Your first time in Melbourne but don’t know where to start? There’s just SO MUCH Melbourne has to offer! If you’re here for more than 2-3 days, definitely plan a day trip or two because trust me, the views will just blow your mind.
1. Go on the Great Ocean Road
What’s Melbourne without the famous Great Ocean Road trip? Which is why we decided to put the Great Ocean Road on the TOP of the list. You can choose to go on a day tour, or do a self guided one since it’s super easy to navigate. Just follow the signs towards Geelong, and then follow the signs to the Great Ocean Road (B100) to drive along the scenic beaches and cliffs! A one way trip to the end of the road (nearly the 12 Apostles) takes around 3 hours, so be sure to leave Melbourne early! Honestly we find just one day to be too short, but if you’re in a rush for time, there’re a few must see stops you should definitely head to on the trip:
– Torquay beach (many nice cafes for stopover and a surf beach)
– Castle Rock (@ Aireys Inlet)
– Memorial Arch
– Lorne Beach (popular for their surf breaks)
– Kafe Koala (to find some wild koalas)
– Gibson Steps
– 12 Apostles
– Loch Ard Gorge
However, the road is CRAZY windy since you have to drive along the coast. If you are prone to motion sickness, you should definitely take some motion sickness pills before going on the trip. Not sure what can work? Check out our article on the best motion sickness remedies for you!
Time to drive: 3 hours one way, 6 hours return
2. Find the Penguins at Philip Island
Another tourist hotspot for their Penguin Parade, Philip Island is home for many wildlife animals. It’s just around a 2 hours drive from Melbourne minus the holiday peak, so do plan for your travels. Honestly, the penguins at penguin parade are SO CUTE!!! Although the entry fee can be quite pricy, they are a NGO, so the money you spend goes towards their conservation efforts. Still too pricey? Get a $5 discount from Klook by signing up here! If you still have time to spare, do head to the Philip Island Wildlife Park where you just have to pay $5 for the entrance fee and a bag of feed where you can hand feed the kangaroos, wallabies and even emus! We spent nearly 3 hours there just feeding these animals! 😉
Time to drive: 2 hours one way, 4 hours return
3. Go South towards Mornington Peninsula
Just down South of Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula has so much to offer. From horse riding lessons to scenic beaches and hiking trails, there’s definitely something for everyone! Regardless of what you do there, we highly recommend the Peninsula Hot Springs. It’s our favourite spot and we’ve been there at least 2 times just to soak in the mineral baths. You can spend your whole day soaking in the many pools the Hot Springs has to offer and even go for the saunas. You can even glamp there if you’re interested in staying the night! Just take note, the entry fees can be a little pricy (~$45), but if you’re there on a Mon-Fri before 9am, you can get a special rate of $25! Just make sure there’s no school holidays/public holidays because it goes back to the original price.
Time to drive: 1.5 hours one way, 3 hours return
4. Go even more South and hike at Wilson’s Promontory National Park
If you’re looking to hike, Wilson’s Promontory National Park is hands down our favourite National Park. It’s a huge National Park and it takes around 30 minutes to drive from the entrance to the end of the park. However, there are many hiking trails with various difficulties to suit everyone. We highly recommend hiking up to the summit of Mount Oberon because the view is breathtaking. It takes roughly 1 – 1.5 hours to climb and the roads are mostly paved; only at the top would there be some steps to reach the summit.
Another popular place to go would be The Big Drift. Located near the entrance of Wilson’s Prom, this massive coastal sand dune is definitely worth your time. If you intend to camp overnight, you can even see the Milky Way on a clear night! Just make sure not to get lost as there were many hikers who got lost while hiking The Big Drift.
Time to drive: 3 hours one way
5. Climb 1000 steps at Dandenong Ranges
Yup, that’s right. True to its name, the hiking trail consists of stairs all the way to the top. (Although it is not exactly 1000 steps) Many locals use this as a fitness trail, but these stairs were made to commemorate the ANZAC soldiers who fought in the past wars. You can read about the history while climbing the steps and also putting yourself in their shoes!
Then, head on to Puffing Billy, which is the world’s oldest surviving steam railway train. Prices start from $59 for adults and $30.50 for children. It’s definitely an experience you’ll never forget!
Time to drive: 1 hour one way
6. Find GOLD at Bendigo
Try your luck finding some gold at the Central Deborah Gold Mine in Bendigo. The gold rush boom in the 1900s led to many underground tunnels where gold mine can be found. Learn more about the history of the biggest gold rush in Australia in Bendigo and experience it for yourself. Take a tour down to Australia’s deepest underground mine tour: Nine-levels of darkness and experience what it was like being so deep underground. Too deep for your liking? There are also tours that go to levels less deep! Also, don’t forget to try the traditional Miner’s Pasty, which is half meat and half baked apple, or the Tiddy Oggie, which is half veg and half baked apple. Lunch and dessert combined into one, who wouldn’t like that?
Other than finding gold at Bendigo, you can also take the Vintage Talking Tram where you can see the sights and hop on and hop off whenever you wish. How convenient!
Time to drive: 1 hour 48 minutes one way
Time to take the train (V-Line): 1 hour 50 minutes one way
7. Hike to Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians
A definite must go, the spectacular falls in the Grampians brings out the beauty of national parks in Australia. The nearest town to Mackenzie Falls is Halls Gap, and you can even see find many wild kangaroos in the area! You can choose to hike around the falls with different routes to choose from, or you can just have a picnic and admire the natural beauty. Just remember, if you want to go to the bottom of the falls, there are many steep steps to climb and they might be slippery. Take special precaution! If you can’t climb too many steps, there are accessible lookouts too! 🙂
After hiking, check out Victoria’s largest regional zoo, the Halls Gap Zoo where you can see many animals including meerkats, rhinos, dingos and giraffes! Entry fee is $35 per adult and $17.50 per child.
Time to drive: 3 hours one way
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