Dudes unite! Every now and then you need a solid weekend away with your buds, whether it’s an action-packed bucks bash, a much-needed respite from the treadmill, or simply a lazy boys’ getaway for the hell of it. Surfing, camping, stunning lodgings, incredible food and drink: we’ve got you covered with a list of some of the best man-friendly Melbourne weekend getaway jaunts. Here’s our low down on your next dude weekender.[related_articles]32132[/related_articles] [listicle]
The Mornington Peninsula
With the Peninsula Link practically doing all the work to get you from the CBD to Portsea these days, Mornington Peninsula – replete with world-class vineyards, incredible produce, camping and immaculate surf – is an effortless hop from Melbourne, and a sure-fire winner to slay an all-man getaway.
Bring it back to nature and lock down one of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s best camping spots. Ditch the pegs and logistics, and let the jovial mob at Happy Glamper lay down your site at your location of choice. It’s a full service camping setup replete with cosy bell tents and mothership, “Peggy Sue“, a 1966 chrome Airstream TradeWind caravan.
Eat and drink
With its own wine tasting hall and artisan café, the wood-fired, gastronomic atrium shed experience of Epicurean Red Hill is a must. It gets super busy in the high season, but its pizzas are the real deal (when it’s on the menu, the “Diretorre Speziale” is always the way forward). After a sturdy lunch, your brewing odyssey awaits – head out and sup the truly excellent range of in-house brewed ales at (either or both) Red Hill Brewery and Mornington Peninsula Brewery.
Take a gallop with Gunnamatta Trail Rides through rugged bush to St Andrews ocean beach, or saddle up for a trail ride through the scrub around Arthurs Seat. Failing that, steed-on along the trails between Red Hill’s boutique cellar doors for a stunning afternoon of horseback wine tastings. After all that tough glamping it may be pertinent to properly unwind, so Zen your Sunday with a visit to the award-winning and super impressive Peninsula Hot Springs.
Image: Pat O’Neill
A stealthy two-hour road trip southeast of the Melbourne massif, Phillip Island is a no-brainer for a ready-made, effortless couple-‘o-day getaway, replete with beach, bush, good times and penguins.
Dude-ranchin’ deluxe style, Phillip Island Waterfront House offers pong tables, pool tables, and recreation space en masse, as well as some of the most wildly stunning views of the Southern Ocean waterfront.
Eat and drink
A short drive or half hour trundle from the Waterfront will get you to The Cape Kitchen, where you’ll find some of the island’s best and freshest locally sourced fare. Take the session to new heights after that at the Rusty Water Brewery, Phillip Island’s HQ of crisp craft ales and excellent times.
Kick off your morning with an awesome helicopter ride across the sparkling coast. There are a number of great operators in the area offering sweet packages, while Waterfront House can organise its own private whirlybird if you like. Post-adrenaline rush, hang ten at either Smith’s Beach (for the novices) or world-class Cape Woolamai (for savvier salt-riders).
Phillip Island is one of the last bastions of old school bowling splendour, so maximise your dudeness and Lebowski it up at Phillip Island Tenpin Bowling and Entertainment Centre (rejoice, fellas – they have Lazerzone here too).
(NB: Petrol heads would do well to tee up their weekend to sync up with any one of Phillip Island Circuit’s countless superbike and Grand Prix calendar events).
Image: Jeffowenphotos / Flickr
Set aside two and half-hours each way and bounce on up to Echuca on the Murray for a little weekend bush-pirate houseboat action.
On a houseboat of course. With a range of high end and budget options available, berths differ from boat to boat, though most allow up to around 12 people, and anyone can drive them as long as they’re over 18.
Eat and drink
BYO and whip up a storm. Most houseboats offer all the trimmings, while some high-end packages offer full catering deals to make sailing that extra bit smoother.
Cruising the river will be the weekend’s primary activity, with a leisurely dose of fishing, swimming, docking into towns, and discovering the region’s stunning red gum forests, wildlife and ancient limestone cliffs.
Come trip’s end, any stress lingering from the week prior can be taken out on unsuspecting chums at Echuca Splat Attack Paintball. Meanwhile, cacti aficionados can learn up on the ins and outs of the iconic desert plant at Cactus Country – a fitting end to what has probably been a fairly large weekend.
