Australia: Top things to do in Melbourne

Melbourne is an incredible city. Cosmopolitan, exciting and full of amazing coffee, there are so many ways to spend your time in and around the city.

To help begin your time in this amazing place, here are our top 10 things to do in Melbourne.

1. Drive The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of the iconic routes and relatively easy to drive from Melbourne. Whether you're lucky enough to have a weekend to explore or are trying to squeeze it into one day, there are itineraries that will suit every adventurer. For those tight on time, our one day itinerary for driving the Great Ocean Road will give a flavour of what can be achieved with a rental car and a lot of caffeine.

2. Phillip Island

For any animal lover Phillip Island is an absolute treasure trove - Little Penguins and koalas abound, there are seals, whales and nobbies running amok. The jewel in the crown is Penguin Parade, when the Little Penguins come home from a long day of swimming to roost.

As well as excitable wi…

One Day Itinerary for Driving the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is a bucket list dream. The ideal situation would be to spend a long weekend exploring, but what if you don't have a long weekend? Well, arguably the main attractions can be squeezed into one day with a bit of planning and a lot of caffeine.

Safety first, this is a long day out with a lot of driving. Take care of yourself, rest when tired, share the driving. That dealt with, it's time to enjoy the ride!

We left the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne very early in the morning. After two hours we arrived in Torquay, where we stood on the cliffs to stretch our legs and admire the view. 30 minutes later we arrived at the start of our itinerary.

8am: Split Point Lighthouse

In Airey's Inlet stands Split Point Lighthouse. Built in 1980 the lighthouse stands 66m above sea level. Tours are available at $14 per person but as we only had one day to explore the Great Ocean Road we did not take a tour, instead choosing to enjoy the cliff top walks around the lig…

Phillip Island: A Very Australian Wildlife Experience

An hour and 40 minute drive from Melbourne sits Phillip Island. An easy day trip, this small island off of the Southern coast is connected to the mainland by a small bridge. It offers unrivalled opportunities to view some Australian wildlife both in a conservation setting and in a natural environment.

Koala Conservation Centre

We started our day trip at the Koala Conservation Centre. For $12.80 per adult you have access to the ecotourism attraction's two raised boardwalks, allowing you to walk among to the trees to try and spot the koala's that live in the conservation centre.

Watching the koalas in their natural habitat is enchanting. Seeing how they studiously ignored all comers was my favourite thing about them. You can watch their ears move as they listen your conversation, decide it is not interesting enough to warrant their attention, and carry on their naps. Koala's sleep for up to 18 hours each day, conserving their energy to digest their fibrous and tough diet of…

Puffing Billy: The Steam Railway Journey that Health and Safety Forgot

Based in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, an hours drive from Melbourne, is the Puffing Billy Railway.

Running between Belgrave and Gembrook, carriages built in the early 1900's haul passengers up and down the line, passing through tall gum trees and man sized fern forests. A one way journey for the entire line takes approximately 2 hours and 35 minutes. If time is tighter, there are options to exit the train and explore at a number of stops along the route.

For $57 AUD per adult we opted to travel between Belgrave and Lakeside- a 55 minute scenic journey that Health and Safety forgot.

Boarding a packed train we were able to find a spot to undertake the traditional approach to Puffing Billy travel- hanging our legs over the side.

It is only fair to mention at this point that some casualties did result from this approach to the journey- we saw one forlorn looking trainer, one accidentally discarded flip flop and a dropped baseball cap on the side of the tracks. The fact that we…

Australia: Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef

Having exhausted what Sydney and Uluru had to offer us, we made our way to Brisbane for a single night, aiming to catch an early connection to Lady Elliot Island and its Eco Resort in the Whitsundays.

Up extra early and full of enthusiasm, we were driven to a private airstrip to await our flight. When it arrived, I was more than a bit dubious that 12 of us would fit in it- a plane the size of a toaster van.

But pile in we all did, and off we went.

We arrived at Lady Elliot Island early in the morning, ready for 2 nights of wildlife and education about conservation on the Great Barrier Reef. We had picked this resort because of it's eco tourism credentials. As we all know, the Great Barrier Reef is in dire trouble, and whilst we wanted the chance to enjoy the Reef, it was important to us to ensure that we did so in a sustainable and responsible way, not causing any damage, and learning about the environment and conservation efforts taking place.

There are two main snorkelling s…

Australia: Exploring Uluru in 4 Days

The second destination on our Australian tour was Uluru.

Otherwise known as Ayres Rock, Uluru is in the Northern Territory of Australia. Over 600 million years old, this outstanding area of cultural and natural significance is truly incredible. It is one of the biggest monoliths in the world. And yet I still managed to get off of the plane and completely failed to see it.

My beautiful cousin, V (who you may have read about in our adventures in Sydney), had organised a break for us and our husbands to enjoy a long weekend in the semi-arid centre of Australia.

In terms of local accomodation you have two options:
#1 The hotels set up specially at Yulara, 5km from the rock
#2 Alice Springs, a mere 462km and almost 6 hours drive away.

We opted for Yulara.

Staying at the Desert Gardens Hotel we had a view of Uluru from our rooms, approximately 5km away. Given the cultural significance of Uluru to the Aboriginals, who have leased the land back to the Australian Government for 99 years, th…