Victoria is a state located in the south-eastern corner of Australia. It is the smallest mainland state in area, but the most densely populated and urbanised. White settlement in Victoria began in the 1830s as a farming community. The discovery of gold in 1851 transformed it into a leading industrial and commercial centre. Victoria is the second most populous Australian state, after New South Wales, with an estimated population of 5,205,200 as of June 2007. Melbourne is Victoria's capital and largest city, with more than 70% of all Victorians living there.
Victoria's northern border is the southern bank of the Murray River. It also rests at the southern end of the Great Dividing Range, which stretches along the east coast and terminates west of Ballarat. It is bordered by South Australia to the west, and shares Australian's shortest land border with Tasmania. The official border between Victoria and Tasmania is at 39°12' S, which passes through Boundary Islet in the Bass Strait for 85 metres. Victoria contains many topographically, geologically and climatically diverse areas, ranging from the wet, temperate climate of Gippsland in the southeast to the snow-covered Victorian alpine areas which rise to almost 2,000 metres (6,500 ft), with Mount Bogong the highest peak at 1,986 m; (6,516 ft). There are extensive semi-arid plains to the west and north-west.
There is an extensive series of river systems in Victoria owing to its relatively high (relative to the rest of Australia) rainfall. Most notable is the Murray River system. Other rivers include: Ovens River, Goulburn River, King River, Campaspe River, Loddon River, Wimmera River, Elgin River, Barwon River, Thomson River, Snowy River, Latrobe River, Yarra River, Maribyrnong River, Mitta River, Hopkins River, Merri River and Kiewa River.
The state symbols include the Pink Heath (state flower), Leadbeater's Possum (state animal) and the Helmeted Honeyeater (state bird).
The state's capital, Melbourne, contains approximately 70% of the state's population and dominates its economy, media, and culture. For other cities and towns, see List of localities (Victoria) and Local Government Areas of Victoria.
Victoria has a varied climate despite its small size. It ranges from semi-arid and hot in the north-west, to temperate and cool along the coast. Victoria's main land feature, the Great Dividing Range, produces a cooler, mountain climate in the centre of the state.
Victoria's southernmost position on the Australian mainland means it is cooler and wetter than other mainland states and territories. The coastal plain south of the Great Dividing Range has Victoria's mildest climate. Air from the Southern Ocean helps reduce the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Melbourne and other large cities are located in this temperate region. The Mallee and upper Wimmera are Victoria's warmest regions due to hot winds blowing from nearby deserts. Average temperatures top 30 °C (86°F) during summer and 15 °C (59°F) in winter. Victoria's highest maximum temperature of 47.2°C (117°F) was recorded in Mildura on 10 January 1939. The Victorian Alps in the north-east are the coldest part of Victoria. The Alps are part of the Great Dividing Range mountain system extending east-west through the centre of Victoria. Average temperatures are less than 9°C (48°F) in winter and below 0°C (32°F) in the highest parts of the ranges. The state's lowest minimum temperature of -12.8°C (9.0°F) was recorded at Mount Hotham on 13 August 1947.
Some major tourist destinations in Victoria are:
- The metropolis of Melbourne, particular its inner city suburbs (known also for shopping tourism) and the attractions of the city centre such as Crown Casino, Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Museum, the Melbourne Aquarium, tourism precincts such as Melbourne Docklands, Southbank and St Kilda as well as cultural and sporting tourist icons such as The Arts Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, also known as the MCG, and the Eureka Tower, tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, with its Skydeck 88.
- The former Goldfields region featuring the historic cities of Ballarat, Beechworth, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Maldon and Daylesford.
- Natural attractions, such as The Twelve Apostles, Wilson's Promontory, The Grampians, the Fairy Penguins (particularly at Phillip Island and St Kilda), the Buchan Caves and the Gippsland Lakes.
- The Dandenong Ranges (in particular the Puffing Billy Railway).
- Towns along the Murray river and Riverina including Echuca and Mildura including waterskiing.
- Geelong (particularly the city's waterfront) and the Australian International Airshow
- The Bellarine Peninsula which features historic resort towns such as Queenscliff.
- The Surf Coast which features famous beaches such as Bells Beach, Torquay and Lorne
- Mornington Peninsula, particularly for its wineries and secluded beaches, Arthur's Seat and the coastal attractions of Portsea and Sorrento.
- Yarra Valley (in particular Healesville Sanctuary and wineries).
- Great Ocean Road, which features The Twelve Apostles, historic towns of Port Fairy and Portland, cliffs and whale watching and resort towns such as Lorne.
- The Victorian Alpine Region, part of the Australian Alps, particularly for skiing.
- The Central Victorian Highlands, 'Highcountry' are very well known for winter sports and bushwalking.
Other popular tourism activities are gliding, hang-gliding, hot air ballooning and scuba diving.
Major events also plays a big part in tourism in Victoria, particularly cultural tourism and sports tourism. Most of these events are centred around Melbourne, but others occur in regional cities, such as the V8 Supercars and Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island, the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool and the Australian International Airshow at Geelong and numerous local festivals such as the popular Port Fairy Folk Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival, Bells Beach SurfClassic and the Bright Autumn Festival.
Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/