The Story of Loch Ard Gorge

Great Ocean Road 13Located near the impressive Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge cuts a pretty picture in the Port Campbell National Park just outside of Melbourne. This length of coast is known as the Great Ocean Road, and promises visitors an eclectic mix of stunning sea views, wild scenery, and breath-taking natural monuments. If you find yourself in the area, be sure to make a pitstop at Loch Ard Gorge to soak up the incredible rugged scenery.

The History of Loch Ard Gorge
Named after Loch Ard, a clipper ship that got washed up on Muttonbird Island back in the late 1800s, the gorge boasts a fascinating history. The boat itself makes up much of its past, where only two passengers survived the grounding – a 19-year-old apprentice, Tom Pearce, and 19-year-old Eva Carmichael, who was emigrating to Australia with her family.

Pearce rescued Carmichael from the water, but she returned to Europe just three months after arriving in Australia as she lost four members of her family in the sinking.

The nearby Island Archway, which once formed a natural bridge over the gorge, fell down in 2009, leaving two unconnected rock pillars guarding the frothing sea. The two pillars have been affectionately named Tom and Eva after the two survivors of the 19th century Loch Ard shipwreck. loch ard gorge victoria australia 14126

This stretch of coast is renowned for its collection of shipwrecks, where boats have washed up on the shores over the centuries thanks to the rough waves and indeterminable ocean. Loch Ard Gorge marks just one of the spots that saw boats get into trouble, but it’s not just history that makes the landmark a unique place to visit.

In fact, there is plenty to do in the surroundings, from gazing out at the spectacular views from the top of the gorge, to taking a stroll through the lush undergrowth of the Port Campbell National Park. Visitors can make their way down into the gorge via a series of steps. This gives you a unique viewpoint of the landmark and promises a different perspective to soak up.

Panoramic view of Loch Ard Gorge Great Ocean Road Victoria AustraliaWalking Around Loch Ard Gorge
One of the most popular activities in and around the gorge is walking, and there are plenty of routes to keep you busy. You can discover the geology of the region on a 900m return walk along the coastline, or follow the tragic story of Tom and Eva on a walk to the nearby shipwreck cemetery. This 1.4km route takes around 50 minutes and exposes visitors to the fascinating narrative that has made Loch Ard Gorge so famous throughout Australia and beyond.

Visiting the Eureka Sky Deck

Located on the Riverside Quay in Melbourne, the Eureka Skydeck offers a vantage point like no other in the city. From the top, you can gaze out across the stunning cityscape and spot famous landmarks as you go. eureka skydeck

Standing at an eye-watering 297 metres above Melbourne, the Skydeck is considered one of the best things to do in Melbourne – especially if you want to discover the city from a different perspective. In fact, the tower is the highest public observation deck in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere, offering views like no other across the city.

Whilst up on the deck, you can look out over the urban sprawl of Melbourne, pick out the different neighbourhoods, and explore the major attractions from an entirely new vantage point. At night, you can watch as the city comes to life beneath you. Keep your eyes peeled for the MCG and sporting precinct, Albert Park Lake, and Port Phillip Bay, as well as the impressive Dandenong Ranges that sprawl out in the distance.

The Edge Experience

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can opt to take the Edge Experience, which is essentially a glass cube that juts out from the side of the building with you inside. The glass-bottom means you have unparalleled views of the city below from a completely unique perspective. eureka skydeck 2

Alternatively, you can just stick to the Skydeck on a self-guided experience. If you get hungry along the way, there is a Skydeck kiosk that serves drinks and food throughout the day.
The Eureka Skydeck is open from 10 until 10 every day, giving you the chance to experience Melbourne at a range of different times.

Quick Facts About the Eureka Skydeck

•    More than six million visitors have been to the Skydeck since it opened ten years ago.
•    There are 3680 steps to get you up to the Skydeck if you choose to walk it.
•    There have been over 1,000 marriage proposals that have taken place on The Edge.
•    There are a whopping 12764 windows in the Tower.

Eureka skydeck view

So, if you’re ready to make your own memories on the Skydeck, now’s your chance! Get ready to view Melbourne from a different perspective and enjoy the incredible views from the Southern Hemisphere’s highest public observation platform. And remember, if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t forget to take your ride on “The Edge” to experience the tower from a whole different vantage point.

