We lived in Melbourne for five years and being complete newcomers to Australia’s “Garden State”, we took every opportunity to see more of Victoria during that time. Our exploration was generally limited to weekenders, so we notched up quite a few 2-3-day trips over the years. Here I share our favourite weekend trips from Melbourne.
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Go coastal on the Great Ocean Road
First and foremost, you must take a mini road trip along the Great Ocean Road. It would be nice to have a long weekend to do this, as our overnighter was a little rushed but certainly do-able. The Road starts 1hr 30mins from Melbourne in Torquay and ends 400 km (249 mi) away in Nelson on the Victoria/South Australian border. This is possibly the most scenic road in Australia, running alongside a wild, wind-beaten coastline of sandy beaches, clifftops and rock formations. The 12 Apostles are definitely the star attraction, but make sure you stop and take in other spots along the way, such as the lovely town of Lorne and the numerous pull-outs that allow you to absorb the stunning coastal-scape.
Spend time seaside in Sorrento
Named after Sorrento, Italy, the town is actually located on the shores of Port Phillip Bay. However, the Mornington Peninsula is very narrow at this point, so it will take you all of about 5mins to reach a real ocean beach. It takes 1hr and 30min to drive to Sorrento from Melbourne, but I recommend allowing extra time to make stops at the hot springs and wineries along the way. Once in Sorrento, go for waterside walks, eat your weight in seafood and enjoy a day by the seaside/bayside.
A mere 2hrs from Melbourne you will find Phillip Island, best known for its Superbike Grand Prix Circuit and its resident Little Penguin population. The Penguin Parade is definitely the biggest drawcard here. You can also potentially spot humpback and southern right whales off the coast between May and October. Wander Nobbies Boardwalk for rugged coastal vistas, fur seals and nesting seabirds.
Escape to Daylesford and Mount Macedon
Looking for a spa retreat? Head for the spa town of Daylesford about a 1hr 30min out of Melbourne. Historically known for its natural spring mineral spas, this is the place to go for a weekend of total relaxation. While in Daylesford you will also eat well, find lots of local art and great boutique shopping in the area.
Circle through nearby Mount Macedon if you want to do some bush walking, visit Hanging Rock (immortalized in the novel and subsequent movie Picnic at Hanging Rock) and explore open gardens such as that of Forest Glade and Tieve Tara.
Hit the winter slopes of Mount Buller
Snow bunnies are advised to head for Mount Buller for a winter weekend away. Its about 3hr 30min drive from Melbourne to Mount Buller Alpine Village. We have stayed both at the bottom of the mountain (in the town of Merrijig), making day trips up to the snowfields to save money, and stayed in ski-in, ski-out accommodation at the top. It’s all down to your budget and availability. Either way, you’re going to need to hire chains for your car and know how to put them on if required. Check the Mount Buller website for lift pass pricing and conditions.
Wine and dine your way around the Yarra Valley
Wine connoisseurs and foodies should head straight to the Yarra Valley. About four years into our time living in Melbourne I turned to my husband and said: “do you realise we’ve never bought wine at a bottle shop since we lived here?” It wasn’t intentional, it’s just that we would usually spend a couple of weekends each year touring cellar doors and tasting our way across local wineries in the Yarra Valley. After tasting that wine, it would be impossible to go home without a few bottles – therefore we never needed to buy wine at a liquor store. You’ll also find great farm-to-table restaurants, delightful artisan cheeses and berry picking opportunities (depending on the season) along the way. You can spend the weekend or make a day trip because it’s only about 1hr 15min drive from Melbourne.
If you’re travelling to Melbourne for the first time, you might also like this 72-hour itinerary and city guide. Let us know in the comments if you have a favourite weekend trip from Melbourne.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,