Melbourne's best staycations: How to holiday like a rock star from the city

Holiday homes in popular Victorian getaway spots are booked solid across the Christmas break thanks to restrictions on travel meaning the beaches of Bali and ski slopes of Japan are out of bounds for those who'd usually vacation overseas.

But for Melburnians who missed out, that needn't mean missing out on a great break. It's possible to holiday like a rock star from home.

Call it a "staycation" and go forth to explore your own backyard, where a plethora of experiences rival anything on offer elsewhere.

Melbourne is the gateway to a lifestyle holiday to remember," says Rhett Constantine, chief concierge, Pullman Melbourne Albert Park and president, Les Clefs d'Or Australia.

He recommends your staycation include Levantine Hill winery in the Yarra Valley (levantinehill.com.au), and a last-chance-to-see shopping expedition to Campbell Arcade beneath Flinders St Station. "It may be partially demolished to make way for the new Metro Tunnel. Home to an eclectic set of stores since after World War 2, the arcade also houses some of the best espresso you'll find."

Newer offerings include dining by the seaside – in Tullamarine – at a recently opened restaurant that includes Masterchef judge Andy Allen as one of its owners. Alongside fellow surfers, Chris Sorrell, Sam Reid-Boquist and Jeff Benne, he's opened Three Blue Ducks lagoon-adjacent at Urbnsurf, the wave park near Melbourne Airport (threeblueducks.com).

Conjure up Miami Beach by booking a cabana and shuffleboard court at Ballers Clubhouse, a huge new entertainment complex in Chinatown featuring 12 ping pong tables, four shuffleboard courts, six "social dart booths" and six bars (ballersclubhouse.com.au).

Soak up live jazz and art during the Heide Summer Festival, from January 17 to March 7 in the Sculpture Garden at Heide Museum of Modern Art (heide.com.au).

Advertisement

Immerse in more art at the NGV Triennial featuring 86 projects by more than 100 artists and collectives from more than 30 countries. It starts December 19 (ngv.vic.gov.au).

Then get classy at Andrew McConnell's new venture, Gimlet in Cavendish House, an old-school Chicago-style bar where you can enjoy proper caviar service in antique silverware (gimlet.melbourne).

Matt Sharpe, front office manager at The Langham Melbourne recommends sailing the bay with Victorian Yacht Charters (victorianyachtcharters.com.au). "Bring a picnic or dock at Williamstown and head to lunch or dinner on the beach at Sebastian." (sebastianbeachgrill.com)

For something equally special, charter a helicopter with Microflite for a scenic flight above the Great Ocean Road or to Phillip Island and back to see the penguin parade (microflite.com.au).

Do a spa day at Grown Alchemist Retail Lab and treatment rooms, at the newly completed King & Godfree complex in Carlton (grownalchemist.com).

For more holiday self-care, Ben Esakoff, creative director at United Places in South Yarra recommends attuning to nature.

"The Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria, together with In My Nature and the International Nature and Forest Therapy Alliance (INFTA) offer private guided tours of the traditional Japanese outdoor health practice of shirin-yoku (forest therapy). Recognised as a public health practice in Europe and Asia, shirin-yoku will bolster your mental and physical health by reducing stress levels, lowering pulse and blood pressure and lifting you into a more positive mood." (rbg.vic.gov.au)

Ninety minutes from the city, Fowles Wine in the Strathbogie Ranges could be the south of France with their recently opened new hay bale dining spaces along a 50-metre-long timber arbour with blossoming wisteria climbing all over. Each bay has a picnic table with sun umbrellas and a patch of lawn for a post-lunch laydown (fowleswine.com.au).

Be the beekeeper you've always wanted to be via the apiary aficionados of Honey Fingers, who are running beekeeping and hive building workshops at Ripponlea Estate (honeyfingers.com.au).

And when all that's done, why not indulge in classic experiences set up for tourists? There has literally never been a better time to book, given the lack of tourists.

Go shark diving at the Melbourne Aquarium, fly a Boeing 737 in a simulator experience, or a hot air balloon from the Yarra Valley.

Or take a walking tour through the city, such as Hidden Secrets' SLOW tour (hiddensecrettours.com) through the laneways, or do the Cluedo Experience at Old Melbourne Gaol, the world's first of its kind (oldmelbournegaol.com.au).

Comments