11 Incredible Day Trips From Melbourne

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11 Incredible Day Trips From Melbourne

By Lauren Juliff
We may earn a commission from purchases you make after clicking links on this site.

There’s no doubt about it: Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world. But sometimes — despite this city’s wealth of culture and coffee — you just get hit with a craving for something a little less busy.

A little more tranquil.

Fortunately, Melbourne makes for an excellent base from which to take a day trip. There’s so many great spots to explore around Victoria.

Let us be your guide as we delve into the coastal splendour of the Mornington Peninsula, wander through the rolling vineyards of the Yarra Valley, trace the path of the majestic Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road, and discover the pristine wilderness of Wilsons Promontory National Park. We’ll share why you should rush to hike your way over the You Yangs and experience the enchanting spectacle of penguins returning to shore on Phillip Island.

There’s so many options when it comes to day tripping.

Today, then, we’re going to be sharing the very best day trips from Melbourne. Here’s what we recommend, from shortest-duration to longest.

Spend a Morning at Organ Pipes National Park

The majesty that is Organ Pipes National Park
  • Distance from Melbourne: 30 km / 30 minute drive.
  • Accessible via public transport: Yes. You’ll need to take a train from Flinders St. Station or Southern Cross to Sunbury. From there, you’ll take the 483 bus to Moonee Ponds, getting off at the Organ Pipes National Park/Calder Fwy stop.
  • Day tour available? Not for Organ Pipes.

If it’s a sunny day and you’re keen to spend a morning exploring somewhere new, Organ Pipes National Park is the place to be. It’s not too far from the centre of Melbourne and only requires a couple of hours of exploration to see it all. Pack a picnic to have while overlooking the geological features and you’ve got yourself the perfect half-day trip.

Organ Pipes National Park makes for a pleasant half-day out of Melbourne, following a 3 km circuit trail around the area’s most interesting features.

This part of Victoria was once coated in lava from a violent volcanic eruption in nearby Sunbury. As the molten lava cooled and solidified, it transformed into vertical basalt columns and has remained this way for more than a million years. You can explore the park by following a 3 km circuit around the area’s most interesting geological phenomena.

From the car park, take the trail down a moderately-steep hill until you come across a sign that directs you to the left; to Rosette Rock. This is the first landmark of the day. It’s a large basalt rock with circular columns imitating the spokes of a bicycle — it’s believed that it was once a pocket of lava that flowed inside a cave then cooled radially, creating this interesting pattern.

Take the path to the the left and you’ll discover the Tessellated Pavement: vertical columns of volcanic rock that you can climb on top of and explore. Be sure to walk across the rocks to the end, as the most impressive section is hidden away around a corner.

After walking back the way you came, you’ll soon approach the main attraction. The Organ Pipes are such an interesting geological feature and an impressive sight to behold. The chocolate-brown Jacksons Creek runs alongside the volcanic rocks, making the landscape even more picturesque. There’s a picnic area beside the lookout, along with some toilets, which makes for a perfect lunchtime stop.

Altogether, you can expect to spend two or three hours out at Organ Pipes National Park; a perfect half-day option from Melbourne.

Hiking in the You Yangs

Views from the top of Flinders Peak in the You Yangs
  • Distance from Melbourne: 55 km / 50 minute drive.
  • Accessible via public transport: Not really. You can take a train from Southern Cross to Little River, but then you’ll need to walk from there, which is a 10 km trek!
  • Day tour available? No.

If you love hiking and getting out in nature, you don’t need to travel far to do so. The You Yangs National Park is less than an hour’s drive west from Melbourne’s CBD, but will have you feeling as though you’ve travelled much further.

Dave and I are ambitious hikers, so with a full day in the You Yangs, we managed to tackled practically every hiking trail in the park, racking up 25 kilometres worth of steps in the process. But in reality, you don’t need to push yourself to do the same: many of the trails can feel a little repetitive, so we’re going to recommend the best way to get a taster of this beautiful park.

If you’re aiming to walk for around 10 kilometres, there’s three main walks you should consider hitting up.

