Mineral Springs to Mountains

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Taking you from sealevel to one of the highest points in Victoria, this road trip has it all.  Starting in busy streets of Melbourne and venturing to the northern border of the state, you’ll gain the full Australian experience without having to get on an airplane.  Highlights include coffee and shopping in Melbourne, hopping aboard a paddle steamer cruise on the mighty Murray River and panning for gold in Bendigo.  With so many experiences to choose from on a Victoria road trip, you may be overwhelmed.  That’s why we’ve embedded travel tips from UK visitors so you can see what people just like you recommend on this epic journey.

Day 1: Melbourne Part One

Starting point

Find your feet at Flinders Street Station. This iconic spot is the booming heart of the city and the perfect place to start your adventure. You’re an explorer and Melbourne is full of hidden laneways and secret spots to find.  A Hidden Secrets Tour will unearth some truly incredible arcades, cafes and places to admire the city’s famous street art.

For a historic stroll, make your way through the Melbourne Heritage Walk and admire the renowned Block Arcade. Built in 1892, the ornate arcade houses beautiful clothing, shoes and jewellery and the iconic Hopetoun Tea Rooms.

For a boost of energy, stop into one of the city’s coffee shop and order a flat white. Some of the best coffee comes from little nook cafes like Cup of Truth or Switch Board Cafe.

Next, make your way to Centre Place to see walls covered in changing stencil art and graffiti from local and international artists. A guided tour is a great way to find out more about the people who leave their mark on the streets – including England-based graffiti artist Bansky.

Melbourne is known for its thriving culinary scene. There are hundreds of delicious options to choose from but a trip to Naked For Satan guarantees you a world-class meal accompanied by unique and interesting cocktails.

Day 2: Melbourne Part Two

Another day in Melbourne means another day to wake up and grab world class coffee. The city has been named the one of the top coffee destination on the planet so just about anywhere you walk into will serve you something special.  For those who are caffeinated and curious, a Melbourne Coffee Tour is a must.

Next, explore the city like a local and ride a tram (it’s free!), look out for the heritage City Circle Tram which stops at all of the major landmarks and attractions. To delve a little deeper, grab a Myki card (Melbourne’s version of the Oyster) and ride the train or tram to eclectic neighbourhoods such as bohemian Fitzroy and its famous Brunswick Street.

If you’ve ever seen the Australian drama show Neighbours, we have an excursion for you. See where it all began for Margot, Kylie and Russell, with a tour to fictional Ramsay Street. The trip includes a visit to Ramsay Street and the surrounding locations and a meet-and-greet with Neighbours star.

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Day 3: Melbourne to Daylesford

Driving Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes

On day three, make your way to picturesque Daylesford but make sure to include a stop to the tiny town of Mount Macedon where private gardens and scenic strolls await curious visitors.  After three days in the bustle of Melbourne, this mountain refuge will feel like a different world.

Next, make your way to Daylesford for an overnight stay at the Lake House. The jaw-droppingly beautiful retreat comes complete with stunning gardens that guests are encouraged to explore. Check out the Kitchen Garden, orchards and sculptures from the region’s top artists. Enjoy lunch at the award-winning restaurant and finish your day with a treatment at the Salus Spa.

Make sure to also plan a visit to Hepburn Springs. Taste mineral waters from old-fashioned pumps in the Hepburn Springs Mineral Springs and book in a visit to Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa.

Day 4: Daylesford to Bendigo

Driving Time: 1 hour

Leave Daylesford for Ballarat and Bendigo, two Victorian towns rich in history. Upon arrival in Ballarat, check out the heritage precinct to learn how its gold mining history shaped the design of the city. Notice the elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings, parks, gardens, statues and churches that speak of the town’s wealthy past. Leave plenty of time for a visit at Sovereign Hill, where you can learn about local history and pan for nuggets of gold.

Next up is a visit to Bendigo to explore its vibrant arts hub along with its rich food and wine scene. Wander down View Street before a visit to the Bendigo Art Gallery, which contains a collection of Australian art dating back to the 1850s.

For another history lesson, take a tour of the Central Deborah Mine to learn about the goldrush and explore the city’s Chinese heritage at the Golden Dragon Museum.

Day 5: Bendigo to Echuca

Driving Time: 1 hour

Day five will take you to Echuca-Moama, Australia’s paddle steamer capital. Steeped in heritage, the twin towns are home to the world’s largest fleet of operating riverboats. Take a break to watch paddle steamers and waterskiers cruise along the mighty Murray River.

For dinner, hop aboard the PS Emmylou, a historic paddle steamer that now takes visitors on evening cruises down the Murray. Watch the sun go down over Victoria’s flat northern landscape as you enjoy a three course dinner.

Day 6: Echuca to High Country

Driving Time: 2 hours and 25 minutes

Stop into the historic gold-mining town of Beechworth to visit a number of significant historic buildings that tell the story of how Australia grew and prospered. First up is the Beechworth Historic Courthouse, the site of some of the dramatic events of gold era Australia, including the trial which sealed Ned Kelly’s fate. Next is a visit to the Ned Kelly Vault, to see the largest collection of Ned Kelly memorabilia, images and artifacts. Exhibition highlights the rifle used by Ned Kelly – Betty and the armour suit worn by Mick Jagger in the movie Ned Kelly. Finish off your historic journey through Beechworth with a Ned Kelly Pie from a local bakery!

What’s the best way to work off that pie?  A bike trip through High Country. The region’s Pedal to Produce Trail lays out routes between orchards, wineries and local shops where cyclists can purchase fresh local honey and cheese.  Pull over anywhere you’d like and have a peaceful and delicious picnic.

Day 7: High Country to Milawa

Driving Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

As you can probably tell, the High Country is full of tasty food and the cheese shops of Milawa do not disappoint,  taste a variety of fresh cheeses at Milawa Cheese Company. Everyone knows that cheese is best paired with wine. Luckily, this region is flush with vineyards ready to fill your glass with some of Australia’s best vino. With so many vineyards in close proximity, spend your day hopping from cellar to cellar and admiring both the wine and the scenic valley views.

Knock on a King Valley cellar door and you’ll be greeted by generations of winemaking families passionately offering tastings of their ground breaking Italian varietals. If you’re a fan of prosecco, be sure to visit Prosecco Road, a sensational food and wine trail celebrating the best winemakers producing this sparkling white.

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Day 8: Milawa to Melbourne

Driving Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Before making your way back to Melbourne,  a journey to the top of Mount Buffalo is a must. Time your trip for early in the morning and experience a grand sunrise at The Horn, a 360 degree viewing platform that overlooks the colourful land below. This may be one of the best views in all of Australia.

After a nice little hike, you’ll surely have an appetite. Steer your car towards the quaint mountain retreat of Bright. With less than 3,000 residents, this little town is short on people but tall on incredible scenery.  In autumn, the surrounding area comes alive in bright colours while winter reveals a snowy and surreal landscape. No matter what season you visit, Bright’s local coffee shops and restaurants are welcoming to road-trippers like you.

From Bright, it’s a half day’s drive back to Melbourne. The journey back to the city is a good one. Mountains, valleys, vineyards, and lush landscapes all make the drive back to Victoria’s capital one to remember.

As you can see, there’s a ton of exploring to be done in Victoria, Australia. For more road trip suggestions, please click through to our Visit Melbourne website!

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