Cool escapes to Melbourne and beyond


Tobogganing at Victoria’s Snowfields. – Visit Victoria

Experience a fun-filled winter in Melbourne and Victoria.

THE weather is so hot these days that everybody seems to be talking about the same thing – how to get through this heatwave. Solutions usually include staying in air-conditioned rooms or spaces, wearing light and airy clothing, avoiding being outdoors for too long and showering a few times a day.

But here's another great idea to escape the heat – make your way to Melbourne to experience not just the cool weather, but some interesting festivals and exhibitions happening there, as well as in other parts of Victoria, in the next few weeks.

Winter in Australia takes place from June to August, so the weather will get pretty cool soon all around the country and will continue till early Spring in September or October. In the Alpine Region of Victoria, you can even expect some snow – perfect for those looking to experience a snowy winter for the first time.

Three of Victoria's Snowfields Falls Creek, Mount Buller and Mount Hotham are where visitors usually head to when they want to do all kinds of snow activities like skiing and snowboarding.

Mt Buller is the most accessible attraction among the three, as it is only three hours away from Melbourne, and is also the most suitable for families. Here, there are a few parks for skiers and snowboarders, each one offering different terrains and trails. There are also two toboggan parks for those who love sledding, and a host of other activities to do, as well as facilities to check out.

Mount Buller is only three hours from Melbourne. – Visit VictoriaMount Buller is only three hours from Melbourne. – Visit Victoria

At Falls Creek, Victoria's largest alpine resort, is a ski-in, ski-out attraction (what this means is that you can ski directly in and out of your accommodation as it is conveniently located next or very near the slope). Apart from skiing and snowboarding, other activities include snow shoe hiking and tubing.

Mt Hotham, meanwhile, is one of Australia's highest alpine villages that's built on a spectacular mountain ridge. Dubbed the "powder capital" of Australia, Mt Hotham has spectacular views and is so large it has its own airport! It has simple slopes for beginners and more challenging terrains for advanced skiers and snowboarders.

Away from the mountains and into the ocean, you will find another experience that's unique to the cooler months in Victoria – the annual migration of the Southern Right whales in Phillip Island. This is when the Southern Right and Humpback whales, as well as orcas, migrate from Antarctica between May and October, to the warmer waters off Queensland for calving.

Curious folks can have the opportunity to spot a whale or orca in Warrnambool along the Great Ocean Road, or at Cape Woolamai, Surf Beach, Pyramid Rock, The Nobbies or the Summerlands area. You can also choose other whale watching tour options available in and around Phillip Island.

Have a Barrel Bath at Metung Hot Springs in Gippsland. – Visit Victoria Have a Barrel Bath at Metung Hot Springs in Gippsland. – Visit Victoria

If you're looking for something more soothing and relaxing, do check out some of the fantastic hot springs located around Victoria. Some of them include the Peninsula Hot Springs and Alba Thermal Springs located in Mornington Peninsula, and the Metung Hot Springs in Gippsland.

Metung Hot Springs is a new wellness attraction that offers bathing and wellness experiences throughout its natural site that overlooks the Gippsland Lakes. Some of the bathing facilities are the Stargazing Pool, Barrel Baths, Spotted Gum Barrel Bath and the Wombat Hollow Pool.

Meanwhile, Peninsula Hot Springs is an award-winning natural geothermal mineral spring and spa that's about 90 minutes away from Melbourne. There are more than 70 bathing and spa experiences available here.

Alba Thermal Springs is also a geothermal spring and spa facility in the Mornington Peninsula that features naturally occurring minerals like sulphur, magnesium and potassium. Some of the pools available here include the rain pools, herbal-infused botanical pools and the cool plunge pools.

Relax and enjoy the soothing waters at The Peninsula Hot Springs. – Visit Victoria Relax and enjoy the soothing waters at The Peninsula Hot Springs. – Visit Victoria

If you're done with your spa treatment but still want to hang around the Mornington Peninsula, you may want to check out the truffle hunting experience with the founder of Red Hill Truffles, Jenny McAuley. An expert in the world of fungi, truffles and the area, McAuley will take guests on an adventure with her professional truffle hunting dogs Thomas and Maddie.

After the hunt, guests will be treated to some delicious treats featuring truffles.

The winter season also usually brings about some of the best festivals, shows and events in Melbourne and its surrounding areas. Here are a few that you can check out.

This year’s RISING festival begins at Flinders Street Station. – Visit VictoriaThis year’s RISING festival begins at Flinders Street Station. – Visit Victoria

RISING (June 7 to 18)

RISING is an annual, city-wide festival of arts, music, food and everything else that celebrates Melbourne's unique culture. This year, the festival begins at Flinders Street Station and will "spill" out into the surrounding streets, public spaces, theatres and Birrarung Marr, one of the city's many parks.

Expect large-scale installations, outdoor projections, rousing performances, immersive experiences and food offerings at some of Melbourne's most iconic venues.

This year’s Lightscape festival will feature a large sphere filled with LED lights. – Visit Victoria This year’s Lightscape festival will feature a large sphere filled with LED lights. – Visit Victoria

Lightscape (June 16 to Aug 6)

Held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Lightscape is an amazing light show that's not to be missed. This time around, one of the main features is a large sphere that's filled with more than 20,000 moving LEDs. Apart from that, you can also see some "singing" trees, a "fire garden" installation and numerous large-scale illuminated sculptures. All these can be found on the new 2km-long trail around the lake.

Winter Masterpieces @NGV (starts in June)

The Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) features over 100 works by celebrated 20th century French painter Pierre Bonnard. Known for his use of luminous colours, Bonnard's artworks are presented within a contemporary background designed by award-winning architect and designer, India Mahdavi.

This exhibition – making its world premiere in June – was curated by France's Musée d’Orsay in partnership with NGV. Some of the artworks will also be shown alongside early cinema by the Lumiere brothers, and artworks by Maurice Denis, Félix Vallotton and Édouard Vuillard, Bonnard’s early contemporaries.

Sovereign Hill is magnificently lit up at night during Winter Wonderlights. – Visit Victoria Sovereign Hill is magnificently lit up at night during Winter Wonderlights. – Visit Victoria

Winter Wonderlights (June 24 to July 16)

Christmas in the middle of the year? Not quite, but it does feel like it at the Winter Wonderlights festival at Sovereign Hill. It is actually an "after-dark programme of sound, light and theatre", with the streets and buildings decorated in twinkling lights.

During the day, visitors will be greeted with theatre shows and pantomimes, and can browse through Christmas-themed arts and crafts on sale. There are also plenty of winter treats and mulled wines on offer.

Then, at night, ever-changing projections bring Sovereign Hill’s streetscape to life, as a fun light show illuminates the open-air museum. Sovereign Hill is only a short drive from Melbourne.

There are 31 varieties of hot chocolates to try at this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival. – Visit Victoria There are 31 varieties of hot chocolates to try at this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival. – Visit Victoria

Hot Chocolate Festival (begins in August)

When August rolls in, be sure to make your way to either the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery or Mornington Peninsula Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery for Australia's only Hot Chocolate Festival!

For 31 days, chocolate lovers will be able to try the 31 varieties of hot chocolate available at the three participating outlets during this unique and fun festival. There will be hot chocolate tasting sessions, the chance to make your own chocolate-flavoured spoons or your own DIY hot chocolate kits, and more.

Planning a trip to Melbourne soon? Head to visitmelbourne.com for more travel inspiration.

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