A journey along Victoria's 2,000 kilometres of coastline evokes a rich maritime history that includes mysterious shipwrecks and significant international events.
You can take in spectacular views and envisage sailors of yore setting off to sea from historic lighthouses dotted throughout coastal villages. Or you can take a tour or follow a touring route to learn more about our watery history.
The Shipwreck Coast
Unsurprisingly, some of Victoria's most intriguing seafaring history can be found along the breathtaking Great Ocean Road. This historically treacherous section of coast has claimed more than 180 ships. Follow the Shipwreck Discovery Trail and visit the many shipwreck sites along the coast.
Learn about the tales of dozens of wrecks and their resting places such as Loch Ard Gorge, where you can discover the history of the Loch Ard, wrecked in 1878 and Wreck Beach. Dive underwater to see where many shipwrecks lie, including the wreck of the SS Casino off the shore at Apollo Bay, the shipwreck Fiji at Moonlight Head, and the shipwreck Labella in Warrnambool.
Get a taste of the Bellarine Peninsula's sea stories at the Geelong Maritime Museum, or visit The Rip at Point Lonsdale, the notorious entrance to Port Phillip Bay that creates one of the world's most dangerous stretches of water. Dive deep off Queenscliff to explore the long-wrecked ships lying deep underwater.
Victoria's naval history
The waters were also perilous over on the Mornington Peninsula, where the Cape Schanck Lighthouse was erected in the 1850s to halt the destruction of ships on the coastline. This side of Port Phillip Bay played a vital role in naval history. You'll find the gun that fired the first shots in both world wars amid the labyrinth of tunnels and fortifications that is Point Nepean.
Gippsland's spectacular coastline has its own stories to tell. Port Albert was Victoria's first established port and the town's lovingly restored building's set the scene, while Point Hicks Lighthouse puts you right at the spot where Captain Cook first laid eyes on the Australian continent.
Maritime attractions in Melbourne
You don't need to leave Melbourne to explore Victoria's maritime history. The timber, two-masted Tall Ship Enterprize is a replica of the first vessel that brought British settlers to Melbourne in 1835. Visitors can set sail from Docklands on a bay cruise, charter, or overnight voyage to Geelong.
Head to South Wharf to view the moored three-masted vessel Polly Woodside. Built in Belfast in 1885, it's now a historic museum ship that can be toured by visitors. Nearby, you'll find the Alma Doepel. Built in Bellingen NSW in 1903, a massive restoration project is currently underway, to bring the vessel back to its former glory.
The Mission to Seafarers in Docklands recently celebrated 100 years of service. This heritage-listed building was a place of refuge for those who lived and worked at sea. Further afield in Williamstown you'll find Seaworks and the Maritime Discovery Centre. Visitors can tour the maritime collection, visit the Sea Shepherd or grab a drink at The Pirates Tavern.