Melbourne is a fantastic city with plenty of grit and a lot of cultural flair, but every now and then the wildness and splendour of our rural coastal areas, high country, lakes districts and desert oases beckon us to take our leave of trams and traffic jams and explore some of the less urban aspects of our fair state.
Port Fairy Three and a half hours from Melbourne (if you take the slightly less scenic route) you'll find this historic fishing town, full of delightful boutiques and charming restaurants. Head down to the beach and check out the Port Fairy Lighthouse, visit the nearby Tower Hill Volcano, or join the locals for the town's famous Folk Festival in March. Accommodation doesn't come cheap during peak season, but if you're happy to stay slightly out of the action, Lagoons Bay offers a bed and breakfast or self-contained apartments with private beach frontage, just a few minutes drive from the centre of town.
Apollo Bay Towards the other end of the Great Ocean Road, about two and a half hours from Melbourne, is Apollo Bay. There are many different walks around the area available to nature lovers, from short hikes to six hour treks, encompassing beaches, waterfalls, scrubland, and of course, the Twelve Apostles. Apollo's View in Skenes Creek, just five minutes from town, affords visitors premium self-contained accommodation with an uninterrupted seascape.
Given that it's six hours from Melbourne, Mildura is a destination more suitable for a long weekend, so that visitors have more time to enjoy the break. Well worth the journey though, this lush town with a desert backdrop is home to acres of grape vines and fruit trees and sits on the banks of the Murray River. Here, visitors can take a ride on the old paddle-steamers or even just go down to the river to watch them chug and whistle their way through the weirs. For families, Sunraysia Resort is a must, with its self contained units, pools, games room, gym, tennis courts and organised activities.
Daylesford A little closer to home, Daylesford is far enough from the city to feel like the country, while still being very accessible at only one and a half hour's drive away. Visitors can easily while away a day browsing through shops inspired by the town's 'hippy' culture, or walk around Hepburn Regional Park and take the waters at the natural mineral springs. Bella's Retreat, in the centre of town, offers guests convenient three bedroom accommodation with a therapy room on the premises for those who want to make the most of the relaxing atmosphere.
Mansfield Situated amid the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, about three hours from Melbourne, Mansfield is a scenic town with a rich history, much loved for its proximity to ski destinations such as Mt Buller and Mt Stirling. Outside of snow season, attractions include Mansfield Zoo and the wilderness of the Lake Eildon National Park. Mansfield Country Resort is set amongst the high country bushland and is a good place to stay for those keen on having all the amenities while still being close to nature.
Turbulent seas, unblemished beaches, rich red plains, peaceful lakes and snowy mountains – there's a lot of country to cover in Victoria. Where is your favourite weekend escape?
Bright's my favourite - I love the mix of mountain walks, great cafes, wineries and Autumn colours (in Autumn obviously....). It's such a pretty place at any time of year.
By Sue Williams - senior reviewer Sunday, 21st of August @ 10:10 am
Daylesford is truly gorgeous. But I must say that Bright is one of my absolute favourite Victorian getaways. Everytime I go I am in awe of the beauty of Bright. Just thinking about it lifts my heart.
By Tracey Winning - senior reviewer Tuesday, 23rd of August @ 11:16 pm
The Dandenongs is also a beautiful place to escape, especially for a romantic B&B getaway. So peaceful!
By Louise Massey - senior reviewer Friday, 26th of August @ 10:33 pm
By aruni - reader Tuesday, 23rd of August @ 01:27 pm
In Western Victoria, Grampians National Park is another good place for nature, walks and hikes.
Further on East Victoria, Wilson's Promontory has good camping facilities, beautiful sceneries, peaceful beaches.
For a more expensive option, during winter one of the ski resorts (for example Buller or Hotham) are a lovely weekend trip for those who love to ski as well as those who love the snow scenery.
By Winnie - senior reviewer Sunday, 4th of September @ 07:06 am
Metung-Gippsland Lakes. 15 minutes from Lakes Entrance. Short drive to the Buchan Caves. Beautiful cruise on the Director. Stay at McMillans Metung for a wonderful experience.
By ebony - reader Saturday, 21st of July @ 01:01 am
Tarra valley holiday park! In a cosy cabin with lots of food and wine!!!
By Anonymous Saturday, 18th of August @ 07:54 am
I would love to check out Daylesford. I've wanted to ever since I saw that add they had with Isobel Lucas. Sure an add isn't the best reason to decide to go somewhere, but there was just something about it that painted Daylesford as this truly relaxing and rejuvenating place. I'd love to check it out myself to see if the ads are true.
I just adore Daylesford. It is just such a pretty place how could you not fall in love with it. I went for an afternoon recently during autumn which was such a beautiful time to visit, all the trees in such colourful bloom. Hoping to go back soon to stay a few days and have a decent explore. Great article.
By Jo Ferguson - senior reviewer Sunday, 16th of June @ 03:34 am