First: is the Big Rock. Parking up at the Big Rock picnic area will get you within a hundred metres of this epic slab of granite, but we recommend parking at the Visitor Centre instead — the latter will take you on a 3 km return trail through the trees and up to the rock. This is one of the park’s most popular spots and for good reason: this is one big rock! Standing atop the stone makes for some particularly surreal photos when you look out at the surrounding bushland.

Next, drive to the Turntable car park and set off for the most well-known hike of the park: The Flinders Peak Walk (3.2 km return). Comprising 450 steps up a hill, this is a walk that can quickly get you out of breath, but the path is well-paved so it’s not particularly tricky. The views from the top make it more than worth it!

When you’ve descended from Flinders Peak, you’ll notice the signs for the East-West Walk, which takes you on a loop around the base of the mountain. Most people only opt to climb Flinders Peak, so this is an excellent option if you prefer your walks to be quiet and tranquil. We only saw a couple of other people across the entire five kilometre trail.

Adventuring in the Dandenongs

Puffing Billy: not just for kids!
  • Distance from Melbourne: 40 km / 60 minute drive.
  • Accessible via public transport: Definitely possible, but you will struggle to get between the individual attractions without a car. To get to the Dandenongs, take a train to Upper Ferntree Gully and from there, you can catch a bus to Olinda. You can also take a train to Belgrave, where Puffing Billy leaves from.
  • Day tour available? Yes! There’s several day tours that take you from Melbourne to Puffing Billy and its surrounds. The tour is priced at $188 per person, runs for 8 hours, and you can check availability here. This is a popular one, so book in advance, as it does sell out.

If the You Yangs are dry and dusty, then the Dandenongs are the complete opposite! This lush national park — just an hour’s drive east of Melbourne — is packed full of dense rainforest and ferns; home to hiking trails, gardens, eateries, and Australia’s oldest steam railway.

Because you can’t talk about the Dandenongs without mentioning Puffing Billy.

This locomotive is famous for being the only train in the world where you can sit on top of the carriage sills of the train, with your legs and arms dangling outside — you can see how it looks in practice our photo above.

And we’ve got a confession to make, over here at Everything Victoria, because we thought Puffing Billy sounded a bit cringe. It sounded a bit touristy. A bit like it would be full of screaming kids.

Well we’re holding up our hands and taking it all back because when we finally decided to take a ride on Puffing Billy, we both came away describing it as amazing. It actually was a fantastic experience — so much fun — and we’re now recommending it to everybody we talk to. And it’s definitely not just for kids — when we visited, the split was probably 80% adults to 20% children.

Now, the first thing to know is that Puffing Billy is exceptionally popular, so if you’re looking to take a day trip today, you’re going to be out of luck when it comes to riding the rails — tickets must be pre-booked and aren’t available from the station on the day.

However, despite its popularity (the most popular route from Belgrave to Gembrook sells out three months in advance!) there are occasional last-minute tickets available on less popular journeys. For example, in late-November, we managed to snag four tickets on the Belgrave to Menzies Creek route with just three days’ notice!

All that to say, if you’re going to be heading to the Dandenongs and you also plan to ride Puffing Billy, I recommend getting there half an hour early to ensure you grab a spot on the train that allows you to dangle your limbs outside.

But the Dandenongs Ranges have tons to offer outside of Puffing Billy — the area is enormous — so don’t feel disheartened if you can’t manage to get a seat; that just means you’ll be able to explore more of the region’s beauty!

If you enjoy a workout, you’re going to love the 1,000-step Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. It’s a fairly easy trail to follow, but you’ll need a moderate level of fitness simply due to the sheer number of stairs (yes, those 1,000 steps are pretty much all uphill!)

It takes under two hours to complete the loop; I recommending climbing up the Kokoda Trail and down the Lyrebird Trail to keep things interesting. Along the way, you’ll encounter plenty of historical plaques about the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, which retraces the footsteps of those who fought in the Kokoda Campaign of 1942, in which 625 Australians died. You’ll learn all about their efforts on this track, while passing by lush rainforest, dense ferns, and tons of birdlife (including the rare lyrebird!)

