&noscript=1" /> 13 Best Towns to Visit in Victoria: A Comprehensive Travel Guide
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13 Best Regional Towns to Visit in Victoria

29/05/2024
11 mins read

Ready to check out the lovely towns of Victoria outside the busy life of Melbourne? From the best spot to watch whales in Warrnambool to the gold mining stories of Bendigo, these places have a beautiful mix of nature, culture, and history.

Whether you want to visit the coast, enjoy art and good food, or have fun outdoors, the towns in Victoria are full of things to do. So get your bags ready, and let’s start a trip to see the most interesting towns in Victoria!

Our top picks for towns to visit in Victoria include:

  • For a coastal getaway with whale watching: Warrnambool
  • For exploring Victoria’s gold rush past: Bendigo
  • For arts, culture, and good food: Castlemaine
  • For sunny outdoor activities: Mildura
  • For a mix of history and outdoor fun: Horsham

Warrnambool

Warrnambool sits right by the Southern Ocean and is a city that combines the beauty of the sea with interesting history. It’s famous for the whales that visit Logan’s Beach from June to September every year. However, whales are just one part of what makes this coastal city special.

The Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village takes visitors back to the 19th century, showing what life was like for those who navigated the seas and the dangerous Shipwreck Coast. Warrnambool also has a lively arts scene, with street art and alleyways, showing how well the city mixes its historical roots with a touch of modern style.

  • Distance: 256km west of Melbourne
  • Known For: Southern right whales, Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, and beautiful beaches
  • Best Season: Winter for whale watching (June to September)
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/BE6wJ3iWjHgR1Fro7

Bendigo

Bendigo, a city famous for its role in the gold rush, is now full of life with its art, culture, and great food. The city has beautiful old Victorian buildings that show off its rich history. The Bendigo Art Gallery, which is one of the oldest and biggest regional galleries in Australia, has a fantastic collection that draws art enthusiasts from all over the world.

For those interested in Bendigo’s gold mining history, the Central Deborah Gold Mine offers tours that take you underground to explore the gold mines. Bendigo does a great job of mixing its historical background with a modern way of living, making it a top place to visit in Victoria.

  • Distance: Approximately 150km northwest of Melbourne
  • Known For: Gold rush history, Victorian architecture, and the Bendigo Art Gallery
  • Best Season: Autumn, when the city’s gardens and parks are at their most vibrant
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/QfFiSnoduWgtfVby6

Castlemaine

Located in the center of Victoria’s gold country, Castlemaine is a town where history meets the arts. This lively community is proud of its gold rush past, which you can see in its beautifully kept 19th-century buildings and at the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. But it’s not only for those who love history; the town is also a great place for artists and creators.

The Mill Castlemaine, a creative area in a transformed woollen mill, is filled with artisans, crafters, and food makers. Whether you’re visiting the Castlemaine Art Museum or tasting the local food at one of the town’s many cafes, Castlemaine brings together a lovely mix of history, culture, and great food.

  • Distance: 120km northwest of Melbourne
  • Known For: Gold rush heritage, The Mill Castlemaine, and vibrant arts scene
  • Best Season: Spring, when the town’s gardens and natural surroundings come to life
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/uJKVjRontN1FBeCK7

Mildura

Mildura, located along the Murray River, is known for its bright sunshine, beautiful vineyards, delicious food, and lively arts scene. This active regional city serves as an entrance to the outback and mixes cultural experiences with outdoor fun. There’s plenty to do here, from the Mildura Country Music Festival to relaxing cruises on the Murray River, making it a place with something for everyone.

People who love food will enjoy the area’s focus on fresh, local dining and top-notch wineries, while those interested in art can check out the many galleries and studios. With its warm weather and friendly vibe, Mildura is a great spot for anyone looking to relax or seek out new adventures.

  • Distance: Approximately 550km northwest of Melbourne
  • Known For: Murray River, gourmet food and wine, and vibrant arts scene
  • Best Season: Autumn, for the wine harvest and mild weather
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/4ws1fYQCbwZK4jjq8

Echuca

Echuca, located along the Murray River, is a town known for its significant riverboat history. It used to be Australia’s biggest inland port, and today, its appeal comes from its well-kept historical sites and the famous paddle steamers that still operate on the river.

By visiting the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre, you can explore the town’s rich history, including the busy trade that once made this place a crucial area. For an up-close experience, you can take a ride on one of the old paddle steamers, like the PS Alexander Arbuthnot, and enjoy a slow cruise on the Murray River, admiring the peaceful river views.

Apart from its historical charm, Echuca is a lively town with a strong arts culture and many places to eat. The town’s cafes and restaurants, for example, the Three Black Sheep Cafe in the nearby Moama, provide a cozy setting ideal for chatting with the locals. If you’re interested in seeing more, the area around the town is filled with beautiful natural sights and outdoor activities, making Echuca a great place for both those who love history and those who enjoy nature.