Local Flavours at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse

The landscape surrounding Melbourne City lends itself perfectly to not only winemaking, but beer production, too. The Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse is set in the sprawling green expanse of the Yarra Valley, one of the most verdant landscapes in the country. It was originally set up to act as a creative and collaborative space for the founders to share their passion about all things beer and cider. Brewery and ciderhouse 2 Michael

Though it’s not immediately known for its beer, the Yarra Valley has a history of beer dating back to the early 1800s when hops were a popular crop to grow. Today, many of the hop farms have disappeared (bar the odd hop kiln here and there), but Napoleone is dedicated to making sure beer and cider production remain an important part of the valley.

Beer at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse

The brewers at Napoleone are dedicated to creating innovative flavours against an old school structure. The beers produced here have classic flavours and are still created using traditional techniques.

Cider at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse

Cider is just an important part of the brewery as beer, and Napoleone remain pioneers of the drink in the region. Here, you can expect to taste crisp, clean flavours that have a fruity focus to them. There are no added sugars or concentrate in the ciders created at the Napoleone.

Meletos at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse brewery and ciderhouse 3 Michael

The in-house restaurant at the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse doubles up as a regional café and a gourmet pizzeria that boasts both a pretty venue space for regular events and a boutique guesthouse, which is perfect if you’re looking for an intimate stay in the region.

The restaurant is run by Chef Neil Cunningham and serves up delicious local dishes with ingredients sourced from all over the Yarra Valley and Victoria. There are plenty of local wines to tuck into alongside your meal, too, all of which have been home grown on the lush vineyards around the valley.

If you’re a keen beer or cider enthusiast (or even if you simply want to try some local flavours from around Australia), a trip to the Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse is in order. While there, you can sample unique flavours at the Cellar Door, learn more about the beer and cider making process in the Yarra Valley, and buy some of your own tipple to take home with you.

Koala Spotting and Surfing at Kennett River

Located around 174 kilometres to the west of Melbourne City, Kennett River is a small, picturesque seaside town on the Otway Coast. Forming part of the impressive Great Ocean Road, one of the country’s best-loved attractions, it proves popular with visitors from near and far. Kennett River Michael

Sitting pretty between the charming towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay, Kennett River is close to the cascading Wye River and boasts a sprawling beach that has a reliable surf break.

Surfing is a popular activity here, and you’ll be able to tell if the surf is up by how busy the beach carpark is – the more cars, the bigger the surf! But that’s not the only thing the town promises. During the Winter months, keep an eye out for migrating whales as they pass through the bay in search of warmer waters.

If you want to gaze out at the stunning scenery, venture to Cape Patton, which is 5 kilometres away, and head to the spectacular lookout point as well as Carisbrook Falls which is just a short drive further. 
The History of Kennett River Cape Patton Michael

The river that runs through the small town was named after the River Kennet in Berkshire, England, by surveyor George Smythe.
In 1882, Alex MacLennan and his cousins were searching for a spot to farm and fish on and settled on the site of Kennett River. The cousins decided to cross stream and set up camp on the other side of the creek at the Wye River.

Things to Do in Kennett RiverThe small town is very peaceful and offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities, particularly if you’re interested in pristine beach views and charming local life.

It is best known for its stunning coastal views that form part of the Great Otway National Park and its extensive surfing opportunities.
It’s also one of the top places in the country to spot koalas in the wild, so keep your eyes peeled for these cute critters. Once you turn into Grey River Road off the Great Ocean Road, you’ll be greeted by lots of koalas as they bask and eat in the eucalyptus trees that flank the road.

As well as koala-spotting and surfing, you can check out the quaint selection of local restaurants and cafes, and kick back and relax on the stunning beach and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. If you’re travelling along the Great Ocean Road, Kennett River is the perfect place for a pitstop.



The Weird and Wonderful Attractions at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Chocolate lovers rejoice! The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is a short ride from Melbourne and provides visitors with the chance to indulge their sweet tooth. As well as plenty of opportunities to watch chocolatiers in action, you can make your own chocolates and browse the incredible selection of interactive displays and exhibits around the factory.

The factory itself celebrates all things chocolate, where you can dive into a sweet world of truffles, sweets, and everything in between. When you need a rest, head to the café, where you can tuck into a wide range of chocolate treats and a number of unique coffees.

Elsewhere there are a range of weird and wonderful exhibits for you to check out and enjoy, like:

Chocolate FactoryThe World’s Largest Chocolate Waterfall
This incredible sculpture literally oozes chocolate, producing more than 400kg of chocolate every three minutes.

