The Southern Experience

Taking in the best of the south of the country, this 11-day trip combines Australia’s second city, Melbourne, and the surrounding region with the great Tasmanian outdoors and South Australia’s Kangaroo Island.

Day 1: Melbourne

Start off in Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne, with its world-class shopping and thriving arts scene. No visit to Melbourne is complete without a freshly made espresso. Some of the best are on Degraves Street, directly off Flinders. Sit down at one of the RMB Café Bar’s outdoor tables and enjoy delicious eggs Benedict with your coffee. Jump on the free city circle tram to get an overview of the city. It offers good hop-on, hop-off transportation for visitors and locals alike.

Day 2: Yarra Valley Wine Region

Leave the sights and sounds of Melbourne for a day of wine tasting at the Yarra Valley. It's within easy driving distance of the city, but your best bet is to go with a winery tour. These generally include visits to four or five wineries and lunch.

Day 3: Melbourne and Phillip Island

Explore the farther reaches of the city by visiting suburbs such as Richmond, St Kilda, Fitzroy, or Prahran. All offer great café strips with a more laid-back feel than in downtown Melbourne. Take an evening tour to nearby Phillip Island to see the Little Penguin Parade, when the world’s smallest penguins come ashore after a day’s fishing.

Day 4: Hobart

Fly direct from Melbourne to Hobart (one-hour flight) to explore Tasmania, Australia’s natural state. In the harbor capital, sate your Tasmanian appetite with a mix of history and contemporary art and culture. Start at Salamanca Place on the harbor-front and browse the galleries, art studios, cafés, and restaurants lining the quaint waterfront in original 19th-century warehouses. Then make your way up the hill to Battery Point and wander streets where grand colonial houses face out over the Derwent River. If time permits, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is a must-see for art lovers and visitors alike, and is only a 15-minute drive from the center of Hobart.

Day 5: Port Arthur

Hire a car and make the 90-minute drive to Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula or join the cruise from Hobart to Port Arthur aboard the MV Marana, which takes approximately 2½ hours. Experience Australia’s most intact convict site with more than 30 buildings, ruins, and restored homes. Hop on board a short cruise to the Isle of the Dead to join a guided tour of the settlement’s island burial ground and learn about the lives of the people who lived in Port Arthur. On your return to Hobart, grab at bite to eat at Salamanca Place and enjoy some art, craft, music, and theater at the Salamanca Arts Centre.

Day 6: Bruny Island

Opt for a day-tour to Bruny Island, just south of Hobart. Enjoy morning tea on the island at Adventure Bay followed by a three-hour wilderness cruise along the spectacular coastline of the South Bruny National Park. You’ll likely see seals, whales, albatross, and various birds of prey. After lunch, relax with a walk on the beach before heading back to Hobart.

Day 8: Back to Melbourne

Fly back to Melbourne in the morning, and then it's time for shopping. A great place to start is at the Queen Victoria Market on Elizabeth Street, a shopping institution that showcases a wide range of quality seafood, clothing, jewelry, new-age products, and souvenirs. If you're feeling shopped out, take a trip to the Eureka Skydeck 88 for impressive and expansive views of the city from the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform.

Day 9: The Dandenong Ranges

You’ve tried the Yarra Valley region but haven’t yet explored the Dandenong Ranges, a tranquil place of towering forests and intriguing villages. You can hike through the Dandenong Ranges National Park and enjoy incredible views of Melbourne’s skyline from the Skyhigh, perched on top of Mt. Dandenong. Afterward, explore your creative interests among the shops and galleries of nearby Olinda, Belgrave, and Sassafras.

Days 10–11: Kangaroo Island

Visiting the southern tip of Australia wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third-largest island. The island is a pristine wilderness located southwest of Adelaide and home to some of the largest untouched populations of native Australian animals. From Melbourne, choose the Coastal Explorer or Country Lovers Way (let guide you through Victoria and South Australia) or take the short flight to Adelaide from Melbourne and then a further flight or ferry ride across to the Island.

If adventure is your thing, Kangaroo Helicopters offers a Heli Experience and Scenic Flight or, for wildlife enthusiasts, options include guided tours within the Seal Bay or Kelly Hill Conservation Parks. Fly via Adelaide back to Melbourne or on to the next stage of your journey.

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