Image: Splat Attack Paintball Echuca Moama / Facebook
Rent an entire island in Gippsland
An entire island? You may think we’re pushing it for a weekender here, but Fraser Island Retreat demands no flight or boarding pass. You will, however, need to set aside one of your longer weekends – it’s a three and half hour leg from the big smoke, and once you see it, there’s a mighty good chance you won’t want to leave at all.
The entire 30-hectare island is your sanctuary to sleep in and do what you want with. Secluded and exclusive, this island haven offers a 38-berth homestead across 11 rooms, with additional private cabins to bed another 15 (all for a mere $1000 to $2000 per night – not too bad at all with a decent sized crew in tow).
Eat and drink
Pretty much your call here. Load up on supplies from home, Metung or Lakes Entrance, and set up shop in self-catering splendour.
You and your closest 52 mates will relish in the abundant space and clearing on Fraser Retreat, not to mention the fully equipped games room, swimming pool, two tennis courts and private nine-hole golf course.
Image: Fraser Island Retreat / Facebook
Great Ocean Road
With prime hubs Lorne, Anglesea and Torquay just over an hour or down the coast, soaking up the sun and beach it up in style along the iconic GOR has never sounded like a more enticing deal.
An easy 15 minute drive away from Lorne centre, Lorne Farm Play-House is your go-to; a private farm complete with renovated main house, 3-hole golf course, bocce court, beach volleyball, dams for yabbying and an old school arcade game.
Eat and drink
Great Ocean Road has some truly great pubs for a classic beachside ‘countery’. Amongst the best, be sure to head down to the well loved, now revamped Airey’s pub for a pint of Rogue Wave ale and King George Whiting with ale-battered chips.
Hot chip tip: for a quick snack, Jums in Angelsea do one of the most saliva-inducing gravy and chips in the free world. Stop in any time you pass through (it’s more or less mandatory).
Settle in for an innings of beach cricket, pull out the long boards and hurl yourselves into the whitewash – any one of the countless golden stretches down these parts will do: Bells Beach heads the list, home to the long-running Rip Curl Pro every March; while Anglesea, Lorne, Whitehaven, Wye River and nearby Point Addis remain infallible choices (the latter sports a bona fide nude stretch, so make sure you’re appropriately non-attired).
If you’ve got the time, consider barrelling inland to check out the sumptuous eats and the finest tap ales and lagers that the Otways have to offer at the Forrest Brewery.
Image: Taryn Stenvei
Whisky touring in Tassie
When the Scottish Highlands are a reach too far, whiskey-famished Melburnians can always look to the next best thing. A cheeky flight over Bass Straight is required, but it’s worth it for a weekend wander down south, and a smattering of single malts amidst the tranquil Tassie hinterland.
Book ahead and stay at Library House, minutes from the CBD in the hills of West Hobart. With luxury linens, a Federation-era setting and stunning 280-degree deck view of the River Derwent, this is indeed a classy affair, but you and your pals are worth it.
Eat and drink
Decked out inside an old Ford showroom, Franklin Restaurant has been the place to eat and drink in Hobart ever since it opened shop. Here, spritzers, spirits, and a list of ever-changing ales are to be imbibed and enjoyed over a tantalising treatment of daily foraged, locally sourced produce and fresh seafood. Walk in at your peril – bookings here are essential.
Drams, not dramas, people. Tassie has some of the world’s top-rated single malts, so get drammin’ on along the Tasmanian Whisky Trail with a full day tasting tour through Tasmanian Whisky Tours. They also offer craft beer, wine and cider tours if the amber elixir isn’t your vibe.
If there’s time to head north towards Launceston and cosy Bridport, stick-swingers would do best to check out world-class Barnbougle Dunes for a life-changing 18.
Image: Drink Tasmania [/listicle]
(Lead image: Drink Tasmania)
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Cam Hassard is an international penman, sax-wielder and rogue wayfarer who writes for Junkee, Carryology, Huckberry, Caddie, Fairfax Media, Carryology, Intrepid, Peregrine Adventures and Europe Up Close. He’s eaten ant salad in Laos, hauled trucks from NYC to Vegas, and destroyed himself on the Camino de Santiago. Originally from Melbourne, he currently calls Berlin home.