Sometimes, we all need a little getaway. A chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and enjoy a bit of peace in the countryside. There’s so many fabulous places to discover in Victoria, so you can explore to your heart’s content. Here are some of the best day trips you can take from Melbourne, so you can go there and back again in no time. What will you discover?
1. Yarra Valley
Less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is a region that will take your breath away. Amid the highs and lows of the valley, you’ll find an abundance of lush greenery and delicious food.
The Yarra Valley was Victoria’s first wine growing district, and it has plenty of top-tier wineries to show for it. After doing some wine-tasting, explore some local farms and try their fresh produce, like cherries.
Escape to Daylesford for the ultimate rest and relaxation experience. Soak in the region’s mineral waters and let nature heal your body and mind. After rejuvenating in one of Daylesford’s many spas, indulge in some wine and good food. Then, get in touch with your artistic side by visiting one of their galleries.
3. Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is completely massive, and has a whole treasure trove of interesting experiences waiting to be discovered. Choose your adventure and visit for one day or several.
Explore the closest towns to Melbourne, like Torquay or Anglesea, and go surfing. After that, visit a local brewery to quench your thirst.
If the beach doesn’t suit your fancy, the Great Ocean Road also has an abundance of national parks, filled with waterfalls and walking tours.
4. Phillip Island
Who could resist visiting the adorable Little Penguins on Phillip Island? On top of their famous penguin parade, there’s heaps of other wildlife waiting to be discovered. Hop on a boat in search of happy seals, keep a lookout for humpback whales and discover koalas in their natural habitat.
Then, explore the beauty of the island by going on one of their many fabulous coastal walks. Get a dose of culture by visiting one of their galleries and try fresh seafood and local produce at one of their many restaurants. Then, finish off your day by gazing at the stars.
It’ll only take a 90-minute drive for you to feel as though you’ve landed in the middle of a Californian forest. Inside Warburton’s redwood forest, you’ll be surrounded by almost 1500 towering red-barked trees. Some of these trees stretch 55 metres into the sky. Meander along the walking trails and connect with nature inside this enchanting forest.
Editor’s note: Access to the Redwoods Forest via Cement Creek Road is currently closed for bridge upgrades. If you’re still keen to see the trees, take a stroll or ride your bike along the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail. This journey is approximately a 16km round trip. For updates, keep an eye on Parks Victoria.
If you’re looking for more fairy tale locations, Blue Lotus Water Garden is a short drive away. Discover a dreamy array of waterlilies and lotus flowers, blooming gently in one of the garden’s many ponds.
Ballarat is simply bursting with things to do. This historic city is easy to get to, and is about 90 minutes away by either car or train. Apart from the iconic Sovereign Hill, there’s also massive galleries, the beautiful Botanical Gardens, the adventurous Kryal Castle and more.
On top of that, there’s always a festival, market event or exhibition on, so you’ll always have something new to see when you visit.
For example, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is currently holding the Ballarat International Foto Biennale. See exclusive, never-before-seen photographs from American photographer Linda McCartney, who is known for her portraits of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.
7. Dandenong Ranges
If you’re looking for a rainforest getaway, then the Dandenong Ranges is for you! Walk up The 1000 Steps, discover nearby waterfalls and see if you can spot local wildlife, like wallabies or wombats. Reconnect with your childhood on the Puffing Billy Railway, and explore beautiful gardens like the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden or the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden.
After that, emerge from the rainforest, descend on the foothills of Mount Dandenong, and feel as though you’ve landed in a dreamy fairy tale at Warratina Lavender Farm.
8. Mornington Peninsula
Regional-metropolitan debate aside, Mornington Peninsula offers a fantastic getaway for any Melburnian looking for a sea change. Of course, there’s the famous Peninsula Hot Springs, an indulgent escape that focuses on rest and relaxation.
There’s also an abundance of picturesque walking trails, fantastic wineries and seasonal produce. Enjoy stunning views of the coast way up high on Arthur’s Seat, or visit Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve to see one of Victoria’s oldest lighthouses.
9. Hanging Rock
Discover this dramatic landscape near Woodend and Mount Macedon, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. This stunning volcanic formation was formed six million years ago and was a sacred site to the local Indigenous community. Learn more about its history and the geology of Hanging Rock at the Discovery Centre.
Walk up the Summit Trail and see if you can spot any native wildlife, like kangaroos or echidnas. Then, listen out for the chirps of any of the 40 species of birds that nest in the area.
After a walk, enjoy a picnic on the shady picnic grounds, or sit inside Hanging Rock Café instead.
A trip to Bendigo takes about 90 minutes by train and two hours by car. Learn about its heritage by visiting the gold mines that put them on the amp. Then, visit their museums and galleries and be amazed by street art installations.
Bendigo also has a thriving food scene to keep you happy, including Australia’s best vanilla slice. Visit nearby wineries or hop on a craft beer pub crawl.
For a bit of nature, relax in one of their many parks or gardens.