After almost two years of lockdowns, Australia has reopened its borders to Working Holiday Makers, which means that fully vaccinated UK travellers who are up to 30 years old are now able to stay and work in the country for a year on a short-term employment basis or to study. Even people who have held a Working Holiday visa in the past are now able to take a second working holiday in Australia, and what better place to visit than Victoria in southeast Australia, which has always been popular with younger travellers.
The state of Victoria is roughly the size of the British Isles and offers a wealth of diverse regions and attractions all of which can easily be reached from its capital Melbourne. It boasts pristine beaches and fabulous national parks teeming with wildlife. The sweeping coastlines offers one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives, the Great Ocean Road, and of course is has some superb wineries and restaurants.
When travelling from the UK to Melbourne you will only be required to take a COVID-19 test and self-isolate for 72 hours upon arrival. You will then be free to travel around at your leisure and explore the region.
With this in mind, we have put together our top 8 things to see and do whilst working or studying in Victoria.
Experience Melbourne’s vibrant city life
There is no better place to start than Melbourne, Victoria’s vibrant capital. You can explore the bustling, creative laneways which are never-ending and full of surprises. Welcome To Travel can help any young traveller looking to start their ‘working holiday’ in Victoria, from meeting new people through to getting to know the state by taking a road trip or needing help with work and travel advice. For more information on Melbourne, please visit: www.visitmelbourne.com
Get to know Victoria’s Aboriginal history
If you have never been to Australia before, then learning about the country’s history and culture is a good place to start, and that includes Victoria’s Aboriginal heritage and culture. The city’s Royal Botanic Gardens for example, rest on a traditional meeting place of the area’s custodians, the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri people. The Gardens’ Aboriginal Heritage Walk will take you on a journey of the ancestral lands of the Kulin nation, including a traditional smoking (welcome) ceremony with an Aboriginal guide who will explain the traditional uses of plants for food, tools and medicine. You can also try some local cuisine by visiting Indigenous restaurant, Big Esso, located in Federation Square, which was created by Torres Strait islander chef, Nornie Bero. The menu is packed full of mouth-watering Indigenous dishes, as well as sustainably caught seafood, such as tropical painted crayfish, purple yams and Green Ant Gin.
Drive the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s and also the world’s, most scenic drives, taking you from surf capital Torquay to the famous Twelve Apostles, and ending at the town of Allansford 151 picturesque miles away. The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in WW1, carved in rock and was built by returning servicemen. The road winds around the rugged southern coast where you can take in the varied wildlife such as kangaroos, koalas as well as echidnas, platypus and the leafy seadragon.
Surf at Bells Beach, Torquay
For those of you into surfing, why not practice your surfing skills at Torquay, the home of Bells Beach and birthplace of iconic brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver. Torquay is Victoria’s surfing and beach capital and home to the Australian National Surfing Museum, where you will find pictures and hands-on displays, as well as the Point Danger Marine Sanctuary, which is a great place to do some snorkelling and to see the wide diversity of the area’s underwater inhabitants.
Visit ‘The Prom’
Wilsons Promontory National Park, known as ‘The Prom’, is one of Victoria’s best loved parks. It sits at the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland and is 50,000 hectares in size. The reserve is a refuge for an array of native wildlife including kangaroos, emus, wombats, echidnas and vividly plumed birds like rosellas. There is also plenty of sea life at Lakes Entrance, where dolphins and seals often swim beside boats and kayaks.
Grampians Peaks Trail
It’s well worth taking a 13-day hike on The Grampians Peaks Trail in Victoria’s Grampians National Park. You will be amazed by the breath-taking landscapes, mountain lakes and rock faces. Known as Gariwerd by local Indigenous people, the new 160-kilometre trail, which is located three hours west of Melbourne, features a wide range of experiences and camping options, from rock climbing, abseiling and hiking, to taking in the mountain peaks, rugged rocky outcrops and unforgettable panorama views. The trail will give you the chance to get immersed in a living cultural experience by being able to witness ancient oven mounds, scatterings of stone left over from tool making, a wealth of Aboriginal rock art sites and creation stories handed down from one generation to the next.
Relax on the beach
A stay in Melbourne would not be complete without spending some time on the beautifully sandy beaches and take in some warm sunshine. The most popular swimming and foodie spots are at St Kilda, a wide, sandy beach where you can enjoy the fabulous view of Melbourne’s city skyline as the sun sets. For something a little different, pay a visit to Brighton Beach, which is famous for its quaint colourful bathing boxes along the beach. It’s also a great place for yachting, boating and windsurfing for the more adventurous.
Last and by no means least, we thought anyone visiting Victoria would want to enjoy a cocktail or two. So those of you who are fond of the good old classic G&T like me, will find plenty of small distilleries in Victoria, from unique creations of small batch producers and artisanal distillers to ‘distillery doors’ and masterclasses. Melbourne: Urban Gin Trail is a tour well worth taking and comprises of 10 distilleries or stops, starting at Brogan’s Way Distillery in Richmond and ending up at Patient Wolf Distilling Co, just outside Melbourne’s CBD.
If you are planning an extended stay away from home working, you will find it easier than in the past to get good travel and medical insurance cover to suit your needs. For example, PassportCard offers comprehensive and affordable international health insurance for people wanting to work abroad, with more information available on their website here: www.passportcardnomads.com. And for information on visiting Melbourne and Victoria, please visit: www.visitmelbourne.com
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Visit Melbourne