From the classic escapes – think: coastal getaway or spa retreat – to new holiday ideas you've probably never thought of but definitely need to try, these are the best long weekend getaways in Victoria to start planning for now.
For a coastal getaway: Port Fairy
Historic churches, wide streets lined with Norfolk pines and an excellent old-school Chinese restaurant… there’s a dreamy nostalgia to the coastal town of Port Fairy, at the western end of the Great Ocean Road. Stay at Drift House (pictured), a five-minute walk to the wharf and its bobbing boats or a cruisy bike ride to the beach (they’ll provide the bikes). The six suites combine the old with the new and our favourite is Suite One, which features an open fireplace and a large freestanding stone bath.
For a hip retreat: Geelong
Once upon a time, Geelong was a place Melburnians would bypass to get somewhere else – the Great Ocean Road or the waves at Bells and Torquay beaches. Not any more. Victoria’s second-largest city has come a long way from its industrial past, with its heritage warehouses now converted into hipster haunts, such as Zigfrids, a restaurant and bar in what was once a panelbeater’s workshop. Its interiors – high ceilings and exposed brick walls – are characterful reminders of the past but the food is all about the present: ricotta dumplings with caper and raisin dressing, say, or braised lamb shoulder with labne. If you’d prefer fine dining, book a table at Bistrot Plume, which specialises in classic French dishes, such as cheese soufflés, steak tartare and chateaubriand. There are plenty of gorgeous Airbnbs in town but if you want your digs to be as divine as your dinner, drive 20 minutes south-west to Leopold and base yourself at Campbell Point House (pictured top) a waterfront mansion with eight exquisitely furnished suites and an infinity- edge pool. There’s also a spa on site, where you can sign up for a hydrating facial or give in to a Turkish rose massage.
For a houseboat holiday: Boatel, Mildura
A houseboating weekend doesn’t have to be hokey. Not on the Murray River, anyway, where the sleek glass-and-steel Boatel feels akin to staying at a floating luxury hotel. There are five staterooms – ideal for a group of friends or a big family – and each features an ensuite, walk- in robes, automatic blinds and large picture windows. There’s also a fully equipped kitchen so don’t forget to take provisions or – for an extra cost – ask local Mildura chef Yigal Benchmo to cook up a feast for you.
For a historic retreat: Mount Ophir Estate, Rutherglen
Europe might be off the cards but you can still spend the night in a castle with a French Provincial tower. Just make your way to the Rutherglen wine region in country Victoria, where Mount Ophir Estate beckons (pictured above). Stay in the tower, which sleeps two, with its spiral staircase and top-floor marble ensuite; or take over The Gatehouse or The Residence, which accommodate up to eight or 10 guests respectively. There are no restaurants or bars on the estate but some of the region’s best dining and drinking spots – such as the hatted Terrace Restaurant (open for lunch Friday-Sunday) – are a short drive away.
For a spa weekend: Lon Retreat and Spa, Point Lonsdale
Walk on the beach barefoot, gaze at the stars or simply surrender to the sound of the crashing waves while relaxing with a book in your suite… however you choose to spend your time at the adults-only Lon Retreat and Spa (pictured above), on the Bellarine Peninsula, you’ll return to the big smoke feeling a lot more tranquil than when you left.
For couples: Yarra Valley
Mark this one as to-do once travel restrictions ease in Melbourne: the Spa Suites at Balgownie Estate, with private balconies and uninterrupted vineyard views, take the effort out of organising a romantic trip away – all that’s left to do is take the credit. Enjoy a soak in the spa bath before heading further afield to sample the wares at some of Yarra Valley’s best wineries – De Bortoli and Yering Station are close by.
For wellness: Sky High, Mount Franklin
The twin towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are renowned for their high concentration of restorative mineral springs. And while there’s no shortage of accommodation here (Lake House Daylesford, for instance), a stay at the Sky High holiday house in nearby Mountain Franklin feels like coming home – if your home were an architectural masterpiece with walls of glass to take in panoramic views of the countryside. Aside from its proximity to the “spa capital of Victoria”, the four-bedroom property offers its own roster of wellness activities – think private yoga and meditation classes.
For a gourmet hike: The High Country
There are plenty of ways to experience Victoria’s scenic High Country but this one rewards you with a bounty of hyper-local produce. From December, Hedonistic Hiking offers weekend escapes in the region that include three nights’ accommodation in a brand-new townhouse and two days of private guided hikes that wind their way through Bright and nearby towns. Minimum group size is two and while guests are responsible for their own breakfasts and dinners, picnic lunches are part of the package.