7 best day trips from Melbourne, Australia

The 11 most popular day trips from Melbourne

Beautiful beaches, quaint wildlife, resort towns and spectacular desert areas – you’ll find all this and more within hours of Melbourne. One of the country’s most dazzling scenic adventures, the Great Ocean Road, is less than 200 kilometers from the city, as are the magnificent Grampian National Park, the brilliant white sandy shores of Wilsons Permanente and the rugged areas of Dandenong. Wildlife appreciates the billing in many of these urban escapes. You can watch penguins come out to the pristine beach on Phillip Island and see colorful parrots, wild kangaroos and wombats in the national parks. In addition to the rich natural beauty that beckons just a short drive from the CBD, Victoria’s elegant seaside resorts enchant visitors with their quaint stores, art galleries and award-winning restaurants. History Buffs can explore the old gold rush town, and in winter, skiers and snowboarders can carve the slopes of Mount Buller less than three hours from town.

Step outside the city and explore the surrounding area with this list of the best day trips from Melbourne :

1 Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road.

200 kilometers from Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most spectacular stretches of coastline and a major tourist attraction. The traffic from the city carves along steep sea cliffs as well as beaches with surfing Port Campbell National Park, where the distinctive rocky peaks, the Twelve Apostles , tower over the swirling sea. Other highlights include the wind and sea sculpted rock formations of Loch Ard Gorge as well as London Arch.

To fully appreciate the power of Mother Nature, hop in a helicopter over this dramatic coastline, also called the Shipwreck Coast , while in the area you can hike near the koala-rich Kennet River ; search for kangaroos and wallabies in Great Otway National Park; or enjoy another forest perspective in Adventure Games including treetop walk and zipline tour. Surf lovers should stop in Torquay along the way to visit the World Surfing Museum and look for huge waves at the legendary Bells Beach .

You can enjoy many of these adventures on the Great Ocean Road Eco-Tour. This full-day excursion includes plenty of time to soak up beautiful coastal scenery, hike into Great Otway National Park, spot koalas on the Kennett River and stop at Apollo Bay. A twelve-minute helicopter ride through the Twelve Apostles is optional.

  • Read more:
  • The 10 most popular tourist attractions on the Great Ocean Road

2 Phillip Island Penguin Parade

Phillip Island: Seaside Promenade

Phillip Island, about 140 kilometers from downtown Melbourne, is a top choice for wildlife lovers. Every night at sunset, visitors gather along the shore to watch adorable penguins swim along the beach at Phillip Island Nature Park , Before the Penguin Parade, as it is called, you can visit some of the nearby wildlife parks. See Koalas in their natural habitat at Koala Conservation Center ; tame kangaroos and wallabies Phillip Island Wildlife Park ; or visit Nobbies , a boardwalk that wraps around the Cape’s seabird gardens with spectacular coastal views. Little penguins often rest here, and in spring, watch for gull chicks. For more information about the area’s ecology, stop by the free Nobbies Center and browse the educational displays. From here, across Bass Strait, lies Seals , Australia’s largest colony of seals. Bring binoculars to see seals or take a wildlife cruise for close-up viewing. An easy way to visit this major attraction from Melbourne is to take a tour of Phillip Island. This all-day excursion covers all the highlights, including wildlife viewing at Maru Koala and Animal Park; Nobby; and the famous Penguin Parade, with additional updates for a closer look.

Official website: http://www.penguins.org.au/

3 Dandenong and Yarra Valley Ranges

The color of fall in the Dandenong ranges

The Dandenong and Yarra Valley ranges have been a favorite weekend getaway for wealthy Melburnians for more than a century. This day trip has something for everyone, from nature and wildlife to cute villages, fantastic food and a fun ride on a historic train. Start the day with a scenic drive through the Dandenong areas, about 40 km east of Melbourne. Here you can walk through the rainforests of mountain ash trees to soothing cascades in the beautiful fern Sherwood Forest and feeding native birds such as crimson rosellas, cockatoos and galas at Grant Picnic Ground , Nearby Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens and William Rickett Sanctuary also worth a visit.