  • Distance: 225km north of Melbourne
  • Known For: Historic paddlesteamers, Port of Echuca, and the Murray River
  • Best Season: Spring and autumn, for mild weather and river activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/rnma7ssL79yKvzc78

Shepparton

Shepparton, in the center of Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, is a town where farming history and a growing arts scene come together. Famous for its plentiful orchards and dairy farms, Shepparton is heaven for anyone who loves food. The town’s lively local markets and farm gates have fresh fruits, vegetables, and gourmet foods, making it an excellent place for a food-themed road trip. Don’t miss the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM), which has the biggest collection of ceramics in Australia and a wide range of modern art shows.

If you’re into outdoor activities, Shepparton has a lot to offer. The town is set among beautiful scenery that’s ideal for bike riding, walking, and having picnics. Victoria Park Lake, close by, is a favorite for water sports and peaceful walks. Whether you’re checking out the town’s art and culture or enjoying the natural beauty of the Goulburn Valley, Shepparton offers a variety of fun and interesting experiences.

  • Distance: 181km north of Melbourne
  • Known For: Agriculture, Shepparton Art Museum, and fresh produce
  • Best Season: Spring and summer, for the best produce and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/FpZGy9LPiGNGDpCT6

Ararat

Ararat, located at the base of the Grampians, is a town with a lot of history and natural beauty. It started as a gold rush town and has an interesting history that you can learn about at the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre. This place shares the stories of Chinese miners who came here in the 19th century. You can also see the town’s history in its old buildings and historic sites, like the J Ward Museum, which used to be a place for the mentally ill but is now a museum.

For those who love nature, Ararat is close to the Grampians National Park, which has beautiful scenery and lots of outdoor activities. There’s also the One Tree Hill Lookout nearby, which offers great views of the area and is a perfect place for taking photos and having picnics. With its interesting past and lovely natural spots, Ararat has something to offer to everyone.

  • Distance: 198km west of Melbourne
  • Known For: Gold rush history, Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre, and proximity to the Grampians
  • Best Season: Spring and autumn, for mild weather and scenic views
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/Axb5GxBTWz1Xg42x7

Swan Hill

Swan Hill sits along the Murray River and is a lively town that mixes history, nature, and modern fun. This sunny town is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors, with the river offering lots of chances for water sports, fishing, and relaxing boat rides. A top place to visit is the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement, an outdoor museum that takes you back to the 1800s. You can walk around the recreated town, see old buildings, and even ride the PS Pyap paddlesteamer for a real feel of riverboat travel.

For those who love outdoor activities, Swan Hill has plenty to offer. The Murray River is ideal for kayaking, swimming, and fishing for the famous Murray cod. Nature lovers will enjoy Nyah-Vinifera Park, which is great for birdwatching and walking among the river red gums. Another unique spot is the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum, which tells the story of the area’s importance in World War II as a place for repairing flying boats.

  • Distance: Approximately 340km northwest of Melbourne
  • Known For: Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement, Murray River, and Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum
  • Best Season: Spring and autumn for mild weather and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/gF2pVP9QMXHaLDKu9

Lakes Entrance

Located at the point where the Gippsland Lakes meet the Southern Ocean, Lakes Entrance is a beautiful coastal town that perfectly combines natural scenery with outdoor fun. This lovely town is ideal for those who love water sports, as its extensive network of lakes offers plenty of chances for boating, fishing, and kayaking. The famous Ninety Mile Beach, with its endless golden sands, is a top spot for those who enjoy the beach, providing great opportunities for surfing, swimming, and soaking up the sun.

A visit to Lakes Entrance wouldn’t be complete without trying to see the area’s varied wildlife. Go on an eco-cruise to see dolphins, seals, and stingrays playing in the wild. If you want to get even closer to nature, take a trip along the East Gippsland Rail Trail. This scenic route for biking and walking goes through beautiful landscapes and gives you a peek at the local birds.

  • Distance: Approximately 320km east of Melbourne
  • Known For: Ninety Mile Beach, Gippsland Lakes, and wildlife spotting
  • Best Season: Summer for water activities and beach days
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/hbz9ZJkiXPbrw3Xn6

Bairnsdale

Located by the Mitchell River, Bairnsdale is a lovely country town that acts as the entrance to the Gippsland Lakes region. This relaxed spot is great for those looking to explore the area’s natural beauty, including clean lakes and beaches, green forests, and gentle hills. A key sight in the town is St Mary’s Catholic Church, a beautiful Romanesque building decorated with detailed murals by the Italian artist Francesco Floreani.

