Melbourne is Victoria's lively coastal capital city, known for its elegant culinary scene and beautiful cultural attractions, including the National Gallery of Victoria, which showcases renowned collections of Australian and Aboriginal artwork. The city serves as a great jumping-off point for exploring some of Victoria's most renowned visitor attractions, including the scenic Mornington Peninsula and the gorgeous Yarra Valley, known as two of Australia's top wine-producing regions. Hip cultural districts in the region include vibrant arts community Lorne and the district of St. Kilda, known around the world as a major center for counterculture in the late 20th century. Visitors can also drive the Great Ocean Road, the world's largest war memorial route, or observe tiny fairy penguins in their natural habitat at the Phillip Island's Penguin Parade.
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Ballarat is a gorgeous city in Victoria's Central Highlands, located along the banks of the Yarrowee River. The city, which is Australia's third-largest inland city, was a major center of the Victorian gold rush of the late 19th century and retains much of its gorgeous Victorian architecture and heritage today. The award-winning open-air Sovereign Hill museum recreates the city's gold mining days, consistently ranked as one of the world's top outdoor museum attractions. Gold rush-related attractions abound, including the Gold Museum of Ballarat and Kryal Castle. The city's unique urban landscape is home to Australia's largest collection of public art, showcasing sculptures and statues dating back to the 1860s. Renowned annual festivals including the Ballarat Begonia Festival and the Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival.
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Daylesford is a lovely town located in the foothills of Victoria's Great Dividing Range, best known for its natural mineral hot springs resort. The town, which is one of Australia's only spa towns, offers rejuvenating and relaxing spa experiences at full-service facilities like Daylesford Day Spa or the Salus Spa at the Lake House. Nearby, Hepburn Bathhouse offers more rejuvenation experiences on the waters of Hepburn Springs. Visitors can peruse the art exhibits of the Convent Gallery, housed within a 19th-century mansion, or explore the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens, which are located atop an extinct volcanic peak. Outdoor recreational opportunities include Jubilee Lake, a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking, and Wombat State Forest, which is home to rare native wildlife, including the spot-tailed quoll. Each year, the city hosts the annual Chill Out Festival, Australia's largest LGBT Pride event.
Geelong is a charming city located just southwest of Melbourne, known for its beautiful bay waterfront and recently-revitalized downtown district. The city's Waterfront esplanade is home to a lovely Art Deco-style boardwalk, a preserved 19th-century carousel, and sea bath facilities at Eastern Beach. Cultural institutions include the National Wool Museum, which hosts rotating exhibitions related to the city's textile and manufacturing industries. Converted wool mill spaces and manufacturing buildings now house hip bars, cafes, boutiques, art galleries, and nightlife destinations, including acclaimed local microbreweries like Little Creatures Brewery and White Rabbit Brewery and Barrel Hall. Some of Australia's best dining destinations line the city's downtown neighborhoods, including winery restaurants like Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant and the Shed Restaurant at Terindah Estate.
4.Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park is one of Victoria's most beautiful natural reserves, protecting gorgeous sandstone mountains and rare native wildlife. The park, which was designated in 1984, was listed on the Australian National Heritage List in 2006 for its status as one of southeastern Australia's most important indigenous rock art sites. Visitors can enjoy excellent conditions for rock climbing throughout the year on the park's Wheel of Life and Groove Train climbing routes, known to attract world-class climbers from around the globe. Bushwalking is also popular along the Grampians Peaks Trail, which takes inspiration from Tasmanian-area bushwalks. Aboriginal history is on display at the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Center, located near the village of Halls Gap and managed by members of the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung communities.
5.The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is a designated Australian National Heritage road stretching 243 kilometers along the country's southeastern coastline, spanning between the cities of Allansfor and Torquay. The road, which was constructed to honor fallen World War I soldiers during the 1920s and 1930s, remains the world's largest war memorial site today. It traverses gorgeous rainforest, beach, and cliff landscapes as it passes along Australia's Surf and Shipwreck Coasts, offering picturesque views of the Southern Ocean and the Bass Strait. Landmarks along the route include the unique Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations, Loch Ard Gorge, and the London Arch. Each year, the route hosts the annual Great Ocean Road Marathon, a part of the Great Ocean Road Running Festival.