If you prefer your explorations to be a little more sedate, there’s plenty of gardens in the area to take a stroll through. The most beloved is the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, which is known for its plethora of rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias — it’s best to visit in spring to see their flowers at full bloom.

In summer, head to the Blue Lotus Water Garden, where you’ll encounter thousands upon thousands of different types of flowering waterlilies — best between December and April. And in autumn, the best spot is Alfred Nicholas Gardens; the leaves of the trees there transform into the most beautiful red-orange hues.

For some excellent views head to SkyHigh Mount Dandenong, where you’ll be able to grab some epic views over the forest and towards Melbourne. For wonderful boutique shopping, visit the town of Olinda, where you could spend hours picking out one-of-a-kind pieces.

For an iconic afternoon tea experience, don’t forget Miss Marple’s Tearoom in Sassafras. And if your kids are up for an adventure, check out Treetops Adventure, where you can make your way along zip lines tree ropes and even through tunnels.

A Beachy Getaway in Sorrento

  • Distance from Melbourne: 100 km / 90 minute drive.
  • Accessible via public transport: Yep, but it’s not the easiest journey. You’ll want to take a train from Flinders Street Station to Frankston, and then take the bus to Ocean Beach Rd. The overall journey time comes to roughly two and a half hours each way.
  • Day tour available? Not for Sorrento.

Located at the southern reaches of the Mornington Peninsula, Sorrento is a lovely coastal town that’s home to a rich history, beautiful beaches, and a laid back atmosphere. Most people come for the sand, but Sorrento has so much more to offer than just beautiful beaches.

One of our favourite things to do in Sorrento is stroll along Millionaire’s Walk. This walking trail runs for one kilometre along the clifftops between Portsea and Sorrento, with the name referring to both the million dollar views over Port Phillip Bay and the large, expensive houses that line the path.

A wander through Sorrento’s historic town centre is like stepping back in time. The streets are lined with charming limestone buildings that house boutique shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Plaques around town provide insights into the town’s rich maritime and pioneering history, and the Sorrento Museum helps to fill in any gaps.

When it comes to beaches, Sorrento has plenty. Front Beach is the most popular of the bunch, with its family-friendly calm waters and soft sands. If you prefer your beaches with a little less people, however, head to Diamond Bay. This is a local favourite with a sheltered cove and beautiful views.

Hit the Beaches of Torquay

  • Distance from Melbourne: 100 km / 90 minute drive.
  • Accessible via public transport: Yep! Take an hour-long train from Southern Cross Station to Marshall Railway Station, then change to the 51 bus to Jan Juc. Get off at Merrijig Drive and you’ll be a 10 minute walk away from Torquay.
  • Day tour available? Not for Torquay.

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Torquay here at Everything Victoria.

This beachy town marks the start point of the Great Ocean Road, but quite often, we find ourselves skipping out on the iconic drive just to simply while away a day in Torquay. Here, you’ve got delicious food, surf beaches aplenty, and so many gorgeous beaches. Skip spending day on Melbourne’s beaches and instead head to Torquay: it makes for a beautiful change.

If you’re into your surfing, this is a wonderful place to spend a day catching waves. The big draw is going to be Bells Beach, which is one of the most famous surf spots in the world, but there’s plenty of lesser-known spots, too. Point Impossible is home to excellent surf conditions, as is Jan Juc Beach. If you’ve never tried surfing before but have always wanted to have a go, head to Go Ride a Wave Surf School to spend a couple of hours trying it out.

The shopping in Torquay is excellent, so it’s well-worth spending an hour or two at Surf City Plaza. Here, you’ll find outlet stores for all of the big surf stores, like Rip Curl, Billabong, Quicksilver, Boardriders, Oakley, and more.

If relaxing on a beach meets your idea of a perfect day trip, then head to Torquay’s Front Beach, where the waves are calm and the waters clean. There’s a vast grassy embankment running along the beach, lined with playgrounds and sculptures, and is perfect for a picnic overlooking the water. Head to Fishos for some excellent takeaway fish and chips to have beside the sea.

One must-stop destination is the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie: I never visit Torquay without visiting! Home to some of the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten, this is a great spot for picking up souvenirs or treats for yourself. I recommend the giant white freckles, of which I have eaten five so fa.

