While Australian footy is considered a religion and the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground a place of worship for many Victorians, the AFL Grand Final long weekend is an opportunity to escape the city to explore Victoria’s diverse natural landscapes.
For those who don’t know the difference between a ruckman and a rover, here are the top 10 alternative long weekend activities to avoid the Grand Final frenzy that engulfs the footy-mad city.
Discover Wilsons Promontory’s beautiful rugged granite coastline and unique wilderness before uncovering the iconic granite monolith that is Skull Rock. Launching on September 23, visitors can explore the region like never before with a 2.5-hour eco-tour by award winning operator Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Travel in Pennicott’s world first, custom built amphibious boat to witness iconic South Point, the southernmost tip of mainland Australia and cruise into the waters of Bass Strait and Victoria's first marine national park. Wilsons Promontory Cruises, Tidal River, Victoria, 3960. (03) 6234 4270.
TarraWarra Museum of Art in the Yarra Valley, will exclusively play host to Australia’s oldest and most prestigious art award, the Archibald Prize 2019 from 14 September to 5 November. The annual exhibition provides a snapshot of Australian culture – from politicians and celebrities, to sporting heroes and authors. Among the 51 works in this year’s exhibition are paintings which portray significant Australian subjects including renowned actor David Wenham by Tessa MacKay; director of Queensland Ballet Li Cunxin by Jun Chen; Anh Do’s portrait of artist George Gittoes; Vincent Namatjira’s tribute to his friend and fellow artist Tony Albert; and media commentator Annabel Crabb by Jordan Richardson. TarraWarra Museum of Art, 313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville, Victoria, 3777. (03) 5957 3100.
The iconic Great Ocean Road will celebrate its 100th birthday with a program of events, screenings and experiences titled 'The Story of the Road' from 18 September to 6 October. Celebrating the Great Ocean Road’s rich history, the program connects visitors with one of the most iconic and beautiful coastlines in Australia which stands as the largest war memorial in the world. The centrepiece of the program is a documentary detailing the road's construction and of their lives of World War I returned servicemen as they built the 243-kilometre road. The Story of the Road includes three documentary screening experiences, architecturally designed seating installations, local art works, an augmented reality trail plus a series of short-films housed in art-deco inspired, intimate cinemas made from converted shipping containers. Torquay to Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road, Lorne, Victoria, 3232.
Featuring the work of some of the biggest international names in photography, the 2019 Ballarat International Foto Biennale delves deep into photographic explorations of human behaviour and human intervention, traversing the terrain of ecology, rights, race, capital and conflict. Headlining will be an exhibition of work by photographer and social activist, Liu Bolin titled Camouflage, alongside a mid-career retrospective of key photographic works by revered Indigenous Australian artist, Dr. Fiona Foley. The festival includes an outdoor program which will transform the entire city into an open air gallery. The Ballarat International Foto Biennale ends 20 October. National Centre For Photography, 4 Lydiard Street South, Ballarat Central, Victoria, 3350. (03) 5331 4833.
The arrival of spring’s warmer weather marks the return of wildflowers as they transform Victoria into a colourful natural canvas. The Grampians Wildflower Show in Halls Gap will celebrate the wonderful flowers of our Grampians Gariwerd National Park and nearby forests. On-site will be flower displays, experts to help you identify flowers, a display of local indigenous food plants, works from local artist John Tiddy and renowned textile artist Lynn Stone. Halls Gap Hub, Grampians Road, Halls Gap, Victoria, 3381. 0429 201 139.
The long weekend provides the perfect opportunity to explore further afield. One of the oldest known Wine Shows in Australia, the Rutherglen Wine Show features public tastings on Friday 27 September. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample from over 1,000 entries from wineries Australia wide, paired with a selection of canapes, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. Entry includes a selection of finger food, souvenir glass and results book. Rutherglen Memorial Hall, 150 High Street, Rutherglen, Victoria, 3685. 0424 161 488.
Visitors can head to the Murray River for the Mildura Country Music Festival over the long weekend. The festival is Australia's biggest showcase of independent country music artists with over 80 artists performing at 26 venues in Mildura and district. Each day fans will be entertained at both indoor and outdoor venues in the warmth of spring and the best country music. Music fans converge on this beautiful destination on the banks of the legendary Murray River for ten days of virtually non-stop country music. Mildura & District, Mildura, Victoria, 3500. 1800 039 043.
The Tesselaar Tulip Festival (14 September – 13 October 2019) is a colourful celebration of tulip growing. Visitors can witness the spectacle of almost a million tulips spread out over 25 acres of farmland at this popular event, located 60 minutes from Melbourne. A rotating list of food, wine, entertainment and activities ensures all ages are taken care of, including a Turkish Weekend (14-15 September), Dutch Weekend (20-22 September) and Food, Wine & Jazz Weekend (27-29 September). In addition to the flowers, there is daily live entertainment and market stalls, tractor rides, performances, souvenirs, games for all and much more. 357 Monbulk Rd, Silvan, Victoria, 3795. (03) 9737 7722.
Yarra Valley’s premiere cherry producer, CherryHill Orchards will once again present the stunning CherryHill Blossom Festival, where visitors can wander through rows and rows of gorgeous cherry blossoms, sip on cherry-based drinks, enjoy live music and entertainment for the whole family while feasting on different cuisines from a stellar food truck line-up. From 26 September – 6 October visitors can enjoy the magical sights of Japan right here in Victoria, stroll through the cherry blossoms and soak up the gorgeous views of the Yarra Valley. The orchard’s signature Cherish Spritzer will be available and expect a collaboration with Yarra Valley’s Four Pillars Gin to be paired with the spritzer for a delicious and refreshing sip. CherryHill Orchards, Queens Road, 474, Wandin East, Victoria, 3139. 1300 243 779.
Cristóbal Balenciaga was one of the most innovative and influential fashion designers of the 20th century. This exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery explores the work and legacy of this renowned couturier, showcasing more than 100 garments and hats crafted by Balenciaga from the 1950s and 1960s – arguably the most creative period of his career – through to the work of his protégés and contemporary designers. Alongside iconic garments are archive sketches, patterns, photographs, fabric samples and catwalk footage, providing a unique insight into Balenciaga's salons and workrooms. Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo, Victoria, 3550. (03) 5434 6088.
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