My hands are outreached with humility and love.
I want to take back the way I’ve ignored you and dismissed you as just that boring south east corner of our Great Southern Land.
“Pffft. Victoria – are you kidding! Why would I want to go there?”
I feel bad for giving my Victorian friend Mick heaps of stick when we lived as expats in Raleigh, North Carolina. He tried to tell me his home state was the bomb, but I just gave him the old whatever eye roll.
It’s not my fault Victoria. I’ve never been inspired to visit your state because I’ve not really heard anything about it, only the Great Ocean Road. Why would I want to visit a state just to see a couple of rocks jutting out from the ocean?
I need adventure, and beaches, and mountains, and food, and wine, and festivals and sport and fun people.
Sure there’s the AFL (Australian Football League) and when I think of it, it is a pretty exciting game, and I do like it way more than I do rugby league. (Hmmm, cut looking men in tight shorts anyone?)
My favourite AFL matches have always been when the Sydney Swannies have won the Grand Final because you know, NSW is so good at being the best.
We’ve always had so much more to offer in NSW than Victoria…my fingers linger over the keyboard trying not to type the words, but does it?
And with those 3 words I think I have been kicked out of NSW with the words traitor etched across my forehead. I can’t help it. Victoria you are just so good.
An undiscovered, under marketed, secret of Australia.
When planning our Aussie road trip last year we pencilled in 1 month in Victoria. “That’s all we’ll need. I just want to skip through the state so we can get to the good stuff.”
3 months later we’re still here.
I arrived and my soul said, Don’t move. Just stay awhile and savour what Victoria has.
It’s been gentle, soul serving and uplifting, filled with memorable moments and beautiful people. After a month of slammed travel in Tasmania, we needed to recover, Victoria became our Epsom salts.
It started with Bright – oh how I love Bright, my little alpine slice of heaven.
Bright gives love its concrete form and I just want to bathe in it.
Kalyra and I don’t stop sharing the memories. She wants to live there. Although she is torn with a city that captured her heart.
“I love Melbourne Mummy.” She’d clap with glee every time she saw the skyline loom in the distance on yet another of our pit stops there.
Sydney and Melbourne have long vied for title of best city in Australia. While there’s no denying that Sydney easily wins all beauty categories – on a stunning and global scale – Melbourne owns the urban soul of Australia.
It digs deep to offer a more personable and cultural experience to make up for what it lacks in looks. I fell in love with each new suburb and cafe we found hidden deep in laneways or in convent gardens.
We explored by foot, by tram and by bikes, Kalyra even breaking all 6-year-old dare devil limits to cycle down Swanston St.
I even took a shine to your beaches – with sunsets like this how could you not?
Melbourne, you wrapped us up in community. We never felt alone or like we had to pretend to be someone we weren’t.
Victoria, you convinced me, Melbourne is Australia’s best city
How can it not be?
The food, the coffee, the shopping, the arts, the festivals, the vibe, the culture, the sports – you didn’t get the Olympics in 2000 but you have the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Tennis Open, the Grand Prix, AND the AFL.
Victoria, your beauty is tucked away in so many corners. Do you hide it there because you want to keep it all to yourself? I’m glad I discovered your secret. And I am sorry, but I’m sharing it.
And whilst your VB sucks, I happily discovered one of my favourite craft beers in Beechworth.
Let’s talk Prom Country, shall we?
That’s what I said about Wilsons Promontory when we turned the corner and saw the views: pink, granite boulder cliffs, turquoise waters, white squeaky sand, and dunes and green hills.
How have I NEVER heard of you and Squeaky Beach until I crossed the border and every Victorian I met said,
“Prom Country is my favourite part of Victoria, if not Australia.”
The old me scoffed on the inside.
“Poor Victorians, have no idea what a good beach is. It doesn’t take much to excite them. It can’t be that good, I’ve never heard of it.”
But I am disappointed Victoria. I’d never heard of Prom Country so we didn’t book ahead. Your popularity meant we could only get 3 days with you at Tidal River. I wanted the romance to last for weeks.
Ahh Victoria – I thought I’d be gushing over fairy penguins on Phillip Island, but instead, it was the chilled vibe that captivated me most.
What a weekend getaway you give to those working hard in the city each week. We extended the groove on Phillip Island to a week long stay.
Oh, and I discovered there really is something about Marysville, the Mornington Peninsula and the Bellarine. All within 2 hours drive. More forest and sea beauty and goodness. And we didn’t even get to see the magical Yarra Valley.
Victoria, you’re so compact and give your people so much opportunity for rest and rejuvenation, with good food and wine thrown in.
Once again, Victoria, you surprised us with the gift of a place to rest and a community to embrace us.
We had no plans to visit the Bellarine Peninsula, but followed the advice of a trusted friend. One week turned to three as we explored Queenscliff, Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads.
Once again, it’s an area that can’t compete with the stunning beauty of many towns across the border, but there was a home grown goodness here that stole our hearts.
It rooted us and helped us to rebuild. You opened up a new dimension of ourselves, deepened our bond and brought clarity and renewed strength to continue our journey.
And what about your people, Victoria?
They come to you with hearts and arms wide open. There’s a softness and warm happiness with Victorians. They don’t have to prove to the world they’re great, they just know it from the inside out and take comfort in that inner peace. They win the award for most passionate and friendly.
Just when I was starting to wane with you, you know because of your weather that is so consistent with being inconsistently awful – and the most annoying flies in Australia (on last count, I’d swallowed 5), you wowed me again with…
The Great Ocean Road.
So much more than just a couple of rocks, yet even those totally floored me with their impressive beauty.
We lingered for 10 days hiking through rainforests, spying on sleeping koalas in gum trees by the roadside, enjoying your beautiful beaches, and exploring the magnificent sculptured coastline.
Then we finished Victoria with one of my favourite days of our road trip so far. A 4km round trip hike to the Pinnacles in the Grampians National Park.
The sun came out and warmed our spirits. The girls walked the entire 2.1km uphill path to the peak, surprising me with a strength I did not know they had.
Savannah walked barefoot and Kalyra took on the leadership role to follow the arrows to the top. It was one of those memorable days spent bathed in happiness and beautiful nature.
It really is time for us to leave now Victoria, we’re heading to warmer pastures.
But you’ve given me so much. You’ve opened my eyes to the depth my country has to offer. Thank you for that. I’m not sure if the other states will embrace and open me like you have, but I’m excited to find out.
You will always have a special place in my heart, Victoria.
Love Caz – and the Makepeace family!
P.S. I hope I’ve made up my rudeness to you by sharing you passionately with the rest of the world.