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Winter is a magical season for getaways. Think glittering early-morning frosts, invigorating walks, cups of hot chocolate and flickering evening fires. The mountains are scenic with snow and coastal landscapes still lovely, though less crowded. Rug up and explore. Then crack open a bottle of red, order up lamb roast, and you'll have a road trip to remember.
The coastal road trip: Mornington Peninsula
Point Leo Estate, Mornington Peninsula. Photo: Supplied.
Victoria's Mornington Peninsula demands no great distances, allowing you to get rosy-cheeked on beach walks, play golf, and explore boutique shops and cafés as the spirit takes you.
There are many ways to warm up here. You can take a class at Hot Hut Yoga, where both the stretching and infrared heating soothes muscles. Try the pinot noir at Polperro Winery's cellar door, or enjoy its bistro lamb.
Winter is always an excuse for hearty food. Tedesca Osteria has a crackling fireplace and seasonal five-course menu. At Point Leo Estate, an allweather wine terrace allows you to gaze over vineyards, coast and an impressive sculpture park.
Embrace the season on national park walks; the kangaroos are hopping and the fresh air clears your head. Cape Schanck, with its blustery cliffs and lighthouse, is exhilarating.
The wellness road trip: Daylesford & Macedon
Pepper’s Mineral Springs Retreat, Daylesford. Photo: Supplied.
It's only an hour from Melbourne to Mount Macedon. The scenery is impressive any season, but winter's bare trees mean you can stickybeak more easily at old-world mansions and spot wandering wombats.
Camels Hump or Hanging Rock walking tracks will work up an appetite for a visit to Mount Towrong Vineyard or Hanging Rock Winery.
After a short drive to Daylesford, check into the historic Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel, where a contemporary spa will steam and massage your urban tensions and troubles away.
There's plenty of other spa choices in Daylesford, take your pick of winterwarming treatments. But there's much more too, whether admiring art at Convent Gallery, enjoying spiced cider at Daylesford Cider, or shopping at Cliffy's Emporium, a legendary 1950s general store crammed with local produce.
The snowy Road trip: High Country
For a splendidly scenic drive, follow the Great Alpine Road from Wangaratta to Bright, where you can explore the terrific food scene along with Bright Brewery for its adventurous craft beers.
From Bright, rugged alpine landscapes unfold to Mount Hotham, where you can get out and hike, sledge, ski or snowboard; and then get back on the road, onwards to historic Omeo.
Even if you don't hit the slopes, there's good reason to visit the High Country. Follow history, heritage and nature trails. Wander through Rutherglen, where cellar doors provide distraction as you explore gold-rush history, or follow the prosecco and Italian food trail through King Valley.
No matter where you look, stunning mountain scenery is magnificent under snow. And although dusk comes early, evenings can be devoted to good food and toasting your shins by the fire.
The historic road trip: Bendigo
Bendigo Art Gallery. Photo: Supplied.
Two hours from Melbourne, this grand city dates from the 1850s gold rush. Classic sights include ornate buildings, the Golden Dragon Museum, the Joss House (Australia's oldest Chinese temple) and Central Deborah Gold Mine. Bendigo Art Gallery is one of regional Australia's best for its worldclass exhibitions.
It isn't all about history, though, since Bendigo has buzzing restaurant and bar scenes too. Check out street art-scrawled laneways such as Chancery Lane, where you can plunder eclectic fashion boutiques and discover champagne lounges, tapas bars and hole-in-the-wall bars such as The Dispensary.
Don't forget that Bendigo Wine Region is notable for big warming red wines such as cabernet and shiraz. A 10-minute drive takes you to Balgownie Estate, whose port-style Tawny Fortified Shiraz is perfect for winter.