Some great things to do outside of Melbourne include:

  • Visit Healesville Sanctuary to see kangaroos, koalas and more than 200 species of native wildlife in their natural habitat.  Allow 1/2 day-3/4 day at least to see this beautifully set sanctuary and the birds of pray presentation, the meetings with the keepers, and even the wildlife hospital.   Surrounding Healesville Sanctuary are plenty of picturesque vineyards and winery restaurants in the Yarra Valley to visit on the way. There's also a few orchards where you can pick fruit when it's in season. Renting a car & self driving is the most convenient option, however there is a bus service which runs from the suburban Lilydale railway station.  See http://www.metrotrains.com.au/  for a journey planner.

 

  • Travel by suburban train ( http://www.metrotrains.com.au/) from Melbourne's Flinders Street station (platform 2 or 3) for an hour to Belgrave to join the historic 'Puffing Billy' steam train to either Lakeside (Emerald Lake, with picnic facilities) or the small town of Gembrook (with its pub at which to enjoy a meal.)  Check the Puffing Billy website for the current timetable and plan to arrive 30 minutes before the train departure time.


  • Spend a day down the Great Ocean Road for dramatic coastal scenery. Self driving is not recommend if you only have one day as the round trip from Melbourne to the Port Campbell National Park is about 550km. ATWAD, Go West Tours, Melbourne Coastal Touring, Bunyip Tours and Autopia Tours are some of the small group tours to the Great Ocean Road.  For the public transport option, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays travel on V/Line from Southern Cross station to Geelong by train, change to a coach for Apollo Bay, enjoy lunch and then board another V/Line coach to Warrnambool with special stops (including 30 minutes at world famous The Twelve Apostles) along the way to admire the sights before relaxing on the three hour train trip back to Melbourne on the train with its buffet car.  First class upgrades are available for A$3 to Geelong per person in the morning and back from Warrnambool for A$6, but be sure to specify this when reserving seats.  Details at www.vline.com.au However you do it, don't miss Loch Ard Gorge. Many visitors think the gorge is even better than the Apostles themselves - and they're pretty special!

 

  • Take a cheap but comfortable V/Line train ( www.vline.com.au) that runs every hour or better from Melbourne's Southern Cross station to either Ballarat for the Sovereign Hill historical park, Bendigo for its Talking Trams and Central Deborah Goldmine or Warrnambool and its great beach scenery plus Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village.  Off peak day return adult fares are as low as A$20pp to Ballarat, and all fares include free Melbourne metropolitan train, tram and bus travel as well as free bus travel in larger rural cities like Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.

 

  • Visit the mineral springs at Hepburn and visit historical townships in Daylesford & Woodend.  There is a frequent V/Line rail service (Bendigo line) to Woodend and the other nearby historic town of Kyneton (the latter town has historic buildings plus antiques, and even a small Botanical Gardens on the walk from the railway station into town.)  V/Line coaches serve Daylesford from either Woodend or Ballarat, and even Castlemaine and Bendigo, with all these towns having great architecture dating from the goldrush days of the 1850s or shortly thereafter when Victoria was a colony rather than a state.  See www.vline.com.au 

 

  • Visit the Little Penguins at Phillip Island. The Penguin Parade is truly a magical wildlife experience. Every night the Little Penguins come ashore just after dark and make their way past (and apparently oblivious to) the spellbound humans to their burrows. The word "cute" simply does not do the penguins justice. Be warned, however, that it does get pretty chilly on Phillip Island when the sun goes down, so even in summer time it's worth bringing warm clothing. Also, the penguins' arrival time varies with the time at which darkness falls, so may be as early as 5.15pm in winter, and as late as 9.15pm in summer. Lastly, as the penguins arrive after dark, be aware that unless you're staying overnight on Phillip Island, the drive back to Melbourne takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and is very dark, with possible animals darting out in front of you on the roads. There are quite a few tour options, some which leave Melbourne in the afternoon & only do the Penguin Parade and others which are an all day trip visiting other attraction. An alternative is to use V/Line coach services from either Melbourne's Southern Cross railway station or Dandenong ( www.vline.com.au.) Visitors can then use taxis to travel to and from the Penguin Parade. Keep in mind that you will need to stay overnight on Phillip Island with the V/Line option as there are no connections available after the Penguin Parade. 

 

  • Visit the Mornington Peninsula- it has something for everyone. Around an hour from Melbourne, depending on traffic. Visit historic Sorrento - main street for shopping and the 'back beach' for the surf, Point Nepean National Park ( http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/ in Portsea (try Portsea Hotel for lunch - views straight out over the beach and bay), any of the great beaches from Rye to Dromana, the boutique wineries, galleries and gourmet restaurants in Red Hill and Main Ridge, Seawinds Park ( http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/1proces...) - again wonderful views from the top of Arthurs Seat. There are three Mazes in the area at Arthurs Seat, Boneo and Shoreham. During summer, there are options for picking strawberries & cherries, great fun for children! Other activities include the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry, dolphin cruises, golf courses, trail riding and the Peninsula Hot Springs. There is so much to do and see on the Mornington Peninsula an overnight stay (or three) is recommended, however it is possible to see a lot in one day given its close proximity to Melbourne, especially if traveling by car. Otherwise take a train to Frankston and hop on a bus to the Peninsula - however this is a fairly limited service. See http://www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/ for more information, accommodation and also dates for the markets (the Red Hill market is particularly good) and other events. Be warned: as this is Melbourne's playground it's incredibly busy over the peak summer/christmas period, any long weekend and easter - but fairly quiet outside these periods. For even more ideas for out of town trips, see http://www.visitvictoria.com.au. 

  • Download the  Visit Marysville App and take a scenic 90 min drive north-east from Melbourne to magical Marysville.  The app is a great way to explore the area. There are 14 walks of varying length and difficulty, some excellent audio tours talking about the local history, plants and animals and  a field guide with audio of the local animal calls. If you're stuck for ideas on what to do, there're also one and two day suggested itineraries and lots of other information about what's on. The App is free for Apple and Android phones and you can also download it from the Visitor Information Centre or hire iPods from there which is great. The App Store link is:  https://itunes.apple.com/ us/app/visit...  and Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/de....