Day 2: Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges to Phillip Island
140 km/87 miles, about 1.5 hours
A tranquil hot air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley at dawn followed by a sublime breakfast of sparkling wine and gourmet local produce at a winery is an unforgettable way to leave the region. It also ensures you'll be on the road early for the drive to Phillip Island, about an hour-and-a-half by car from the Yarra Valley, or longer if you weave your way through the lush Dandenong Ranges.
Pass through the verdant realm of fern glades, towering trees and eclectic and artistic villages, admiring the seasonal displays in the Dandenong Ranges' many public and private gardens. Take a ride back in time aboard Puffing Billy, Australia's much-loved historic steam train, to and from Gembrook.
Get back on the road for your chance to meet all creatures great and small on Phillip Island, a wildlife wonderland with quiet sandy beaches and swathes of Australian bushland.
Jump aboard a wildlife cruise out to the Seal Rocks fur seal colony and greet the inquisitive creatures as they approach the boat or zoom in on the seals using the state-of-the-art cameras at Nobbies marine centre. Alternatively, fly in a helicopter over the majestic coastal scenery and get a bird's eye view of the famed Phillip Island Grand Prix racing circuit.
Laze a while on Cowes Beach before a seaside meal of fresh seafood at Harry's On the Esplanade. Eat early and eat fast; you don't want to miss a moment of the dusk penguin parade.
Talk about a grand finale. Phillip Island is home to over 26,000 little penguins that swim up to 100 kilometres out to sea each day. The sight of the little creatures emerging from the water and waddling to their burrows as the sun sets is a great Victorian experience. The Penguin Parade Visitor Centre gives greater insight into these island icons.
Find a comfortable place to rest your head before the next leg of your journey. Accommodation options range from unique to boutique, like Ramada Resort with its sprawling grounds, Quest's self-contained apartments, and The Waves apartments' beachfront location.