Fabulous eye-catching destinations are in easy reach of Melbourne. Take your pick from hot springs and spa retreats to scenic coastal drives, charming sea-side towns, gardens, wildlife adventures, forests, vineyards and more. Each destination has its own character and activities to explore.
Driving distance from Melbourne: 1 to 2 hours depending on how far down the Peninsula you travel.
Discover charming sea-side towns like Sorrento and Portsea, colourful beach boxes and cool climate gardens such as the 'Heronswood Diggers Garden' at Dromana. Wander through giant maze gardens, pick your own fruit or explore rugged coast-line or vineyards. The Mornington Peninsula has it all.
Pleasing accommodation options, including historic guesthouses and intimate feeling hotels, add to the charm of this sea-side area.
Highlight for me has to be the Peninsula Hot Springs at Fingal. If you do intend to visit, book first. This place is hot in more ways than one and can get chocked out in busy periods.
The wild remoteness, rugged coast and historical ambience of Point Nepean National Park is another winner with tourists.
Ashcrombe Maze Garden, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Considered one of the best road trips in Australia and one of Victoria's major tourist attractions, this ocean-side road tour of over 243 km's encompasses small sea-side towns, rugged coast-line, beaches, cliffs, rainforest and hill-side.
Highlight of this Australian National Heritage listed road trip is the Twelve Apostles: limestone stacks rising sheerly from the Southern Ocean. Charming coastal towns such as Port Fairy, Apollo Bay, Lorne and Anglesea provide places to linger, eat or stay overnight in.
The core of the Great Ocean Road commences at the Victorian city of Torquay (95 km's from Melbourne) and concludes at Warrnambool (253 km's from Torquay), with the stretch between Port Campbell and Peterborough the most scenic. Technically, the Great Ocean Road starts at Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong and extends to Portland near the border with South Australia. Total driving time depends on how much distance you want to cover. This can be achieved in a rather manic day trip, but will offer you much more over two to three days.
If you are flying into Melbourne intent on exploring the Great Ocean Road, catch a flight to Avalon airport instead of Tullamarine.
The Twelve Apostles (in reality there are only 8 left). Pic: courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
3. Phillip Island - wildlife adventure.
Driving distance from Melbourne: 90 minutes - 2 hours
Although this is an island, you can drive right onto it via the 640 metre bridge that connects the island to the mainland town of San Remo.
On Phillip Island there is the opportunity to view bird-life, penguins, fur seals, beaches and coastline. Philip Island National Park is home to the penguin parade - the sole tourist venture in the world where you can witness penguins in their own environment! The park is also the site of the Koala Conservation Centre where you can see koala's in their natural habitat.
4. Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges - spa country
Driving distance from Melbourne: approx 1 hour and 30 minutes
Melbourne's spa and wellbeing country lies in the foot of the Great Dividing Range. The site of the Hepburn Springs and renowned for natural spring mineral waters, Daylesford is home to many spa's, health retreats and therapies.
Over eighty per cent of known mineral water springs in Australia are found in the Daylesford-Hepburn Springs area.
Other sights to take in include Lake Daylesford, Jubilee Lake, small town Clunes, Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm and the Convent Gallery. Also check out Hanging Rock (the site of the movie and novel 'Picnic at Hanging Rock') and the old buildings, gardens and rugged escarpments of the Macedon Ranges.
Be aware, Daylesford has a cooler, wetter climate than Melbourne. Take the right clothes.
Historic 19th century building, Convent Gallery at Daylesford. Pic: courtesy of Convent Gallery website.
5. Yarra Valley - wine region
Driving distance from Melbourne: 1 hour.
The Yarra Valley is Victoria's prime wine region and is the area surrounding the Yarra River. For tourism purposes, major towns of interest include Yarra Glen, Healesville and Warburton.
The Yarra is divided into two sub-sections: the Valley floor (elevation between 50-60 metres above sea level) taking in the towns of Lilydale, Yarra Glen and Healesville, and the Upper Yarra (up to 400 metres or 1312 feet) which includes the towns of Warburton, Seville and Hoddles Creek.
Things to do in this beautiful region include vineyard hopping (of course), hot air ballooning, cycling and sampling the local produce. Visit the world acclaimed Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary for a chance to see native animals such as kangaroo's, dingo's, emu's and more up close and personal. Amazingly, kids have free entry on weekends and on Victorian public and school holidays.
Vineyards of the Yarra Valley. Pic: courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.