Fly in to Melbourne, a city with a big heart. You’ll need to get your skates on if you are going to explore thoroughly its varied charms, which include fantastic art galleries and magnificent Victorian architecture. Start with a tram ride down to the raffish seaside suburb St Kilda, followed by lunch at one of the chic restaurants around Chinatown. Over the next couple of days, visit some of the city’s great museums and monuments. At the Old Melbourne Gaol, see where bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged. For sports fans, a tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground is a must.
Phillip Island – about two hours’ drive from Melbourne – is known as the best place to see little penguins, and their evening parade is a great experience. But the island has much more to offer, including great hiking, surfing and birdwatching, so why not stay the night? Then it’s time for some serious wine tasting. You’ll find some excellent boutique wineries in both the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula. Many have excellent restaurants, so make time for relaxed lunch stops.
An 80-minute flight takes you from Melbourne to Tasmania. Once known for its apples, the island is now making a name for itself with cool-climate wines and fresh seafood, such as crayfish and sea urchin. Many of the wineries are family owned and a delight to visit, and the island also has a thriving whisky-making trade. You’ll find some excellent restaurants in both Hobart and Launceston, which are the best bases for exploring the island. Cap off your sojourn with a guided walk on remote Maria Island, a national park and former convict settlement, or a high-speed bike ride down Mount Wellington into the very centre of Hobart.