A weekend in Victoria offers the chance to indulge in the state’s best bits including fresh country air and heritage charm. Here, the best weekends away in Victoria for your hit list.
Located in the rolling, lush farming countryside of South Gippsland in ‘Prom Country’, Loch is the kind of delightful small town that Victoria does as stock-and-trade.
An easy drive from Melbourne, the township was bypassed back in 2008, which led to a revival of quaint here. The main street is infinitely strollable, passing by small shops filled with antiques and collectibles and cosy cafes like Udder & Hoe.
Udder & Hoe, Loch.
Basing yourself in Loch also allows you to sample the wares of the craft breweries, distilleries and wineries that thrive in the area.
The quaint town of Loch is the heart of Gippsland.
With a population that hovers well under the 1000 mark, Dunkeld is a picture-perfect town that is also a gateway to the impressive scenery and nature of the Southern Grampians.
Divide your days into nature-based pursuits in the morning like hiking the mammoth forms of Wurgarri (Mt Sturgeon), Mud-Dadjug (Mt Abrupt) or Bainggug (the Piccaninny) to absorb panoramic views of the Southern Grampian range, and then spend the afternoon wandering the Dunkeld Arboretum walking track and browsing the shops along the main street before retiring to the Royal Mail Hotel to sample its acclaimed menu (you can – and should – stay here, too).
This former gold rush town in Hepburn Shire holds the distinction of being an internationally recognised Book Town, one of only 15 in the world along with the likes of Montereggio in Italy and Ingstrup in Denmark.
The title comes into its own with the staging of the annual book festival; this year’s month-long Turn the Page event will see author talks, panel discussions and workshops held over two weekends in May.
Outside of this, the town is a gem to discover, with much of its gold rush architecture – such as the Clunes Town Hall – wonderfully preserved.
Clune’s Town Hall, Victoria.
Sitting proudly on the mighty Murray River near its junction with the Darling, the fertile soils around Mildura have earned it an enviable reputation for fruit growing, from the juicy citrus variety to the ones you can make seriously good wine out of.
Sample the fruits of the city’s labour (pun intended) at any of the restaurants and bars dotted along Langtree Avenue, or go straight to the source at the cellar doors, farm gates and roadside stalls scattered throughout the region.
Fuel up on coffee and bagels slathered with local avocado at Nash Lane before riding one of the vintage paddle steamers that cruise the distinctive brown waters of the Murray.
Nash Lane, Mildura.
The peaceful waterfront village of Metung is a bit of a secret gem of the East Gippsland region for interstaters, but Victorians love it come holiday time.
Find out what they know by visiting to soak up the lazy village atmosphere, swim, fish and boat its calm waters and enjoy the local produce and fresh seafood that is in plentiful supply; plan your trip to coincide with the farmers’ market, held on the second Saturday of the month.
Finish each day here walking the boardwalk before scoring a table at a nearby café with a glass of something dry and fruity in hand.
Metung on the Gippsland Lakes.
If your idea of the perfect weekend away involves less lounging and more adrenalin, then Halls Gap is for you.
Right in the heart of Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park, days here can be filled with everything from abseiling to bushwalking, rock climbing and cycling, before heading back to the village for great coffee and food at any of its cafes and restaurants.
Lookout over Halls Gap.
For those who like to take things a bit slower, try a Grampians wine tour or discover the Aboriginal rock art at Gulgurn Manja that tells the stories of the local Jarwadjali people.
Play ‘Paper Scissors Rock’ to determine designated driver before visiting the microbrewery of the same name and checking into your dinky Dulc cabin.
Paper Scissors Rock Brew Co., Halls Gap.
A dinky Dulc cabin in Halls Gap.
The history and attractions of the Bellarine Peninsula town of Queenscliff belie its size and general laid-back demeanour.
Its position at the entrance to Port Phillip bestowed the town with strategic importance in times gone by, leaving behind a historic fort that you can visit as part of a guided tour, and its distinctive black stone lighthouse – Queenscliff High Light – which is one of only three black lighthouses in the world.
Weekenders should also tick off a visit to the town’s pier, built in 1884, a shopping expedition around its galleries and antique shops, and a snorkelling expedition to swim with the sea lions that dash and dart through the waters offshore.
Another gem of a town in Hepburn Shire, Trentham boasts lovely tree-lined streets and a thriving local food scene.
The latter is not surprising considering the rich volcanic soil of the Great Dividing Range is the perfect base for growing all manner of produce – from chestnuts to olives and fruit. But it is the humble spud that is the star here, with many considering Trentham potatoes to be the best around.
The town also has an award-winning bakery – Red Beard Bakery – that produces crunchy, tangy sourdough you are going to want to take away with you.
While here, make time to walk to Trentham Falls – it will help work off the bread and potatoes!
This Yarra Valley town and its surrounds are home to a divergent roster of attractions, from verdant national parks to manicured vineyards to a statement-making art gallery with a sharp, modern design that sits in pleasing contrast to the rolling hills of the countryside it looks out at.
Plan to fill a few days here by sampling all of these: wander through the Rainforest Gallery in Yarra Ranges National Park and climb the stairs to its vertiginous observation platform; hit up the cellar doors at TarraWarra Estate and nearby Oakridge Wines; spend an hour or two browsing the art at TarraWarra Museum of Art.
And, while you are in town, it would be remiss of you not to pop into Four Pillars Distillery, which has put the Victorian township on the gin map.
Melbourne has long topped the list as an ideal city to dash to for a quick break filled with shopping, eating and exploring.
Add headlining sporting events, abundant galleries and museums and big-name theatre productions and you still haven’t scratched the surface.
The best thing to do is book a flight now and add to the list yourself.