The great escape down under; somewhere refreshing, somewhere far, somewhere quiet yet full of live. Australia is more than just its marsupials and Vegemite, beaches and cafes.
Photo credit: Alvin Ng
My recent road trip in Melbourne had plenty great moments that made it to my list of best travel memories. Yet, the 5 great moments in Australia have nothing to do with any of the above. Even without the iconic Sydney Opera House nor the Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne has so many underrated places that may leave you more awe-struck than the former two. Here are my top 5!
1) Grampians National Park
If you haven’t already visited Melbourne, Grampians is the perfect reason why you should head down under this December! Grampians National Park houses more than a third of Victoria’s floras. With lodges and campsites, there’s plenty of accommodation options for the adventurous (and not so adventurous), making it the perfect getaway from the city!
Camping in the Grampians is also a great experience after picking one of the many hiking paths to the top. Just remember to bring your own tents and camping gears!
2) Great Otway
At the join of rainforests and sea, the Great Otway presents a multitude of environment for outdoor activities. Situated along the Great Ocean Road, you can soak in the magnificence of the rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, or weave through the Great Otway National Park and admire the waterfalls and tranquil lakes.
Although Great Otway is only a 2hr 30min drive from Melbourne City, you don’t have to tire yourself out with a late night drive back home — spend the night camping at Bimbipark Caravan and Camping while you’re at Cape Otway! At this cheap and fully equipped campground, you won’t have to worry about firewoods, food or showering needs. All necessities can be bought at their mini store.
Stay the night, bask in the star lit sky and chilly winter night, all while enjoying the warmth from the softly crackling firewood. It isn’t everyday that we get to see the Milky Way with our naked eyes and fall asleep to the gentle rustling of leaves around us.
Bimbipark Caravan and Camping
Address: 90 Manna Gum Dr, Cape Otway VIC 3233, Australia
3) Black Spur Drive & Yarra Ranges National Park
Located just between the Yarra Valley and the mountain areas around Marysville, the Black Spur Drive is a 27.9km road that starts from Healesville and brings you through a forest of Australian bush. Wind down your windows as you drive through the spectacularly tall trees and you’ll be in for a treat! The towering mountain ash trees will welcome you with its woodsy fragrance. It’s no wonder Black Spur Drive is said to be one of Victoria’s greatest drive! While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by the picnic areas and take a stroll through the trail to admire a thicket of trees, including some giant ferns and bushes!
If you’re already making a drive through Black Spur, consider heading eastwards to the Yarra Ranges National Park too! It’s just approximately 20km away ? Take a walk through their rainforest walkway or even go prepared with food for an afternoon of picnic at Fernshaw, Donnelly Weir or Badger Weir Picnic area.
4) Mount Donna Buang
Of course, a trip to Melbourne is not complete without visiting its magnificent mountains. Mount Donna Buang is just 27km eastwards from Healesville. The winding road up to the peak of Mount Donna Buang will take you through a drop in temperature with every few hundred metres. As the elevation climbs, ice and snow becomes more abundant. It’s a pretty captivating sight! If you think you won’t get to see snow in Australia, this is where you should be. At the peak, expect to see heavy snowfall during the months of winter. If it gets a bit too cold, you can even grab hot food and drinks from the food van parked right beside the carpark area.
Pro-tip: If you’re planning a drive up the snowy mountain, remember to rent snow-chains and have them with you in your car. You may be required to have your snow-chains for your car tires if the roads are icy. These chains can easily be rented from town at the foot of the mountain. If you’re caught without snow-chains, you may be fined 2,000AUD!
5) Mount Baw Baw
If you’re up for some winter sports, Mount Baw Baw is the perfect place for you to go! From skiing to snowboarding to toboggans, you’re sure to spend a superb day at Mount Baw Baw. This is the closest ski resort to Melbourne, located around 2hr 40min drive away.
The best part is, Mount Baw Baw offers all kinds of affordable accommodation at their ski resort, from lodges to apartments to cabins and bunks. So if you had too much fun and lost track of time, book a room and stay for another day of fun before heading back the next day. Trust me, when you’re having so much fun there, there’s no hurry for you to leave ?
If you get hungry, there’s even a cafeteria located right in the ski resort, serving all kinds of hot food and drinks. So rent your gears at Mount Baw Baw and the rest of your day will be jam-packed with endless fun!
Road trips are always great fun. There may be a destination that we’re trying to get to everyday, but don’t forget to stop and admire the beautiful places that you pass by. Australia has beautiful pine tree forests, windmills and farms. It’s always refreshing to take a pit stop and admire their scenery while resting ?
Do you have more recommendations to add to our list of off-the-beaten-track destinations? Tell us more!