3. The Twelve Great Apostles
The Twelve Great Apostles is one of the top places to visit in Melbourne. Strictly speaking, the Twelve Great Apostles aren’t in Melbourne, but they’re too gorgeous to exclude. Located about a three and a half to four hour drive from Melbourne, the Twelve Great Apostles has one of the most stunning ocean views I’ve ever seen. Geography and photography buffs alike will adore this place for its naturally constructed cliffs and pillars.
Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes while trekking in the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park, as there are steep steps. It’s very relaxing being surrounded by such a breathtaking sight in 360 degrees. Do visit on a day when the sun’s out and as early as possible, in order to avoid the hordes of tourists that are as keen to get a good photograph as you are. Opening hours: the Visitor Centre is open from 9am-5pm except for Christmas. Admission fee: None.
4. Tesselaar Tulip Festival
Tesselaar Tulip Festival is a places to visit in Melbourne during spring. You do not need to go to Holland to view its world-renowned tulips for they were brought to Melbourne by the Dutch for cultivation some 70 years ago. The story began in depression-era Holland as World War II loomed. Cees Tesselaar read from newspapers that exports of tulip and other bulbs to Australia were increasing. Hearing that Australia is a land of opportunity for those willing to work hard, Cees decided to give it a shot.
He sold his cheese business, married Johanna and her father gave them a gift of bulbs. In 1939, they left for Australia on their honeymoon and never returned. After a few years growing gladioli, tulips and daffodils at Ferntree Gully, they moved to Silvan in the Dandenong Mountain. News of their “little piece of Holland” spread and many of the “Dutchies” immigrants who arrived during the 1950s headed straight for the Tesselaar farm where they found a place to stay and a job. Many of these immigrants stayed in the area and began their own farms so the area is today dominated by the “Dutchies” and their beloved Tulips.
The Tesselaar Tulip Festival started by accident. By the 1940s and 50s, more people were doing weekend day trips to the Dandenong Ranges. They were all stopping at the tulip field to jump the fence for a closer look at the flowering tulips. Noticing more people every year, the entrepreneurial Cees started selling bunches of tulips to tourists. As more people came, more facilities had to be provided and this eventually turned into a full-blown four-week tulip festival featuring live entertainment, tractor rides, market stalls, a sculpture competition and theme weekends such as Turkish, Dutch, Irish and Jazz weekends.
The Silvan property is still a working farm but the one million tulip and other spring bulbs grown there are purely for the stunning floral display during the festival. Tesselaars shifted the bulk of its bulb production to Tasmania about 15 years ago, where contract growers had access to ample land and the cooler climate was better suited to bulbs.