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20 Road Trip Ideas from Melbourne this Long Weekend

06/06/2024
10 mins read

Think you know Victoria? Think again. From a secret stupa to vibrant cactus gardens, we’ve uncovered 20 interesting road trip ideas from Melbourne that will redefine your perception of this incredible state.

Looking for something beyond the typical weekend getaway? Intrigued? Keep scrolling to discover Victoria’s best-kept secrets and start planning your next adventure!

Cactus Country

Experience a unique desert oasis at Cactus Country in Strathmerton, home to over 10,000 cacti and succulents from around the world. Explore 12 acres of gardens via eight different walking trails, each inspired by the deserts of Mexico, North America, and South America. Capture stunning photos and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

Visitors can also savor Mexican-inspired refreshments at the on-site café, including homemade cactus ice cream and refreshing margaritas. Perfect for plant enthusiasts and families, Cactus Country promises an unforgettable day trip just three hours from Melbourne.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 225 km / 3 hours drive
  • Highlights: Desert gardens, unique cacti, Mexican-themed café
  • Google Map Link: Cactus Country

The Great Stupa, Bendigo

Marvel at the magnificent Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Bendigo. This awe-inspiring Buddhist temple and peace park boast stunning architecture and serene gardens. It’s a peaceful retreat where you can partake in meditation sessions, explore cultural exhibits, and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.

Spend the day wandering the beautifully landscaped gardens, learning about Buddhist teachings, and experiencing the serene environment that the Great Stupa offers. Whether you’re seeking spiritual enlightenment or simply a peaceful escape, the Great Stupa provides a unique and enriching day trip experience from Melbourne.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 150 km / 2 hours drive
  • Highlights: Buddhist temple, peace park, meditation sessions, cultural exhibits
  • Google Map Link: The Great Stupa, Bendigo

Heathcote

Discover Heathcote, a hidden gem known for its stunning landscapes and exceptional wines. Visit the Pink Cliffs, where unique rock formations glow with a surreal pink hue at sunset, perfect for a picturesque hike and some Instagram-worthy shots.

Afterward, head to one of Heathcote’s many vineyards for a wine tasting. The region is famous for its Shiraz, offering some of the best wines in Victoria. The blend of beautiful scenery and delicious wines makes Heathcote a top choice for a relaxing and enriching day trip.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 110 km / 1.5 hours drive
  • Highlights: Pink Cliffs, wine tastings at local vineyards
  • Google Map Link: Pink Cliffs

Walhalla

Step back in time and explore Walhalla, one of Victoria’s most intriguing historic towns. Once a bustling gold rush hub, Walhalla now offers a glimpse into the past with its preserved streets and ghostly tales. Join the Walhalla Ghost Tour for spine-chilling stories and a nighttime exploration of this eerie town.

Don’t miss the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine tour, where knowledgeable guides bring the town’s mining history to life. With original mining equipment and captivating stories, it’s a fascinating and thrilling adventure for history buffs and thrill-seekers alike.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 185 km / 2.5 hours drive
  • Highlights: Explore the ghost town, take a mine tour
  • Google Map Link: Walhalla

Mt Cannibal

Only an hour away from Melbourne, for a blend of exercise and stunning views, head to Mount Cannibal in Garfield North.

This 2.5-kilometre circuit offers a moderate hike with steep ascents and descents, rewarding you with breathtaking panoramas from the summit. The trail is perfect for a family day out, with picnic tables, BBQs, and a playground at the base.

While dogs and camping are not allowed, the area is ideal for a day trip filled with nature and fresh air. Whether you’re aiming for a sunrise hike or a sunset view, Mount Cannibal promises a memorable experience just an hour from Melbourne.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 70 km / 1 hour drive
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round, especially during sunrise and sunset
  • Facilities: Public toilets, picnic tables, BBQs, playground
  • Google Map Link: Mount Cannibal Flora & Fauna Reserve

Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges

Famous for the film “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” this geological wonder in the Macedon Ranges is perfect for a day of hiking, picnicking, and soaking in the mysterious atmosphere.

The panoramic views of the surrounding ranges are stunning, making it a great spot for nature lovers and photographers.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 70 km / 1 hour drive
  • Highlights: Geological formation, hiking trails, picnic spots
  • Google Map Link: Hanging Rock

The Big Drift, Wilsons Promontory

Feel like you’re stepping into another world with The Big Drift’s vast inland sand dunes at Wilsons Promontory. These sprawling dunes offer a surreal and breathtaking landscape, perfect for a day of exploration and photography. Wander through the undulating sands, marvel at the ever-changing patterns, and enjoy the serene isolation that makes The Big Drift such a unique destination.

