Melbourne may be the epicentre of food, fashion and frivolity, but sometimes too much of a good thing can end up being a bad thing. Consider a frolic in these nearby hamlets to recharge your batteries and see more of what this great state has to offer. Here are some of the best Melbourne day trips you can take.[related_articles]21350[/related_articles] [listicle]
Hit the Rail Trail in the Bellarine Peninsula
Ah, what beats the joy of cycling along a glorious, traffic-free trail? No need to dodge aggressive drivers or breathe in the diesel fumes of passing trucks on the scenic trail that runs from South Geelong to Queenscliff, known as the Bellarine Rail Trail.
Stretching 35 kilometres, this mostly-flat trail can be cycled or walked, with either option proving scenic views of surrounding farmland and coastline. Bikes can be hired at the Big4 Beacon Resort in Queenscliff or you can bring your own from Melbourne in your car or on the V Line to South Geelong Station.
After a big walk or cycle, you’ll definitely be running a calorie deficit so rectify that situation with a visit to the farm gate of family-owned Drysdale Cheeses to stock up on award-winning fromage produced from a herd of prized Saanen dairy goats.
Image: Drysdale Cheeses
Immerse yourself in a Hepburn Springs spa sesh
While big brother Daylesford tends to steal the show when it comes to popular Melbourne day trips, down the road the town of Hepburn Springs has charms of its own, minus the crowds. Hepburn Springs didn’t get the “spa town” name for no reason, so there are plenty of opportunities to bliss out in mineral springs around here.
One of the best options to book into is the spa at the Mineral Springs Hotel. The spa takes limited numbers, so you’re guaranteed peace, tranquillity and a bit of exclusivity while immersed in the semi-outdoor spas looking out over green gardens. For the ultimate in weekend decadence, go all in and head straight from the spa to the Argus Dining Room for lunch, where rare breed beef and lamb, produce sourced from local suppliers, and herbs and veggies from the onsite kitchen garden make for a lunch with low food miles.
For those who prefer nature time rather than spa time, a wander down to the Old Hepburn Pool is just what the doctor ordered. Fringed by bushland, this old pool was built in the 1930s and if you look closely the old lane markers are still visible today.
Image: Mineral Springs Hotel
Hit up the heritage town of Maldon
Declared by the National Trust as Australia’s First Notable Town back in 1966, Maldon is only 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne, yet it’s a world away from the sun-blocking skyscrapers and streams of human traffic in the city. Located in the heart of the Victorian Goldfields, things move pretty slowly in Maldon, where things have wound down considerably since its Gold Rush-era heyday.
While Maldon’s heritage buildings and shopfronts are a great place for a wander, Maldon is also a top spot to flip the bird at chain supermarkets and pick up some produce source from the local farmers and producers. At Maldon 50K Local, 90 percent of the stock is sourced from within a 50 kilometre radius of Maldon. You’ll find eggs laid by free-range chickens, honey from local beekeepers, sourdough bread cooked low and slow just as it should be, and killer jams and preserves made with fruits from local orchards.
Image: Author’s own
Find liquid delights in the Mornington Peninsula
An hour from Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula sure does know how to imbibe. There are enough breweries, cider houses and wineries here to warrant a longer stay, but some territory can be covered in a day (with a designated driver).
To get hoppy, visit the Mornington Peninsula Brewery. Offering free brewery tours every Saturday, visitors can see where the beer magic happens. Mock Red Hill has been doing grand things with biodynamic cider since the 1970s and their onsite cider lounge is the best place to brush up on your cider knowledge.
When it comes to wine, Foxey’s Hangout offers wine tasting and produce grazing in a one-of-a-kind space with killer views to boot. Complete the liquor extravaganza with a pit-stop at Bass & Flinders Distillery where premium gin and other handcrafted spirits are waiting to be sampled.
You can always sneak in a visit to the Peninsula Hot Springs, too.
Image: Taryn Stenvei
Find animal magic in Healesville
When news of this wombat cuddling job arose, the world collectively lost it, for what is cuter than an animal that poops cubes? At the sanctuary you can also wade with a platypus, get cosy with a python and hand feed kangaroos. But it’s not all about the wildlife; in what is a genius piece of marketing, the people at Healesville Sanctuary have come up with a trifecta of our three favourite things to create the ultimate day trip, only an hour from Melbourne.
Combining the holy trinity of wildlife, wine and chocolate, the Wine and Wildlife Tour includes sanctuary admission, cellar door wine tasting, lunch at De Bortoli Restaurant and a free chocolate tasting session at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. Healesville, you’re alllllllright.[/listicle]
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(Lead image: Visit Mornington Peninsula)
Jo is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist who knows that the best stories are yielded from time spent on the road, not behind a desk. She writes about travel, pop culture, sustainability, nature and indigenous issues for a bunch of Australian newspapers, magazines, journals and websites. Her work reporting on scientific expeditions means she has lived and worked in some of the harshest environments on the planet including Antarctica, the Simpson Desert and the means streets of Sydney.