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14 Unforgettable Day Trips from Melbourne to Explore Victoria

27/02/2024
11 mins read
Ocean Road
Source: Visit Victoria

Embark on an adventure close to home with our curated list of 14 day trip ideas near Melbourne and around Victoria! From coastal escapes to countryside jaunts, we’ve got your next getaway sorted.

Whether you’re craving a wine-tasting tour in the Yarra Valley, a hike through the Grampians, or a lazy day at the Peninsula Hot Springs, there’s something for every taste and interest. Pack your bags and get ready to explore the best of Victoria’s diverse landscapes and attractions!

At a Glance

Our list of best day trip destinations near Melbourne goes like this:

  • For a breathtaking coastal drive and iconic rock formations: Great Ocean Road
  • For a wildlife immersion and conservation experience: Healesville Sanctuary
  • For a step back into the gold rush era and historical intrigue: Ballarat
  • For an untouched natural sanctuary and wildlife haven: French Island
  • For a blend of outdoor adventure and gourmet delights: High Country

1. Daylesford

Nestled amidst the rolling hills and verdant landscapes of Victoria’s spa country, Daylesford is a sanctuary of relaxation and charm. This picturesque town is a treasure trove of artisanal shops, eclectic galleries, and the famous mineral springs that beckon visitors for a rejuvenating soak. Take a leisurely stroll through the enchanting Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens, or indulge in a sumptuous meal at one of the many gourmet eateries that celebrate local produce.

Daylesford is not just a feast for the senses; it’s a soulful retreat that offers a blend of holistic wellness and rustic luxury. Whether you’re unwinding at the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa or exploring the vibrant local arts scene at the Convent Gallery, Daylesford promises a day trip that will leave you refreshed and inspired.

2. Great Ocean Road

Prepare to be captivated by the sheer majesty of the Great Ocean Road, a meandering route that hugs the wild and windswept southern coastline of Victoria. This iconic journey is a rite of passage for adventurers, offering panoramic ocean vistas, surf breaks that call to the brave, and the awe-inspiring Twelve Apostles standing guard over the sea. Each twist and turn reveals a new wonder, from the misty rainforests of the Otway Ranges to the historic lighthouses that punctuate the shoreline.

The Great Ocean Road is more than just a drive; it’s an odyssey that invites you to explore hidden beaches, encounter local wildlife, and immerse yourself in the laid-back coastal lifestyle. Whether you’re savoring fresh seafood in Apollo Bay or ziplining through the treetops at Live Wire Park, this is a day trip that promises thrills and tranquility in equal measure.

3. Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is where Melbourne’s urban energy meets the calming embrace of the sea. This idyllic peninsula is a patchwork of golden beaches, verdant vineyards, and national parks that whisper of adventures untold. Whether you’re navigating the rugged trails of Cape Schanck or basking in the sun at Sorrento’s pristine beaches, the Mornington Peninsula is a playground for all seasons.

Epicureans will revel in the region’s culinary delights, with wineries and farm-to-table restaurants dotting the landscape. Take a dip in the Peninsula Hot Springs or tee off at one of the many championship golf courses. With its blend of natural beauty and refined pleasures, the Mornington Peninsula is a day trip destination that caters to every whim.

4. Phillip Island

A stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of the city lies Phillip Island, a coastal haven that’s a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts and beachgoers alike. Witness the famous Penguin Parade at dusk as little penguins waddle ashore, or get up close with koalas at the Koala Conservation Reserve. Phillip Island’s rugged coastline is a spectacle of nature’s artistry, with the Nobbies Centre offering dramatic ocean views.

Surfers will find their bliss at the island’s renowned breaks, while families can enjoy the myriad of attractions, including the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. Whether you’re exploring the island on two wheels or simply soaking in the coastal serenity, Phillip Island is a day trip that encapsulates the spirit of Victoria’s diverse landscapes.

5. Yarra Valley

The Yarra Valley, a mere hour’s drive from Melbourne, is a symphony of vine-striped hills and storybook landscapes that beckon oenophiles and nature lovers alike. This verdant valley is home to some of Australia’s finest wineries, where cellar doors open to reveal world-class chardonnays and pinot noirs. But it’s not just about the wine; the Yarra Valley is a cornucopia of fresh produce, with gourmet cheese makers, chocolatiers, and fruit orchards offering a feast for the senses.