To make the most of your adventure, ensure you pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and good walking shoes. The hike can be challenging, but the stunning views and the sense of wonder as you traverse the dunes are well worth the effort. It’s a photographer’s paradise and an explorer’s dream, making it an ideal day trip from Melbourne.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 200 km / 2.5 hours drive
  • Highlights: Inland sand dunes, hiking, photography
  • Google Map Link: The Big Drift, Wilsons Promontory

Alpine Trout Farm

For a unique and scenic day trip, visit the Alpine Trout Farm in Warburton. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice, the well-stocked ponds offer plenty of fishing excitement. Kids will love reeling in their own trout, and you can have your catch cooked on-site for the freshest meal possible or take it home for later.

The picnic areas provide a relaxing spot to enjoy the tranquil surroundings, making this an ideal family outing. The combination of outdoor fun and a laid-back vibe ensures a memorable day.

  • Distance from Melbourne: About 75 km / 1.5 hours drive
  • Highlights: Trout fishing, picnic areas, family-friendly activities
  • Google Map Link: Alpine Trout Farm

Byaduk Caves

Near Hamilton, the Byaduk Caves offer a volcanic adventure formed by the eruptions of Mt. Napier. Descend into the dark, circular dome of “Harman’s One,” where the cold, moist air and eerie silence create an unforgettable experience. This cave is the most accessible of the four large lava tubes, making it suitable for those without climbing gear.

Explore the caves, see unique formations, and feel the thrill of this underground marvel. Afterward, take a walk along the short track that links all four cave structures, providing stunning views from above. This adventure is perfect for those who love caving, photography, and geological wonders.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 300 km / 3.5 hours drive
  • Highlights: Lava tubes, cave formations, Harman’s One descent
  • Google Map Link: Byaduk Caves

Dandenong Ranges & Puffing Billy Railway

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a quick trip to the enchanting Dandenong Ranges. Just an hour from Melbourne, along some of the most scenic drives in the area, these misty forests and quaint villages offer the perfect serene getaway. Stroll through the lush fern gullies and towering mountain ash trees of Sherbrooke Forest, where the air is fresh and the scenery is breathtaking.

Hop aboard the historic Puffing Billy Railway for a nostalgic ride through the scenic countryside. The open-air carriages provide spectacular views, making it a journey to remember. After your train ride, explore the charming village of Olinda, known for its boutique shops and delightful cafes. Don’t miss the beautiful Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, a hidden gem in the heart of the ranges.

Yarra Valley & Healesville Sanctuary

Indulge in a day of gourmet delights and wildlife encounters in the Yarra Valley. This renowned wine region is just an hour from Melbourne, making it an ideal destination for food and wine lovers. Tour the world-class vineyards, sample exquisite wines, and treat yourself to gourmet food. For a unique experience, take a hot air balloon ride over the picturesque landscapes at sunrise.

A visit to Healesville Sanctuary is a must. Get up close with native Australian animals, including kangaroos, koalas, emus, and echidnas. The sanctuary’s immersive exhibits make it a fantastic family-friendly activity. Afterward, explore the valley’s beautiful gardens, art galleries, and charming villages. Whether you’re dining at a top restaurant or simply soaking in the scenery, the Yarra Valley promises a delightful escape.

Marysville

Discover the tranquil beauty of Marysville, a picturesque town perfect for a peaceful day trip. Just a 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne, Marysville is known for its stunning waterfalls, scenic hiking trails, and artistic charm. Spend your day exploring the serene surroundings and enjoying the fresh mountain air.

Visit the majestic Steavenson Falls, one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls, and take in the breathtaking views from the observation platform. Wander through the scenic walking trails, which offer a range of difficulty levels and showcase the area’s natural beauty. Don’t miss Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden, where you can admire whimsical artworks set amidst lush gardens.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 98 km / 1.5 hours drive
  • Highlights: Scenic walking trails, waterfalls, and Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden
  • Google Map Link: Marysville

Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the excitement of the 1850s gold rush at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. This living museum brings history to life with meticulously recreated buildings, interactive exhibits, and costumed actors who transport you to a bygone era. Pan for gold, explore the charming streets, and experience the thrill of discovering your own piece of history.

Sovereign Hill is more than just a museum; it’s an educational and entertaining experience for all ages. From the dramatic reenactments to the opportunity to try your hand at gold panning, every corner of Sovereign Hill offers a glimpse into the past. It’s a perfect blend of fun and learning, making it an unforgettable day trip for families and history enthusiasts alike.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 115 km / 1.5 hours drive
  • Highlights: Living museum, gold panning, historic buildings, costumed actors
  • Google Map Link: Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

Lake Tyrrell

Experience the otherworldly beauty of Lake Tyrrell, Victoria’s largest pink salt lake. Known for its stunning reflections and exceptional star-gazing opportunities, this natural wonder offers a serene and magical landscape, particularly breathtaking at sunrise and sunset.

