February 15, 2019 / By The Weekender Travel
There’s so much to love about Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, with its colourful laneways and cosy coffee shops, but sometimes it’s nice to go a bit further afield. The good news is you don’t need to go very far at all to see some of the best of what’s on offer in the state. Within three hours of Melbourne are a number of fantastic locations, some renowned around the world and others still a local secret. Here are just seven of our favourite places to travel to when we’re looking to get out of the city!
Officially known as the Dandenong Ranges, but most often referred to simply as ‘The Dandenongs’, this semi-urban mountain range is a must-visit for anyone wanting a nature-driven escape. Located around 1 hr from Melbourne, the Dandenongs puts on a variety show for those willing to explore. Take a hike through the beautiful national parklands or stunning Rhododendron garden. There’s lots of cute villages packed with adorable cafes, plus charming accommodation options, key scenic attractions – including a railway – and a surprising arts and culture scene.
It’s not hard to see why Phillip Island is such a popular destination for Melbourne residents and visitors alike. Located just 120 km from Melbourne, it makes for a convenient day trip (the island is connected to the mainland via a road bridge) or an easy overnighter with a surprising amount to see and do. Take your pick from wildlife exploration to beach lounging, and motorsport mayhem to great hikes and fine foodie pleasures. If you’re planning on visiting, it's worth checking out the Penguin Parade and Koala Sanctuary as well as indulging in a selection of the quality cafes and wineries on the island.
Mornington Peninsula (above)
Jump in your car and in just over an hour you’ll find yourself in the Mornington Peninsula. Located south-east of the city, the Mornington Peninsula brings together everything there is to love about coastal living with an Australian twist. There's hinterland walks and views, stunning coastline, delicious food and wine, quality bars, delightful art galleries and museums, great spas, and unique shops and markets. Yes, there’s certainly no shortage of ways to full your day on the Mornington Peninsula, for those willing to take the trip.
Located in the heart of Victoria’s spa country, Daylesford is a charming village around 1.5 hrs from Melbourne. Country towns might be known for their slow pace, but there’s lots to see and do in Daylesford and the surrounding Macedon Ranges. From art galleries tucked into convents, to sensual spa treatments supported by famous natural mineral waters, and some delightful dining choices, Daylesford delivers on all fronts. Stay in one of the many enchanting accommodation options and take the time to check out the variety of stunning wineries in the region as well.
Starting around 120 km east of Melbourne, Gippsland extends all the way to the NSW border and yet it's often left off lists of Victoria’s must-see destinations. This is surprising as, if you're looking for a quiet escape with lots of wide open spaces and room to relax, you can’t go past what’s on offer in this region. Many visitors to Gippsland love to lose themselves in the national parks, which include both spectacular beaches and stunning forests. There’s also the Great Alpine Road, one of Australia’s famed touring routes, the Gippsland Lakes, Ninety Mile Beach and a wealth of historic heritage towns and villages. Basically, it’s everything a great getaway should be plus more!
Castlemaine and the surrounding Goldfields region of Victoria is a treasure waiting to be discovered less than 2hrs from Melbourne. The historic town of Castlemaine was once the heart of Victoria’s gold rush, and while you won’t find mineral riches there these days, there’s more than enough to keep visitors coming back. Explore the town’s creative hub, The Mill, where artisans, collectors and foodies gather, soak up some culture at the art museum or theatre, step back in time at the old Castlemaine Gaol and historic railway, or simple sample your way through the local food, wine and cider offerings. Everyone will find something to suit in Castlemaine.
If you haven't yet driven along the Great Ocean Road, you don't know what you're missing! One of world’s most scenic coastal drives officially starts just 103 km from the Melbourne CBD and winds almost 250 km of Victoria’s southern coast from Torquay to Allansford. Along the way are enough coastal and inland towns to entertain anyone, whether you’re passing through or slowing down and staying a little while. Visitors come for the never-ending coastal vistas and rock formations, but stay for the pristine forests and waterfalls, sighting opportunities, oodles of local produce and quality wines, and the stunning sunsets.
Top image credit - Brooke Boyd
Clearly there’s much more on offer in Victoria than is contained in Melbourne alone! So, next time you’re thinking of greener pastures or craving sea air, take some time to explore the many highlights of this beautiful state.
We think you should know: The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in, or referred to in this article.