For a family-friendly activity, opt for strawberry-picking at the Surf Coast Strawberry Fields. You’ll be able to stroll through dozens of rows of fresh strawberries with your punnet in hand, making sure only the ripest and juiciest ones make it into your container.

And finally, if you love yourself a good walk, set out on the Surf Coast Walk, 44 km trail stretches along the coastline from Torquay to Aireys Inlet. A great section of the walk runs from Torquay Sundial all the way to Bells Beach: a six kilometre walk that will take you to some of the best beaches in town.

Cycle or Hike the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail

Wooden bridge over a small brown river with bushes and trees on both sides.
  • Distance from Melbourne: 35km / 45 minute drive to Lilydale, 75km / 80 minute drive to Warburton.
  • Accessible via public transport: Yes! Take a metro train from from Flinders St Station to Lilydale (about one hour) and start from there. The 683 bus from Warburton gets you back to Lilydale at the end, stopping at most towns and villages along the way.
  • Day tour available? No

Keen to get out and enjoy some of the wonderful nature that surrounds Melbourne while taking in a bit of history along the way? Look no further than the Lilydale to Warburton rail trail, a smooth, mostly-flat 40km cycle and walking path that makes for a perfect Yarra Valley day trip.

If you’ve got your own bikes, just throw them on the back of the car or take them on the train with you to Lilydale. If not, you can easily hire mountain bikes or e-bikes from Cog Bikes, with pickup and drop-off at several points along the trail.

After the railway line stopped being used in the 1960s, the tracks were ripped up and eventually replaced with this delightful trail. It’s easy riding, and pretty much flat the whole way other than a short section at the start. As a result, it’s ideal for cyclists of all ages: I always see families out for a ride whenever I’m there, often with kids that look like they’ve barely graduated from trainer wheels!

The landscape varies between sweeping farmland and lovely sections of woodland, and the further you get from a town, the fewer other people you’ll see. I especially love the middle section between Seville and Yarra Junction, but really, there isn’t a bad part!

All of the old platforms and station signs have been retained along the trail, with useful information boards that tell the story of the local area, its people, and the railway line that connected them. The old station from Lilydale was also relocated to Yarra Junction, and now operates as a museum on Sunday afternoons and public holidays. It’s right beside the trail as you pass through town, so be sure to stop for a look even if you can’t go inside.

Because the railway ran between all the little settlements in the area, the trail does as well: ideal whenever you need to stop for a drink or something to eat! That also makes it very easy to just cycle part of the way, enjoy a leisurely lunch, and take the bus back to the start.

If you do make it all the way to Warburton, though, you’re in for a treat: with great cafes and restaurants lining the main street, this lovely little town beside the Yarra River is at popular daytrip spot in its own right, and the perfect place to end your cycle adventure.

Don’t feel like you have to tackle the trail on two wheels, though: that super-useful bus route makes walking a great option as well. I’ve walked the whole track over a couple of separate day trips, one from Lilydale to Seville and the other from Seville to Warburton. Pack snacks, water, and sunscreen, and you’re good to go.

We’ve got a complete guide to the trail, with lots of detail on each section, food and drink options along the way, and more.

Search for Gold in Ballarat

  • Distance from Melbourne: 110 km / 90 minute drive.
  • Accessible via public transport: Yep! It’s super easy. Take a 90-minute V/Line from Southern Cross Station to Ballarat. Trains run every 45 minutes or so. Ballarat’s train station is located in the heart of town and many of its attractions are walkable.
  • Day tour available? Yes! The excellent Wine Hop and Coastal tours run a full-day tour to Ballarat, which includes a visit to Sovereign Hill and the Eureka Centre. It’s priced at $189 per person.

Ballarat makes for an excellent day trip from Melbourne. This charming city was once home to one of the most productive goldfields in the world; thousands flocked here in the 1850s in search of fortune. And oh, did they find it. In fact, they’re still finding it. Just last year, somebody uncovered a $250,000 gold nugget in the hills surrounding Ballarat; it happens on a near-yearly basis.