Take to the skies in a hot air balloon as dawn breaks over the valley, or meander along the Yarra River’s tranquil paths. Art aficionados will find solace at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, where the works of Australian artists are as captivating as the winery views. The Yarra Valley is a day trip that marries the rustic with the refined, creating memories that linger like the aftertaste of a fine wine.

6. Grampians National Park

Rise above the ordinary and venture into the Grampians National Park, where rugged mountains and ancient landscapes tell the tales of the earth’s grandeur. This natural sanctuary is a hiker’s paradise, with trails leading to cascading waterfalls, panoramic lookouts, and Aboriginal rock art sites that whisper of the land’s deep cultural heritage. The park’s diverse flora and fauna are a delight for wildlife watchers, with chances to spot kangaroos, emus, and a myriad of bird species.

The Grampians also offer a taste of adventure, from rock climbing to canoeing on serene lakes. As the sun sets, painting the sandstone peaks in hues of gold and pink, the Grampians reveal their serene side, inviting you to relax and reflect on the day’s discoveries. A day trip here is an escape into the wild heart of Victoria, where nature’s majesty reigns supreme.

7. Wilsons Promontory

Wilsons Promontory National Park, affectionately known as “The Prom,” is a cherished jewel at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. Here, pristine beaches meet emerald forests, and granite mountains rise dramatically from the sea. The Prom’s walking tracks lead you through eucalypt groves, across boardwalks, and onto white sandy shores where the only footprints may be your own.

This natural haven is a sanctuary for wildlife, with wombats, echidnas, and a plethora of birdlife sharing the landscape. Whether you’re snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Refuge Cove or gazing at the stars from a secluded campsite, Wilsons Promontory is a place where nature’s beauty is on full display. It’s a day trip that feels like a world away, offering a true escape into the wild.

8. Dandenong Ranges

Step into the enchanting world of the Dandenong Ranges, where misty forests and quaint hilltop villages offer a respite from the city’s clamor. The Dandenongs are a place of storybook charm, with the historic Puffing Billy Railway chugging through fern-laden gullies and over wooden trestle bridges. Wander through the cool canopy of the Mountain Ash trees, or explore the vibrant artisan markets and boutique shops that dot the villages of Olinda and Sassafras.

For those seeking a moment of tranquility, the many gardens and arboretums provide a colorful palette of blooms and foliage. The Dandenong Ranges are a haven for artists, dreamers, and those who seek the quieter pleasures of life. A day trip here is a journey into a more genteel era, where the pace slows and the beauty of the natural world takes center stage.

9. Healesville Sanctuary

Dive into the heart of Australia’s wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary, a natural haven nestled in the Yarra Valley, dedicated to the conservation of native animals. This is not your average zoo; it’s an immersive experience where kangaroos roam freely, koalas perch lazily in eucalyptus trees, and the elusive platypus swims in its stream. The sanctuary’s Spirits of the Sky demonstration will leave you in awe as birds of prey soar overhead, showcasing their incredible skills.

Healesville Sanctuary is a place of learning and discovery, offering up-close encounters that inspire a deeper understanding and appreciation of Australia’s unique fauna. Whether you’re hand-feeding a kangaroo or watching a wombat waddle by, a visit here connects you with the wild heart of Australia in a way that’s both educational and enchanting.

10. Marysville

Nestled in the shadow of towering mountain ash and lush ferns, Marysville is a picturesque village that serves as the gateway to some of Victoria’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Rebuilt with resilience and beauty after the 2009 bushfires, today Marysville beckons with its scenic walking trails, cascading waterfalls, and the majestic Lake Mountain. The Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden is a whimsical journey through a forest dotted with captivating sculptures, each telling a story of imagination and spirit.

Marysville is a testament to nature’s power to heal and the community’s strength to rebuild. It’s a place where you can lose yourself in the tranquility of the Steavenson Falls or challenge yourself on the trails of Lake Mountain. A day trip to Marysville offers a blend of natural beauty, artistic inspiration, and a poignant reminder of the resilience of both land and people.

11. Ballarat

Step back in time to the gold rush era in Ballarat, a city where history comes to life amidst grand Victorian architecture and the tree-lined streets of its charming heritage precinct. Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum, is a highlight, offering a glimpse into the 1850s gold mining life with its costumed characters, horse-drawn carriages, and the chance to pan for real gold. The Art Gallery of Ballarat, Australia’s oldest regional gallery, houses an impressive collection of Australian art, while the Ballarat Wildlife Park provides encounters with native animals in a more intimate setting.

