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Melbourne – A Touch Of Class
melbourneAlthough often compared to Sydney, Melbourne has its own unique sense of style and is perhaps the trendiest metropolitan city of Australia. It is mostly known for its cafes, restaurants, stylish shopping and shows, which essentially make it an ideal location for a Melbourne campervan hire holiday that is inclusive of magnificent scenery and attractions all within an hours drive of the city centre.

Victoria’s capital promises to keep you fascinated and busy from dawn until way past dusk. While you are in the heart of the city you simple must pay a visit to thelush Royal Botanic Gardens, which are popular for a quick lunch or stroll. Federation Square is a meeting place which has become a well known landmark within the city, for locals and tourists alike. The hub of the cafes would have to be in Brunswick Street, which is the highly regarded home of some of our country's best eclectic cafés, shops and atmosphere. You also can’t miss the extensive Melbourne Museum which displays some of the best art, sculptures and technology this city has to offer.

In summer there are free programmes organised in the parks and gardens of Melbourne for people of all ages. The 'fun in the sun' programme encourages everyone to get outdoors and enjoy a picnic and some activities together. This is a great family activity to take part in and will entertain the kids for hours.

A good idea is to plan your stay to coincide with the Royal Melbourne Show, which is held between 20-30 September each year. The show is Victoria's largest public event with rides, fantastic food, rural displays and of course, plenty of showbags for the kids.

No trip to Melbourne is complete without at least a day of shopping! The Queen Victoria Market will keep you captivated with its myriad of stalls and food halls, with trinkets and treasures for all. You can catch a tram or walk here from the centre of the city. Why not end your spree with a trip to the Rialto Towers, the tallest office building in the city? A small charge will give you a guided tour so that you can experience the most incredible panoramic views of Melbourne.

To add a touch of class to your holiday, why not board a dinner and cabaret cruise on the Yarra River, or dress up for an opera or show at the Melbourne Arts Centre. The busy restaurants, clubs and shows bring the city to life at night and will ensure your holiday here is full of culture.

If you choose to stay in the city centre, you will find two main caravan parks which are centrally located. The Melbourne Big 4 Holiday Park is located at Coburg and is an excellent choice, or the Hobsons Bay Caravan Park at Williamstown is another great option, suitable for you and your campervan.

Just ninety minutes drive from Melbourne, Philip Island offers a rare opportunity to see fairy penguins at play as you watch the ‘Penguin Parade’. You can even take a guided tour at sunset to watch the penguins march. There is plenty of wildlife in this nature reserve. The fur seals will capture your hearts at Seal Rocks, as will the cuddly koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre. There is a fantastic walk along Philip Islands headland that gives you breathtaking views plus a look at the Pinnacles, which are unique rock formations off the coast. The views here will simply take your breath away so be sure to take your camera.

Journeying on, the scenery keeps getting better with natural beauty such as Wilsons Promontory National Park at the most southern end of Australia, featuring long white beaches and incredible wildlife. The Great Ocean Road would have to be one of the most scenic drives in Australia, with 300 kilometres of winding roads which stretch from the headlands to beach views and rainforests. It is the ideal drive to undertake in a campervan as there are so many places to stop, stay and admire the views. The most famous of the landmarks along the coast are the Twelve Apostles, which are giant limestone rocks that have been formed over the years by the pelting waves, and are best admired at sunset as the colours change before your eyes.

If you love adventure and rugged scenery, there are plenty of exhilarating moments waiting for you further out from the city. The Grampians are just three hours drive west of Melbourne, and are especially stunning in Spring when almost 1000 species of flower are blooming. The Wimmera Lakes Caravan Park at Horsham is the perfect place to stay while in area as you have the added bonus of magnificent views of the Grampians as you set up camp. There is also Mt Buller, famous for its accessible ski fields and resorts. Mansfield Caravan and Camping Ground is the most popular place to camp if you choose to brave out the cold, with views of the mountains in the distance creating a great place to relax after a day of adventure.

With so many sights and dynamic attractions, it is hard to know where to start. Depending on your tastes you can sit at a cafe admiring views of the city skyline and enjoy watching the world go by, or you can set off to explore the wonders of the surrounding areas. One thing is sure, Melbourne will capture your heart and call you back again and again.

Christine Barton

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