The Top 10 road trip highlights from our Australia Road Trip winner

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If you follow Visit Melbourne on social media, you probably heard about our dream road trip giveaway this year.  Well, it happened and our lucky winner got one unforgettable trip. In March, Dianne Sherlock from the UK left London to spend nine action-packed days in Victoria and shared her favourite moments with us afterwards.  Here are, in her words and photos, Dianne’s top highlights from her Wine and Wildlife itinerary.

Highlight: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours

Trekking wild animals in the bush – just pushes all those primordial hunter, gatherer buttons in us all. The joy of ‘discovering’ wildlife with a terrific Ranger who made us feel like heroes when we found our target – for photography purposes of course – was truly thrilling! I was exhilarated and buzzing from the experience, and definitely wanted more when I got back to Melbourne that evening.

Highlight: Healesville Sanctuary

Up close and personal – William the Pygmy Possum stole my heart. This sanctuary was a place of animal tranquillity and refuge and it felt gentle and calm in its delivery of animal welfare. I loved being able to get up close to endangered species, to talk to Rangers about reasons and solutions was a joy. A great learning curve, never boring and definitely inspiring.

Highlight: Four Pillars Distillery

Sip-Smith or lush? I did not expect this experience to be such an amazing highlight, because I thought Gin was just ‘not me’. Well, it turns out the right Gin definitely is! I loved discussing the distillery process, the fruits, herbs and spices within the alcohol and thoroughly enjoyed meeting Elton who guided us so wittily and joyously through the process – there’s a man who loves his job, and I don’t blame him!

Credit: Yering Gorge Cottages

Highlight: Yering Gorge Cottages

What an idyllic spot… I so wanted to stay much longer there… one night was a bit frustrating as this is exactly the type of location with amenities that I seek out when looking for my own holiday accommodation. Loads to do all round and within easy driving distance but surrounded by walks, woodland, waterfalls and local wildlife – the number of kangaroos was amazing! A day ‘doing nothing’ would definitely not be boring!

Highlight: Global Ballooning Australia

Up, up and away – my second experience with Global Ballooning, and this Yarra Valley trip was mind blowing. Witnessing the world come to life as it moved from night to dawn, darkness before sunrise and then to see the sun break over the Dandenong Ranges was deeply moving – an experience that will live with me always. I would absolutely book this trip every time I visit Victoria. A ‘must do’ experience worthy of a few quiet days to balance the pennies if necessary.

Credit: Parks Victoria

Highlight: Phillip Island Penguin Parade

I am in love with these gorgeous tiny penguins – Little Penguins are only found in Australia and New Zealand and this sunset experience was the best ever. I had no idea how really tiny they are, I will never forget that truly face to face underground experience!

Credit: Peninsula Hot Springs

Highlight: Peninsula Hot Springs

Wow, the Springs were wonderful – it’s all a bit commercial but then catering for hordes of visitors would have to be. I absolutely loved it anyway and in truth had very mixed feelings about the experience when I arrived. Aussies are used to trotting round in their ‘bathers’ so that’s a hurdle some of us less-personally secure Brits might have to negotiate but once the confidence rises, which happens almost immediately, it is amazing and the time flies by! Although established in a bit of a ‘hen night’ experience mode, the new clay activity was fun with the clays definitely gorgeous.

Highlight: Wild Oceans EcoBoat Tour

This new experience absolutely floated my boat! I loved it from start to finish; in fact finish seemed to come round far too quickly! The amazing expertise of the skipper enabled not only wave surfing back to harbour but an intimate rock to boat experience with 10,000 seals that really was up close and personal. I loved this trip and would absolutely do it again!

Highlight: Hidden Secrets Tour

Melbourne’s hidden secrets are undone, that’s for sure! The only way to truly understand Melbourne from a first time visit perspective because unless you’ve got someone showing you Melbourne’s secrets and how to find and negotiate them, believe me, you won’t find it all on your own! This was a fabulous tour and three hours was both ideal and comfortable despite all four seasons trying to strike us at once. Completely recommend this tour as a brilliant introduction to Melbourne.

Highlight: Moonlit Sanctuary

The inspiration of Gerald Durrell runs true in the moonlight – I loved this truly different sanctuary experience created from a Melbourne boyhood dream. The magical ‘night lantern’ tour was incredible! I met and fed night-active marsupials that you do forget exist; Tasmanian Devils, Bettongs, Quolls, flying Gliders, Frogmouths and even Barking Owls – yes, they did, just like a dog! I even held and handled a very lively Python from Queensland who’d been someone’s pet. A truly interactive experience that supports breeding programmes for rare and endangered species. I loved it. 

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