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Wildlife & adventure touring route

Victoria

  • Healesville Sanctuary, Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia

Life in the outdoors
Hit the highways and discover an adventure lover's playground, less than hour from the city. Take a ride in a hot air balloon, swim with dolphins in Port Phillip Bay, and get up close to seals and penguins along the coast. 

Cuddly koalas snooze in the branches of native eucalyptus trees while kangaroos hop about from field to field in the valleys. From the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges to Phillip Island and the stunning beaches along the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas, Victoria's diverse regions offer up an endless array of wildlife and outdoor activities. So grab your walking boots, pack your bathers and start living the adventure.

Day one: Yarra Valley
Leave Melbourne and head straight out to Healesville Sanctuary, located just 1.5 hours from the city centre. Spend the morning interacting with Australia's iconic animals and learn about some of the country's less-known species. For something a little different, sign up for the unique Wade with the Platypus experience, which is exclusive to Healesville Sanctuary.

Next stop is the renowned Rochford Winery. Look out over the hills of the Yarra Valley while enjoying a delightful lunch, and then follow it up with a tour of the winery and grounds on a Segway.

Settle into Yering Gorge Cottages for the night and relax in the tranquil surrounds. Usher in the evening with a quiet glass of red wine on your deck and watch the resident mob of kangaroos (including one rare white one) graze on the nearby lawns.

Day two: Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges to Phillip Island
Day two begins early with a dawn flight with Global Ballooning. Rise high above the rolling green hills and watch the valley spring to life as the sun comes up. Round out your morning with a sumptuous champagne breakfast. 

After freshening up, make your way south, around Western Port Bay to Phillip Island. Visit the Nobbies Centre on the western tip of the island to explore the rugged coastline and discover the virtual reality thrills of Antarctic Journey – a permanent exhibit. 

Cross the island to see the cuddliest of locals at the Koala Conservation Centre and then head out on the Wild Oceans Ecoboat in the afternoon to see the 30,000 Australian fur seals that inhabit Seal Rocks. 

Sundown brings with it the crème de la crème of wildlife experiences – the famous Penguin Parade. Book early for the Ultimate Penguin Tour, a small group adventure to a remote beach with night-vision goggles, which enables you to see the tiny birds as they leave the ocean and waddle past you en route to their nests. 

Reward the day's efforts with an overnight stay at Clifftop Accommodation and wake to stunning views of the Southern Ocean.

Phillip Island to Mornington Peninsula
Enjoy an early morning stroll on one of Phillip Island’s beautiful beaches and make yours the first footsteps in the sand. If you prefer a more challenging morning activity, take a walk out to Pyramid Rocks or Cape Woolamai. Alternatively, hit the waves as part of a surfing lesson or see the island from the air with Phillip Island Helicopters. 

Make your way around Western Port Bay to the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in the afternoon. See koalas, kangaroos and emus up close and learn about native Australian animals at the Moonlit Wildlife Sanctuary. After that, test your climbing skills with a spot of tree surfing at The Enchanted Adventure Garden in Arthurs Seat.

Recharge after your daytime adventures with a soak in the Peninsula Hot Springs. Watch the sunset from the thermal mineral pools and then head off to Iluka Retreat for a unique and romantic glamping experience with Bayplay Adventures.

Day four: Mornington Peninsula to Bellarine Peninsula
Wake early and be at Sorrento by 8am for a memorable trip with Polperro Dolphin Swims or Moonraker Dolphin & Seal Swims out into Port Phillip Bay. Search out the wild pods of bottlenose dolphins and visit the friendly seals at Chinaman's Hat. 

Keep the aquatic and coastal theme going through the afternoon. Join a guided snorkelling tour with Bayplay Adventures to view the elusive weedy sea dragons near the piers on the bay side of the peninsula. Or hire a stand-up paddle board and see why this peaceful activity is becoming so popular. 

There are plenty of options for those who'd rather stay on dry land. Hire a bike from Bayplay Adventures and cruise around the national parks of the peninsula. Fly up and over the state forest while taking in sweeping views across the bay on the Arthurs Seat Eagle gondola ride, or stretch the legs on a walk along some of the Mornington Peninsula Walk (we say some because there is over 100kms of trails). 

Cruise across Port Phillip Bay with Searoad Ferries to the Bellarine Peninsula. The ferry to Queenscliff Harbour runs every hour until 6pm (7pm in summer) and takes 40-minutes. Stay overnight at BIG4 Beacon Resort at Queenscliff and be ready to explore the best of the region in the morning.

Day five: Bellarine Peninsula
There's more going on under the waters of Port Phillip Bay than you might expect. So satisfy your curiosity by signing up for a scuba diving tour in Geelong or Queenscliff and get to know the bay in a whole new way. Explore old shipwrecks and reefs teeming with marine life, including colourful corals, seahorses, crustaceans and stingrays. The bay floor is littered with over 60 nineteenth century shipwrecks, sunken submarines from World War I, as well as the wreck of the HMAS Canberra – Victoria's first artificial reef created for the sole purpose of diving. 

Back from the deep, it's time to sign up for a surf lesson in Ocean Grove. Land at this popular Victorian beach to learn from the experts at Go Ride A Wave and you'll be riding the surf before you know it. 

Close out your Bellarine adventure with a delicious lunch at Jack Rabbit Vineyard before heading back to the city James Bond-style in a microflite helicopter. Catch a ride from the landing pad right in front of the restaurant and touch down in Melbourne's CBD.