Sandy beaches, verdant mountains, lively festivals, culinary hotspots? All are a few hours’ drive of Melbourne. The city’s foodie reputation includes famed wine regions on its outskirts, while pristine national parks offer wilderness adventures.
One Hour From:
Coombe Yarra Valley:
For wine-lovers, having the Yarra
Valley less than an hour’s drive from
Melbourne is a boon. There are dozens of wineries to wander between here, but a standout is Coombe, the estate of the late Dame Nellie Melba, where you can taste locally produced vintages at the cellar door before proceeding into the restaurant for a marvellous high tea.
Part of the picturesque Macedon
Ranges, this geological monolith was
created 6.5 million years ago by rapidly
cooling magma. The rock is known to have been sacred to the local Wurundjeri people, who inhabited the region for some 26,000 years prior to colonisation, and recent efforts have focused on reclaiming this significant Indigenous heritage.
The tiny town of Birregurra is not the most likely location for one of the world’s best restaurants. And yet that’s exactly where you’ll find Brae, the multi-awarded brainchild of chef Dan Hunter. Ever-changing degustation menus highlight seasonal and unusual ingredients, grown on the property or by local farmers.
Peninsula Hot Springs:
On a drizzly Melbourne day, when the
air is too fresh for ocean swimming, there’s nothing better than a soak at these geothermal springs on the Mornington Peninsula. Inspired by Japanese onsen, a series of pools is scattered across the landscape,
allowing you to wander between baths of varying temperatures.
Blues Train, Queenscliff:
Climb aboard the Blues Train at the
historic Queenscliff railway station for a
memorable ride along the restored Bellarine Railway. During the evening, passengers rotate through a series of four carriages, each playing host to a different musical act. Dance the night away as the train travels to Drysdale and back.
Meredith Music Festival:
More than just a festival, Meredith is
an immersive experience. Spend three days camping in the Victoria bush surrounded by live performers and beautiful people. The festival has been running since 1991 and tickets are distributed via a highly contested ballot.
Lake House, Daylesford:
Daylesford has long held a reputation
for relaxation, thanks in no small part to the natural mineral springs that are dotted all over the surrounding area. The town’s pièce de résistance is the award-winning Lake House restaurant, helmed by chef Alla Wolf-Tasker, where multi-course degustation menus are served with finesse and flair.
Two Hours From:
Bendigo Art Gallery:
Established in 1887, Bendigo Art
Gallery is one of Australia’s oldest regional art galleries. An $8.5 million redevelopment in 2014, which added 600 sq m of exhibition space, means it is also among the largest. A varied permanent collection of more than 5000 works is bolstered by world-class temporary exhibitions, which rotate regularly through its light-filled rooms.
More than 18,000 bibliophiles converge on the diminutive town of Clunes every autumn for the Booktown Festival, which features author talks, panel discussions, displays of rare and collectible books, and many more bookish activities besides.