6.Hanging Rock Reserve
Hanging Rock Reserve preserves a unique geological formation encompassing the remains of a former volcano, located within central Victoria approximately an hour northwest of the city of Melbourne. The formation, which is also known as Dryden's Rock or Mount Diogenes, stands 718 meters above sea level near the townships of Hesket and Newham. Prior to the 19th century, it served as an important cultural site for tribes of the Woi Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, and Taungurung Aboriginal people, who still maintain a significant connection to the site today. Visitors can explore the reserve's Hanging Rock Discovery Center, which details the rock's formation and offers information on its native flora and fauna. Walking paths and trails traverse the rock, showcasing unique formations such as McDonald's Lookout and The Eagle. The site is also sometimes used as an outdoor concert venue, showcasing major international acts like Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, and Ed Sheeran.
139 S Rock Rd, Woodend VIC 3442, Australia, Phone: +61-18-00-24-47-11
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Lorne is a lovely town located along Victoria's Great Ocean Road, known throughout Australia for its vibrant arts community. The gorgeous waterfront town is home to one of Australia's most popular surfing spots, Lorne Beach, which is located adjacent to the vibrant Mountjoy Parade shopping and dining district. Visitors can explore cultural attractions like Qdos ARTS, which is home to an art gallery and sculpture park, or attend games for the city's local Colac and District Football League team throughout its season. Stunning coastal views are offered from Teddy's Lookout, which stands over the St. George River. Outdoor recreational opportunities are offered at Angahook Lorne State Park, including opportunities to see lovely Erskine Falls. Each year, the city hosts the annual Falls Festival New Year's Eve celebration and the Pier to Pub Swim, the Guinness Book of Records-designated largest organized swim in the world.
Mount Buller is one of Victoria's top skiing destinations, known for its impressive downhill skiing slopes and terrain parks. The charming resort village, which is located adjacent to Alpine National Park, boasts the most resort beds of any ski resort in the area, along with facilities connected to the Mount Buller Community Center, which is home to a cinema, gymnasium, and sports hall. The National Alpine Museum of Australia showcases exhibits connected to Australia's winter sports history, open to the public throughout the year. During the summer months, the resort area has become a popular site for cross-country and downhill mountain biking, hosting major races connected to the Victorian Downhill State Series and the MTBA National Series.
9.Peninsula Hot Springs
Peninsula Hot Springs is an award-winning spa destination located on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, just an hour and a half outside of the city of Melbourne. The resort is known for its spectacular geothermal natural hot springs, which were converted into a public spa facility in 1997 by brothers Richard and Charles Davidson. The spa facility, which is inspired by Japanese hot springs, is home to a family-friendly social bathhouse open to visitors of all ages, showcasing facilities like a Turkish hamam, thermal mineral pools, an aquatherapy pool, and a reflexology walk. 360-degree panoramic views are showcased from the facility's iconic hilltop pool, while an ice cave and seven geothermal pools are contained within its Bath House Amphitheatre. Guests can also enjoy world-class spa treatments at the facility's Spa Dreaming Centre or dine at several onsite dining destinations, including the gourmet Spa Dreaming Centre Cafe and the health-conscious Bath House Amphitheatre Cafe.
140 Springs Ln, Fingal VIC 3939, Australia, Phone: +61-3-59-50-87-77
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10.Phillip Island's Penguin Parade
Phillip Island's Penguin Parade is a unique attraction at Phillip Island Nature Park, which preserve 1,805 hectares of land as a conservation site of natural interest. The park, which is located just an hour and a half from Melbourne, is home to the world's smallest penguin species, the fairy penguin, which grows to an average size of 13 inches in height and is native to Australia and New Zealand. Visitors can view penguins in their natural habitat at a 180-degree elevated viewing platform at Summerland Beach, which offers tiered seating for viewing nightly penguin population processions into their sand dune homes. Additional viewing spaces are offered at the Penguins Plus platform, which provides up-close viewing experiences and park ranger commentary, and the Underground Viewing experience, which offers bird's-eye views in an indoor underground viewing area. A visitor center offers informational displays and puppet play experiences for young children.
St. Kilda is one of Melbourne's most eclectic suburban districts, known as a major center of counterculture throughout the second half of the 20th century. The district, which originally developed as a community for Melbourne's elite during the Victorian era, was considered to be Australia's Coney Island during the early 20th century, home to beachfront amusements and attractions. During the 1960s, the district became associated with punk musicians, artists, and LGBT populations, developing a reputation as Melbourne's bohemian center. Today, it retains its artistic vibe, home to three Victorian Heritage Register theaters, including the Astor Theatre, home to the southern hemisphere's largest cinema screen. Fine dining restaurants abound, along with local music venues and vibrant nightlife destinations. Along the beachside Esplanade, windsurfing and watersports are popular throughout the year.
