Keeping up with Melbourne’s calendar of cultural and sporting events can be simply exhausting. Thankfully, Melbourne is surrounded by vibrant regions that inspire winding down, or, if you can’t get enough, ramping up the adventure.
Victorians spend much of their time living life outdoors. Open spaces, from outback-like deserts to yellow-sanded bayside beaches, attract activity-seekers, weekend wanderers and jovial holidaymakers. Even city folk in the midst of a working week err to the outside, watching movies under the stars and stretching out in parks to lap up the sunshine. Victoria’s towns have character and plenty of culture: outdoor food and wine festivals are almost a weekly event; farmers markets liven up school ovals; and family-friendly music festivals take place in front of stunning natural backdrops. Established walking and cycling routes help people ditch the car and get closer to nature, and where there are waves for surfing, or fields for skiing, or rivers for kayaking, there’s almost always somewhere to rent the gear and someone to lead you in the right direction.
During a bustling gold-rush era in the late 1800s, streets in Melbourne and many of Victoria’s small towns were stamped with architectural wonders. These days many of those grand buildings are luxury hotels or hostels, or theatres bursting with talent, or converted – on the inside – to colourful state-of-the-art galleries. Some of Victoria’s best old industrial mills and factories live to see another century as smart, yet rough-around-the-edges, restaurants, bars and cafes, filled with folk sipping lattes on designer chairs and dining on delicious, locally sourced food.
Explore the cultural make-up of Victoria by popping into an Indigenous cultural centre and learning about Victoria as it was pre-settlement or, in Melbourne, go on an Indigenous tour along the Yarra or search for trees just outside the CBD that show remnants of Indigenous culture. Catch a tram to Footscray or Richmond and meander along a bustling market-like street before heading to a restaurant for fabulous African or Vietnamese cuisine. Hide out in Chinatown’s laneways. Hang out in arty Fitzroy. The cultural identity of Victoria is evident and explained in many of the state’s museums and art galleries, and, in Melbourne itself, on its walls.
Packing your bags, jumping into the car and heading out of the city is a national pastime. Well-signposted touring routes, helpful information centres and thousands of different types of places to lay your hat make it almost easier done than said. To the coast? To the mountains? To the small country towns? You can almost be guaranteed a friendly welcome, a good coffee (somewhere), and a decent meal to go along with the stunning vistas. The only obstacle is time; make the most of it.