THE AFL grand final might be one of Melbourne's great annual sporting events but not everyone knows, or could care less about, the difference between a ruckman and a rover.
So here are the top 10 alternative long weekend activities to avoid the Grand Final frenzy that engulfs the footy-mad city.
Discover Wilsons Promontory's beautiful rugged granite coastline and wilderness before uncovering the granite monolith that is Skull Rock. You can explore the region like never before with a 2.5-hour eco-tour by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Travel in Pennicott's world-first, custom-built amphibious boat to view South Point, the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, and cruise into Bass Strait and Victoria's first marine national park. Wilsons Promontory Cruises, Tidal River 3960. (03) 6234-4270.
TarraWarra Museum of Art in the Yarra Valley, is hosting Australia's oldest and most illustrious art award, the Archibald Prize, until November 5. The annual exhibition provides a snapshot of Australian culture - from politicians and celebrities, to sporting heroes and authors. Among the 51 works in this year's exhibition are paintings that portray significant Australian subjects including actor David Wenham by Tessa MacKay; Queensland Ballet director Li Cunxin by Jun Chen; artist George Gittoes by Anh Do; artist Tony Albert by Vincent Namatjira; and media commentator Annabel Crabb by Jordan Richardson. TarraWarra Museum of Art, 313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville 3777. (03) 5957-3100.
The Great Ocean Road will celebrate its 100th birthday with a program of events, screenings and experiences titled The Story of the Road until October 6. The program connects visitors with one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Australia. The centrepiece of the program is a documentary detailing the road's construction and of the lives of World War I returned servicemen as they built the 243-kilometre road. The Story of the Road includes three documentary screening experiences, architecturally designed seating installations, local art works, an augmented reality trail plus a series of short films housed in art-deco inspired, intimate cinemas made from converted shipping containers. Torquay to Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road, Lorne 3232.
Featuring the work of some of the biggest international names in photography, the 2019 Ballarat International Foto Biennale delves deep into photographic explorations of human behaviour and human intervention on the world, traversing the terrain of ecology, rights, race, capital and conflict. Headlining will be an exhibition of work by photographer and social activist Liu Bolin titled Camouflage, alongside a mid-career retrospective of photographic works by Indigenous artist Fiona Foley. The festival includes an outdoor program that will transform the entire city into an open-air gallery. Until October 20. National Centre For Photography, 4 Lydiard Street South, Ballarat Central 3350. (03) 5331-4833.
The arrival of spring's warmer weather marks the return of wildflowers as they transform Victoria into a colourful canvas. The Grampians Wildflower Show in Halls Gap will celebrate the fabuluous flowers of Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park and nearby forests. On-site will be flower displays, experts to help you identify flowers, a display of local Indigenous food plants, works from local photographer John Tiddy and textile artist Lynn Stone. Halls Gap Hub, Grampians Road, Halls Gap 3381. 0429-201-139.
The long weekend provides the perfect opportunity to explore further afield. One of the oldest wine events in Australia, the Rutherglen Wine Show features public tastings on September 27. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample from more than 1000 entries from wineries Australia-wide, paired with a selection of canapes, from 6-10pm. Entry includes a selection of finger food, a souvenir glass and a results book. Rutherglen Memorial Hall, 150 High Street, Rutherglen 3685. 0424-161-488.
Visitors can head to the Murray River for the Mildura Country Music Festival over the long weekend. The festival is Australia's biggest showcase of independent country music artists, with more than 80 performers playing at 26 venues in and around Mildura for 10 days of virtually non-stop music. Fans will be entertained at both indoor and outdoor venues. Mildura & District, Mildura 3500. 1800-039-043.
The Tesselaar Tulip Festival (until October 13) is a colourful celebration of tulip growing. Visitors can witness the spectacle of almost a million tulips spread out over 10 hectares at this popular event, just a one-hour drive from Melbourne. In addition to the flowers, there are daily live entertainment and market stalls, tractor rides, performances, souvenirs, games for all and much more. 357 Monbulk Rd, Silvan 3795. (03) 9737- 7722.
Yarra Valley fruitgrower CherryHill Orchards will once again present the stunning CherryHill Blossom Festival, where visitors can wander through rows and rows of gorgeous cherry blossoms, sip on cherry-based drinks and enjoy live music and entertainment while feasting on different cuisines from a stellar food truck line-up. From September 26-October 6, visitors can enjoy the magical sights of Japan and soak up the the Yarra Valley vistas. The orchard's signature Cherish Spritzer will be available - pair it with Yarra Valley's Four Pillars Gin for a delicious and refreshing sip. CherryHill Orchards, Queens Road, 474, Wandin East 3139. 1300-243-779.
Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972) was one of the most innovative and influential fashion designers of the 20th century. This exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery explores the work and legacy of the Spanish Basque couturier, showcasing more than 100 garments and hats crafted from the 1950s and '60s - arguably the most creative period of his career - through to the work of his proteges and contemporary designers. As well as garments, see archive sketches, patterns, photographs, fabric samples and catwalk footage, all providing an insight into Balenciaga's salons and workrooms. Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo 3550. (03) 5434-6088.
Footnote: Victoria has a long weekend - Friday September 27 - Sunday September 29.