Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published February 6th 2013
Get away for a day
Scientists have proven that human beings need regular holidays to survive and flourish. Probably. But we also have time commitments, whether work or study or both, that make it difficult to take a few days off and go up to sunny Lorne. One single day, however, is a much more feasible proposition - and there are plenty of places near Melbourne that make for an excellent day trip. Want to escape from the city? Want to reconnect with nature without having to sleep in a tent? Read on, then: here's a list of three great places for a one-day holiday.
Accessible by car or the Lilydale/Belgrave line, Ferntree Gully is a little oasis to the north of Melbourne. The Gully itself is green and lush, perfect for picnics or short walks, and the quiet Belgrave cafes are five minutes away by train. There's even Puffing Billy for tourists (or just people who like steam engines). There's no closer place to experience uniquely Australian flora in a natural environment. Cyclists will love the hilly country roads, although drivers might not love them back. This is a perfect place for a multi-stage day trip: start with a picnic and a short walk in Ferntree Gully, continue up to Belgrave for a coffee, and finish the day with a scenic ride on Puffling Billy. You'll feel like you've been away for a week, at least.
A little further away from the CBD is Buchan Caves, near Bairnsdale. It's a few hours' drive, so you'll have to start early, but it's very worth it. There's nothing quite like a natural cave system - certainly nothing in Melbourne - and guided tours are available at almost any time of day. An adult ticket is about twenty dollars, and visitors can choose to see either Fairy Cave or Royal Cave (or both!) Royal Cave is distinguished by still underground pools, while Fairy Cave is roofed with an upside-down forest of sparkling stalactites. Don't worry about the temperature down there, either, as Buchan Caves is not much hotter or cooler than aboveground. Why not go during winter as part of a ski trip?
Hanging Rock Winery
If all this hiking and caving sounds like a whole lot of effort for not a lot of return, then Hanging Rock Winery might be for you. Near the famous and mysterious Hanging Rock, with a beautiful view of the Macedon Ranges, it's a great place to appreciate some nature from the comfort of a tasting bar. There's an impressive array of wines on offer, to sample or take home, and plenty of helpful people who can coach you on what to say to impress your friends back in Melbourne. Bring a bottle back for your next dinner party and astonish everybody with your detailed views on tannins and pomegranate notes. Don't sample too much, though - you've got to stay sober for the drive home.
Do you know a great place to get away for a day? Whether it's a picnic spot, a picturesque country town or a national park, let us know in the comments. The trouble with nice day trip spots is that they get crowded on weekends and public holidays - like hipsters and their cafes, the day tripper is in a constant race against the crowd to find new places. By sharing your favourite spots with us, you're helping us all have better holidays. Is there a finer act of charity possible? So tell us your secrets. We'd love to hear from you.
Hi two of your suggestions, ie the Dandenong Ranges/ Yarra Ranges, visiting Hanging Rock incl. winery, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs feasible for a day trip however Buchan Caves is past Lakes Entrance and wouldn't consider as a day trip destination. Consider no more than 1.5hrs each way travel from city. Other possibilities include Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula eg Queenscliff, and Mornington Peninsula.
Live near Ferntree gully, there is Sherbrooke forest magic in there and I always get in the car for a short break to Warburton , its beautiful there , walk along the river, great cafes or the bakery is yummy , then a walk up to the la la falls , awesome .