For those who love the outdoors, Bairnsdale has a lot to offer. The East Gippsland Rail Trail provides a beautiful route for cycling and walking through stunning scenery, while the nearby Mitchell River National Park offers rugged landscapes perfect for bushwalking and camping. If you’re interested in the local food scene, make sure to check out the area’s wineries, breweries, and farm gates to try fresh produce and enjoy gourmet dishes.

  • Distance: Approximately 280km east of Melbourne
  • Known For: St Mary’s Catholic Church, Mitchell River, and proximity to natural attractions
  • Best Season: Spring and autumn for mild weather and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/qYwR4nCWMRwMLkH18

Wangaratta

Located in the center of Victoria’s High Country, Wangaratta is a lively regional city that perfectly mixes city life with the beauty of nature. This lovely place is well-known for its active arts community, with the Wangaratta Art Gallery displaying a wide range of Australian art, and the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre presenting various cultural events all year round.

For those who love the outdoors, Wangaratta has a lot to offer, with the nearby Warby-Ovens National Park providing many hiking trails, places to have a picnic, and chances to see wildlife. If you’re looking for a more relaxed outing, the city has many beautiful parks and gardens, like the peaceful Merriwa Park, which has a lagoon, fernery, and paths for bush walking.

  • Distance: Approximately 235km northeast of Melbourne
  • Known For: Wangaratta Art Gallery, Warby-Ovens National Park, and parks and gardens
  • Best Season: Spring and autumn for mild weather and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/KK9RPvYNDqdHdpqz9

Horsham

Horsham, located in the Wimmera region, serves as an entrance to some of Victoria’s most beautiful natural sights. The town is famous for its active arts community and lovely public gardens. At the Horsham Regional Art Gallery, visitors can see a wide range of Australian art, and the Botanic Gardens are a peaceful place to visit with their green surroundings and walking paths. Horsham’s central spot is great for those looking to visit the nearby Grampians National Park and the Little Desert National Park.

For those who love being outdoors, Horsham and its surroundings have a lot to offer. The Grampians feature tough mountain ranges and lots of wildlife, making them perfect for hiking and rock climbing. Meanwhile, the Little Desert National Park offers a different scene with its sand dunes and a wide variety of plants and animals. Whether you’re into art or outdoor adventures, Horsham provides an ideal mix of cultural and natural activities.

  • Distance: 300km northwest of Melbourne
  • Known For: Horsham Regional Art Gallery, Botanic Gardens, and proximity to the Grampians
  • Best Season: Spring and autumn, for comfortable weather and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/Juh23YZu8kngxwM5A

Stawell

Stawell, a former gold mining town, is now a vibrant rural service centre known for its rich history and proximity to the Grampians National Park. This charming town is famous for hosting the annual Stawell Gift, Australia’s most prestigious footrace, which has been held every Easter since 1878. The race takes place at Central Park, where you can also visit the Stawell Gift Hall of Fame to learn more about this iconic event. The town’s historical significance is evident in its well-preserved buildings, such as the Old Shire Hall and the Pleasant Creek Courthouse Museum, which offer a glimpse into Stawell’s gold rush past.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Stawell serves as an excellent base for exploring the Grampians. The nearby Black Range State Park features the Bunjil’s Shelter, a significant Aboriginal rock art site depicting the spirit figure Bunjil. The Stawell Ironbarks Forest, located in the Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve, is perfect for hiking and birdwatching, especially in spring when wildflowers are in full bloom. Whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover, Stawell offers a unique blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty.

  • Distance: Approximately 235km northwest of Melbourne
  • Known For: Stawell Gift, gold rush history, and proximity to the Grampians
  • Best Season: Spring and autumn for mild weather and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/hduqG6KTZDEojXLZ8

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Warrnambool for whale watching?

The best time to visit Warrnambool for whale watching is from June to September, when southern right whales migrate to the warmer waters off Logans Beach to calve.

How far is Bendigo from Melbourne and what is it known for?

Bendigo is approximately 150km northwest of Melbourne, about a 1.5-hour drive. It is known for its rich gold rush history, grand Victorian architecture, and vibrant arts scene.

What are the main attractions in Castlemaine?

Castlemaine is known for its eclectic arts scene, gold rush heritage, and culinary delights. Key attractions include The Mill Castlemaine, Castlemaine Art Museum, and the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.

What outdoor activities can I do in Mildura?

In Mildura, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as cruising the Murray River on a paddle steamer, visiting the Perry Sandhills, and exploring the Mungo National Park. The region is also known for its gourmet food and wine.

How do I get to Stawell and what is it famous for?

Stawell is approximately 235km northwest of Melbourne, about a 3-hour drive. It is famous for the annual Stawell Gift, Australia’s most prestigious footrace, and its proximity to the Grampians 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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