Australia was always at the top of my list of dream places to visit and as I boarded my Qantas flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, I still couldn’t believe I was finally going ‘Down Under.’ The 15 and a half hour flight flew by thanks to Qantas’ super comfortable seats, attentive crew, yummy meals and snacks, and tons of movies and TV shows to pass the time.

As soon as I arrived in Melbourne, I dropped my stuff off at the hotel and ran to my first tour. Hidden Secrets’ Lanes and Arcades walking tour is a must and the perfect introduction to this vibrant city. As I explored Melbourne’s maze of cobblestone laneways and elegant arcades, I immediately fell in love with the city’s lively atmosphere. Street musicians, myriad of cafes and restaurants, quirky little shops, stylish boutiques, funky street art – there were surprises around every corner!

      

Melbourne is the perfect place to base yourself as you explore Victoria. I took a day trip to travel the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives, where a heli flight over the 12 Apostles and a stop at Bells Beach to watch the surfers are a must!

I spent a day in the Yarra Valley, tasting my way from one cellar door to the next. There are over 70 wineries in the region to choose from, producing premium Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz, but if you’re a sparkling wine fan like me, a stop at Chandon to taste their sparkling Pinot Noir is not to be missed!

My most unique day trip in Victoria was to Phillip Island to see the famous Penguin Parade. Sitting on the beach at sunset and watching these little penguins make their way ashore after a day’s fishing, completely undisturbed by the hundreds of people in the viewing stands as there is absolutely no photography allowed, is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. After a group of penguins, known as a raft, makes it ashore, they begin their waddle to their burrows, some of which are as far as 2km away. As you walk back from the beach, you are surrounded by these adorable creatures and may even be asked by a ranger to stop for a penguin crossing – after all, you’re on their turf!

Photo credit: Visit Phillip Island

Stay tuned for the next post, where Ksusha explores Tropical North Queensland.

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