The goldfields unsurprisingly transformed Ballarat into one of the richest cities in the world and it resulted in the grand architecture you see on its streets today.

Ballarat is most well-known for its living museum: Sovereign Hill. Built on the site of an actual gold mine, here you don’t just learn about history, you live it. The complex is designed as though the 1850s never left: in this replica village, filled with actors and activities, you’ll be able to pan for gold, tour an underground mine, buy handmade lollies, ride a horse-drawn coach, make your own candles, dress up in costumes, and watch street performances on an hourly basis.

Needless to say, you could travel up to Ballarat and spend the entire day at Sovereign Hill; there’s so much to do there. But that doesn’t mean that Ballarat itself isn’t worth exploring. In fact, I recommend spending your morning in Ballarat and your afternoon in Sovereign Hill.

After arriving in town, grab a delicious breakfast from Cafe Lekker (our favourite cafe in town), then wash it all down with a flat white from Cobb’s Coffee, who serve the best drinks in the city. When you’re suitably refreshed, it’s time to hit the streets.

The Art Gallery of Ballarat is an impressive space, filled with interesting, colourful artwork. I’m not at all an art gallery-enjoyer, but I still found plenty of exhibitions to swoon over. With free entry, it’s well-worth popping in and taking a look around.

The heritage architecture is the true highlight of Ballarat, so simply strolling down Lydiard Street makes for a historical adventure. This street is praised for having the best-preserved Victorian architecture outside of Britain itself! Highlights for me included the Regent Cinema, the George Hotel, and the Former Mining Exchange.

If nature calls to you, you’ll want to head out to Lake Wendouree and the peaceful botanic gardens that lay beside its banks. We walked the entirety of the lake’s beautiful six kilometre circumference, but you could just as easily take an Uber to the gardens to conserve energy.

After spending a gold-themed afternoon at Sovereign Hill, finish up your action-packed day with a pizza from the Forge Pizzeria. This is one of our favourite options for dinner, as their pizzas are so fresh and flavourful and with so many options for toppings.

The Great Ocean Road

  • Distance from Melbourne: 280 km / 4:30 drive time.
  • Accessible via public transport: It is… but it’s not particularly easy and it does mean that if you decide to hop off the bus to check out a beach, you’d need to wait an hour or two for the next one to come along. Still, there are regular trains from Southern Cross train station in Melbourne to Geelong, and from there, you can take a bus that stops regularly along the route — including the Twelve Apostles.
  • Day tour available? Yes! There’s plenty of day tours that take you from Melbourne to the 12 Apostles and back again. The best provider, however, is Go West Tours. The tour is priced at $145 per person, runs for 13 hours, and you can check availability here. This is a popular one, so book in advance, as it does sell out.

The Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic road trips on the entire planet, so if you find yourself in Melbourne and you’re looking to get out of the city, this makes for a logical adventure. Dave and I have tackled the Great Ocean Road as a day trip several times now and always had a fantastic time.

Kick off your time on the Great Ocean Road with some beach time in the aforementioned Torquay. Torquay is our favourite town on the Great Ocean Road, due to its beautiful beaches and thriving food scene. Pond Cafe serves up the best brunches on the stretch of road if you’re keen for some food, while Mikro Coffee Roasters has the best coffee. Check out the beautiful sundial beside the water and wander beside Front Beach; if you’re in need of a new fit, head to Surf Plaza for its many outlet stores.

From Torquay, head to Bells Beach, a world-renowned surf spot, famous for its large swells and perfect right-handers, some of which reach as high as five metres when the conditions are right. It’s a beautiful spot, so do take the time to watch the surfers from the viewpoint overlooking the waves.

One of the most snappable spots along the road is the Memorial Arch. This is the place to have your photo taken on the Great Ocean Road. The wooden arch & statue commemorate the soldiers who built the road by hand, and makes for a scenic spot to stand beneath. Just be sure to watch out for traffic!

Up next: Have you ever… ever felt like this? When strange things happen, are you going ’round the twist? If you’re a 90s kid like me, you’ll have likely spent your childhood singing the theme tune to Round the Twist, the Australian children’s comedy show about a supernatural family. And the opening credits to the show? They featured the lighthouse at Aireys Inlet! Whether you were a fan of the show or not, the structure is a real beauty; well-worth a stop to have a look around.

