Melbourne is one of Australia’s great cities. It is the capital of the State of Victoria in Australia’s South East and the host of the first tennis Grand Slam of the calendar year, the Australian Open. There is so much to see and do in Melbourne itself that some visitors do not go outside city boundaries. With limited time, that may not be possible but they are missing something. There are many great days out not too far away. Each in fact deserves more than a day, but there is always the chance of returning to explore further. So, here are 7 of the best day trips from Melbourne.
Top 7 Day Trips from Melbourne
1. Great Ocean Road
There are not many roads that get environmental protection but the 150-mile coastal road in Victoria, the Great Ocean Road, is one of them. It runs between two of Victoria’s cities, Torquay and Allansford, and now has an Australian National Heritage listing. Soldiers returning from the First World War built it and it gives access to numerous landmarks and attractions along the coastline.
Torquay is just over an hour southwest of Melbourne. While there is a cross-country road to Allansford which is quicker, the Great Ocean Road heading west is much more beautiful.
Attractions include the Twelve Apostles limestone formations with the route going through rainforest, passing cliffs and beaches as it hugs the shore of the Southern Ocean. If you take to the road early in the morning, you can decide for yourself what you want to see on your day out from Melbourne. There are small towns along the way that you could stay overnight at but if you are based in Melbourne it is more likely that you are seeking the natural environment more than a place to stay.
2. Phillip Island
This Island 90 minutes south of Melbourne provides you with a great chance to enjoy the region’s landscapes. Ferries run from Stoney Point on Mornington Peninsula to the Island. There are bus services to several towns on Phillip Island from Melbourne if you do not have a car.
Australia has some amazing wildlife and during your day on Phillip Island, you will get the chance to see some of it. Over 30,000 penguins inhabit the island. The penguin parade is an absolute must see on Phillip Island.
There is a Koala Conservation Centre where you can see these adorable animals close up and get some great photos. Raised boardwalks at the Centre will allow you to get close to them and capture some great photos. Wildlife cruises take you out to sea to try to catch sight of iconic marine species. Keep your eyes open and you are likely to see whales, seals, dolphins, and plenty of birds. If you take a clifftop walk at the Nobbies you will be able to see Australia’s largest fur seal colony just offshore.
The Island is not just about wildlife. You can enjoy a slow pace of life by riding in a horse-drawn wagon. Head to the Historical Society Museum where you will learn more about Aboriginal culture, how the early settlers lived, and maritime history.
3. Dandenong Ranges
Mount Dandenong, named after the range in which it sits, is a 2,000-foot high mountain just 20 miles east of Melbourne. The range of rolling hills covered largely with temperate rainforest was where early settlers got their timber for building. Those settlers enjoyed day trips into the Dandenongs just as you should consider today.
The Ranges are what is left of volcanic activity more than 350 million years ago. Bush fires are a serious concern and that puts the onus on visitors to be careful. Some spend a few days in the Ranges because there is plentiful bed and breakfast accommodation.
One man-made attraction in the east of the Ranges is the Puffing Billy Railway, a steam train that children especially will love. There are numerous watercourses within the Ranges. The result of that is you will have the chance to enjoy a choice of waterfalls. Many trails, including the 1000 Steps will test your fitness but get to high points within the hills. you will get some lovely panoramas, including several over the City of Melbourne below.
4. Yarra Valley
The Yarra River rises 150 miles east of Melbourne and flows out into the Southern Ocean close to the City. Before it gets to Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is a popular day trip from the City, a fertile region and an extremely important wine-producing region. The relatively cool climate is ideal for producing some real favorites including pinot noir, chardonnay, and sparkling wines.
You should certainly sample the wines while this fertile area provides fresh produce that makes the Yarra Valley a great place for dining. The Yarra Valley is famous for salmon and trout as well as its dairy produce.
You are an hour northeast of Melbourne but in a country of huge distances, that is nothing. You cannot get there on public transport so you either must drive or take a tour.
For a real treat, take an early morning hot air balloon trip over the Valley. When you land, you can enjoy a champagne breakfast then tour a winery. If you opt for a tour, you will have no driving to do after sampling the lovely wines.
The Grampians National Park is quite a long drive west of Melbourne, but with a very early start, you can spend a few hours in this National Heritage Site. Aboriginal rock art is one of the reasons to make the effort to rise early. The Grampians are sandstone and feature some 90% of Victoria’s Aboriginal rock art.
This region is hot and dry in the summer but on either side of those weeks, the Grampians are a very popular place for walking. In the spring, there is an abundance of flowers including almost 80 orchid species. Some are exclusive to this region.
Rock climbing is a good option here with many camping for a few days and enjoying their sport. Gliding is even more adventurous with pilots regularly reaching the height of Everest over these much smaller mountains. You have just a day so perhaps the rock art takes precedence but try to see its most impressive waterfall, Mackenzie, as well.
6. Mornington Peninsula
One of the most beautiful places to spend a day close to Melbourne is Mornington Peninsula, The ocean is on one side and Port Phillip Bay on the other. There are parks and gardens, quiet coves, and small coastal villages.
A car gets you there but once on the Peninsula, try hiking, horse riding, cycling, or sailing. There are golf courses, the chance to swim with dolphins, or simply enjoying the natural springs. You can see that a day is nowhere near enough on Mornington Peninsula.
If you wish you can just relax and take in the environment you can. Abundant birdlife includes everything from wrens to eagles and they are best seen on the many walking trails. Wallabies and kangaroos live here as well on the open grasslands.
Probably the best views of the Peninsula are from a gondola on Arthur’s Seat Eagle to the station at the summit.
The spa town of Daylesford below the Great Dividing Range is just over an hour northwest of Melbourne. It began as a gold-mining town in the mid-19th Century. Today it is famous for the spas with the infrastructure including B&Bs, restaurants, and galleries. The region has some 80% of Australia’s mineral waters.
The gold didn’t last very long. The Great Depression also put paid to Daylesford as a fashionable spa resort for a while. The mineral springs are the only reason why Daylesford still exists. It is proactive with several annual events attracting crowds. The ChillOut Festival, an LGTBQ Festival, Harvest Week Festival, and the Lavandula’s Festival all make a contribution to Daylesford’s economy.
If you want some exercise then hire a kayak and go on Jubilee Lake or climb Wombat Hill. If you are travelling with kids, they will enjoy the Spa Country Railway. It can take the family to the Sunday Market.
Some of these day-trip destinations are somewhat distant from Melbourne so you should plan them in advance. Each will be a long day but a most satisfying one. In some cases, you can book a tour and be collected at your accommodation and dropped off in the evening. If you have a car, you can do others independently. Either way, you will have some great memories and hopefully a photo album that will impress everyone.
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Author: Linda Smith. I’m passionate about traveling and I’m here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.