Victoria’s relatively small size compared to the other states means that you don’t have to drive far before you’ll want to jump out of the car and explore. The invigorating surf coast and the calm waters of the bay offer up a wealth of summer fun for everyone.
Depart from Victoria’s beloved capital, and hit the road to popular holiday spot Phillip Island. Although there’s only 140 kilometres between them, take the chance to stop off halfway at the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, near Tooradin. This is a great chance to get up close to some furry friends in a natural bushland setting, with koalas, kangaroos, dingos and native birds like cockatoos and waterbirds all easy to spot.
Phillip Island is also known for its wildlife, in particular the resident population of Little Penguins, who can be spotted returning ashore each evening at sunset. The island also features a Koala Conservation Centre, where you can take a walk along the elevated boardwalks to get a closer look, as well as Australia’s largest colony of Australian fur seals, which hang out 1.5 kilometres offshore at the appropriately named Seal Rocks.
Meanwhile, The Nobbies boardwalk offers a chance to stretch your legs and take in the stunning views along Phillip Island’s craggy south coast. If swimming is more your style, the protected main beach at Cowes – the largest town on the island – is a good bet, while the nearby jetty is a nice spot to cast a line. You can also relax on the shady foreshore area, complete with barbecue areas and large expanses of lawn.
In summer, Cowes bustles with tourist activity, offering an array of restaurants, cafés, hotels and shops for holiday-makers to enjoy. For something a little quieter, head to the peaceful fishing village of Rhyll, located on the north-eastern tip of the island. To the west of Rhyll lies a fascinating nexus of waterways and wetlands called the Rhyll Inlet and Conservation Hill Reserve, which is a significant feeding and breeding ground for many resident and migratory birds. A pathway running from the Rhyll town centre will take you along the southern side of the inlet and then inland toward the wetlands, with several sections of boardwalk keeping you nice and dry.
Next up, head to the Mornington Peninsula, where the gentle waters of Port Phillip Bay offer plenty of protected swimming areas, including at Mount Eliza, Mornington, Mount Martha, Dromana, Rosebud, Rye, Sorrento and Portsea.