The Great Ocean Road is known for its wildlife so I recommend stopping off at Kennett River, a teeny-tiny settlement, with little more than a general store and a thousand koalas. Yes, this is the place to be if you’re keen to spot those native marsupials in the wild. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to spot a couple of them at the start of the trail, saving you time.

And then, the main attraction! Of course, if you do just one thing on the Great Ocean Road, it has to be seeing the Twelve Apostles! These towering limestone stacks are forever impressive, rising up out of the ocean and just demanding to be photographed. You could spend an hour here, just walking around and taking photos, as every angle provides an impressive viewpoint.

Phillip Island

View of the Nobbies and Seal Rocks on Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, with spring flowers on land in the foreground
  • Distance from Melbourne: 150 km / 2 hours drive
  • Accessible via public transport: Yes! It’s actually pretty simple. From Southern Cross, take a V/Line bus headed for Yarram, and get off at Koo Wee Rup interchange a few kilometres south of Pakenham. There, you’ll swap to another V/Line bus bound for Cowes. In total, it will take about 2.5 hours to get there.
  • Day tour available? Yes! You can take a 12-hour day trip from Melbourne with the eco-friendly Bunyip Tours. The tour is priced at $149 per person and you can check availability here.

Phillip Island is one of our favourite day trip destinations here at Everything Victoria. While it’s most famous for its evening Penguin Parade — where Little Penguins return to shore after a day of fishing — it also has so much natural beauty to uncover.

When you first get to the island, set your GPS for the Koala Conservation Centre. There, you can stroll along elevated boardwalks and up-close to these marsupials as they snooze in their treetops. Often, you’ll find yourself within a metre or two of a koala, which makes for such a magical experience!

Next up, head to the wonderful Churchill Island, which is home to the first European garden in Victoria. This little spit of land is connect to Phillip Island via a short bridge and is full of activities for kids and adults alike. If you’re looking to stretch your legs, opt for the hour-long North Point Loop around the top of the island, then head over to the working farm to check out the demonstrations. You’ll find sheep-shearing, cow-milking, and whip-cracking taking place throughout the day.

Phillip Island is home to some lovely little beaches, so take the time to check out a couple of them. Cape Woolamai is one of the best spots on the island for surfers and animal-lovers, with dozens of wallabies calling this part of the island home. Another beautiful spot is the Forrest Caves: a collection of sea caves on a stretch of untouched golden sand.

One particularly cool experience is the walk out from Kitty Millers Bay to the shipwreck of the SS Speke. Getting there requires walking just under a kilometre along a rocky beach, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Not many people head here, so it’s a good place for escaping the crowds and taking a moment to embrace your surroundings.

Round off your time on Phillip Island with the Penguin Parade! This takes place every evening at sunset on Summerland Beach. At the sun sets, thousands of Little Penguins return to the island after a day at sea, and you can sit there and see it all take place. Often, you can get within a single metre of these adorable animals and it makes for such a wonderful experience to see them all up close and personal.

If you’d like a detailed itinerary to follow, we’ve got a separate day trip guide for Phillip Island as well.

The Grampians

Man sitting on large rock viewpoint looking at view over valley and hills
  • Distance from Melbourne: 250 km, or a driving time of exactly three hours.
  • Accessible via public transport: Technically, yes, but enjoyably, no. If you’re going to be travelling on a Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, or Friday, you can take a combination of trains and coaches from Southern Cross Station to Halls Gap (Melbourne to Ballarat/Ararat to Stawell to Halls Gap) with a total journey time of three and a half to four hours. Once you arrive in Halls Gap, you’ll be moderately limited without a car.
    Still, if you just want to get a taster of the Grampians, you could look to head out on the Venus Baths Loop hike or have a go at summiting Chatauqua Peak; both walks start from Halls Gap. You could also spend some time at the lovely cafes in Halls Gap or go kangaroo-spotting in the parks in town. Really, though, with such limited time, you’d be better off taking a tour.
  • Day tour available? Yes! You can take a 13-hour day trip from Melbourne with the well-loved Go West Tours. The tour is priced at $145 per person and you can check availability here. This is a popular one, so look to book in advance, as it does regularly sell out.