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In Belgrave , board the 100-year-old Puffing Billy steam train and stroll through the artisan stores. You can also relax with a Devonshire tea in a collection of charming villages, such as Olinda, a delightful green thumb with the superb Rhododendron National Gardens, and the Clowhill Orchard and Children’s Garden.

Nearby Yarra Valley is a haven for foodies, fresh produce, top-notch restaurants, and the opportunity to sample handmade cheeses at Yarra Valley Farms , Animal lovers should also stop at the popular Healesville Sanctuary to see native Australian animals and birds. A stop at this sanctuary is included in the Yarra Valley Day Tour, which also visits other attractions in the region.Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Dandenong Ranges from an air-conditioned coach, taste traditional billy tea, and get out through the woods on the Puffing Billy steam train. Price includes a tour guide and check in and out of the hotel.

  • Read more:
  • The 10 most popular tourist attractions in the Yarra and Dandenong Valleys

4 Mornington Peninsula.

The picturesque Mornington Peninsula, a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, is a favorite seaside getaway from the city. Surrounded by the ocean on one side and Port Phillip Bay on the other, this prime sliver of real estate features tranquil coves, pretty villages and rocky shores. One of the attractions in the region is stylish Sorrento , site of the state’s first continental European settlement, with its heritage buildings and high-end stores, boutiques and cafes. Soak up the seaside scenery and see how the vacation homes of an Australian chic hotel, Millionaire’s Walk , “as it is known to locals, a five-kilometer clifftop trail over the Gulf of Port Phillip between Sorrento and Portsea. Hiking is popular on the back beaches and in the rugged bush on the edge of the peninsula at Nepean National Park. Other attractions in the area include the Sorrento-Queenscliff Ferry scenic walk, dolphin cruises, the Hot Springs Peninsula, and opportunities to swim with wild dolphins and seals.

  • Read more:
  • The 10 most popular tourist attractions on the Mornington Peninsula

5 Grampians National Park.

Grampians National Park.

About 260 kilometers from Melbourne, Grampians National Park (often called “Grampian”) offers beautiful views of waterfalls, vibrant spring wildflowers, rock formations and rushing cliffs. Avid lovers in particular will be at this park, and everyone can admire spectacular scenery from their many panoramic views. Called “Gariverd” by Aboriginal people, the park also harbors traditional rock art. You can learn more about this park’s rich history and ecology at Brambuk National Park and Cultural Center , Other attractions include the beautiful MacKenzie Falls , Victoria’s highest waterfall; Beehive Falls, with its ferny gully pools; Fish Falls ; and panoramic viewing atop and Number Balconies. You can also Reed as well as Boroka looks. Wildlife abounds; kangaroos, wallabies, emus and echidnas make their home here, and friendly marsupials are found.

In addition to hiking, other popular outdoor activities include rappelling and rock climbing on the faces of Mt. Arapils, fishing and canoeing in the park’s lakes and rivers, ATVs and horseback riding. If you plan to stay overnight, Hall Hall is the gateway to the park and makes a great base. Bring a camera and be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes. Grampians is also a popular foodie destination with excellent restaurants and fresh local produce, including olives, cheeses and meats.

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Official website: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/grampians-national-park

6 Wilson’s National Park

Wilson’s National Park.

Affectionately called “Prom” by locals, Wilson’s Pointory National Park is the largest coastal area in the desert state and a nirvana for nature lovers and photographers. It is located at the southernmost point of the Australian mainland, about three hours from downtown Melbourne, but the spectacular scenery of creaking beaches, cool-climate rainforests and rugged granite peaks is worth the trip. Highlights include guided bush walks; the granite rock formations of Giant Rock , the white quartz sands of Squeaky Beach , Lilly Pilly Gully , and the sea sculpture boulders of Whiskey Bay .

The park is also known for its abundant wildlife such as wombats, emus, kangaroos and many birds. Outdoors enthusiasts will find plenty to do. Picturesque hikes circle the bush, from short one-hour walks to multi-day hikes and a one-hour hike up Mt. Oberon Summit has one of the park’s best viewpoints, the Tidal River and on the coast. Divers can explore the underwater world in the marine national park. Other activities include swimming, fishing, canoeing, camping and bird watching. Strong hiking shoes are highly recommended.

