Forget winter hibernation, now's the time to get out and explore Victoria's beautiful regions. Rug up, hit the road and spend the chilly season gushing over wildlife, skiing up a storm on the slopes or exploring lush rainforests and bushland at their vibrant best. Winter is the perfect time to head outdoors for an adventure.
1. Wildlife spotting
Image credit: Halls Gap Zoo, the Grampians
Totally wild about whales? Travel along Victoria's spectacular southern coastline and watch humpback whales, southern right whales, blue whales and orcas as they make their annual pilgrimage from Antarctica to Australia. The best viewing opportunities are along the Great Ocean Road in Portland and Warrnambool, out at Phillip Island, or around Wilsons Promontory in Gippsland. Watch their movements from May to early October from a viewing platform, or join a wildlife cruise to get a closer look.
Head inland and see more than 160 native and exotic mammals, reptiles and birds at Halls Gap Zoo, or head out on a walk with a llama around the iconic Hanging Rock with Hanging Rock Llama Treks.
2. Waterfall chasing
Image credit: Hopetoun Falls, Great Otway National Park
While waterfalls flow year-round, abundant rain in winter make the cooler months the perfect time to catch water cascading from cliffsides all around Victoria.
In Gippsland, a 2.2 kilometre circuit through lush ferns and towering gums will take you to both Toorongo Falls and Ampitheatre Falls. High Country is home to the beautiful Steavenson Falls in Marysville or out in the Great Otway National Park along the Great Ocean Road you'll find Beauchamp Falls set among large myrtle beech and blackwood trees. Hopetoun Falls is another stunner in the area; it's even worth the 200 stair descent to get to the base. Don't miss Trentham Falls – one of Victoria's longest single drop waterfalls, which plunges 32-metres over ancient basalt columns.
3. Snow adventures
Image credit: Falls Creek
It's snow season in Victoria, and there's nothing more smile-inducing than a thick dusting of white snow that gives a trip to the mountains a whole new meaning.
Get your thrills on a ski trip to Falls Creek, Dinner Plain, Mount Hotham or Mount Buller, and snowboard among the snowgums in the high plains of Victoria's High Country. After something more lowkey? Hire a pair of snowshoes or a tobbogan, or join a dog sledding adventure with Australian sleddog Tours - the rescue huskies are guaranteed to melt your heart. Chill out at the end of the day with a hot toddy at the alpine resorts or a parma and pot, before doing it all again tomorrow!
Want something a little more curated? Join Wild Adventures Melbourne for five days of skiing and snowboarding on Mount Hotham and embark on a snowshoeing adventure for dinner in an eco village. Then bid adieu to the alpine ranges and head to Gippsland for hot springs and kayaking.
You can also find enough snow to thrill the most tough hearted thrill seekers in other parts of Victoria. Mount Baw Baw in Gippsland and Lake Mountain out past Marysville are other top spots for fun in the snow.
4. Walks in nature
Image credit: Hanging Rock
Winter is prime time for walking and hiking through scenic forests and rocky coastal cliffsides. Take advantage of the cooler weather and weaker UV rays on the Mornington Peninsula and walk the railed pathway to Flinders Blowhole, nestled between Flinders and Cape Schank. Make a day of it and tackle the challenging 30 kilometre hike from Cape Schank to London Bridge at Portsea, where you can soak up a mixture of coastal and inland views.
Head to the Macedon Ranges and take the short walk to the peak of the notorious Hanging Rock, or head deeper into Mount Macedon Regional Park and pass through tall eucalypts and gullies of beautiful ferns on the Sanatorium Lake walk - be sure to keep your eye out for kangaroos and wallabies while on the trail. In Gippsland, walk part of the Bataluk Cultural Trail, which explores Gunaikurnai Aboriginal history and take in views of the Mitchell River on the Den of Nargun Loop.
5. Plunge into a natural hot spring
Image credit: Alba Thermal Hot Springs
Escape the winter chill in soothing thermal waters at one of Victoria's most relaxing outdoor hot springs.
Enter an open-air sanctuary at Deep Blue Hot Springs in Warrnambool and let your mind wander to a therapeutic state as your body absorbs the water's natural restoring minerals. Enjoy views of Lake King in Gippsland at the renowned Metung Hot Springs, where the outdoor geothermal pools and bathing barrels come with picturesque clifftop views. Or, for a luxury wellness experience, visit Alba Thermal Springs & Spa on the Mornington Peninsula and bathe in a rain pool, botanical pool or a private rooftop pool, all set among beautifully landscaped gardens.