Whether you’re basing yourself in Melbourne for a short or long holiday, there’s a multitude of interesting destinations within a short drive away. For a change of pace or scenery, you don’t have to go far to wind up somewhere new and different, be it a desert, mountain or winery. Here are some ideas to inspire you to jump in a Melbourne Airport car rental and hit the road.
The Yarra Valley – an hour out of Melbourne – is all about wine. Many wineries offer free tours and tastings. Wander through the vines and soak up the sun and ambience. Take a picnic or shop at the fantastic produce stores and eat on the slopes of Domaine Chandon. Or simply indulge your palate at one of the gourmet restaurants.
An hour and a half south of Melbourne at the far end of the Mornington Peninsula, the historic town of Flinders is a lovely day out. Stroll the pier or head out in the surf at Point Leo. Wine lovers will find a few vineyards to soak up and foodies have fine dining options and the excellent Mornington Peninsula Chocolates. At Cape Schanck you will be breathing some of the cleanest air in the world, blowing in from the Antarctic. Several walks of varying length take you past rugged coastline, majestic boulders and tranquil inlets. At Mornington Peninsula National Park you might encounter possums, wallabies, bats and kangaroos.
While you are out this way, make a detour over to Peninsula Hot Springs in Fingal. Take your pick of outdoor thermal pools – mineral pools, steam baths, even pools in a cave or on a hill.
A one hour drive via the Macedon Ranges brings you to the spectacular Hanging Rock. This is a volcanic feature formed millions of years ago. You could spend hours exploring it in all its nooks and crannies, although a straight climb to the top takes about 45 minutes. Take a picnic lunch or stop at the local cafe.
Just under two hours from Melbourne you will find Phillip Island. Plan to spend a whole day there. The various lookouts at The Nobbies will enable you to spot birds, penguins and nests, and Australia’s biggest fur seal colony at Seal Rocks. Marvel at the blowholes – when waves rush in among the rocks, water blasts up and erupts vertically in a marvellous display of natural power.