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Victoria - The Garden State

Just as Queensland is known as the Sunshine State due its many long days of sunshine per year, Victoria is known as the Garden State due its many lovely gardens are open green spaces. The smallest of all the Australian states (as against territories), Victoria boasts the largest population for size and the most diverse landscape. Here you will find everything from hectares of wheat and market gardens, to soaring mountains and vast snowfields; from rainforests and dry arid landscapes to beaches and vineyards. It has lush and fertile regions in the east with drier regions in the west.

Unlike the larger states, you can access this all this diversity within a day or so’s drive from the capital city, Melbourne. There are eleven main regions in Victoria and one of them is Melbourne, a world-class city which hosts many events of global significance - along with fabulous food and wine, shopping that’s out of this world and an arts scene that attracts artists of all kinds from all over the world.

Only an hour from Melbourne are the rolling hills of Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, famed for its heritage gardens and old world streetscapes, wine and health spas, not to mention the antique shops, galleries and fine restaurants. This place has another claim to fame; it was the backdrop for the book and film, Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The cool climate makes it a great place to grow wines such as chardonnay and pinot noir - and there are lots of vineyards and wineries in the region to prove it. Another lush region where wine grapes rub shoulders with rolling hills and wildlife is the Yarra Valley in the Dandenong Ranges.

The Mornington Peninsula is another area of Victoria that has its own unique aspect. Seascapes can be viewed from olive orchards and vineyards; fertile hills roll down to pretty bays and beaches. It is located on the east of Port Philip Bay and offers many water activities. Golfing buffs will be in heaven with the challenging Moonah Links where the prestigious Australian Open is played, and The Dunes, one of the top fifteen golf courses in Australia.

While larger states have their unique desert stretches, Victoria has Philip Island with its teeming animal life of fur seals, fairy penguins, pelicans and koalas. Swimming, fishing and exploring the wetlands is popular. The Great Ocean Road will take you through a variety of scenery from quaint fishing villages to vast stretches of wild and dangerous coastline that is nevertheless absolutely fascinating.

One of the main reasons why Victoria was settled so quickly and densely compared to other states was its abundance of goldfields. While many are now abandoned, the towns that were formed when gold was first discovered remain, and many are still thriving due to other industries. Bendigo and Ballarat are two of the biggest gold mining towns, but there are plenty of smaller ones.

In the northwest of Victoria a rugged mountain range, the Grampians, rises from the surrounding flat plains of the Wimmera. Here gold mining has given place to rock climbing and abseiling. Of even more interest is the famous High Country used in filming The Man From Snowy River, but still a fascinating heritage of horseman, gold and bushrangers. Finally, the mighty Murray River will take you through a variety of scenery that is astounding in its diversity.