The weekend away is embedded in Australian tradition. Anyone Aussie can tell you about countless long weekends spent out of a tent, caravan or B&B at a favourite destination. Victorians are not shy when it comes to a weekend of wanderlust and Victoria boasts some of the country’s most sought-after weekend spots. Here’s the inspiration you need for an essential weekend away in Victoria.
Travel 1.5 hours from Melbourne to the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, arriving at picturesque Daylesford. It’s a weekender for all seasons, promising an abundance of indulgence. Originally a gold mining town in the 1850s, Daylesford has since polished itself into a nugget for those in search of relaxation. This is spa country, attracting many with its natural mineral springs. There is myriad wellness retreats, spas and healing centres, like neighbouring Hepburn Springs, and you’ll be hard-pressed to leave your lodgings. If you do venture out, it’s worth wandering Daylesford’s main street for boutique shopping, gallery perusing and antique fossicking. Get back to the area’s natural beauty with a paddleboat ride around Lake Daylesford on the Peace Mile Walk, take a drive through Wombat State Forest or visit lovely lavender farms.
Great Ocean Road
If winding roads and salty, coastal seascapes excite you, then the Great Ocean Road – one of Australia’s most spectacular and dramatic on-road journeys – must be experienced. This stretch of captivating driving takes drivers from Torquay to Allansford and by some of the state’s treasured landmarks, towns and beaches. The Great Ocean Road possesses a rich maritime history (there are more than 630 shipwrecks out in those notorious waves), but is more recently well-known for world-class surfing. Visitors can town-hop through Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay and there’s countless cafes, restaurants and lazy pubs to choose from if an extended pit-stop calls. One should try their hand out at surfing here and there are many surf breaks at which beginners can take a class and cut out a slice of ocean. The coast-hugging wonder that is the infamous Twelve Apostles, sandstone formations, delight carloads of visitors all year round. Others head inland to the Great Otway National Park for a tree-top walk along Otway Fly and marvel at stunning waterfalls.
The Mornington Peninsula is another favourite for weekend holidaymakers. A little closer to Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is an accessible choice for a quick beach trip. There are bays and ocean beaches aplenty here on ‘the Peninsula’, only an hour’s drive from Melbourne. The area becomes alive during the warmer months, then sleepier during the off-season. Though, there is still much to see and do no matter what time of year you journey to here. An invigorating bushwalk, or snorkelling, swimming and surfing are all activities found here; coastal walking trails can be explored, in particular Bushrangers Bay near the historic Cape Schanck Lighthouse. When the days get cooler, visitors flock to Sorrento and Portsea for boutique strip shopping. If the need for relaxation calls, then make a visit to Peninsula Hot Springs for a dip in the natural hot springs onsite or indulge in a relaxation treatment – pure bliss!
Phillip Island is a natural choice for Victorians who want to sit back and relax over the summer season. It’s where families flock for family-friendly fun and road-tripping visitors are lured here by the promise of the Island’s world-famous Penguin Parade. These little penguins populate the back-beaches and make their nightly march up the beach for visitors to witness in awe. Travellers to Phillip Island need only spend one and a half hours in the car to get here, making Phillip Island an accessible location that’s oozing with natural, coastal beauty. There are rocky outcrops to view over, not to mention untamed beaches and exhilarating blowholes that give an outdoor visit in the area an endearing twist. Phillip Island is also rich in koala, mutton bird and seal populations. After a day of touring, seek sustenance from Island Wholefoods in Cowes. During the summer, take a wander and pick up a local gem from the town’s night market.
If you enjoy wine, you can’t miss a trip to the Yarra Valley. It’s where Melbourne’s freeways run out into the rolling hills of the city’s outer east and through hectares of prized vineyards. Award-winning wines wait to be served at scores of cellar doors, and local produce is plated up in dining rooms across the region. Drive an hour from Melbourne’s CBD to get to the Yarra Valley. The cooler climate here promises chardonnay, pinot noir and sparkling wines that grace dinner tables both within Australia and overseas. There are artisan food stops and suppliers to discover, particularly in Yarra Glen and Healesville. Boutique B&Bs and accommodation are around if your wine-tasting adventure becomes a little on the tipsy side. The Yarra Valley is famous for its wines, but there’s an underlying ale and cider scene here too. Hargreaves Hill Brewing Co and White Rabbit Brewery are sure-spots for the amber liquid. For ultimate luxury, take a morning hot-air balloon ride flight over the Valley.
I regularly add vegan places to my Aussie Vegan Directory. Have a look at the list to find spots to eat. Or, why not discover new spots yourself!
So, do you have a weekend of wanderlust planned for this weekend? I’d love to hear where you’re going in the comments below.