Victoria is one of the few Australian states where you can drive a (comparatively) short distance and get somewhere interesting, plus it has scenery which varies from desert to mountains (where, yes, there is snow in winter) to amazing coast lines. Most but not all towns have good food and wine. Below are only a few suggestions.
Werribee Open Range Zoo (35 min. by car). African flavoured adventure www.zoo.org.au/Werribee.
Healesville Sanctuary www.zoo.org.au/healesville. (Approx. one hour by car) Natural bush. Lots of Australian animals, some of which you can pat (for a fee). Personal favourites: flight arena (where you see birds such as hawks flying free), dingoes (howling at dusk!), platypus (impossible to see properly in the wild). One hour by car. Recommend going on to Yarra Valley for wineries and good restaurants. Also to TarraWarra Museum of Art, 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville, Victoria, Australia Melway reference 277 B2 http://www.twma.com.au/ (IF you like modern art) Also a café and winery.
Fairy penguins at Port Phillip Island (2 hours along boring freeway) www.visitphillipisland.com/listing/penguin-parade .
Sovereign Hill in Ballarat http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/ Australia’s foremost outdoor museum, it recreates Ballarat’s first years after the discovery of gold when thousands of international adventurers rushed to the goldfields. Costumed ladies and gents parade their new-found wealth and you can pan for (& keep) real gold. There’s a nightly sound-and-light show, ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’, the story of the 1854 Eureka Uprising. About 1 hr 30 mins by car. The road is fairly boring, but Kryal Castle, a few kilometres this side of Ballarat might be fun. It is a fake medieval fortress with accompanying medieval events. http://kryalcastle.com.au/ Ballarat itself has lovely Victorian architecture and a charming art gallery. Also a nice walk round Lake Wendouree and the Botanical Gardens.
Echuca. Cute river town on the Murray with steam riverboats. 3.5 hour drive so not really a day trip. Stop at Heathcote for wines.
Lots of picturesque gold towns with classic Victorian era architecture: Bendigo (excellent art gallery), Castlemaine (excellent art deco art gallery and petite but picturesque Botanical Gardens with significant trees) etc.
Heide Museum of Modern Art www.heide.com.au/ Great contemporary art, gorgeous kitchen garden and elegant Café Vue. 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen. (40 mins from CBD)
Montsalvat www.montsalvat.com.au Eccentric and beautiful artists colony founded in 1934 and built in Gothic style. With exhibitions and various activities. Nice sounding restaurant.
7 Hillcrest Ave, Eltham VIC 3095
Melways Map: 22 A8
Bus 582 from Eltham Station (40 mins)
Hilly Daylesford/Hepburn Spa country /www.spacountry.com.au/ and mineralspa.com.au/ is a pleasant 1.5 hour drive through picturesque forests. Plenty of good restaurants, massage places, & walks (but chilly in August). Vintage train rides. Good accommodation.
Peninsula Hot Springs www.peninsulahotsprings.com/ 30 Springs Lane, Fingal. Luxurious hot (but open air!) spas, massages, etc. 90 mins. Shuttles on Tues & Saturday & various packages. See www.melbourneonthemove.com.au
Red Hill Spa http://redhillspa.com.au/ One hour from CBD. Located on Mornington Peninsula, which has loads of wineries, good cafes & foodie places
The Great Ocean Road. but that is a LOOOOONG drive to do in one day (3.5 hours minimum). You’d be better off taking a tour, which is well worth it as it’s a magnificent piece of coastline with glorious forests full of ancient tree ferns. But very cold at that time of year. www.visitvictoria.com/Things-to-do/Touring-routes/Great-Ocean-Road-touring-route Viator bus tours are well reviewed.
The Dandenongs. Puffing Billy is a very cute century-old little steam train which winds through a beautiful fern tree forest (but note high number of screeching kids on weekends) in the Dandenong mountains. 1 Old Monbulk Rd Belgrave www.puffingbilly.com.au/ (1 hour) While you’re there, you might stroll through the Dandenong Ranges National Park & the William Ricketts Sanctuary http://visitdandenongranges.com.au/. Try beautiful Miss Marples Tea Rooms 382 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras; & gourmet The Piggery at Burnham Beeches, 382 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras www.piggerycafe.com.au/ next to picturesque Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens
Hanging Rock. www.visitmacedonranges.com/natural-attractions/hanging-rock/ Weirdly beautiful rock formation which forms the background for the film and book ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’. Nice healthy climb to the top. Good wineries nearby. (1.5 hours)
Written by Patsy Poppenbeek