After months in isolation, no doubt Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement this week that the government will be dolling out 120,000 $200 vouchers to Victorians to stimulate tourism and regional business is music to the ears of the many Aussies.

The vouchers, which can be claimed when you spend $400 on accommodation, attractions or tours in regional Victoria, are expected to become available in time for the Christmas holidays in just a few weeks — and we have just the intrastate inspiration to help those unsure of how to spend it.

“What makes Victoria so special is the creative, entrepreneurial, passionate people behind our tourism businesses,” says Visit Victoria CEO Brendan McClements, who just launched a ‘Stay Close, Go Further’ recovery campaign to encourage Victorians to support local operators who’ve suffered throughout the bushfires and pandemic.

“Our campaign helps tell the stories about the products and experiences we have in our own backyard and will help to drive visitation across the state.”

We rallied the tourism pros at Visit Victoria, who shared some of the hottest — and most breathtaking — experiences to use up your $200 bonus. Happy spending!

1. Your best chance at meeting a wild platypus

People kayaking in regional Victoria
The region is a hospot for platys. (Otway Eco Tours)

With a 95 per cent success rate, Otway Eco Tours is the best tour for spotting the ever-elusive platypus in its natural habitat. Glide across the misty lake at dawn when the local birdlife are most active or watch the sun go down from the lake and spot the magical glow worms at dusk.

Cost: Adult: $85 / Child: $50 / Family (2 Adults, 3 Children): $300

platypustours.net.au

9. Explore South Gippsland on two wheels

A cycling holiday is the perfect way to see Leongatha in South Gippsland, at the start of the Great Southern Rail Trail. Australian Cycling Holidays hire out bikes for multi-day stints. There are plenty of spectacular trails to follow, already mapped out on the Cyclewayz App. Look forward to encounters with native animals and friendly locals. The Cyclewayz app travel guide, with inbuilt navigation, gives you all the information you need to tour some of the region’s best trails. All ride routes are carefully selected to be away from the traffic with fantastic scenery.

Cost: Adult hire $125 for two days

australiancyclingholidays.rezdy.com

2. Enjoy a 300-metre-high cliff picnic

Cliff picnic

Is this Australia’s most terrifying picnic spot? (Bright Adventure Company)

Thrillseekers can ditch the standard beachside picnic for one that takes daring coupes to new heights. Enjoy a picnic on the wild side with Bright Adventure Company’s all-new Cliff Picnic experience. The Cliff Picnic includes a warm-up abseil session to get you comfortable, before you zip down onto your ledge, relax, and enjoy a delicious hamper of local produce 300 metres above the valley. Not for faint of heart.

Cost: $449 for two

brightadventurecompany.com.au

7. Meet nocturnal natives on a world-famous night safari

Moonlit Sanctuary wildlife park
Wildlife lovers will adore getting up close with natives. (Moonlit Sanctuary)

Visitors get to see a different side the Melbourne’s award-winning Moonlit Sanctuary wildlife park on this unique night-time wildlife safari, where you get the opportunity to meet some amazing animals with one of their passionate guides. Get up close to pythons, potoroos, tiny feathertail gliders, endangered quolls, pademelons, and many other animals in their natural nocturnal environment. Tours take 1 ½ to 2 hours to complete and begin between 7pm and 8.30pm, depending on the time of the year.

Cost: Adult $55 / Child $33 / Family $165

moonlitsanctuary.com.au

3. Discover surreal pink lakes in an offroad adventure

Murray Offroad Adventures pink lakes
Victoria’s pink salt lakes are a sight to behold. (Murray Offroad Adventures)

Discover isolated, untouched landscapes that are rich with wildlife, and experience the regiona’s fascinating pink salt lakes in the flesh with Murray Offroad Adventures. Drive through open plains with kangaroos bounding beside you, explore sand dunes, and search for the elusive mallee fowl.

Cost: Adult $150 / Child $70

murrayoffroadadventures.com.au

4. Get up close with wild dolphins and seals

Woman snorkelling
See All Dolphins offers a rare chance to swim alongside some incredible marine life. (See All Dolphin Swims)

Leaving Queenscliff twice daily during the warmer months, Sea All Dolphin Swims conducts tours within the southern reaches of Port Phillip Bay. Surrounded by the historic fishing ports of Queenscliff and Sorrento, the area boasts some fascinating maritime and military history and is home to the highly diverse Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park, world renowned for its rich biodiversity and unique marine life. Expect to see seals and dolphins in their natural habitat.

Cost: Adult snorkel, $160 / Child snorkel, $135

dolphinswims.com.au

8. Catch the famous hillip Island Penguin Parade

Penguin
The island is home to one of the largest Little Penguin colonies in the world. (Phillip Island Nature Parks)

It’s the perfect time to try to visit Phillip Island as there are no international tourists, which make up a major proportion of their audience. The penguins are cuter than ever and the experience feels more intimate than ever. Experience the magic of watching Little Penguins waddle home from the ocean to their burrows. Phillip Island is home to one of the largest Little Penguin colonies in the world, which you can enjoy any night of the year from our Penguin Parade viewing platforms.

Cost: Adult (16+) $27.25 / Child $13.50 / Family $68

penguins.org.au

5. Marvel at Skull Rock in Wilson’s Prom

Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Skull Rock at Wilson's Promenatory
The monolithic island is jaw-dropping up close. (Pennicott Wilderness Journeys)

Witness the incredible Skull Rock up close with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Sculpted by waves and surrounded by crystal blue waters, Skull Rock’s eerie facade becomes even more mysterious as more and more skull shapes reveal themselves the closer you get. Discover a rugged and raw coast like no other as we explore The Glennies, Anderson Islets and Anser Island. Marvel at the prehistoric boulders of Mount Oberon situated behind the white quartz sands of Norman Beach

Cost: Adult $135 / Child $85 (up to 16yrs inclusive) / Family $430 (2 Adults, 3 Children)

promcruises.com.au

6. Discover spectacular hidden street art

Explore Bendigo's burgeoning street art scene with a talented local artist from the Nacho Station crew.
Explore Bendigo’s burgeoning street art scene with a talented local artist from the Nacho Station crew. (Reece Hendy Nacho Station)

Commencing with a coffee and some sticker designing at Get Naked Espresso or Handle Bar, this hour-and-a-half walking tour takes you to the hidden places in the Bendigo CBD you might otherwise walk straight past. Not only heaving with insider knowledge on the Bendigo street art scene, but by the end of the tour you’ll know the difference between a burner, biter and getting buffed. You’ll even get to leave your mark on the walls. Tours run on Mondays with a 10.15am start.

Cost: $35

bendigoregion.com.au

10. Kayak with seals on the Great Ocean Road

Experience the only seal tour on the Great Ocean Road with Apollo Bay Surf & Kayak in the beautiful environment of Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road. Our most popular tours are surf lessons on the Apollo Bay foreshore and our ocean kayaking tours within the Marengo Marine Sanctuary which hosts a Seal Colony, home to at least 100 fur seals!

Cost: $85

apollobaysurfkayak.com.au

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