Ballarat’s rich history is matched by its vibrant contemporary culture, with bustling markets, galleries, and cafes serving up the best of regional produce. Whether you’re exploring the eerie underground tunnels of the Gold Museum or enjoying a leisurely stroll around Lake Wendouree, Ballarat is a day trip that offers a perfect blend of historical intrigue and modern-day pleasures.

12. Red Hill

Red Hill is a hidden gem in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula, a region celebrated for its rolling vineyards, orchards, and gourmet food producers. This small yet vibrant community is a haven for foodies and wine lovers, with cellar doors and farm gates offering tastings of cool-climate wines, artisan cheeses, and hand-picked fruits. The Red Hill Market, held on the first Saturday of the month, is a showcase of local craftsmanship, fresh produce, and gourmet delights.

For those seeking a more active adventure, Red Hill’s hinterland provides a picturesque backdrop for hiking and cycling. The Red Hill Rail Trail and numerous walking tracks invite exploration of the area’s natural beauty. A day trip to Red Hill is an indulgence of the senses, where the bounty of the land is celebrated, and the pace of life slows to the rhythm of the vineyards.

13. French Island

Discover the untouched beauty of French Island, a hidden gem that offers an escape into the wild, just a short ferry ride from the Mornington Peninsula. This largely undeveloped island is a sanctuary of tranquility, with over half of its rugged landscape declared a National Park. The absence of paved roads adds to its charm, inviting visitors to explore its dusty tracks by bike or on foot, amidst a backdrop of dense bushland, wetlands, and mangroves.

French Island is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, home to a thriving population of koalas, myriad bird species, and the elusive echidna. The island’s isolation has preserved its natural and historical heritage, offering a glimpse into a simpler life at the French Island Eco Farm. Whether you’re bird watching, exploring the old prison farm, or simply soaking in the serenity of secluded beaches, French Island is a day trip that promises a profound connection with nature.

14. High Country

Elevate your day trip adventures to new heights in Victoria’s High Country, a region renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, gourmet food and wine, and thrilling outdoor activities. This area is a paradise for adventurers and epicureans alike, offering everything from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking, cycling, and horseback riding in the warmer months. The High Country is also steeped in history, with the legendary bushranger Ned Kelly’s story woven into the fabric of towns like Beechworth and Glenrowan.

Wine connoisseurs will be in their element, exploring the renowned wineries of the King Valley and Rutherglen, famous for their Prosecco and fortified wines, respectively. The High Country’s culinary scene is equally impressive, with a focus on local produce and flavors that reflect the region’s rich cultural heritage. From the panoramic beauty of the Alpine National Park to the cozy charm of mountain villages, a day trip to the High Country is an unforgettable journey through Victoria’s heartland.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best time of year to visit the Great Ocean Road?

The Great Ocean Road can be visited year-round, but the best time is during the spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) months for milder weather and fewer crowds.

Can I see wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary?

Yes, Healesville Sanctuary specializes in native Australian wildlife. You can see kangaroos, koalas, wombats, and the elusive platypus among many other species in naturalistic habitats.

Is Ballarat suitable for a family day trip?

Absolutely! Ballarat offers a mix of historical attractions like Sovereign Hill, where kids can pan for gold, and modern amenities. The Ballarat Wildlife Park is also a hit with families wanting to get up close with Australian animals.

How do I get to French Island?

French Island is accessible by ferry from Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula. The journey offers a unique opportunity to disconnect and explore the island’s natural beauty and wildlife.

What activities are available in Victoria’s High Country?

Victoria’s High Country offers a range of activities from skiing and snowboarding in winter to hiking, cycling, and wine tasting in warmer months. It’s also rich in history with links to the bushranger Ned Kelly.

Hafiz Kashif

Kashif, our associate writer at HumbleTrail, brings stories from across the globe to our readers. Originating from Pakistan, his journey has taken him through the vibrant cityscape of Dubai and now to the diverse and cultural melting pot of Melbourne, Australia.

His writing is a reflection of his own journey - rich in diverse experiences and filled with the excitement of discovering new places. Melbourne, with its unique blend of cultures and bustling energy, has captured Kashif's heart, a sentiment that deeply resonates in his work.

Kashif's articles for HumbleTrail are more than just travel logs; they are narratives that weave together the beauty of diverse cultures and the thrill of exploration, inviting readers to see the world through his eyes.

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