Drive Through a Chocolate Village
The in-house chocolate village is a sight to behold, and you can be the train driver who chugs past the houses and shops.

One Tonne Challenge
See if you and your friends and family can lift the choc-block off the ground with your combined weight – a fun game for all to try!

A Chocolate Statue of David
See art in a unique form entirely with the statue of David carved completely out of chocolate.

Dame Edna Everage
If David wasn’t creative enough for you, head to the Dame Edna Everage chocolate art mural, which is made up of more than 12,000 truffles to replicate the face of Dame Edna herself.

Chocolate Carving Machine
Panny’s chocolate carving machine can carve pretty much anything you want in a slab of chocolate of your choice – perfect for a souvenir or a gift for someone back home.

Panny’s Family Window
View a range of animatronic scenes at the Panny’s Family Window, which showcases factories and machines creating all sorts of chocolate wonders.

Chocolate factory1Penguin Chocolate Attraction
This wacky attraction features a chocolate scene of penguins doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

Interactive Games of Skill
Test your skill at the numerous interactive games stations featuring vintage arcade games and old-fashioned funfair stalls.

Chocolate Shoes
Shoe lovers will want to check out the range of incredible decorated shoes that have been hand-decorated by Panny’s very own on-site chocolatiers.

Make Your Own Chocolate
You can’t leave Panny’s without making your very own chocolate creation. Put everything you’ve learned at the factory together to produce your own brand.


The Top 5 Things to Do on Phillip Island

PhillipIsland Penguin1For an animal-centred day trip just outside of Melbourne city, grab a ride to Phillip Island and prepare to be blown away by the sheer beauty of the wildlife and scenery that’s on offer.

There’s plenty to get stuck into while you’re on the island, so here are some of the best ways to pass the time.

1. The Penguin Parade
Perhaps the most popular attraction on Phillip Island, the Penguin Parade lets visitors watch the colony of Little Penguins as they waddle up the beach after a long hard day of fishing. As well as observing the sunset parade, you can learn more about the cute critters in the visitors’ centre, where there are plenty of interactive and educational displays.

Chocolate Factory2. The Chocolate Factory
Got a sweet tooth? Hotfoot it to Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate for a delectable day out. Here, you can join in with the interactive displays, learn how the local truffles are made, and even create your own, unique brand of chocolate.

3. Nobbies Centre
Explore the incredible scenery of Phillip Island at the Nobbies Centre, where you can soak up the breath-taking views of the surrounding coastal scenery. While on-site, you can take a stroll along the in-built boardwalk and discover the blowhole. Get educated, too, with insightful displays, and experience the nesting birds that choose this wild and rugged landscape to breed in. Before you go, grab a sighting of the largest fur seal colony in the country at Seal Rocks.

4. Phillip Island Circuit
Motor racing lovers will want to check out the Phillip Island Circuit. The track has played host to some of the most famous sporting events in the world, including Moto GP and the World Superbikes championship. While there, you can drive a go-kart around the circuit at high speed and get a tour of all the best spots.

The Nobbies 15. Koala Conservation Centre
Get up close and personal with Australia’s cutest native creature at the Koala Conservation Centre. The eco-friendly attraction is dedicated to protecting and saving the koala population of Phillip Island, and you can learn more about the creature’s habitat, behaviour, and history. If the timing’s right, you can also watch the baby koalas taking their first adventure outside of their mother’s pouch.

The pristine beaches, wild coastline, and incredible animal encounters make Phillip Island the perfect backdrop for animal-centred encounters and adventures.








How to Experience the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Phillip Island, just off the coast of Melbourne City, is a haven of wildlife. Perhaps the most prominent animal encounter is the Penguin Parade, which takes place every evening and sees the local colony of Little Penguins make their way up the beach after a long, hard day of fishing.

You’ll be able to watch the world’s smallest penguin waddle up the shore line while learning more about their habitat, behaviour, and history on the island. As well as watching the parade itself, you’ll have a chance to explore the educational displays and stories in the Visitors’ Centre and admire the stunning natural beauty that characterises the island.

The Penguin Parade
The Penguin Parade itself takes place on Summerland Beach with its own viewing area for visitors. Tiered seating gives you a 180-degree view all around the beach and beyond, which means you’ll easily be able to watch the penguins as they come ashore.

