Destinations / Travel

8 destinations just outside Melbourne to book for your last-minute summer weekender

With another year firmly behind us, it's time to make the most of the weekends to come. For those of us who have been cooped up in the city for months on end with little else but greener pastures on your mind, we're rounding up our favourite destinations to flock to when only fresh air and a mini road trip will do.

With this in mind, find 8 destinations just outside of Melbourne that make for the perfect weekend escape, below.


1. Birregurra


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Anyone that finds themselves travelling through the Otway Hinterland cannot do so without a stop at the historic town of Birregurra. Oozing country charm and offering many opportunities for the food obsessed, it takes just under 2 hours to drive here from the heart of Melbourne; however if you want to squeeze the most out of this weekend trip it's best to organise dining and sleeping arrangements well in advance.

Eat: A stop at this historical town would be wasted without a trip to the celebrated hatted restaurant, Brae. Its menu uses ingredients sourced directly from the surrounding farm, with the belief that farming should be seasonal, local and regenerative. Although, it's not the sort of place you can just show up to so book ahead. Consider this stop for the organised only.

Stay: If you're dining at Brae you might as well take advantage of its on site accomodation.

Do: Stock up on local produce and crafty delights at the Birregurra Sunday Markets.


2. Torquay

For the water obsessed, little else will conjure up more excitement than a road trip along the Great Ocean Road with Torquay as the final destination. As we all know, real surf is hard to come by in Melbourne, so when a good dose of salt water is the only medicine, zoom over to Torquay, stat.

Eat: In between fish and chips and bouts of Mexican fare, drop in to Samesyn for a dining experience that spotlights the best in local and Indigenous ingredients.

Stay: At RACV Resort for The White Lotus aura.

Do: Submerge yourself in the ocean and don't come up for air, save for eating and sleeping.


3. Port Fairy

If your goal is to forget that you're in Victoria completely, Port Fairy is bound to do the trick. The seaside town with its blue stone cottages feels halfway between an Icelandic fishing village and Brighton in England. It's also isolated enough from Melbourne that you could convince yourself you're in another country (the drive is just under four hours).

Eat: For brunch that is unmatched head on over to Bank St and Co. otherwise nestle up by the fire at the recently refurbished Oak & Anchor Hotel.

Stay: In keeping with the charming, seaside village theme, is there anywhere else to stay besides the Oak & Anchor pub?

Do: Come for the Port Fairy Folk Festival in March. Surf, do the lighthouse walk at dawn or dusk and an obligatory stop past the 12 Apostles is in order on the drive over.


4. Mornington Peninsula

When you want to cut down on the drive time, but still put enough kilometres between you and the bustling city, the Mornington Peninsula is your friend. For those who's idea of a weekend escape is dripping in luxury and natural vistas, look no further.

Eat: Begin your weekend with a flat white at Commonfolk or Store 360 before making your way to Portsea Hotel for an al fresco lunch. Drop into the Mornington Peninsula Brewery for an afternoon pint then end your day at Polperro for dinner.

Stay: At the luxury Jackalope hotel where an infinity pool overlooks lush vineyards, and where you can indulge in a spa treatments like LED Light Therapy, a variety of massages and a botanical facial.

Do: Immerse yourself in the great outdoors and simmer in the Peninsula Hot Springs during your stay. Otherwise check out the velvety hedges of Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens.


5. Daylesford

At the foothills of the Great Dividing Range is the leafy town of Daylesford. Quaint, wintery and in the middle of nowhere, bring your beau or arrive solo to unwind and usher in the weekend at a snails pace.

Eat: No trip to Daylesford would be complete without a meal at Pancho's Cafe or Bistro Terroir.

Stay: At the peaceful Lake House for a classic hotel experience that centres tranquility and

Do: Artisan stores and galleries abound in Daylesford. We recommend wandering over to Convent Gallery — a beautiful art space tucked into a restored convent — before making your way into slow fashion and homewares boutique Manteau Noir. To unwind, book yourself in for a treatment at Hepburn Spa and discover the joy of a mineral soak.


6. Yarra Valley


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Make a run for the hills this weekend, to one of the most-visited wine regions in the world: Yarra Valley. Just an hour's drive from central Melbourne, it's an easy day-tripper or a weekend staycation. The cool-climate wineries offer tastings each week for gems like chardonnay and pinot – and with hundreds of wineries to choose from, you can have a different experience each time you visit. But aside from the vino, there's plenty else to do in Yarra Valley – like walking trails, art galleries and a myriad of local produce to snuff out.

Eat: If you're looking for a bougie blow-out dinner, then Levantine Hill is a must. A mix of house-made snacks and bespoke food options are lovingly prepared to compliment some of the rarest and most expensive wines in the world.

Stay: If you're heading to Yarra Valley, it's a great opportunity to stay on-site at one of the world-class vineyards in the region. The Farmhouse at Meletos is an exquisite boutique accommodation with 23 unique suites that look out across uninterrupted views of their vineyards and apple orchards.

Do: Wander the exhibitions at the acclaimed Tarrawarra Museum of Art, or line up your trip with one of the region's exciting cultural events and attractions.


7. Phillip Island


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A hotspot for families and thrill-seekers alike, Phillip Island off the coast of Victoria has long been a top weekend destination for Melbournites. Yes, you can see their adorable colony of penguins, or you can time your trip to watch their spectacular Grand Prix Circuit. There are scenic walks aplenty too – and only around a two hour commute from the Melbourne city centre.

Eat: Saltwater Phillip Island offers a relaxed brewery-style atmosphere, paired with uninterrupted waterfront views out toward the Phillip Island Bridge and Westernport Bay. It's a favourite amongst locals, combining quality local produce with a range of family-friendly favourites like wood-fired pizzas.

Stay: Verandah Retreat is a gorgeous beach house located just 200m walk from the foreshore of Cowes bay Beach, and a 10 minute walk to the main street. Equipped with all the essentials and then some – including a cast-iron fireplace, Nespresso coffee machine and an outdoor shower.

Do: We'd find some space in your itinerary for a spot of whale watching, and if the weather's nice perhaps some surfing and kayaking lessons?


8. The Grampians


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Perhaps best known as one of the state's best nature escapes, The Grampians national park houses some of the country's most spectacular natural and cultural sites. It's also home to some of the region's best food and wine, which is great for a post-hike refuel.

Eat: You'll definitely need to book a table at the Royal Mail Hotel during your weekend trip, an award-winning fine dining restaurant that embraces their regional charms and pulls from their own rolling pastures and Kitchen Garden to produce their wares. They also have an impressive wine cellar, 30,000 bottles strong.

Stay: DULC design funky private cabins nestled amid the beauty of the Grampians bushland. Architecturally designed, they offer glass-top bathrooms, private decking, barbecues, comfy king-sized bedding and gas log fires for a cosy night in.

Do: It's simply a non-negotiable that you get outdoors on a trip to The Grampians, so it's a good idea to explore their offering of hiking trails. If you've got kids in tow, we'd recommend paying Rosehaven Farms a visit, to see their adorable animals, including alpacas, miniature donkeys and dorper sheep.


For more in the way of weekend getaways, why not take this guide to weekend escapes outside of Sydney?

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