From isolated beaches, snowy mountains to stunning wineries, we have created a guide to 10 Best Road Trip Destinations from Melbourne that you will regret not visiting. These attractions offer a diverse range of interesting activities and its highlights can usually be covered within a day. Hotel accommodation and camping sites are available if you would like to prolong your stay.
Ballarat is known for its rich cultural heritage and glorious history of gold rush. Located 105 km away from Melbourne, Ballarat is Victoria’s third largest city. This old Australian town once flourished in the 19th century with its gold mining opportunities; the worn out but magnificent Victorian architecture is a living testimony to the city’s once-prosperous gold digging period.
Spend a day at Sovereign Hill and experience the olden days with costumed characters, horse carriages and mining demonstration. If time permits, catch a performance at the iconic Her Majesty’s Theatre and pay the relatively new Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) a visit.
You can also interact with kangaroos, emus and koalas at the wildlife park. If you do not intend to drive, take a VLine train to Ballarat from Southern Cross station, which takes about 90 minutes.
#2 DANDENONG RANGES
Situated an hour drive away is the Dandenong Ranges – a series of rolling hills characterised by valleys and rainforests, which are best explored by Australia’s century-old steam train, Puffing Billy. Return tickets on Puffing Billy start from AUD 10.50, depending on the route you are going for.
You may sit with your legs dangling out of the train while enjoying the 25-km long scenic route. Hike along Sherbrooke Forest or find a picnic spot and enjoy the picturesque surroundings of the towering Eucalyptus ‘Mountain Ash’ trees. Visit the National Rhododendron Garden for free, which has been coined as the jewel of the Dandenong Ranges. It is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna, making it a delight to visit at anytime of the year.
#3 FALLS CREEK
Located in the Victorian Alps, The Falls Creek is a popular winter ski resort amongst Australians. Its snowy mountain has over 90 runs; 17% beginner, 60% intermediate and 23% advanced. The longest run is called Wishing Well, which spans over three kilometres.
You can board a coach or drive for five hours from Melbourne to Falls Creek (snow chains are mandatory). The snow season starts from June to the end of September, but you can also visit during its off-peak season. When the summer heat becomes unbearable, Falls Creek acts as a base camp for people to explore the surrounding Alpines National Park. Elevated at 1585 meters above sea level, the temperature is 10 degrees cooler than Melbourne City.
#4 GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Conquering the Great Ocean Road – one of the most popular road trips from Melbourne – is not an easy feat. The 243-km long road spans from Torquay to near the Southern Australian Border. Dramatic waves crashing onto empty shores line up the winding drive and snaps from any angle make an instagram-worthy shot. The four-hour drive feels far from eternity when one is surrounded by jaw-dropping panoramic coastal views.
Not forgetting the famous 12 Apostles, a collection of gigantic limestone formation that were formed when its original coastline were eroded. Venture further down Great Ocean Road and you will discover alternative beautiful views in less touristy areas such as Lord Ard Gorge. You can visit the Great Ocean Road by renting a car or join a guided day tour.
#5 MORNINGTON PENINSULA
Mornington Peninsula is only an hour drive away, making it an ideal day trip destination from Melbourne. Its sophisticated yet cool coastal-style living characterises this region. You can swim with seals, pluck fresh strawberries, relax at the hot springs, explore beautifully sculpted garden mazes and even ride a horse to visit wineries!
Indeed, all that has been mentioned is only the tip of the iceberg on what Mornington Peninsula has to offer. It also boasts 19 spectacular golf courses, multiple water sports, fishing charter, cooking classes, premium spas and camping sites. We highly recommend a trip down to Enchanted Maze (AUD 29 per adult) where you can spend a day picnicking in the pretty gardens or have a go at the tube rides!
#6 MOUNT BULLER
Mount Buller is the closest and most accessible ski resort from Melbourne International Airport. Rent a car and embark on a three-hour drive from Melbourne (AUD 45 per entry) or board one of the many coaches (prices vary). A one-day chair lift pass may be costly at AUD 116, but is necessary for you to explore the skiable terrains. If winter sport is not your forte, you can pick up a ski/snowboard lesson or simply explore the mountain at your own pace.
Treat yourself to a movie night at Australia’s highest cinema (from AUD 12 per ticket), luxurious massage, gourmet meal or a scenic helicopter flight (from AUD 85 per person).
#7 MOUNT MACEDON
The enchanting Mount Macedon is only an one-hour drive away from Melbourne. Alternatively, you can get there via train on the Bendigo line from Southern Cross Station, which will take about an hour too. If you visit Mount Macedon during autumn or spring, do check out Tieve Tara Gardens. It showcases a spectacular collection of flowers that are bound to impress even the skeptics.
Have a picnic at the serene Sanatorium Lake before heading north to the Hanging Rock for a day of adventure. It takes about two hours to hike around the six-million-year-old pinnacle-like formation. Pay respects to the heroes of World War I at the tranquil Memorial Cross on the summit of Mount Macedon and watch in awe as the beautiful sun descend into the horizon.
#8 PHILIP ISLAND
A 90-minute drive away from Melbourne, Philip Island is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations made famous by its wild penguin parade. Animal enthusiasts should also join the island’s whale-watching and bird watching activities.
While the creatures do put on a great ‘show’, they are not all Philip Island has to offer. There are many other exhilarating outdoor activities i.e. paintball, surfing and kayaking that will get your adrenaline pumping. Visit Rhyll Trout & Bush Tucker Farm and learn to fish for a rainbow trout.
You can choose to take it home or have the in-house chef to cook a fresh meal. Do not leave Philip Island without visiting The Nobbies! It offers breathtaking views of large crashing waves along the island’s coastal line.
#9 WILSONS PROMONTORY NATIONAL PARK
The gorgeous Wilson’s Promontory National Park remains largely untouched by human activities till date. If you are looking to reconnect with nature, look no further. Wilson’s Promontory National Park’s pristine beaches are almost magical. The deserted Squeaky Beach produces squeaking noises when you step on the lily-white sand.
Climb up Mount Oberon and marvel at Mother Nature’s impressive creations or lay low and admire the beautiful Tidal River, which changes its colours from yellow to dark purple across different depths. The National Park is a gem with bountiful of wildlife and lush vegetation. Be still and you may witness kangaroos and emus roaming freely.
#10 YARRA VALLEY
An hour drive away from Melbourne is Yarra Valley, a world-class winery region with over 150 wineries and vineyards. With so many vineyards to choose from, selection gets a little tough. Top-rated wineries Dominique Portet and Domain Chandon are unmissable. If you intend to sample wines from various wineries, it is best to join a guided wine tasting tour to maximize your time.
You should still visit the Yarra Valley even if you do not drink alcohol as you can tour the Yarra Valley region on a hot air balloon (from AUD 225 per person), get up and close with Australian animals at Healseville Sanctuary (from AUD 13.60 per ticket) or take a leap of faith and jump off a plane (sky diving package start from AUD 299)!
For more recommendations, read our guide to 21 Best Cafes in Melbourne You Must Visit At Least Once In Your Life.
About the writer:
Hui Jun Ng is a staff writer for ladyironchef. She previously worked in the food and marketing industry. She loves traveling and enjoys exploring underrated destinations. In her free time, you will find her indulging in coffee and her all time favourite local dish – bak chor mee.