5807394 3x2 460x307There are also a number of timber boardwalks that you can wander along to watch the Little Penguins as they bustle around their burrows.

Penguins Plus
For a more VIP viewing experience, the Penguins Plus platform is based on the landscape around it, giving visitors the chance to view the penguins from up close alongside a detailed commentary of the penguins and their lives. This area can only hold up to 300 people, but it provides some of the best penguin viewing spots on the beach.

Underground Viewing
To view the penguins from a different perspective, take the underground viewing experience where you can watch the penguins from above as they work their way through their natural habitat. From underground, you’ll be able to see them close up and at eye-level, giving you a more intimate experience than the other viewing options.

little penguinsThe Penguin Sky Box
Alternatively, you can watch the penguins from above on the elevated viewing tower. Up to five people each evening can watch the parade from the ultimate viewing point, where they can speak to the ranger and help count the penguins as they come ashore.

The Penguin Parade really is one of Australia’s most popular wildlife experiences, and it gives you the chance to watch this incredible show of nature and learn more about the fascinating Little Penguins and their habitat. It takes place every evening on Summerland Beach, a beautiful part of Phillip Island that is protected and conserved for the penguins.



How to Visit the 12 Apostles

Great Ocean Road 12Just outside of Melbourne City, the Great Ocean Road languishes out along the stunning coastline, bringing visitors an eclectic selection of natural attractions and manmade landmarks. The unique structure of the 12 Apostles is perhaps the most popular sight in the area, featuring a collection of limestone stacks that shoot skywards just beside the Port Campbell National Park.

At the moment, only eight apostles remain after the ninth collapsed back in 2005, but it still promises a stunning sight – especially if you visit at sunrise or sunset.

How the 12 Apostles Were Formed
The Apostles were created through erosion, where the harsh weather across the Southern Ocean cut away at the soft limestone that characterised the caves and cliffs in the region. Over time, the caves became arches, which then collapsed leaving rock stacks that soared up to 50 metres into the sky.

Today, there are fewer Apostles remaining because of the continued erosion that takes place on the coast. Interestingly enough, the formation has only ever had nine stacks despite its name.

12 Apostles Great Ocean Road 300How to Get to the 12 Apostles
Getting to the 12 Apostles is easy if you’re travelling from Melbourne. Simply pick up the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne and cruise past the stunning sights for around four and a half hours via Geelong. On the way back, you can always hop on the inland route via the Princes Highway to save time.

Top Tips for Visiting the 12 Apostles
Want to make the most of your time visiting the 12 Apostles? Here are some top tips:
-    To see the stacks from a unique perspective, take to the skies on a scenic helicopter flight for a bird’s eye view
-    Make sure you set aside enough time to explore the dramatic coastline that surrounds the 12 Apostles
-    Take a stroll along the Great Ocean Walk, which ends at the 12 Apostles to see more of the rugged landscape and to turn your visit into more of an adventure
-    Visit at sunrise or sunset to beat the crowds and to see the 12 Apostles with the fiery glow of the sun as a picturesque backdrop

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s best-loved attractions, and the 12 Apostles only exacerbate this. If you’re in the area, make sure you visit to catch a glimpse of one of the country’s most incredible natural wonders.


Travelling to Memorial Arch on the Great Ocean Road

memorial archThe Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most popular attractions. Along its wild length, it features numerous natural wonders as well as man-made landmarks that are well worth a visit. Memorial Arch is one such attraction.

The monument was a tribute to the World War One servicemen who dedicated their time to building the Great Ocean Road, and it has had a lengthy, turbulent history. The current arch is the third one to have been built on the same spot after the second was destroyed in bushfires back in 1983. Made up of a log archway complete with cement and stone supports on each side, it spans the width of the Great Ocean Road and marks the start of this stretch of coastline.

Memorial Arch3Servicemen completed building the Great Ocean Road in 1932, and you can see the plaques commemorating all three arches, as well as the 50th anniversary in 1982, at the start of the road.

Though there are numerous attractions to check out along the Great Ocean Road, the Memorial Arch is one of the most popular as it sits at the start of the coastal trail. You can stop off at the on-site carpark, where you can take a photo of the arch and statue to mark the start of your adventure.

Travel Information for Memorial Arch

memorial arch2Memorial Arch is easy to get to for tourists, and there is a parking lot on the side of the highway that caters to the attraction. From the carpark, you can easily walk to the arch and it is recommended that you spend around 10 and 20 minutes at the site so you can take enough photos and read the plaques and commemorations that adorn the arch.

