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10 Surreal Spots Near Melbourne for an Unbelievable Victoria Adventure

26/02/2024
8 mins read
Buchan Caves
Source: Visit Victoria

Step into a world of wonder right on Melbourne’s doorstep! Our guide to 11 surreal places near Melbourne and around Victoria will transport you to landscapes that defy imagination. From the mystical allure of the Great Ocean Road’s rugged coastlines to the enchanting forests of the Dandenong Ranges, these destinations promise experiences that seem plucked from a fairy tale.

Prepare to be mesmerized by nature’s magic and the extraordinary beauty that lies just a short journey from the city. Get ready to explore places so breathtaking, you’ll have to pinch yourself to believe they’re real!

At a Glance

Our editorial picks of the best surreal places near Melbourne and around Victoria are:

1. Lake Tyrell, Mallee District

Venture into the heart of Victoria’s Mallee district, and you’ll find Lake Tyrell, a vast salt lake that captivates visitors with its otherworldly beauty. Known for its mirror-like surface, the lake reflects the sky in such a way that it’s hard to tell where the earth ends and the heavens begin. On clear nights, Lake Tyrell becomes an astronomer’s paradise, offering unparalleled views of the starry sky above.

Lake Tyrell’s unique landscape also makes it a photographer’s dream, especially during sunrise and sunset when the sky’s changing colors paint the lake in hues of pink, orange, and gold. And if you’re lucky, you might visit when the lake takes on a surreal pink shade, a natural phenomenon caused by the presence of algae. Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply in search of tranquility, Lake Tyrell offers an experience that feels like stepping onto another planet.

  • Address: Lake Tyrell, Mallee District, Victoria
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: Located in the Mallee district of north-west Victoria, several hours’ drive from Melbourne CBD.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/DzPrHtB65uhxvLc6A

2. California Redwood Forest, Warburton

Hidden in the Yarra Valley, a short drive from Melbourne, lies the California Redwood Forest in Warburton – a tranquil haven that feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Planted in the 1930s, this forest is home to over 1,400 towering redwood trees, creating a serene and majestic atmosphere that’s both awe-inspiring and soothing.

Walking among these gentle giants, you can’t help but feel a sense of peace and wonder. The forest’s natural beauty and quietude make it an ideal spot for contemplation, photography, or simply escaping into nature. The soft, filtered light, the whisper of the breeze through the branches, and the earthy scent of the forest floor all contribute to the forest’s magical, almost ethereal quality.

  • Address: Cement Creek Road, Warburton VIC 3799, Australia
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: Approximately 72 km east of Melbourne’s CBD, with a travel time of around 1.5 hours by car.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/HfUNVrivj9cngT1v8

3. Grampians National Park

The Grampians National Park, known to the local Indigenous people as Gariwerd, is a majestic natural sanctuary that rises abruptly from the flat plains of Victoria’s west. With its rugged sandstone mountains, cascading waterfalls, and an abundance of native wildlife, the Grampians offer an otherworldly escape into nature. The park’s panoramic views, particularly from the Pinnacle Lookout, are simply breathtaking, providing a vista that stretches across the entire region.

For those with a spirit for adventure, the Grampians is a playground waiting to be explored. Hiking trails wind through the park, leading to hidden gems and ancient rock art sites that speak of the land’s deep cultural history. After a day of exploration, relax in the charming town of Halls Gap, nestled at the heart of the park. Here, kangaroos roam freely, and the sense of connection to the land is palpable.

  • Address: Grampians National Park, Victoria
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: Approximately 260 km west of Melbourne’s CBD, with a travel time of around 3 hours by car.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/SZZSwbsTVrN62QxA9

4. Phillip Island

Phillip Island is a coastal haven that’s as famous for its natural beauty as it is for its adorable penguin inhabitants. The island’s rugged beaches and wild surf provide a dramatic backdrop for the world-renowned Penguin Parade, where visitors can watch little penguins waddle ashore at dusk. But the penguins are just the beginning; Phillip Island is also home to fur seals, koalas, and a variety of birdlife.

Beyond wildlife, Phillip Island offers thrilling experiences like the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, which hosts international motorsport events. For a more laid-back visit, explore the island’s boutique wineries and seaside villages, or take a leisurely stroll along the Nobbies boardwalk with its stunning ocean views. Phillip Island is a place where natural wonders and excitement coexist, making it a must-visit destination.

  • Address: Phillip Island, Victoria
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: About 140 km southeast of Melbourne’s CBD, with a travel time of approximately 2 hours by car.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/inDxHuT3k51FaXpw7

5. Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is a slice of coastal paradise that feels a world away from the urban sprawl of Melbourne. With its picturesque beaches, rolling vineyards, and luxury spas, the peninsula is the perfect blend of natural beauty and indulgence. Whether you’re sipping on a glass of Pinot Noir at a local winery or soaking in the thermal hot springs, the Mornington Peninsula exudes a sense of relaxation and refinement.

Adventure seekers will find plenty to do as well, from surfing the waves at Gunnamatta Beach to hiking through the rugged bushland of the national parks. The peninsula’s historic lighthouses and seaside towns add a touch of charm to the stunning landscape. With so much to offer, the Mornington Peninsula is a place where every visit feels like a discovery.

  • Address: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: Approximately 75 km southeast of Melbourne’s CBD, with a travel time of around 1.5 hours by car.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/nyFrxdvT2Vvmp2xc8

6. Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is more than just a drive; it’s a journey through some of Australia’s most spectacular coastal scenery. This iconic route winds its way along the rugged cliffs and surf beaches of Victoria’s southwest coast, offering views that will leave you speechless. From the famous Twelve Apostles to the misty rainforests of the Otway Ranges, the Great Ocean Road is a feast for the senses.

