As much as we’d all love to be able to go on overseas trips constantly, sometimes that just isn’t on the cards. If you’re short on time or money and looking for some inspiration a little closer to home, then this article is for you. I’ve drawn together 4 top weekend getaway destinations, all within just a few hours of Melbourne. Whether your preference is the beach, countryside or the mountains, there is something for everyone, offering you a weekend retreat to escape from your city life. Best of all, autumn is the perfect time to explore the rest of Victoria, as the summer crowds have all but disappeared!
Victorians love their beach holidays and there is no shortage of beach towns that become packed with city slickers during the summer months. During the autumn and winter, most of these beach towns will be empty, but if you’d like to look beyond Portsea and Ocean Grove, venture a little further to reach the Great Ocean Road, an iconic stretch of coastline beloved by tourists and locals alike.
Lorne is a great seaside town for a relaxing getaway. Situated along the great ocean road, you can do as little or as much as you like here, with plenty of nearby attractions to take up your time should you feel like venturing out of your accommodation. You must not miss a trip to nearby Erskine falls, one of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in the Otways. For an even better view, be sure to take the walking track down to the lower viewpoint of the falls, a steep journey, but worth the trip if you’re in good health. Another great place for a walk accompanied by spectacular coastal views is Teddy’s lookout, just a few mins from town. If you’re up for a longer journey, take a scenic drive through the Otways to visit Cape Otway Lightstation. As a bonus, you may also spot some koalas along Lighthouse road!
Of course no trip to a seaside town would be complete without some local seafood. Try the Lorne Pier Seafood Restaurant, a very popular spot with a prime pier location, or the Grand Pacific Hotel for some excellent quality pub fare. I had some great calamari here once, which I haven’t been able to match anywhere else since.
La Perouse Lorne – from $250 per night
This sweet little bed and breakfast is situated close to the beach and main shopping/eating district. Offering luxury amenities, french inspired decor and a sumptuous breakfast.
Mantra Lorne– from $200 per night
A larger resort offering more onsite facilities such as a day spa and swimming pool, as well as direct beach access.
If a getaway to the countryside is more your style, there are no shortage of great places in Victoria which fit that description. From Castlemaine to Beechworth to Bendigo, there are a few great country destinations, but none quite like my personal favourite, Daylesford.
Daylesford and adjoining town, Hepburn Springs are considered to be ‘spa country’ and a well loved destination for those seeking relaxation and pampering. A trip to the region wouldn’t be complete without scheduling some wind down time at Hepburn Springs Bathhouse , the region’s most historic and well known spa, operating for more than 100 years. Another option for travellers is The Mineral Spa at Peppers Hepburn Springs, which although smaller, offers great facilities and award winning treatments.
If you’re on the lookout for activities other than relaxing, you can visit Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm and explore the lush grounds before stopping off for a bite to eat at the Cafe. Back in town, hit the shops along Vincent st, or take a trip up to Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens. Your stay in Daylesford wouldn’t be complete without a walk around the famous lake, taking your time to enjoy the fresh air and peaceful surrounds.
Hotel Frangos– from $280 per night
Situated on the main shopping street, offering an exceptional central location with lush and opulently styled rooms.
Albert Guest House and Mills Spa Suites – from $150 per night
Boutique heritage style rooms and apartments for those on a tighter budget.
Peppers Hepburn Springs – from $335 per night
A little on the pricier side, but sure to offer you a relaxing retreat, with its award winning spa and restaurant. There are various packages available to book which include spa access and meals.
The great thing about Victoria is the variety of beautiful natural landscapes, which includes gorgeous mountains. Perhaps we don’t quite have the Swiss alps, but we do have a few distinct Australian alternatives.
A little further afield, around 3 hours drive from Melbourne, you will find the stunning Grampians national park. Expanding a large area, this nature reserve is full of sweeping landscapes and local wildlife, set against the sandstone mountains, known as The Grampians.
The main drawcard for this area, is the vast number of walking and hiking trails available, to get you out and about and in touch with nature. There are also a number of beautiful waterfalls to visit such as Mackenzie Falls , one of the largest waterfalls in Victoria. Scenic lookouts are also high on the agenda when you visit The Grampians. Once you’ve had your fill of walking and outdoor exploration, check out Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre located in Halls Gap for a fascinating insight into Aboriginal culture.
If you’re looking for a spot of lunch, try Harvest Halls Gap or The Views for tasty casual dining. For something a little fancier, try Royal Mail Dining Room in Dunkeld. This restaurant boasts two chef hats from the age good food guide, so be prepared for higher prices as a result.
Aurora Cottages Bush Retreat– from $250 per night
Secluded and modern self contained accommodation, only a short distance from the centre of Halls Gap
DULC cabins– from $250 per night
Modern cabins equipped with all the mod cons, including spa baths.
Royal Mail Hotel– from $295 per night
The same location as the restaurant mentioned above. Luxe furnishings and exquisite mountain views.
Nestled in Ovens valley along the Great Alpine Road, you will find the picturesque town of Bright. A great base location for visiting nearby Mount Hotham and Alpine National Park. The town comes alive with families during summer break, but is most well known for it’s stunning autumn foliage. Visit during this time to witness the towering European trees turn to shades of orange, red and gold.
Walking and hiking trails are aplenty in Bright with the Ovens River Canyon walk a popular choice. It is also a great place for adventure sports such as: canoeing, kayaking, horse riding, abseiling, caving, cycling and even fly fishing.
If sports aren’t really your thing, then perhaps indulge in some wine tasting at local wineries, such as Feathertop or Gapstead. For the best brunch in town, head to Cherry Walk and for a spot of lunch or dinner try Bright Brewery.
Alpine Valley Cottages – from $225 per night
Cosy self contained cottages with spa baths and woodfire heaters, perfect for cosy nights in!
Ashwood Cottages– from $170 per night
Modern holiday house accommodation with spas and log fires, set amongst tranquil surrounds.
Next time you’re looking for a break a bit closer to home, I hope you’ll consider some of these destinations. Although with so many great places to visit for a weekend getaway from Melbourne, you’re sure to find something that takes your fancy.
What are some of your favourite hideaway spots?
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