Admission is totally free and you can visit the site 24 hours a day 7 days a week. To experience the archway with fewer crowds, try visiting in the morning and the evening. Not only will there be less footfall and less cars on the road at this time, but you might also catch the sunrise or sunset against the Memorial Arch.

If you travel along the Great Ocean Road, you’ll find it hard to miss Memorial Arch. It is a great place to start your coastal adventure from whilst soaking up some of the rich history that pervades the region. Be sure to pack your camera so you don’t miss out on any photo opportunities.

Climbing the Eureka Tower in Melbourne

eureka towerThe Eureka Tower in Melbourne City soars almost 300 metres skywards, offering a futuristic touch to the horizon. Set in the busy Southbank precinct of Melbourne, it dates back to 2002 when construction began after architectural firm Fender Katsalidis Architects put in a bid for the design. It wasn’t completed until June 2006, though, when it became the world’s tallest residential tower before it was overtaken by two buildings in Dubai.

Named after the Victorian rebellion Eureka Stockade during the gold rush in the 1800s, it retains some of the style and charm from that era, like the gold crown and the red stripe – a feature that represents the blood spilt during the revolt.

Blue glass cladding covers the majority of the building, and that, along with the white lines, represent the Eureka Stockade flag. At the bottom of the tower, you’ll find a contemporary art installation which features bees inside a white box.eureka skydeck 2

The Eureka Observation Deck
Though it is a residential unit, visitors can still climb the many floors of the Eureka Tower and admire the views from the top. The Observation deck (or the Eureka Skydeck, as it’s better known) is open to the public throughout the year. It sits on the 88th floor of the tower and offers the highest public vantage point in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere.

When up there, you can gaze out at the city below via thirty viewfinders, picking out various landmarks as you go. There are also free binoculars you can use and a small outside area that is open when the weather is calm.

eureka tower2If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, The Edge might be the thing for you. This glass cube hangs over the edge of the building to extend the viewing experience, and offers uninterrupted views onto the city below.

Events at the Eureka Tower
The sheer height of the building has led to numerous events taking place at the tower, the most prominent of which is Eureka Climb. Since 2012, this event has seen participants race up the 1642 steps to the observation deck to see who can get there the quickest. At the moment, the record is just 7 minutes.

The Eureka Tower is the perfect vantage point if you want to explore Melbourne from above. At the incredible height of 300 metres, you can see for miles in every direction, getting to know the landscape of the city from a different perspective.

The Fascinating History of the Polly Woodside

Polly Woodside NT 13First launched in 1885, the Polly Woodside is an iron-hulled, three-masted barque that was originally built in Belfast but is now preserved in Melbourne City. It makes up part of the South Wharf precinct and boasts a rich history pivotal to the area. It got its original name from its maker – William J. Woodside.

Polly Woodside first set sail from the Workman Clark yards in Belfast, where she started her role as a general cargo ship. In the years that followed her 1885 launch, she took part in the nitrate trade between the UK and South America before making her very first voyage to Australia in 1900.

When she arrived, she was snapped up by New Zealand interests and was given a new name: Rona. After this, she mainly travelled between New Zealand and Australia, carrying cargoes of timber from one country to the other. Polly Woodside

In 1923, Rona joined the coal industry, employing bunkering steamships in Sydney and Melbourne. She was a part of World War 2, where she operated in New Guinea before returning to her home in Melbourne once the war ended to continue her role as a coal hulk. By the time the 60s rolled around, she was ready to be scuttled in Bass Strait, but a group of boat enthusiasts saw her potential and decided to reform her to her original glory.

Polly WoodsideShe was then handed over to Australia’s National Trust, where her renovation took place and she got her former name, Polly Woodside, back. In 1978 she was ferried to Duke’s dry-dock, where she remains to this very day as a static exhibition that recalls the important role this ship, and many others like it, had on the history of Australia and the rest of the world.

In 1988, the Polly Woodside became the very first merchant ship in the whole world to be given the World Ship Trust Medal. Today, visitors can marvel at the boat’s impressive three-masted exterior where it is displayed. While there, they can learn more about the specific role this boat had in the coal industry and World War 2, as well as the important role that ships of its kind had on Australia’s history.

For any history buffs, this is a must-visit, particularly if you’re fascinated by the rich and lengthy maritime history that imbues Australia.