The appreciation we have at the moment for the great outdoors and the positive effect it can have on our mental and physical health is greater than it has ever been. In Japan this nature therapy is called Shinrin-Yoku or ‘Tree Bathing’. Clean fresh air, sunlight and greenery: these are things that we do not take for granted living in a city during lockdown.
Now that lockdown is officially over, many Melbournians are ready to stretch their legs and shake off the confinement of the last few months with some much needed ‘tree bathing’. We’re here to help with a list of the best day trips from Melbourne that are just what the doctor ordered.
Located at the southernmost point of mainland Australia, Wilsons Promontory, or ‘The Prom’ as it’s known by locals, is only two-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne. This picturesque headland is nestled between approximately 50,460 hectares of national park and 15,500 hectares of marine national park. There are many walks and places to explore within the national park itself, or head to the coast and walk along its iconic white sand beaches.
Feeling like more than just a day trip? Wilsons Promontory eastern circuit is a 36.5 kilometre hike that can be done over three days, exploring stunning hidden beaches and undisturbed coast line, this walk is touted as one of the best in the state.
The Grampians National Park
Driving four hours north west of Melbourne, through flat Victorian farmland, the Grampians rise seemingly out of nowhere. Dense bushland, sweeping mountain tops and an abundance of wildlife - the region, also known as Gariward to the traditional people of the area, contains 90% of the Indigenous rock art sites in Victoria and plays a central part in the dreamtime creation story for the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people.
Surrounded by lush and fertile land, the area has an abundance of fresh produce and vineyards. Stay in one of the quaint towns nestled amongst the ranges and explore what the weekend markets have on offer. There is no better place to recharge your batteries than within this sacred landscape.
Great Ocean Road - Port Fairy
After turning off the Great Ocean Road, you’ll be welcomed by nineteenth century cottages and sandstone churches. This sleepy fishing village can be found just three hours west of Melbourne, and with something to charm you around every corner Port Fairy feels like it’s been pulled straight out of a story book.
Watch as fishermen unload their daily catch at the wharf that runs through the centre of town. From here you can take a guided boat tour out to the seal colony on Lady Julia Percy Island, where in the warmer months you can watch for whales as they come to breed and give birth off the southern coast.
With rich history, fresh seafood and many sites and places to explore, Port Fairy is as magical as its name suggests, and a must you are planning a day trip from Melbourne.
The Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley
Much loved for day trips from Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges and the Yarra Valley are the gifts that keep on giving.
Lush ferny rainforest floors below towering giant eucalypts, The Dandenong Ranges are often referred to as the ‘lungs of Melbourne’. Enjoy a walk through the mountains or visit one of the charming tea houses or cafes dotted around the region. With abundant natural beauty in this misty mountain retreat, you’d be forgiven for forgetting you're only a short drive from one of Australia's biggest cities.
After your descent from the mountains you can head into the famous Yarra Valley and the fertile rolling green hills that have made this region famous for some of the best wine Australia has on offer. Come to eat, drink and be merry amongst the vineyards - need we say more?
TOP TIP: Wine not for you? Perhaps gin is more to your taste, the Four Pillars Gin distillery is located in Healesville and offers many events and tastings throughout the year.
These surreal rock formations have long been the centre of local stories, myths and legends including the inspiration for Joan Lindsay’s classic Australian novel Picnic at Hanging Rock. Created by strong volcanic activity and weather erosion, the ancient rocks also play an important role for the local indigenous communities. Archeologists have found evidence that suggests the location was used for ceremonies as far back as 10,000 years ago, adding to the significance and mystery that surrounds the region.
Hanging Rock is located on the Macedon Ranges, nestled between the towns of Newhan and Hasket, around a one hour drive from Melbourne. Why not spend the day here and stop by some of the wineries and restaurants located around the region.
Lavender farms, hedge mazes and some of the best beaches in Victoria – there are lots of reasons to visit the Mornington Peninsula. Conveniently located just outside Melbourne, this easy drive will take you just over one hour. Check out Brighton Beach to see the brightly coloured bathing boxes that date back to the 1900’s. Add in the beautiful white sand beach and it’s no wonder this is one of the most photographed places in the state.
Head over to the Peninsula Hot Springs for a little ‘me’ time in their natural geothermal mineral pools. The site also offers full spa and massage treatments, restaurants and accommodation. The perfect spot to begin to feel like yourself again after the long lockdown.
Phillip Island is home to the famous penguin parade, a daily event where spectators take to the stands overlooking Summerland beach to watch hundreds of little penguins waddle their way up the shoreline. Located two hours south of Melbourne, there is much more to this beautiful island than meets the eye. Enjoy walks along Nobbies Boardwalk around around the headland that showcases much of the dramatic and rugged natural beauty of the island. Animal lovers can visit the local koala sanctuary and wildlife parks. Tours to Seal Rock where you can find the country’s largest colony of fur seals are also on offer.
Rev heads can try their hand at go karting on the world renowned racecourse that hosts the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix each year in October.
Header image: Wilsons Promontory - Visit Victoria Content Hub