|Phillip Island & the Dandenongs|
This short break takes in two superb but very different destinations - from the wildlife, beaches and rugged coastal scenery of Phillip Island to the forested uplands and genteel townships of the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.
Depart Melbourne on the South East Freeway and travel via the pleasant town of Cranbourne, where you can visit the Royal Botanic Gardens. The highway then takes you around Western Port, through the township of Bass, and to Wildlife Wonderland and its amazing three-metre-long Gippsland worms at the Giant Earthworm Museum.
To the south, the quiet fishing village of San Remo is the gateway to Phillip Island - head over the bridge to Newhaven, from where there is a scenic drive to rugged 109 metre-high Cape Woolami, the highest point on the island.
The popular tourist destination of Phillip Island, discovered by George Bass in 1798, is deservedly famous for its rugged scenery and wildlife. The fauna is the major attraction, particularly the internationally famous Penguin Parade at Summerland Beach, the Koala Conservation Centre, and the large fur seal colony at the far end of the island. The main town of Cowes, with its good beaches and facilities, is the ideal base for your stay.
Take the Bass Highway back to Koo-wee-rup, then head to Gembrook and through the Lower Dandenong Ranges to Belgrave, home of the famous Puffing Billy Railway. While in the area, base yourself at Ferntree Gully, just 33 km from Melbourne. Itís easy to explore this region, with its wineries, crafts galleries and lush gardens, from here - just follow the Tourist Road that takes in 630 metre-high Mount Dandenong and the charming towns of Olinda, Montrose and Lilydale, from where itís a short drive to one of the areaís most important attractions - Healesvilleís acclaimed fauna sanctuary.
Where to Stay
Time required: 4 days minimum