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Stunningly settled along the winding banks of the Yarra River, Melbourne is among the world's most beautiful cities. It is the cultural and sporting heart of Australia, with a plethora of magnificent museums, art galleries, shops, arcades, Victorianarchitecture and natural attractions. However, in addition to being the largest and most visually-stunning metropolis outside Sydney, Melbourne is also the perfect base from which to explore the small but exciting state of Victoria.
Most roads and highways radiate from Melbourne. Campervan travellers have a long list of spots to explore within a few hours from the city. Head southwest towards Geelong, where the world-renowned Great Ocean Road awaits. The Yarra Valley and its extensive list of wineries are well worth checking out too. They are within easy reach by hire vehicle. Western Victoria is also just a few hours' drive away. Here, the historical goldfields of Bendigo, Castlemaine and Ballarat can be uncovered in a day or two.
Melbourne is dotted with grand architecture, but none more so than the breathtaking Royal Exhibition Building at Carlton Gardens. This UNESCO World Heritage site was first constructed in the late 1800s, and now welcomes millions of visitors each year. Although it isn't as large as it once was, it is still nonetheless impressive. Next door stands the always intriguing Melbourne Museum, which takes visitors through Melbourne, Victoria and Australia's fascinating history.
There are many other architectural marvels spread throughout Melbourne's CBD. The Old Melbourne Gaol, which one housed Australia's most notorious criminals, is certainly worth touring, especially after the sun goes down. Arguably the city's most intricately-designed attraction is the Old Treasury Building and Crown Museum. Built in 1858 using a stunning Italian Renaissance style design, it has certainly stood the test of time well.
Italy's not all about history and architecture in Melbourne though. The southern reaches of the city are home to St Kilda Beach, which is the place to be in summer. Great restaurants, shops and even a weekend market can be found here. Not far away from the beach is Albert Park- Melbourne's premier green space. Each year, this landmark plays host to the Australian F1 Grand Prix.
Within an hour's drive of the city, dozens of amazing sites can be uncovered. The Open-Range Zoo in Werribee is a large spacious safari park that includes North American, African, Asian and Australian fauna in a wide open habitat. East of downtown Melbourne, on the outskirts of town, lies the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Fantastic bushwalking and lookouts are available here. Of course, a trip to Geelong and the Great Ocean Road is also recommended.
Melbourne BIG4 Holiday Park is less than 10kms from the heart of Melbourne, offering great facilities for adults and children. It is the closest camp ground to downtown Melbourne.
Ashley Gardens is an up-market caravan and camping park that sits only 20 minutes from the heart of Melbourne. It's a great spot to park overnight before heading to Geelong and the Great Ocean Road.
Forty five minutes outside Melbourne, along the Mornington Peninsula, is Kangerong Caravan Park. It rests upon the coast, and provides superb facilities to entertain children.
The roads and highways throughout Victoria are mostly sealed, and generally radiate from the capital city, Melbourne. Traffic congestion is more common the closer drivers get to the capital, but lessens as you drive out of the city. There are some toll roads in the metropolitan area. Speed limits should be strictly adhered to, and driving under the influence of alcohol (0.05mg/ml) can lead to heavy fines or even imprisonment.