Travelling Down Under with a virtual twist

The National Gallery of Victoria is offering free-curator led tours — all available to be experienced virtually


IN RECENT months, thousands across the globe have been forced to cancel travel plans due to the Covid- 19 pandemic that had literally halted the planet.

Despite revelations of some surprisingly interesting ecological benefits, the tourism industry has taken a devastatingly huge hit, with millions losing jobs as well as closures of hotels, theme parks and natural reservoirs.

However, many would-be adventurers and travel wanderlust have been turning to the joys of virtual reality to take them across skyscrapers with 360-degree views, while experiencing the culture and landscape of places without ever having to leave home.

Before the pandemic hit, airlines and tourism agencies were already on board with virtual campaigns to market landscapes and destinations, but today it has become more than just an artifice.

Melbourne, Victoria

Rone has been known for his artworks on the urban streets of Melbourne’s inner-north and his works on the famous Silo Art Trail

Visit Victoria, a tourism and event company that is responsible for promoting Victoria’s world-class events calendar said, while there are so many things to see and do in Melbourne, chances are, most people will need to stay put where they are right now.

The agency came up with a list of its top attractions, all available to be experienced virtually without holding back and best of all, free.

Within the arts and culture pocket, the National Gallery of Victoria is offering free-curator led tours showcasing the likes of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines, KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness and Collecting Comme .

“Get behind the scenes by watching videos which delve into topics such as art, conservation, contemporary life, design architecture while the gallery’s learning activities promote creative and critical thinking developed by teachers,” it said in a statement.

Famous street artist Tyrone Wright (aka Rone) has been known for his artworks on the urban streets of Melbourne’s inner-north and his works on the famous Silo Art Trail.

Now, one can experience Rone’s virtual reality installation at the historic Burnham Beeches mansion, also the biggest project he has ever undertaken.

Said to depict haunting, stylised portraits of women aimed at finding the perfect balance between beauty and decay, each room in the mansion is set to invoke different emotions.

Meanwhile, history buffs can “visit” Museums Victoria, keen to bring learning to homes with its various home projects, exploration through the course of history or diving into digital channels for fun games and trivia.

The museum said it is the perfect platform for curious minds today, from a world where dinosaurs roamed, to learning about the human body while uncovering secrets of the natural world in backyards, to building a solar system.

Kids and teenagers are bound to love the experience at Scienceworks which features exhibitions like the Melbourne Planetarium and the Lightning Room

Meanwhile, kids and teenagers are bound to love the experience at Scienceworks, a popular science and technology museum that features exhibitions like the Mel- bourne Planetarium and the Lightning Room.

Those craving for a glimpse of nature, fret not, for the Parks Victoria YouTube channel is bound to bring adventure and exploration close to home.

One can check in on wild locations, conservation projects and even tag along with park rangers on location.

“You can learn how to set up a tent in the garden to enjoy a home nature adventure or see Parks Victoria’s diverse natural environment through 360° videos from the Great Ocean Road, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Mount Buffalo, and many more,” it said.

Those banking on getting their divers licence this year and couldn’t, there is good news.

Port Philip’s Bay, by the southern coastline of Southern Victoria, is offering a live underwater feed Reef Cam, where one can watch the fish, seals, and even dolphins go about their sea business.

“The webcam is solar-powered and operates during local daylight hours and when there is enough sun so one can wander through the lives of flora and fauna in the depths of the sea or put some knowledge to the test to spot the fishes of Reef Cam,” it said.

Perth, WA

Western Australia has always been known for its very chilled, laid back vibe coupled with beautiful, sandy beaches and fantastic weather all year-round.

Its tourism board, Tourism Western Australia (WA) also came up with a 13-day virtual vacation that will take one to some of the most beautiful and highlighted destinations in the state.

Starting in Esperance down south, guests can travel north until reaching the Horizontal Falls in the Kimberly region, with a specially curated video every day which is posted up by 9am local time.

According to the board, what is really interesting about these videos is it offers a 360° functionality feature so anyone watching can simply click to explore every nook and cranny.

Day 1 begins with a relaxing day by the beach with kangaroos while day two boats stunning views of Albany’s imposing granite cliffs and sheltered bays.

“In keeping it interesting, Day 3 will give you a close-up look at stingrays lurking in Hamelin Bay and, not forgetting the exquisite river cruise down Margaret River on Day 4.

“The remaining days will see guests explore and discover inside the caves of Ngilgi in Yallingup, as well as some delightful frolicking with dolphins in Rockingham Island,” Tourism WA said.

Even though the writer only picked two states to write about, rest assured the other states all have a different version of what it means to visit the country without physically being there.

Both tourism boards said when the time is right to travel again, the two states will be ready to welcome visitors back again.

“We are happy to turn these travel dreams into reality through personal experience to discover the region, a place where there is more to it than meets the eye,” it said.