Official website: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/wilsons-promontory-national-park

7 Daylesford: day spas and mineral springs

Fenced in by the Vumbat State Forest, about 115 kilometers from Melbourne, Daylesford is ideal for the spoiled city. Soothing mineral springs, wellness centers and day spas are major draws in this quaint country town, earning it a reputation as the spa capital of Australia. Strained by these healing mineral springs and gold rush, many Swiss and Italian immigrants have moved here and caught up with the town’s old-world feel. A popular destination in the region is Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa, in nearby Hepburn Springs, which has been gracing guests since 1895. The monastery , a charming 19th-century manor house on six acres atop Wombat Hill, with beautiful views of the city, impressive art galleries, chapel and museum.

Daylesford is also known for its many award-winning restaurants serving seasonal local produce. For lunch at one of the city’s best eateries, stroll along beautiful Lake Daylesford and enjoy a gourmet lunch at Lake House, which is also a small luxury hotel.You can also visit the city’s quaint stores, antique markets and historic buildings. Just out of Daylesford, Lavandula Swiss-Italian Farm , a working lavender, olive and grape farm offers a taste of Europe with its fragrant purple fields, stone cottages and La Trattoria cafe.

8 Lorne.

Teddy’s Keeper, Lorne.

About 138 kilometers from downtown Melbourne, Lorne, on beautiful Louthit Bay, has long been one of the country’s favorite seaside resorts. Sandwiched between Otway National Park and the Great Ocean Road, this fairly small town offers an intoxicating mix of Mediterranean ambience, maritime elegance and natural beauty. Popular activities include swimming and surfing on the long golden beach with its nearby cafes and skatepark and casting lines from the local pier for fish like trevally and whiting. The pier also hosts a fish co-op where you can buy the fresh catch of the day. Tourists also enjoy browsing boutiques, bookstores, bakeries and galleries. Finding Teddy , a five-minute drive from town, offers great views of the coast and the Great Ocean Road. Another popular attraction in the area is Erskine Falls , surrounded by lush ferns and eucalyptus forest. During the peak vacations around Christmas time, a flood of tourists fills this tiny town, so you should book well in advance if you want to stay the night.

9 Sovereign Hill in Ballarat

Ballarat Botanical Gardens

At Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, about 110 kilometers from Melbourne, you can experience the thrilling days of the gold rush of the 1850s in a living museum. Sovereign Hill is a recreated gold mining town with Victorian homes and stores, where you can watch jewelers and artisans at work, tour an underground gold mine and even pan for the precious metal. Costumed staff, stagecoach rides and dazzling sound and lights showcase all the historical fun.

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The city of Ballarat was the epicenter of the Australian gold rush, and you can learn about this important chapter of Australian history by touring historic sites, heritage buildings and old churches throughout the city and visiting the Gold Museum , Other highlights include the Ballarat Art Gallery , with works by gold rush artists; Ballarat’s beautiful 40-acre Botanical Gardens on the shores of Lake Venduri; and Ballarat Wildlife Park , Ballarat is also home to award-winning restaurants, so be sure to finish your tour with an unforgettable meal.

Official website: http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/

10 Skiing.

Mount Buller Skiing funkz / photo modified

Winter rain often means snow in the mountains, so if the weather doesn’t interact with your outdoor activities in town, you can play on the snow-covered peaks nearby. From early June to late September (depending on snowfall), avid skiers and frontiersmen can hit the slopes of Mount Buller, one of Australia’s most popular ski resorts, about a three-hour drive from Melbourne. Mount Buller has the most extensive lift system of any Victorian resort, with 22 elevators carrying guests up to 300 acres of rocky terrain and three landscaped parks. About 35 percent cater to advanced skiers, and the resort also offers many runs for beginners and intermediate players. Cross-country skiers can explore nine kilometers of trails. For non-skiers, the village is a fun place to hang out with the resorts and stores, and kids will love the resort’s sledding saloons. This is a great trip for families looking for their first snow experience, as well as enthusiastic skiers and wrestlers looking for a winter town.