If you’re big on hiking, there’s one day trip destination that’s best: Grampians National Park! Known for its rugged mountain ranges, ancient rock formations, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, this part of the state is a dream for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.

With one day to spare, you can get a pretty good taste of what the park has to offer.

Once you arrive at Halls Gap (the main town in the Grampians), you’re going to want to kick things off with a hike to one of the park’s best viewpoints. The Pinnacles is one of the most popular lookouts in the Grampians, so make it your first port of call. Because time is limited, I recommend heading to the Wanderland Carpark and then tackling the trail from there to the Pinnacles. It’s 2 km return and should take around 90 minutes.

I recommend bringing a picnic with you for your day in the Grampians so that you don’t have to waste time waiting for food in Halls Gap. If you’ve done so, you can drive onwards to Reeds Picnic Area to replenish your energy. From there, it’s a few minutes to Reed Lookout; another breathtaking viewpoint overlooking the park.

From Reed Lookout, take the easy 1 km walk to the Balconies. This is another really popular spot in the park, thanks to its incredible views over the bushland.

Next up: MacKenzie Falls, which is one of the largest waterfalls in all of Victoria! It’s well worth heading here to take a look. You’ll want to take the MacKenzie Falls Walk (rather than the MacKenzie Falls Lookout Walk), which takes you to the base of the impressive falls. You can expect this walk to take 90 minutes return.

It’ll be around 4 p.m. by this point, so most likely, you’ll want to start thinking about heading back to Melbourne. If you still have a little more time, though, head to Halls Gap to spend an hour wandering through the town and spotting all the wildlife. Kangaroos and wallabies tend to hang out in the local parks and are surprisingly easy to see.

Wilsons Prom

  • Distance from Melbourne: 210 km / 3 hours drive
  • Accessible via public transport: Not really. You can take a V/Line bus from Southern Cross Station to Fish Creek, but that still puts you at 55 km from Wilsons Prom. From Fish Creek, you could hire a taxi, but given the high cost of doing so, you might as well pay for a tour instead.
  • Day tour available? Yes! You can take a 12-hour day trip with the excellent Hike and Seek Tours. The tour is priced at $200 per person. Check availability here.

Located exactly three hours from Melbourne, Wilsons Promontory (known as “The Prom” by locals) is a haven for hikers, animal lovers, and nature enthusiasts. Yes, this is one of the most beautiful parts of Victoria and home to some of the state’s best beaches.

With a full day on the peninsula — even with the long drive — you can see a surprising amount.

Start your day trip with a hike up the other-worldly Big Drift: a gigantic sand dune in the middle of a forest. It makes for some particularly epic photos and will have you feeling like you’re the only person around for miles.

Our favourite hike in the park is the Mount Oberon summit, so we’d suggest going there next. It takes two hours to climb and descend, but the views from the top, overlooking the coastline and mountains, make it more than worth it.

Grab lunch at the Tidal River General Store & Take Away (their hot chips are deliciously crispy), then aim to spend your afternoon checking out some of the Prom’s best beaches.

Squeaky Beach is a tourist-favourite, famed for its dazzling white sand that squeaks when you walk across it. Whisky Bay is particularly photogenic with its brightly-coloured granite rocks. And Norman Bay is fantastic for swimming, with calm waters and enough space to escape the crowds.

Round off your time at Wilsons Prom with a stroll along the Prom Wildlife Walk. It takes less than an hour to walk the loop, but will bring you up close to kangaroos, emus, wallabies, and wombats.

Jan Juc Beach in Torquay

And That Was the Day Trips!

As you can see, there’s no end of places to day trip to from Melbourne.

Photo of author
About the author

One half of the team behind Everything Victoria, Lauren loves road trips, great food, and seeking out the best beaches in the world. Originally from the U.K., she moved to Melbourne after ten years spent exploring the planet as a travel writer; she believes she's chosen the best city in the world to live.

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