Victoria offers a diverse range of landscapes, from rugged coastlines to thick forests. We look at favourite day trip destinations that are about a two-hour drive from Melbourne.
Melbourne and its suburbs offer much in entertainment, tourism and culture, but an opportunity to see the sights of the rest of Victoria shouldn't be wasted! Explore and discover more of what Victoria has to offer by taking a day trip to one of these amazing places, most of which are no further than two hours from the city centre.
Less than an hour's drive south-east from Melbourne lies the Mornington Peninsula. Home to scenic coastal towns, the peninsula caters to young and old. Overlooking it all, Arthurs Seat is the highest viewpoint on the peninsula. Walk up the 304-metre granite hill to gain access to stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area, including Melbourne's skylinei.
For the kids, the Enchanted Maze Garden is perfect. It features three hedge mazes and an indoor 3D maze, four giant slides, themed gardens, as well as an outdoor sculpture parkii. After your adventure in this theme park, relax with a picnic and take in the view from Arthurs Seat.
Visit Sorrento to witness its grand limestone buildings, or kick back with some fish and chips on the beach and bond with the local pelicans. For some fun in the water, swim with the dolphins and seals, scuba dive or rent a kayakiii.
In Portsea, head to the water by boat or go for a dive to explore the reef and its historic wrecks. To dry off, choose the Millionaire's Walk, which scales cliff tops and wanders past gardens and private jetties. Hiking buffs can embark on the 100km Mornington Peninsula Walk, or try a shorter walking trail to Point Nepeaniv.
Yarra Valley is only an hour north-east from Melbourne. Explore the premium food and wine on offer while ambling through the scenic vineyards, or stumble upon galleries, like the Three Stories Artspace, and small artist studios during the Open Studios festival to get a glimpse of Victoria's local art scenev. For a bigger taste of both international and local art, the TarraWarra Museum of Art in Healesville exhibits art from the mid-20th century to the present day. While you're in Healesville, head to the Healesville Sanctuary to get an up-close look at Australian wildlife, including dingoes, kangaroos, wombats and platypusesv.
Less than two hours north-west of Melbourne is Bendigo. Bendigo boasts a rich history dating from its time as a gold mining boomtown. The town is filled with heritage architecture from the Victorian era, including the Alexandra Fountain, the former post office, the law courts, and the glamorous Hotel Shamrock, which opened in early 1854vi.
To experience all of the sights and sounds of Bendigo, go on a self-guided city tour. Pick up an MP3 player loaded with the tour from the Bendigo Visitor Information Centre on Pall Mall and discover Bendigo's history and architecturevii. Once you've finished exploring the town, picnic in Rosalind Park by the cascade waterfall and open-air fernery.
Delve into Bendigo's history by visiting the Central Deborah Gold Mine. Here you can choose any of three different tours: the Mine Experience, Underground Adventure or - for those who are more adventurous - the Nine Levels of Darkness. On each of these tours, you'll have the opportunity to explore a real underground gold mine from the gold rush era with your miner's cap onviii.
Less than two hours south-east from Melbourne, Phillip Island is brimming with wildlife and adventure. It's a beautiful natural environment that includes wetlands, coastlines and nature reserves.
The Phillip Island Nature Park attracts tourists from all over the world to its Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island. On the island, you'll have the opportunity to spot many penguins with the Nature Park's viewing facilities: the Penguins Plus Viewing Platform and the Penguin Sky Box. You can also take The Ultimate Penguin Experience where a park ranger guides a small group of people to a secluded beach to see the penguins with innovative night-vision technologyix.
If you want to participate in the action, Phillip Island offers an array of outdoor activities. Take a wildlife coast cruise to get a closer look at fur seal colonies; or jump on an aqua-bike, kayak or watercraft to skim the waters surrounding the island. For fun on the land, join the battle in a round of paintball or laser strike; or for a more relaxed experience, hire an e-bike and tour the island on your own termsx, xi.
Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges
Daylesford lies about one and a half hours north-west of Melbourne and is home to over 60 mineral springs, which are rich in magnesium, calcium and silicaxii. Considered as precious as gold in the late 1800sxii, the town's mineral water resources attract tourists who desire a rejuvenating and relaxing holiday break. The town is filled with day spas and alternative therapy servicesxiii and makes for the perfect retreat. The most popular and iconic spa in Daylesford is the newly renovated Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, which has been around since the turn of the 20th century. Take a dip and relax in the therapeutic salt pools, spa couches and steam roomsxiii.
Immersing yourself in the healing waters isn't the only option; you can get a taste of the water in the Kyneton Mineral Springs Reserve, or at Sailors Falls and Tipperary Springs. In Trentham, witness Victoria's highest single-drop waterfall, or visit Hepburn National Park to see Mount Franklin's extinct volcanic craterxiv. Hanging Rock, of Picnic at Hanging Rock fame, is also located in the region, rising 105 metres from the ground and dating back six million yearsxv. Featuring rock formations formed by rainwater, such as the Black Hole of Calcutta and the Cathedral, the reserve is home to nearly 100 native plants, koalas, kangaroos, sugar gliders, echidna, wallabies, and around 40 species of birdsxv.
If you're interested in a great scenic drive, you can't overlook the Great Ocean Road, spanning from Torquay to the Shipwreck Coast. You'll be cruising through beautiful forests and villages, overlooking the pristine ocean. One of the biggest highlights of this scenic drive is the world-famous 12 Apostles - magnificent limestone rock stacks that started forming more than 10 million years agoxvi.