One thing that is quiet popular with tourists are day trips outside the city. Phillip Island and Great Ocean Road are two popular ones. I went on a day trip out to Phillip Island with Autopia Tours and it was fun! It takes a while to drive out there and the tour spent the day driving around the island that is connected to the mainland by a bridge, so no boat is needed, even though it technically is an island. One of the biggest attractions on the island is watching the little blue pengiuns come ashore after the sunset in the summer. But to kill time during the day some attractions I remember stopping for included The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory which had some amazing diarammas made out of chocolate, The Big Koala outside of Crowes that I was the only one to jump out of van to take my picture with (lame-o’s!) and a long walk around The Nobbies which was pretty cool. Saw tons of seals and great ocean views including a bunch of dead pengiuns along the cliffs that sucked hard.
The penguin parade was pretty cool. There was a HUGE turn out and because there were so many people, it was hard to watch them “fall” on to the shore. It got better once the ocean part finished up and we got to walk along a huge area of wood walkways which the penguins make their night homes in underneath. It was so cute to watch them waddle up and into the plants! I have to say the show in Oamaru was way better as the area was a lot smaller so it was easier to watch the penguins come to shore, but harder to see once they were on shore. So each had its good and bad parts, but if you had to pick, I would do the one in New Zealand over Australia, just based on my experience and price.
It seems like “The Big Three” towns in Australia all have wine regions (Sydney=Hunter; Adelaide=Barossa; Melbourne=Yarra) and doing a wine trip out to the Yarra Valley from Melbourne is a popular day trip which unfortunatly I didn’t go on. But it’s an option!
The Great Ocean Road can be done on a very long day trip, which is popular with people short on time or money. It’s a very long drive out with lots of stops along the way in places such as Bells Beach, Apollo Bay and various others, depending on the tour, before ending the day at the 12 Apostles. It’s then a quick 3+ hour drive back to Melbourne. Like I said, a long day! I took a Great Ocean Road tour to get from Melbourne to Adelaide and I know people that have done the whole thing in a giant circle, stopping a night or two along the way, which I would highly reccomend doing. There really is no point in trying to jam it all into one day if you can help it.
Moral: Melbourne’s got some pretty good day trips, which of course, you can do all on your own, but if you are by yourself, there are BUCKETS of tour companies all pretty much providing the same thing. Like the tour I took of the Blue Mountains when looking for a tour, definatly pick one that provides a minibus and a smaller amount of clients then one on a huge bus otherwise, you’ll spend all your timing driving around and picking people up and off.