skiing resorts to Melbourne; the state's capital, is only about 2 hours at best and 5 hours at most. Hence if there's news about snow, don't be surprised if all the skifields near Melbourne are booked out in minutes – this usually doesn't happen in NSW. The biggest towns in the alpine regions are Bright and Beechworth with the latter being mostly accessible via a freeway (and a little bit of some undivided highways closer to the town).
Whilst often not associated with, Victoria is home to Budj Bim National Park – a world heritage national park containing the earliest evidence of aquaculture in the world is found here with a system of channels, dams and weirs trapping eels and fish. It is one of only four cultural world heritage sites in Australia, and the first in Australia to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site solely for its Indigenous heritage.
Victoria is home to 45 national parks, which showcase the finest of Victoria's landscape and heritage, or a mix of both.
- Canoeing. in Lower Glenelg National Park or Murray River Reserves- Headwaters to Echuca
- Cycle the railtrails. Many Victorian railway lines closed during the 1970s and 1980s. Some of these lines have been converted to railtrails, suitable for cycling, horseriding or walking. Some of the most developed at the Murray to the Mountains rail trail, the Bellarine railtrail, the Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail, and the East Gippsland Rail Trail. All of these trails have towns and attractions along the route for rest and relaxation.
- 12 Apostles Flight Adventures, Telford St, Apollo Bay, ☏ . Highlights include Apollo Bay, Cape Otway Lighthouse, Dinosaur Cove culminating in the "awesome" Twelve Apostles. Then, returning via the magnificent Otway Rainforests.
Apart from the obvious water sports on the coast, in the last few years, a number of long-distance hiking trails have been marked that run along disused railway tracks and are also suitable for bicycles, so-called rail trails.
The 655 km long Australian Alps Walking Trail, which starts in Walhalla and ends near Canberra, is particularly admiring. Almost all of Australia's highest mountains are touched. The national park administration recommends planning eight weeks for the entire route.
The entire Victoria is home to a vast amount of good nightlife, but in more particular - Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia with numerous restaurants by the Yarra River. But apart from "just" restaurants in Melbourne by the river, ever since the 10s, what used to be parking bays by streets have been converted into outdoor dining areas, including cafes, restaurants and really, anything that brings up Melbourne's nightlife. Do note however, that some of these restaurants are too popular, and will need you to book hours in advance.
As in the rest of Australia, country bars and pubs are found in nearly every single rural town. Some of them do get violent though, particularly in the Goldfields region, where after dark you'll need to keep an eye out. Other parts of Victoria like the Murray or Gippsland regions don't have this issue at all, and they often are just quiet ones.