As you travel along this historic road, take the time to explore the quaint towns and local eateries that dot the coastline. Adventure activities abound, from zip-lining through the treetops to spotting koalas in the wild. The Great Ocean Road is a testament to the power and beauty of nature, and a drive along its length is an experience that will stay with you forever.

  • Address: Great Ocean Road, Victoria
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: The road begins about 103 km southwest of Melbourne, near Torquay, with a travel time of approximately 1.5 hours to the start of the road.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/v7pbqVVSj4b4Hoew5

7. Wilsons Promontory

Wilsons Promontory, often referred to as “the Prom”, is the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, located in the state of Victoria. This national park is a haven of natural beauty, offering visitors a chance to explore remote coastal bushland trails, swim at pristine beaches, and encounter local wildlife such as wombats, kangaroos, and emus.

The park is home to the historic Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse and offers a variety of experiences, from the secluded beaches of Cotters Beach to Whisky Bay and Fairy Cove. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, there are overnight hikes available in the park.

  • Address: Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: Approximately 225 km southeast of Melbourne’s CBD, with a travel time of around 3 hours by car.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/muURvPBRWcFCudY97

8. Buchan Caves, Buchan

The Buchan Caves, located approximately 360 kilometres east northeast of Melbourne, are a major tourist attraction for Buchan and for East Gippsland. These caves were formed by the solution of the limestone and offer visitors a chance to explore vast open caverns and an ancient flowing stream.

Guided tours are the only way to see this remarkable cave system, and tickets must be purchased 24 hours in advance. The Buchan Caves Reserve is also a great spot for a picnic, with walking tracks and a variety of native wildlife to observe.

  • Address: Buchan Caves, Buchan, Victoria
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: Approximately 360 km east of Melbourne’s CBD, with a travel time of around 4.5 hours by car.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/RvZmVYT6R9mwWTE87

9. Montsalvat, Eltham

Nestled in the leafy suburb of Eltham, just a stone’s throw from Melbourne’s bustling CBD, lies Montsalvat – an enchanting artist’s colony that feels like it’s been lifted straight from a European fairy tale. With its collection of rustic mudbrick buildings, charming studios, and galleries, Montsalvat offers a creative sanctuary that seems almost too magical to be true. Wander through its rambling gardens, discover hidden sculptures, and let the timeless architecture transport you to another era.

Montsalvat isn’t just a feast for the eyes; it’s a vibrant hub of artistic activity. From art classes and workshops to music concerts and cultural events, there’s always something happening in this lively community. Whether you’re an art aficionado or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the city, Montsalvat promises an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss the chance to dine at the on-site café, where you can indulge in delicious meals while soaking up the serene atmosphere.

  • Address: 7 Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham VIC 3095, Australia
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: Approximately 20 km northeast of Melbourne’s CBD, with a travel time of around 37 minutes by car.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/Vc7exH6HyECcH5fB9

10. The Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from the heart of Melbourne, The Abbotsford Convent awaits to enchant you with its historical charm and vibrant cultural scene. This sprawling heritage-listed complex, once home to a convent, now serves as a dynamic arts, learning, and food precinct. With its stunning 19th-century architecture set against lush gardens, the convent feels like a hidden world within the city.

The Abbotsford Convent is a place where history meets creativity. Explore art studios, galleries, and performance spaces, or join one of the many workshops and classes on offer. The convent’s grounds are perfect for a leisurely stroll, where you can uncover the kitchen garden, the heritage orchard, and the animal farm. For foodies, the convent’s cafes and bakery offer mouth-watering treats that are sure to delight.

  • Address: 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067, Australia
  • Distance and travel time from CBD: About 4 km from Melbourne’s CBD, which is a short drive or approximately a 10 – 15 minute walk from Victoria Park Station.
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/4gg1PGuP33PHbfw69

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some surreal places to visit near Melbourne?

Some of the surreal places to visit near Melbourne include Montsalvat in Eltham, California Redwood Forest in Warburton, Phillip Island, Great Ocean Road, and Buchan Caves in Buchan.

How far are these places from Melbourne’s CBD?

The distances from Melbourne’s CBD to these places vary. Montsalvat in Eltham is approximately 25 km northeast, California Redwood Forest in Warburton is about 70 km east, Phillip Island is around 140 km southeast, Great Ocean Road starts about 100 km southwest, and Buchan Caves in Buchan is approximately 360 km east.

What activities can I do in these places?

Each location offers unique activities. At Montsalvat, you can explore Australia’s oldest artists’ colony, at California Redwood Forest, you can enjoy a tranquil walk among towering trees, at Phillip Island, you can watch the Penguin Parade, along the Great Ocean Road, you can enjoy scenic drives and visit iconic landmarks like the Twelve Apostles, and at Buchan Caves, you can explore vast open caverns on a guided tour.

Are these places accessible all year round?

Most of these places are accessible all year round. However, certain activities may be seasonal or weather-dependent. For example, the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island happens at dusk every day, but the number of penguins can vary depending on the season. Similarly, the visibility of the Buchan Caves may depend on the weather conditions.

Do I need to book in advance to visit these places?

While some places like Montsalvat and the California Redwood Forest do not require advance booking, others like the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island and the guided tours at Buchan Caves recommend purchasing tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons.

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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