The smallest mainland state, Victoria occupies the south east corner of Australia, abutting South Australia in the west and New South Wales to the North. Its coastline sits mainly on the Tasman Sea and the Bass Strait. Named for Queen Victoria, the early settlements were along the coast, with the first being at Sullivan Bay at Port Phillip. Melbourne, the state capital, was founded in 1835, and although there are 32 recognised cities in Victoria, +3 out of 4 Victorians live in Melbourne.
Victoria might be a small state but it packs a big economical punch contributing a quarter of Australia's GDP through finance, insurance and property services. Agriculture is of import too with as many as 14 million sheep in the pastures and Victoria is the home of Australia's dairy farming. The rural areas are attractive to visitors, and their natural beauty is enjoyed with a host of activities including hang-gliding and hot-air ballooning.
Tourism is big business and all kinds of visitors will find their interest indulged in Victoria.
Melbourne - The capital obviously anchors tourism in the state. The city is THE cultural trend setter of Australia with so many things so associated with Australia finding their identities here. There's a major arts and entertainment scene, and if there is avant-garde on your menu, you'll undoubtedly find it in Melbourne. The sights and attractions are way too many to list here but include Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Aquarium, National Gallery of Victoria, Eureka Tower, Melbourne Museum and Science works. Plus, let's not forget the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Docklands and St. Kilda.
The Bellarine Peninsula - Poking out into the Bass Strait, the peninsula is an upcoming tourist area of historic little coastal towns and wetlands around Lake Connewarre. Geelong is the main town, although visitors enjoy a sojourn at quaint, historic Queenscliff too. Geelong is home to Victoria's biggest theme park - Adventure Park.
The Yarra Valley - Victoria's prime wine growing region is a top destination for anyone who loves winery tours. The upper reaches and plains around the Yarra River are picturesque and many vineyards are open for viewing with some offering accommodation. The Healesville Sanctuary is also a major attraction being a zoo in a natural bushland setting featuring indigenous animals and birds.
The Great Ocean Road - Running for 243 kms between Warrambool and Torquay, the road winds along some of the most splendid coastline in the whole of Australia. The landscapes are spectacular and include grottoes, blowholes, arches, tiny coves, semi-collapsed stacks, and whale-watching platforms, but the daddy of them all is the Twelve Apostles - massive limestone stacks sitting on the shoreline of the Port Campbell National Park.
The Mornington Peninsula - Packed with natural attractions and beautiful beaches, the peninsula is a magnet for tourists. The pretty towns of Sorrento and Portsea, a clutch of wineries and Arthur's Seat with its national parkland and fabulous views are the main attractions.
The Beaches - Needless to say, the 2,000 kms of Victorian coastline is stunning and has a mass of beaches. Whether you want a leisurely sunbathe and dip or a full-on surf experience, there's a beach to taste. The main surf beaches are to be found at Lorne, Torquay and Bells Beach.
Mountains - The significant peaks of Victoria are the Dandenong Ranges, Central Victorian highlands and the Alps. The Highcountry and alpine regions are terrific ski-ing and snow sports destinations in winter and hiking and climbing locations in summer. The Dandenongs is a rolling parkland of forested peaks peppered by creeks and small waterfalls - very pretty and very lovely for connecting with the great Aussie outdoors. The narrow gauge Puffing Billy Railway does a roaring trade with visitors.
Goldfields - All of the towns in the gold region of Victoria have their own attractions related to the industry and the history of their growth related to the expensive shiny yellow stuff. Major centres include Ballarat, Daylesford, Bendigo and Beechworth.
Phillip Island - Gorgeous little island connected to the mainland at Newhaven, home to the V8 Supercars and Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and the now world-famous daily penguin parade. Sailing is one of the major sports here.
Festivals and Events - More than you can shake your tail feathers at, Victoria hosts a mass of annual and ad hoc community, cultural and sports events including the Australian International Airshow at Geelong, Test Matches at MCG, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival, the Bells Beach Surf Classic and the Bright Festival, to name but a few.