Lake Tyrrell
Source: Visit Victoria

Capture the ethereal beauty of the salt flats and enjoy the tranquility of this unique destination. Whether you’re photographing the mirror-like reflections or gazing at the night sky, Lake Tyrrell promises an unforgettable and peaceful escape from the everyday.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 400 km / 4.5 hours drive
  • Highlights: Salt lake, reflections, star-gazing, sunrise/sunset views
  • Google Map Link: Lake Tyrrell

Organ Pipes National Park

Discover the striking natural beauty of Organ Pipes National Park, where unusual rock formations resembling giant organ pipes await. This scenic park, just a short drive from Melbourne, offers a perfect escape into nature with its captivating geological features and serene walking trails.

Organ Pipes National Park
Source: Russell Scott

Pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing day in the park’s designated areas, surrounded by native flora and fauna. The easy-to-follow trails lead you through the park’s most impressive sights, including the iconic organ pipes, making it a great spot for a family-friendly day trip filled with outdoor adventure and picturesque landscapes.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 25 km / 30 minutes drive
  • Highlights: Rock formations, walking trails, picnic areas
  • Google Map Link: Organ Pipes National Park

The Redwood Forest, East Warburton

Step into a fairy tale at the mystical Redwood Forest in East Warburton. This serene forest, planted in the 1930s, is home to towering Californian redwoods that create a magical atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot for peaceful nature walks and tranquil picnics, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Redwood Forest
Source: Tourism Australia/Visit Victoria

Wander through the majestic trees, enjoy the dappled sunlight, and soak in the quiet beauty of the forest. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or an enchanting photo opportunity, the Redwood Forest provides a unique and calming experience just a short drive from Melbourne.

Brim Silo Art, Brim

Marvel at the impressive silo art in Brim, where large-scale murals celebrate the spirit of rural life. As part of the Silo Art Trail, these artworks transform ordinary grain silos into captivating pieces of public art, showcasing the creativity and culture of regional Victoria.

Brim Silo Art
Source: Visit Victoria

Embark on an early morning drive to fully appreciate the Silo Art Trail and its stunning murals. Each artwork tells a story, reflecting the history and character of the local community. It’s a unique and inspiring day trip that highlights the vibrant art scene in Victoria’s countryside.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 360 km / 4 hours drive
  • Highlights: Silo art, large-scale murals, rural life celebration
  • Google Map Link: Brim Silo Art

Mount Oberon Summit Walk

Go on a rewarding hike to the summit of Mount Oberon in Wilsons Promontory National Park. This moderate trek offers breathtaking panoramic views of the park’s diverse landscapes and pristine coastline, making it a must-do for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The summit walk provides a fantastic opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the fresh air. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s a perfect way to experience the natural beauty of Wilsons Prom and create lasting memories.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 220 km / 3 hours drive
  • Highlights: Summit hike, panoramic views, Wilsons Promontory
  • Google Map Link: Mount Oberon Summit Walk

Kinglake National Park

Escape into nature at Kinglake National Park, located just an hour from Melbourne. This park features huge eucalypt forests, stunning lookouts, and cascading waterfalls. Visit Masons Falls for a beautiful picnic spot and spectacular views, or hike to the summit of Mount Sugarloaf for breathtaking panoramas of Melbourne and the surrounding landscape.

The park is also home to diverse wildlife and vibrant spring wildflower displays. Whether you’re exploring scenic vistas, enjoying a peaceful picnic at Jehosaphat Gully, or hiking the numerous trails, Kinglake National Park offers a serene getaway from the city’s hustle and bustle.

  • Distance from Melbourne: Approximately 65 km / 1 hour drive
  • Highlights: Eucalypt forests, waterfalls, panoramic views
  • Google Map Link: Kinglake National Park

Lachlan Taylor

Lachlan aka Lockie is a contributing writer at Humble Trail, known for his down-to-earth style and passion for the great outdoors. Born and raised in the small town of Deloriane, Tasmania, Lockie developed a deep love for nature and adventure from a young age.

His articles are a blend of his personal adventures and insightful explorations, often focused on sustainable travel, wilderness treks, and the serene beauty of untouched landscapes.

Always with his own reusable coffee cup in hand, Lockie loves a good caffeine fix as much as everyone else on the Humbletrail team.

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