Official website: http://www.mtbuller.com.au/Winter/

11 Hanging Mountain Preserve, Macedonia Ranges

Hanging Mountain Preserve, Macedonia Ranges

Rich in mystique, the Hanging River Preserve is a remarkable escape into the desert, less than an hour northwest of Melbourne, in the Macedonian Ranges. The huge 105-meter extinct volcano, now collapsed into columns, was the setting for Peter Weir’s iconic film, Picnic at Hanging Rock , based on the book by Joan Lindsay. The Rock is also an important original story and is widely believed to be a haven for bushmen during the Gold Rush. Even if you’re not familiar with the legend that has captured the imagination of many Australians, Hanging Rock Reserve is a really great place to enjoy a picnic or hike in the fresh eucalyptus-shaded air. The round-trip to the summit takes about 50 minutes, with plenty of secret corners to glide through and great views of the countryside. You can also explore other hiking trails that weave through the preserve. Watch for wildlife like wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, echidnas and wombats.

The 6 best day trips from Melbourne. Australia

More than 6.4 million people live in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, making it the second largest city in Australia. While the city offers an impressive array of things to see and do, you should also consider that after seeing all the sights, you’ll probably want to get out of town for the day.

Fortunately for you, the surrounding area offers a nice opportunity to do this in a beneficial way. You can drive along the Great Ocean Road, stopping to relax on the beach or go surfing. You can also sample great wines on a day trip from Melbourne or perhaps get a closer look at Australia’s favorite animals, the koala and kangaroo.

Here are your ideas for the 6 best day trips from Melbourne. Australia

6 best day trips from Melbourne

6. Hanging Rock /(Mount Diogenes)

Hanging Rock The Hanging Rock near Melbourne

Hanging Rock is a gigantic rock formation formed by Mother Nature from hard magma 6.5 million years ago. Over the millennia, it has evolved from a sacred site for indigenous Victorians to a concert venue. This rock was the star of the book and movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. Hanging Rock, also known as Mount Diogenes, is the most famous landmark in the Macedonian Mountains. Over the years, Hanging Rock, a fine example of mamelon (volcanic plug), has evolved into many rock formations. On a cloudy day, these formations seem almost eerie.

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How to get to Hanging Rock

  • Getting to Hanging Rock by public transportation is not easy, but doable. Take the hour-long train from Melbourne’s central business district to Woodend Station. This is the fastest route, then take a cab from Woodend to the impressive rock formation.
  • Most people drive to Hanging Rock, and getting there is much easier if you have your own or a rented set of wheels. It takes about an hour and is very easy; you follow the M2 to the beginning of the M79, which you then take to Woodend Station, where you will see signs for Hanging Rock. While in the area, it’s worthwhile, in passing, to visit the nearby Macedonia Regional Park.

5. Puffing Billy Railway

Puffing Billy Railway near Moulbourne Puffing Billy Railway

The Puffing Billy Railway gets its name because, well, it puffs :). This well-preserved narrow gauge steam locomotive has been running this route through the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne since the early 1900s. It was one of four such railroads built in Victoria to access remote areas. It takes just under two hours to make the scenic 24-kilometer (15-mile) journey from Belgrave to Gembrook. Trains leave Belgrave several times a day. On a day trip from Melbourne, you will spend about two hours in Gembrook before making the return trip.

How to get to the Puffy Billy Railroad

  • A necessary starting point, located just 40 kilometers east of Melbourne, so getting to the Puffing Billy Railway by public transport is easy. Just take the train in Melbourne’s central business district (Melbourne CBD) and get off in about 70 minutes at Belgrade Station, which is a two-minute walk from the attraction.
  • By car, it will take about the same amount of time, depending on traffic and parking availability when you arrive. From the city center, follow the M1 east of Melbourne and take the C413. Continue for about half an hour until you meet the C404, which will take you to the Puffy Billy Railway.
  • Another option is to take a tour of the Puffing Billy Railroad. In addition to the train ride, you’ll also stop at the lovely village of Sassafras, which is known for its beautiful little boutiques. Visitors can even choose to tour Melbourne or visit the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island.

4. Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula, near Melbourne. Australia’s Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is a peninsula southeast of Melbourne that is connected to the mainland to the north. It was home to Australia’s first indigenous peoples. Today, about 180,000 people live on the peninsula year-round. Because it is a destination for many tourists, the population increases by 90,000 in high season. In addition to beautiful scenery, Mornington Peninsula offers excellent beaches with colorful beach houses and associated water sports. Before heading to the beach, you can visit the farmer’s market to buy fresh produce and a couple of wineries to buy wine for a picnic.

How to get to Mornington Peninsula

  • It takes just over an hour to get from downtown Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula by car. Just head south on State Route 3, which eventually turns into the M11. You will then drive past Frankston, and after that it is really up to you to decide what you decide to visit on the Mornington Peninsula. It is very easy to visit many different places during the day by car. The town of Flinders, its beaches, wineries and historical sites are worth a visit.
  • Because the peninsula produces so many beautiful foods and authentic dishes, if you are a foodie, a culinary tour may be perfect for you. With cheese, chocolate, wine and cider tastings scheduled throughout the day, the Mornington Peninsula comes alive before your eyes.
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3. Phillip Island

Phillip Island Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Named after Arthur Phillip, the first governor of New South Wales, Phillip Island is a summer tourist destination just 140 km (87 miles) from Melbourne. 3.5 million people visit the island each year, most of whom come to see the fabulous penguins; the island is one of the few places in the world where you can see these little birds. The island is also home to Australia’s largest colony of seals, as well as hand-fed wallabies and kangaroos. The population of several varieties of whales is increasing here, so it’s quite possible that you’ll see them, although whale-watching is not yet too well developed.

How to get to Phillip Island

  • When it comes to visiting Phillip Island, visitors have several options to choose from. For example, the V/Line bus from Melbourne takes you directly to the San Remo bridge – the land entrance to the island – and takes about two hours. The bus also stops at Cowes on the island itself; this adds another half hour to the trip. At any of these stops, you’ll find tour operators or vehicles that will take you to the nearby attractions Phillip Island has to offer.

2. Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road The Great Ocean Road in Australia

If you like coastal scenery, put a trip along the Great Ocean Road on your wish list. The views on this 243-kilometer (151-mile) route between Torquay and Allansford are spectacular. Look for the 12 Apostles, giant rock formations rising out of the sea. Because there is so much to see and do along the way, you can turn this day trip from Melbourne into more than a day. You can walk on the beach, surf, visit an art gallery or museum, eat gourmet food in a quaint village, or see cute koalas and not-so-cute emus and kangaroos.

How to get to the Great Ocean Road

  • Located about 100 kilometers southwest of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road stretches along the coast for nearly 250 kilometers, and there are plenty of great places to stay if you drive. Driving from downtown Melbourne is easier; all you have to do is leave the city on the M1. After an hour you will finally exit on the C134. From here you will see signs for Torquay, the first stop on the Great Ocean Road. From here it is really up to you to decide what you want to see. There are many charming, tranquil towns, beautiful beaches and incredible scenery for you to enjoy.
  • Another great way to visit the Great Ocean Road is to take a tour. This means you don’t have to drive yourself. In addition to visiting the Rock of the Twelve Apostles, tours include stops at several different national parks where you have the opportunity to see wallabies, koalas, kangaroos, and more.

1. Yarra Valley wineries

Yarra Valley wineries. Sightseeing near Melbourne Yarra Valley wineries

When you just need a glass of chardonnay or pinot noir with a meal, the best place to indulge is in the Yarra Valley, east of Melbourne. The wineries here are best known for these two wines. More than three million people a year visit the wineries of the Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s largest wine regions. The Yarra Valley was Victoria’s first grape growing area; wines have been produced here since the 1850s. Today the Yarra Valley is considered one of the best wine regions in the world . You’ll find more than 100 wineries offering the fruits of grape creativity to tempt your taste buds.

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