For many of us, a weekend away is a wicked indulgence –a reprieve from the 'daily grind', the heavy workload and insane work hours, and the bumper traffic we experience on a daily basis.
However, when was the last time you were lucky enough to jump in the car and head for the open plains of the Victoria countryside? Chances are, it was a distant memory.
If you are itching for a seaside retreat, country manners and a retreat from the hectic life, I suggest you jump in the car and make a beeline for one of my top 2 favourite weekend getaways:
1. Daylesford Originally a haven for the more extreme minded environmentally friendly peeps amongst us, Daylesford is now a beauty spa mecca –thanks to the healing mineral waters of Hepburn Springs it is affectionately known as "Spa Country". The best part? This green country oasis is only 45 minute easy drive from Melbourne Airport. My top spot to visit is the chocolate shop on the main drag, "Sweet Decadence" –the ceiling is painted like the sky, and their chilli chocolate is to die for!
Those who want to take advantage of the healing waters there is the Hepburn bathhouse and Springs –well worth a dip in the calming waters, you won't remember the last time you were stressed after that.
2. Mornington A little longer drive than Daylesford (approx two and a half hours), but completely worth it, Mornington is a treasure trove of gourmet delights, coastal towns, countryside and the best part - wineries. You could easily spend two days touring the wine region, sampling cheeses at the one of the many cheese factories (I like Red Hill Cheese) or if you prefer a local brew to a wine head to Red Hill Brewery for a good drop and a nice feed.
Another of my favourite activities here is a bike ride around Port Nepean national park –beautiful coastline and then a wander through the battlements that were built there in the 1800s to protect Port Phillip from invasion –you don't even need to bring your bike, you can easily rent them for about $20 from the local information centre in Portsea (open 10am to 5pm daily).
Those who love a good mineral water dip need not miss out here either –the Peninsula Hot Springs are well renowned for a reason (they are gorgeous and very much a relaxing haven) and well worth checking out. If you don't like crowds perhaps give this a miss during school holiday season as it gets very busy.
However you decide to enjoy your weekend away is up to you -but guaranteed, you will enjoy it immensely whatever you get up to.