Whichever direction visitors head in, Victoria is made for road tripping thanks to a landscape blessed with secluded beaches, dramatic rock formations, scenic waterfalls, and bush waterholes straight out of a painting.
These five classic road trips are just the ticket for a successful summer getaway:
Spa Country weekend
The rivers, waterfalls and mineral springs of this charming region provide a slice of serenity with a quintessentially Australian dash of gum trees and native wildflowers. A network of progressive hamlets populated with hip galleries, cool cafes and polished day spas make for a refined summer road trip option.
Following the Calder Freeway from Melbourne, the small town of Trentham can be reached in 90 minutes and is an ideal first stopping for the day. As Victoria's highest single-drop waterfall, Trentham Falls is a grand sight to behold and a much-needed injection of nature if coming from the city. Afterwards, the Trentham Collective is the place for coffee and breakfast bowls packed with fresh, local ingredients. After chasing waterfalls and downing coffee, a leisurely drive to Hepburn Springs reveals the best of what Spa Country has to offer. Visitors can book into the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa to cool off in the pristine thermal waters the area is known for. Further along down the road, Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm is a warm-weather favourite thanks to the abundance of bright purple lavender that blooms each summer. Guests can stop in to tour the farm’s rustic buildings, European-style gardens and photogenic lavender crops or feast on an antipasto platter and lavender cordial under the farm’s towering Ash Trees. Nearby, Daylesford’s luxe Hotel Frangos is a boutique hotel, restaurant and café in one, so covers all bases for visitors who want to wine, dine and bed down before heading back to Melbourne the next morning.
Distance covered: 241km
Mornington Peninsula day trip
Visitors short on time will love the easily accessible Mornington Peninsula region. This highly sought-after summer hotspot famed for its top notch food and wine scene is a great day trip option for time-poor travellers in need of a quick getaway.
Driving from Melbourne, the beginning of the Mornington Peninsula can be reached in just over an hour. Mount Eliza’s Shop Ate Café is the perfect spot for a light breakfast of toasted granola with fresh fruit and coffee. Further along down the coast, the aspirational beach village of Mount Martha is the ideal place for visitors to stretch their legs and take in sea views by walking along the shoreline or trying the clifftop walk for a lofty view. Only half an hour away from Mount Martha, the award-winning Peninsula Hot Springs in Rye is one of the region’s most well-known attractions. Landscaped, open-air thermal mineral pools, a Turkish hamam and day spa provide multiple options for relaxation. In Red Hill, Red Gum BBQ serves American-style, pit-smoked barbecue in an Australian bush setting – a lunch spot like no other in Australia. In the afternoon, the newly-opened Point Leo Estate Sculpture Park in Merricks is the ultimate place to spend an afternoon in the sun admiring alfresco art, basking in sea breezes and sampling crisp white wine at the cellar door before driving back to Melbourne.
Distance covered: 223km
Coastal micro adventure
Laidback by nature, the Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula area is a down-to-earth summer getaway option for visitors who enjoy ocean swims, eating ice cream on the beach and sipping craft beer in repurposed heritage buildings.
After an easy one hour drive from Melbourne, road trippers are advised to load up on matcha waffles and espresso within the industrial-chic confines of King of the Castle in West Geelong. A 30-minute drive to Port Arlington will reveal a beachside town with a history. Visitors can take a cruisy walk along the pier or the longer the Rambler’s Walk which hugs the scenic shoreline and takes 40 minutes to complete. 15 minutes away, the town of Queenscliff is the perfect spot for a seafood lunch in style at 360q. Located on the waterfront, this iconic venue combines soothing water views with the best mussels in town. Five minutes’ drive away, the Point Lonsdale back beach is a top spot for an ocean swim or meditative afternoon watching waves crash into the shore. On the return journey, a pit stop into Geelong’s Little Creatures Brewery for a beer in the sundrenched alleyway is a good way to cap off the journey.
Distance covered: 233km
Outdoors adventure in Bright
The rivers, waterfalls and swimming holes located in and around the alpine village of Bright make it a worthy summer road trip destination for people who love lo-fi pursuits such as camping, fishing, hiking and swimming.
Coming in at just under 4 hours away, the High Country region is a wild wonderland just perfect for a summer camping adventure in the fresh mountain air. Self-catering campers would do well to break up the drive with a stop at the Milawa Cheese Factory to stock up on award-winning cheese. Big 4 Bright Holiday Park is a top base to pitch a tent in the campground right by the Ovens River or stay in a self-contained cabin with all the mod-cons. Escaping the heat by dipping into the cool waters of the Bright River Pool is popular with both locals and visitors during summer. Thanks to an abundance of trout, fishing is also favoured in these parts. After a long day of swimming, fishing or hiking, Bright Brewery’s handcrafted beers made with fresh mountain water and pub-style food are a winning combination during summer. On the drive back to Melbourne, the historic towns of Benalla and Myrtleford are great stopping points for a coffee, cake or wander.
Distance covered: 648km
The ultimate Great Ocean Road drive
The Great Ocean Road is one of world’s most famous drives for a reason and visitors with time to invest in this road trip will be rewarded with wildlife encounters, blockbuster beaches and some of the most photogenic landscapes on the planet.
From Melbourne, road trippers are advised to drive along the Westgate Freeway towards the chilled-out seaside town of Torquay – the surfing capital of Australia. Possessing coastal chic flair, Ginger Monkey is a top place for coffee and breakfast before an invigorating walk along the blustery shores of the iconic Bells Beach – home of the Rip Curl Pro. Continuing to drive along the coast will reveal sweeping ocean vistas and interesting architecture including the eye-catching Pole House at Fairhaven. Stopping in at Lorne is advised – Teddy’s Lookout provides supreme views of the ocean with chances of whale sightings from June to October. Driving further along the coast, sleepy Wye River is the perfect stopping point for a picnic lunch. Wye General Store stocks gourmet goods and is a friendly spot to pick up provisions for a picnic lunch by the water. About 40 minutes away, the town of Apollo Bay is a magnet for travellers. Visitors can choose to stay in everything from retro sea shacks to boutique villas with sea views and holiday parks surrounded by nature. Apollo Bay’s crescent-shaped beach provides a refreshing spot to float after a day of driving. Continuing west along the Great Ocean Road, a diversion to the Instagram-worthy Cape Otway Lightstation is advised. Looking for koalas lounging in trees above is a popular past time in these parts. Continuing westward, the sea stacks known as the 12 Apostles are one of Australia’s most recognisable rock formations. Stopping to take in the majesty of the sea stacks (and taking plenty of photos also) is essential. Further along just past Port Campbell, the Arch and London Bridge are two more impressive coastal rock formations worth getting out of the car for. At the end of the Great Ocean Road, the laidback regional centre of Warrnambool marks the end of the Great Ocean Road. Here, taking dip in the ocean, eating fish and chips on the beach and drinking in the beer garden of the historic Cally Hotel are satisfying ways to mark the end of the journey. The following morning, road trippers are best to fuel up with breakfast at the beachfront Pavilion Café and Bar before starting the long drive back to Melbourne.
Distance covered: 629km
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