14 best day trips from Melbourne
Melbourne is blessed with an abundance of interesting, varied and unique destinations within a short drive of the city centre (“CBD”). When I’m in Melbourne, I often get a couple of friends together and head out to one of the these spots for a day or two. With winter upon us, there’s never been a better time to escape the big smoke, so here, in no particular order, are my nominations for the 14 best day trips from Melbourne! (Times given are all one way, and assume the shortest route is taken and in average traffic).
1. Mornington Peninsula – 1 hour from CBD
My favourite one-day trip from Melbourne – hot springs, a hedge maze, Foxey’s Hangout winery, strawberry picking and fish and chips on Sorrento beach, followed by an award-winning vanilla slice!
2. Dandenong Ranges – 1 hour from CBD
Visible from much of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, visit the giant’s chair at Mt Dandenong, watch the sun set over the city, drop by art galleries, ride Puffing Billy and have tea and scones at Miss Marple’s Tearoom.
3. Yarra Valley – 1 hour from CBD
Lunch at the Innocent Bystander, native animals at Healesville Sanctuary and cheese and fresh produce at the Yarra Valley Dairy, plus lots of wineries if that’s your thing.
4. Mount Macedon and Hanging Rock – 1 hour from CBD
Autumn leaves, private gardens, views of the city and the setting for the 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock.
5. Phillip Island – 2 hours from CBD
Lunch in Cowes, stop in at the chocolate factory, see the seals on the rocks, pat a kangaroo at the wildlife park and watch the fairy penguins come ashore at nightfall.
6. Bellarine Peninsula – 1.5 hours from CBD
Go surfing at Point Lonsdale, ride the slides at Adventure Park in Geelong and have fish and chips at Torquay before hitting the surf coast.
7. Ballarat and Daylesford – 1.5 hours from CBD
The historic gold-mining town of Ballarat boasts Sovereign Hill, a replica gold rush town, while Daylesford and Hepburn Springs invite you to splash out at cushy day spas and artisan shops and markets.
These spots really deserve at least a night or two spent to soak in the surroundings and enjoy the attractions, but at a stretch, can be done in a day.
8. Wilson’s Promontory – 2.5 hours from CBD
Stunning beaches, extensive national park and hiking at the southernmost point of mainland Australia
9. Great Ocean Road and the Otways – 8 hour round trip from CBD, not including sightseeing time
Ideally done over two days, the iconic Great Ocean Road can be fitted into one long day. Leave early and head via Geelong towards Apollo Bay, then on to the Otway Fly at Great Otway National Park. Continue past the 12 Apostles, then finish at London Bridge near Port Campbell, before heading back via the Princes Highway.
10. Mount Buller – 3.5 hours from CBD
Melbourne’s nearest ski resort – learn to ski, have a snowball fight, hire a toboggan or cosy up inside with a hot coffee.
11. Noojee – 2 hours from CBD
Stand on the edge of wilderness at this old mining town; dense forest, a river, waterfall and hiking.
12. The Grampians – 3 hours from CBD
This rugged national park, like the Great Ocean Road, is best visited over two or three days, but if you leave early enough you can still have enough time to hike up to the Pinnacle or see MacKenzie Falls, the highest waterfall in Victoria.
13. The Australian Pyrenees – 2 hours from CBD
Taking its name from the French mountain range, this hilly district is all about the wine and quality food. Eat at the Avoca Hotel, Home Made Cafe in Beaufort, or St Ignatius Winery to sample the local produce.
14. Glenrowan – 2.5 hours from CBD
The scene of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly’s last stand is home to a giant Ned Kelly statue, a Ned Kelly museum (part of “Kate’s Cottage”), the nostalgically authentic Linda’s Billy Tea Rooms, and you can walk around the site of the siege which saw Kelly captured.