5 Road Trips To Try This Summer

Grab an easy getaway at any of these road trip destinations, each less than two hours from the city centre.

The Peninsula Hot Springs in Mornington Peninsula.

1. The Yarra Valley - For Foodies

Renowned as one of the iconic wine regions in Victoria, the Yarra Valley is a no-brainer if you need a day to get away. A number of bus tours leave from both the city or Lilydale Metro train station for those intending to wet their whistle at the countless numbers of open cellar doors. Most of the tours will also take you to the Chandon winery, which is easily one of the most informative and delicious experiences for a first-timer.

If wine isn’t your thing, or you’d prefer to drive through the winding countryside, be sure to go past the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Yarra Valley Dairy, who both offer complimentary tastings of their beautiful, fresh produce.

If free, tasty food and drink still isn’t enough to convince you to go, the Yarra Valley is also home to the Healesville Sanctuary, a zoo specialising in native Australian animals and up-close experiences. Have you ever wanted the iconic Australian photo of you hugging a koala? You can do it at Healesville Sanctuary.

The best thing about the Yarra Valley is the complete lack of tourist traps. Both the locals and businesses welcome you with open arms and you truly feel a part of the laid-back country lifestyle.

2. Torquay - For Surfies

The best way to describe Torquay is ‘a surfer’s dream’. The birthplace of Rip Curl and Quicksilver, this town along the iconic Great Ocean Road is a must-see for all you beach bums. Bells Beach is best known for its excellent swell and during Easter you can even catch some of the surfing greats at Bells for the Rip Curl Pro.

The area also accommodates to novices, with surf schools and museums for those interested in the beach culture. If you want to step away from the shore (though I’m not sure why you would), Torquay is a classic beach side town. Walks, cycling tracks, markets and home-grown food and wine proliferate the region. Blackman’s Brewery is the perfect way to end your day, with tours at 4pm or the perfect beer food to gorge on during your day off.

There are also plenty of opportunities for adventure in Torquay, from skydiving and scenic flights to four-wheel driving to snorkelling, you can explore this relaxing region from the ground, sea or sky.

3. Dandenong Ranges - For Naturists

Sometimes referred to as just “The Dandenongs”, this spectacular bit of scenery houses a number of hidden gardens and attractions for families, couples and friends. There’s plenty to see and do at the Dandenong Ranges, but you could quite as easily spend your day doing not a whole lot, getting lost in countryside.

Small regional towns such a Belgrave offer a taste of country living alongside tourist stops. The renowned Puffing Billy will take you on an old steam rail ride through the tree tops that is not only a spectacular trea, but also offers a relief from the scorching heat back in the city.

Elsewhere, you can drive up to SkyHigh at Mount Dandenong, which is a favourite spot for locals, boasting the best views all the way to Port Phillip Bay. While there are plenty of family friendly attractions, The Dandenong’s doesn’t have to be a G-Rated day out. The garden maze and restaurant are exciting even for adults and the area is known to be spectacularly romantic. Don’t worry, we won’t tell your date you got the idea from us!

Finally, if you’re up for a challenge, try conquer 1000 Steps at the Kokoda Memorial Track. A common attraction, the sense of satisfaction at reaching the top alongside the beautiful landscape view is well worth the effort.

The 1000 steps in the Dandenong Ranges.

4. Mornington Peninsula - For Relaxation

Like some of the other locations, Mornington Peninsula is home to a lively wine-growing region as well as gardens and outdoor attractions for nature buffs. But to be honest, there are two reasons to go to the Peninsula that far out-weigh similar locations: the beaches and the hot springs. The region is ideal for the day-tripper who wants to unwind and reward oneself with a bit of R’n’R’ after the holidays.

There is certainly no shortage of wellness retreats throughout the Mornington Area. The Peninsula Hot Springs in particular offer a Spa Centre and Bath House, where one could easily indulge for the entire day.

As for beaches, the options are equally as plentiful. A stop down any stretch of the Bay offers anything from sunbathing, kayaking and even horse riding. Rye and Rosebud are favourite townships for families and groups of friends; you can even visit a miniature carnival on the foreshore during January. If you’re staying longer than a day, Portsea and Sorrento further down the coast boast the best nightlife on the Peninsula.

Getting there is easiest by car, but tours also operate from the CBD. There is also public transport access from the Frankston Metro train line for those who want to spend the day at the seaside but really need to pinch their pennies.

5. Ballarat - For History and Culture

A historic centre of Victoria, Ballarat is ideal for heritage, history and culture. Wildlife, museums and pampering are all available in the region, but Ballarat is best known as the centre of the Victorian Gold Rush in 1851, which visitors can learn about in the outdoor, immersive museum Sovereign Hill.

Anyone born and raised in Melbourne would not have been able to get through an average childhood without at least one school excursion or family trip to Sovereign Hill. Stepping into this part of Ballarat is like stepping back in time, with the entire area being transformed to represent life during the Gold Rush. Tours throughout Melbourne will reveal the economic benefits and lifestyle of city folk during this extremely prestigious time in our history, but at Sovereign Hill you can see where it all began.

For history buffs, or those just wanting to learn more about Australian history, there is no place more ideal. But quite honestly, it’s also a great day out and a chance to truly escape present reality for a while. Visitors could easily take an entire day, on mine tours, panning for gold, or just exploring the countless stalls and shops around ‘town’. And if you stay into the night, you can see the popular sound and light show ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’.

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