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Where's the Best Winter Weekend Escape Near Melbourne?

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Writer's Answer:
by Sue Williams (subscribe)
Writer, bushwalker, dessert enthusiast. Author of the Rusty Bore Mysteries. More info here:
Published June 6th 2012
Mt Hotham by Chris Solnordal, Wikipedia Creative Commons
Mt Hotham by Chris Solnordal, Wikipedia Creative Commons

We all know Melbourne's considered one of the world's most liveable cities, but, honestly, were those judges ever here in winter? Now, don't get me wrong, I love Melbourne, but there are times when the lure of Victoria's wild places, quirky towns and rural landscapes just cannot be ignored. (And when a little dose of sunshine also wouldn't go astray). The trouble is, as you'd expect in a 'liveable' city, there's a huge array of weekend escapes.

So where exactly is the best winter weekend escape near Melbourne?

Escape to sunshine
If it's sun you're seeking, Mildura is one place that's hard to beat. This is a town that has more sunshine than it knows what to do with. They could bottle it and sell it, if they weren't so busy enjoying it all for themselves.

Relax gazing at the reflections in the Murray River
Relax gazing at the reflections in the Murray River

There's plenty to do in all those glorious rays, from walking by the river, going for a ride on a paddle steamer, visiting the local wineries or eating out at Stefano's world class restaurant.

Stunning Alfred Nicholas Gardens in the Dandenongs
Stunning Alfred Nicholas Gardens in the Dandenongs

I can recommend the steak sandwich at Stefano's
I can recommend the steak sandwich at Stefano's

Mmm, and his pecan pie
Mmm, and his pecan pie

Escape to snow
For anyone seeking softly falling snowflakes, Lake Mountain offers the closest snow slopes to Melbourne. It's a good spot for cross country skiing, snow-shoe walks or tobogganing but there are no downhill skiing trails. For a detailed review of Lake Mountain and nearby Marysville, click here.

Further afield, there's Mount Hotham with spectacular scenery, a good range of ski trails, a mountain-top resort and (can you believe this?) more than 20 restaurants. There's a review of Mt Hotham by a fearless Weekend Notes reviewer here.

If skiing seems too expensive, you could consider the cheaper option – snow-shoeing at Mt Baw Baw. Click here for details.

Escape to a quirky town
Top of the list interesting towns in Victoria would have to include:
historic Walhalla,(with a wealth of gold-mining history);
arty Fish Creek, full of galleries from award-winning botanical paintings to weird and wonderful metal sculptures, along with top-notch food in the Flying Cow cafe;
and the famous Dimboola (for anyone who hasn't heard of the play, click here. And Dimboola also has a pink lake. Yes, you read that right - the water's pink).

Pink Lake courtesy of
Pink Lake courtesy of

Just seeking an all-round pretty place
East of Melbourne, the Dandenongs offer relaxing gardens, forest walks and good restaurants. See reviews here and here. There's also a review of the Skyhigh observatory and restaurant on Mt Dandenong here.

The pasta at Skyhigh is excellent
The pasta at Skyhigh is excellent

And south of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula offers great wineries and cafes, along with panoramic sea views and walking tracks. See here and here for detailed reviews.

For yet more ideas on weekend escapes, click here for suggestions by Weekend Notes' intrepid Michaelie Clark.

So now it's over to you. When you're eager to escape the winter in Melbourne, do you have any favourite spots?

Please let us know, we'd love to hear your comments.
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I love Mildura, it almost guarantees successful sun-chasing in winter without even leaving the state! Stefano's place is great, had fantastic beef carpaccio there once and an amazing chocolate pudding cake thingy that I still dream about sometimes. There's really good pizza somewhere too, I think at the Grand.
by Michaelie Clark (score: 2|951) 3725 days ago

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