Yes, summer is fun, with its long days and beach-worthy weather. But it's also dry, dusty, sunburnt and let's admit it, downright uncomfortable to spend a lot of time outside when the mercury is in the 30s.
Autumn is summer's cooler, sexier cousin. The weather is crisp and clear, with a hint of a nip in the air. It's suddenly not only pleasant but almost imperative to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors before winter sends us all scurrying to cosy fireplaces and hot whiskies. And autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, with deciduous leaves changing colour to the warm, crackly colours of autumn before dropping to the ground.
If you're keen to make the most of this fleeting seasons, here are the best parks and gardens in Victoria for you to visit to see the changing leaves.
Want more outdoor adventures? Here are the best day hikes in Melbourne (and hiking is best in autumn!). And if you want to see the gorgeous waterfalls of our state at their absolute autumn peak, we've compiled a list of absolute stunners.
These low mountain ranges are just 35 kilometres east of Melbourne. There are seven gorgeous gardens that make up Dandenong Ranges National Park, and autumn is the perfect time to visit them to enjoy their gorgeous changing leaves. The most spectacular in autumn are Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, Alfred Nicholas Gardens, George Tindale Memorial Garden and RJ Hamer Arboretum. The park is free to enter and open every day.
Researchers have dated these jaw-dropping caves back to the Devonian period, which was about 300-400 million years ago. The caves were formed by underground rivers cutting through layers and layers of limestone rock. The formations inside the caves were created by rainwater seeping through cracks in the roof depositing calcite and crystallising in the form of stalactites and stalagmites. The valley surrounding the caves is full of huge European trees, which make for a stunning show in autumn.
Just 15km from Castlemaine is Australia's first national heritage park, which includes remains of gold rush house sites and machines that were used to dig up the precious substance. The park is perfect for bushwalking, cycling and gold fossicking, if you'd like to try your hand. The Goldfields Track is perfect for a stroll, and the deciduous trees are a delight in autumn.
Taste award-winning craft beer, wine, spirits and produce, explore the rich history of the area or go cycling along hundreds of kilometres of breathtaking terrain. Bright and the High Country are particularly gorgeous in autumn, attracting people from all over Victoria to see the changing colours.
At 314 metres, Arthurs Seat is the highest point on the Mornington Peninsula, and the views are panoramic, reaching all the way to Melbourne’s skyline. Arthurs Seat State Park has a range of walks of varying levels of difficulty, and the park is only an hour and 15 minutes from Melbourne. The Seawinds Gardens are particularly pretty in autumn, with native plants and sculptures making for a gorgeous backdrop for your rambles.