Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - Up Front - WORDS SARAH NI­CHOL­SON

Cross­ing the ditch for a hol­i­day? Make sure to check out some of th­ese top tips – or just let Scenic show you the way

Stand­ing with my toes in the sand, the rip­ples from mon­ster Bass Strait break­ers rolling across my feet, I savour the sun­set stroll along the beach at Lorne.

I’m on Scenic’s new 11-day Vic­to­rian Dis­cov­ery itinerary from Mel­bourne, which ex­plores re­gions from the Gold­fields to Grampians and in­cludes our next des­ti­na­tion: the Great Ocean Road. While sub­merg­ing my toes in salt­wa­ter is a de­light, it’s far from the high­light of a hol­i­day that in­cludes bucket-list Vic­to­rian des­ti­na­tions and some of the state’s hid­den gems. ON THE WA­TER Bucket list: Mur­ray River pad­dle steamer The PS Em­my­lou – the vin­tage wood­burn­ing steamer briefly re­named the PS Prov­i­dence to ap­pear in the 1980s se­ries All The Rivers Run – is the most fa­mous ves­sel cruis­ing the Mur­ray River near Echuca. She reg­u­larly de­parts the his­toric port to me­an­der be­low tow­er­ing river gums. mur­rayriver­pad­dlesteam­ Hid­den gem: Barmah Wet­lands cruise Barmah Na­tional Park is home to the world’s largest red river gum forests, with King­fisher Cruises nav­i­gat­ing the nar­row­est sec­tion of the Mur­ray River – in the Nar­rows, or Barmah Choke, the wa­ter moves at twice its nor­mal speed – to see some of the 236 bird, 50 an­i­mal and 500 plant species na­tive to the re­gion. king­fish­er­ MU­SE­UMS Bucket list: Na­tional Sports Mu­seum Stand on the play­ing sur­face of the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground and peek in­side the play­ers’ change rooms be­fore ex­plor­ing the Na­tional Sports Mu­seum, which is home to Aus­tralia’s big­gest col­lec­tion of sport­ing mem­o­ra­bilia, in­clud­ing AFL, cricket, horse rac­ing and Olympic history. Hid­den gem: MADE The Mu­seum of Aus­tralian Democ­racy at Eureka stands on the Bal­larat plot where min­ers and gov­ern­ment troop­ers clashed on a De­cem­ber day in 1854 to not only tell the story of the epic gold rush re­bel­lion but Aus­tralia’s jour­ney to demo­cratic free­dom with the orig­i­nal flag of the South­ern Cross just one trea­sure on dis­play. AN­I­MALS Bucket list: Phillip Is­land pen­guin pa­rade Ev­ery evening as the sun sinks be­low the hori­zon, an army of lit­tle pen­guins emerge from the waves and wad­dle up a beach on Phillip Is­land’s wild south coast to com­plete the com­mute be­tween fish­ing grounds far out at sea and hun­gry ba­bies wait­ing in hill­side bur­rows, with this pro­ces­sion pass­ing spec­ta­tors stand­ing on el­e­vated board­walks. pen­ Hid­den gem: War­rnam­bool guardian dogs Any­one who’s seen the movie Od­dball will know about the guardian dogs pro­tect­ing the lit­tle pen­guins on War­rnam­bool’s Mid­dle Is­land. Flagstaff Hill Mar­itime Vil­lage’s Meet the Maremma ex­pe­ri­ence en­cour­ages trav­ellers to learn about the pro­gram with a sea­sonal visit to the an­i­mals at home or out pa­trolling their duty sta­tion. DIN­ING Bucket list: Colo­nial Tram­car Res­tau­rant Some of Mel­bourne’s beloved “green rat­tler” trams have be­come ma­roon mo­bile restau­rants. The world’s first tram eater­ies carry pas­sen­gers on a jour­ney through the Vic­to­rian cap­i­tal – along fa­mous shop­ping streets, through the CBD’s con­crete canyons, past fa­mous build­ings and be­side the Yarra River – while they dine. tram­restau­ Hid­den gem: Fowles Wine The Strath­bo­gie Ranges, in Mel­bourne’s north, is mak­ing a name for fine cool-cli­mate wines. Fowles Wines is a fam­ily-owned es­tate with the Cel­lar Door Cafe team sub­scrib­ing to the “real food” prin­ci­ple and serv­ing meals made from lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing pro­duce from their vegie patch. Try their award-win­ing shi­raz. NAT­U­RAL WON­DERS Bucket list: Great Ocean Road land­marks Trav­ellers from around the planet de­scend on the Great Ocean Road ev­ery day of the year to see the Twelve Apos­tles, Loch Ard Gorge and Lon­don Bridge. vis­it­greato­cean­ Hid­den gem: Cen­tral Vic­to­ria’s min­eral springs Ru­ral Hep­burn Springs is in the heart of Vic­to­rian spa coun­try, where rich min­eral foun­tains – dis­cov­ered dur­ing the gold rush and pro­tected when it was de­cided the wa­ter was more valu­able than the nuggets – now di­rected into el­e­gant es­tab­lish­ments such as the Hep­burn Bath­house. There, trav­ellers can soak or in­dulge in a pam­per­ing treat­ment. hep­burn­bath­ The writer was a guest of Scenic

Clock­wise from above, han­dler Phil Root with a cou­ple of maremma dogs at War­rnam­bool; the el­e­gant Hep­burn Bath­house and Spa; and the pen­guin pa­rade at Phillip Is­land.

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