While the city of Melbourne has much to offer, sometimes you just want to get away for the day and experience something different. From ocean drives to wine countries to scenic mountain hikes, it’s not far from Melbourne. Here are some suggestions on great day trips from the city.
While Melbourne is home to an interesting coffee scene, they are also not far from a charming wine region. The Mornington Peninsula is about an hour outside Melbourne, although it feels like a completely different world. Littered with vineyards, farms, tranquil spas and wildlife, the area has a pure and sustainable country feel. Make sure to sample wines at T’Gallant, one of the area’s most well-known wineries, as well as Green Olive at Red Hill, where you can try their biodynamic wines as well as their homemade dukkahs, spreads, oils and in-house roasted coffee. Montalto is also a worthwhile stop offering upscale dining and high-quality single-vineyard wines. To relax, Peninsula Hot Springs is an outdoor sanctuary offering an array of curative hot spring and cool mineral pools.
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road begins in the nearby surf town of Torquay and continues on for 151 miles until Warrnambool. Each section of the road offers something interesting for the visitor. In Torquay you can browse surf shops like Billabong and Quiksilver as well as visit the famous Bells Beach. Continuing on, the town of Lorne is home to Lorne Pier, Forest Park, Teddy’s Lookout and Grandma Shields Bakery, which serves some of Australia’s best meat pies and desserts. Some other worthwhile stops along the way include feeding Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots at Koala Cove Cafe in Kennett River, zip-lining at Otway Fly Tree Top Adventures near Apollo Bay, seeing the iconic Twelve Apostles and exploring the parks and lookout points along the scenic Shipwreck Coast.
About two hours from Melbourne you’ll find Phillip Island, an island full of wildlife and natural experiences. Home to the famous Penguin Parade, at dusk visitors can witness Little Penguins coming back from a day at sea and waddling across the beach to their homes. Before witnessing penguins in action, make sure to check out the Nobbies Center (formerly the Seal Rocks Sea Life Centre) to view the world’s largest Australian fur seal colony with about 16,000 living there in the Bass Strait. Another worthwhile natural attraction is the Koala Conservation Centre, where animal-lovers can wander through the bush to see an array of bird species as well as koalas up close in their natural habitat.
The Yarra Valley
While there is much to see and do in the Yarra Valley, its main draw is cool-climate wines, particularly their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling varieties. Located about 30 miles east of the Melbourne Central Business District, the area is an easy day trip. And with over 70 wineries, the Yarra Valley has something for everyone. Sample the estate-grown wines made from hand-picked fruit at TarraWarra Estate, as well as the small-batch wines, craft beers, artisanal cheeses, baked goods and in-house roasted coffee at Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander. For a delicious wine lunch, Oakridge Winery features a cozy cellar door and restaurant with beautiful vineyard and mountain views as well as tantalizing entrees. We recommend the tasting platter for two, which features a Chef’s selection of local and house-made produce. Along with wine, some other attractions of the area include hiking in Yarra Ranges National Park, browsing local art galleries, viewing wildlife at Healesville Santuary and visiting the area’s many farm gates.
Located about 150 miles west of Melbourne, The Grampians is a region featuring some of the country’s most pristine landscape and beautiful views. The Grampians National Park offers hiking, rock climbing, fish and canoeing, as well as worthwhile waterfall treks and aerial lookout points above the entire region. You can also discover Aboriginal rock art in the shelters throughout the park. For some Aboriginal history and culture, the region is home to Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre. Explore Aboriginal artifacts, view cultural exhibitions and stroll through trails featuring Aboriginal rock art and medicinal plants. The Royal Mail Hotel features an award-winning restaurant and is a great place to stop for a meal and a nice glass of wine. For accommodation, stay at Boroka Downs, a 5-star luxury accommodation featuring villas located at the edge of the national park. With floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll be able to lay in bed or relax in your in-room hot tub while watching playful kangaroos and emus in your backyard.