Victorians have hit their 80 per cent full vaccination target. COVID-19 restrictions have eased and statewide travel is a thing again. Victorians are flocking to the regions for weekend stays and breaks away from homes that have become all too familiar over a marathon of rolling lockdowns.
But for those who can't get a regional accommodation booking, or can't afford the time, or simply can't afford the costs associated with getting away for multiple days and nights, the mighty day trip is a terrific option.
These five are aimed at Melburnians (and are also within striking distance from Geelong, western Gippsland and other regions) but one of the wonderful aspects of living in Victoria is its bang for buck per square kilometre. No matter where you live in the state, you don't have to travel too far to find some kind of entertainment of the "not at home" kind.
For further enrichment, be sure to check out the First Nations' heritage of the places to which you travel.
Photo: David Mitchener/Visit Victoria
Hankering for antique shopping in Castlemaine and the Goldfields? Try Tyabb instead, only 69 kilometres from the CBD, at the beginning of the Mornington Peninsula. Along Mornington-Tyabb Road, find several expansive antique and vintage centres, the largest of which, Tyabb Packing House (pictured above, tyabbpackinghouseantiques.com.au) inhabits old fruit cool stores. Hours of browsing await. The Hungry Peacock is a kid-friendly cafe in the area (there are also eateries on site at some of the antique centres), there's a great nursery nearby, as well as Olivers Creek Bushland Reserve for walks with interactive information stations via QR codes.
Point Cook Coastal Park
Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
Fancy rockpool hopping at Wilson's Promontory? An alternative less than 30 kilometres from the CBD and right next door to the RAAF Williams Point Cook base, the Point Cook Coastal Park (parks.vic.gov.au), covering an area of 863 hectares, might be one of the state's best kept secrets. Harbouring the Cheetham Wetlands, here you'll find abundant birdlife, burgeoning coastal plants, a historic homestead, sandy foreshore, great nature walks, a viewing tower, picnic tables, gas barbecues and a large café nearby. There's even a playground for children.
Thinking about soaking up the heritage of the city of Bendigo, 153 kilometres north-west of the city? A closer alternative is Werribee (wyndham.vic.gov.au) is only 31 kilometres from the CBD and while you might have visited the Werribee Open Range Zoo, consider the charm of the 1877 Werribee Park Mansion (pictured above). Then there's the Victoria State Rose Garden, featuring more than 5000 plants from 100 species (at its best right now), the B-24 Liberator Memorial (one of only eight of the aircraft left in the world), the Werribee River Park and the river walks with views of red-soiled escarpments, birdlife and farmland, In the heart of town, try the beautifully renovated Bridge Hotel (bridgehotelwerribee.com.au), owned by the same operators as the Mount Erica in Prahran and the Marquis of Lorne in Fitzroy for a great pub lunch.
Photo: Robert Blackburn/Visit Victoria
The high country for mountain biking and beautiful forest? Noojee (visitbawbaw.com.au) is within easier striking distance, 130 kilometres from the city (just under two hours' drive so set off early) and in the Yarra Ranges National Park. You'll find yourself surrounded by lush native bush and towering tree ferns. Visit the Ada Tree, one of the largest and oldest surviving trees in Victoria, try your luck at the Alpine Trout Farm, swim at Toorongo Falls, and walk the Noojee Trestle Bridge, one of the oldest of its kind in Victoria. Mountain bikers can get their thrill on the trails of Mt Baw Baw.
Photo: Paul Harris
Love your wineries but have found the Yarra Valley and/or Mornington Peninsula to be all booked out? The Bellarine and Surf Coast (head towards Geelong and Torquay) are home to around 20 wineries, many of them small producers, creating beautiful shiraz, chardonnay, pinot noir, and lesser known varietals (thebellarinetastetrail.com.au). You'll find some congenial cellar doors, some with amazing coastal views. It's about 100 kilometres from the CBD to Mount Duneed, which in addition to hosting Day on the Green and other concerts, is home to the fabulous Barrel Hall restaurant (pictured above, see mtduneedestate.com.au).