12.The Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is Victoria's top wine destination, home to more than 50 wineries and vineyards specializing in world-class varietals like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Pinot Grigio. The peninsula, which is located just to the south of the city of Melbourne, is home to acclaimed wineries like Montalto and Ten Minutes by Tractor, which offer wine flight tastings and facility tours throughout the year. Many wineries offer award-winning gourmet restaurants showcasing multi-course chef-driven menus and stunning hillside and lakeside views from elegant dining rooms. The region is also home to some of Australia's top craft microbreweries, including Mornington Peninsula Brewery, Red Hill Brewery, and St. Andrews Beach Brewery. Visitors can sample local cheese and produce at businesses like Main Ridge Dairy and Green Olive at Red Hill, enjoy rejuvenating experiences at Peninsula Hot Springs, or swim and sunbathe at the region's stunning beaches at Frankston or Port Phillip Bay.
Williamstown was Melbourne's first port settlement at its founding in 1837, located five miles from Melbourne's downtown district along the shores of beautiful Port Phillip Bay. The district, which is part of the city of Melbourne today, honors the region's maritime history through a number of visitor attractions, including the preserved Fort Gellibrand military site, developed in 1860, and the former navigational landmark Timeball Tower. Visiting tall ships are showcased at the Seaworks precinct, including the Enterprize, the first European vessel to carry passengers up the Yarra River. The Maritime Museum at Gem Pier also preserves the Sea Shepherd. Nelson Place, originally constructed by convicts in the 19thcentury, now houses a variety of craft shops and restaurants.
14.Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park preserves Victoria's largest coastal wilderness habitat, located on a rugged peninsula just southeast of the city of Melbourne. The park, which is commonly referred to as "The Prom," spans 50,000 hectares and is known for its stunning granite mountains and abundant natural wildlife, including significant kangaroo and wombat populations. Visitors can peruse the park's extensive walking trail network for access to landmarks like Mount Oberon or drive through its scenic drive system, which offers car park areas and public visitor beach access. Wilsons Promontory Lightstation, originally constructed in 1859, is located on the park's southern coastline. Overnight camping experiences range from traditional primitive campsites to contemporary rental cabins.
15.The Yarra Valley
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The Yarra Valley is known as one of the world's foremost wine growing regions, home to more than 80 award-winning wineries and vineyards. The district, which surrounds the beautiful Yarra River in Victoria, stretches for approximately 800 kilometers to the east of Melbourne's central business district to the river's terminus at Port Phillip Bay. Visitors can enjoy tasting and tour experiences at world-renowned wineries like Domaine Chandon, De Bortoli, and Yering Station or sample wine flights at a number of up-and-coming boutique and small production wineries throughout the region. Microbreweries and cideries have also sprung up in the region in recent years, including hip locations like Coldstream Brewery and White Rabbit Brewery. Lovely towns located within the region include Healesville, home to the picturesque Healesville Sanctuary, and Warburton, known for its parks and rail trails.
15 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Melbourne, Australia
- Ballarat, Photo: Blue Wren/stock.adobe.com
- Daylesford, Photo: Shuang Li/stock.adobe.com
- Geelong, Photo: Kevin/stock.adobe.com
- Grampians National Park, Photo: VietDung/stock.adobe.com
- The Great Ocean Road, Photo: jovannig/stock.adobe.com
- Hanging Rock Reserve, Photo: parinya/stock.adobe.com
- Lorne, Photo: pink candy/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Buller, Photo: Yan/stock.adobe.com
- Peninsula Hot Springs, Photo: Natalia/stock.adobe.com
- Phillip Island's Penguin Parade, Photo: giedriius/stock.adobe.com
- St. Kilda, Photo: Javen/stock.adobe.com
- The Mornington Peninsula, Photo: lkonya/stock.adobe.com
- Williamstown, Photo: sebastianbourges/stock.adobe.com
- Wilsons Promontory National Park, Photo: Robirensi/stock.adobe.com
- The Yarra Valley, Photo: Greg Brave/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: pure-life-pictures/stock.adobe.com