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Mt Hotham
Photograph: Ain Raadik/Visit Victoria

The best winter getaways from Melbourne

Keen to hit the road for a cosy weekend away or minibreak? Here's where you should go

By Cassidy Knowlton
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Yeah, summer is nice and all, but personally we feel Victoria comes alive without the sunburn, mosquitoes, backpackers and other November-March annoyances (just kidding, backpackers, you are very welcome here any time of year). Cosy whiskies by the fire, roasts with red wine at dinner and cutting up the slopes are our idea of a good time and lucky for us, Victoria has those things in spades. 

For some reason, we are feeling a bit of cabin fever this year (wonder why!) and there's no better tonic for that than hair of the dog  – an actual cabin, that is. Or if active holidays are your jam, it's time to stretch those legs on the slopes. Whatever kind of winter getaway you're into, here are our favourite spots for a cool-climate caper. 

According to advice from the Department of Health, Victorians are currently only allowed to travel for day trips only. From June 1, overnight stays will be allowed across regional Victoria, including hotels, campgrounds and caravan parks. Check with the venue directly to confirm.

Winter getaway ideas in Victoria

Clifftop at Hepburn
Photograph: Rob Blackburn/Visit Victoria

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs

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Is there anything cosier in the depths of winter than a long soak in a gorgeous hot mineral spring? Melburnians have been going to Daylesford and Hepburn springs forever in order to make the most of the natural mineral water in the region. Other highlights include contemplative art galleries, heritage train rides and a museum that tells the stories of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, who are the traditional owners of the land. 

EAT

If you feel like splashing some serious cash, Lake House is the place to go in the region. Arrange yourself on a comfortable banquette in the Cape Cod-style dining room and get acquainted with Alla Wolf-Tasker’s lush modern European menu, which champions local producers. 

For some great Japanese fare, try Sakana Restaurant, the sister restaurant to Carlton’s Kazuki’s

DRINK

The oldest hotel in Daylesford, the Farmers Arms, ticks two key boxes: it’s a delightful local boozer and a destination pub worthy of a short drive. The 1857-built pub also serves fantastic farm-to-table meals. Wine shop and bar Wine and the Country has you covered for that drop of red to warm you up. 

DO

Make a beeline for the Mill Markets, a massive permanent market that fans of Australiana will love (think vintage tea towels, postcards, kitsch tableware and plenty of clothes to rummage through). Go to the Convent and explore the touring exhibitions and old artefacts, then take a five-minute drive over to the spa town of Hepburn Springs. Rug up warmly and go for a bracing walk in Mineral Springs Reserve, and bring a water bottle – you can fill it with naturally fizzy mineral water, absolutely free.

STAY

For the ultimate in cosy relaxation, stay at the Clifftop at Hepburn (pictured above). Light the fire, pour yourself a warming beverage and take in the breathtaking views through floor-to-ceiling windows. 

If you do just one thing... Go for a nice long soak at Hepburn Spa and Bathhouse. There are heated, chlorinated pools, a magnesium salt bath, a spa couch bath and an aromatherapy sauna. Guaranteed to chase away winter blues.

Peninsula Hot Springs
Photograph: Robyn Lea/Visit Victoria

Mornington Peninsula

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Yes, the Mornington Peninsula is beachy, but that does not mean it's only good in temperate climes. The Mornington Peninsula is as associated with hot water and long, relaxing soaks as Daylesford, and there are also plenty of wineries, produce-led restaurants and cosy fires here too. 

EAT

Winter calls for rib-sticking food, and you’ll find excellent examples of barbecue, banana pudding and good ol’ southern hospitality at Red Gum BBQ, a stellar barbecue restaurant inside a former machinery shed on Arthurs Seat Road. If you’re after something a little more luxe, Laura is the fine diner of the Mornington Peninsula to try, located at Pt Leo Estate.

DRINK

A produce-led, fantastic restaurant, a fascinating sculpture garden and delightful wines crafted with care – Mornington Peninsula wineries don't get much better than Montalto. If you’re more of a cocktail fan, head to Flaggerdoot, the fancy design-driven cocktail bar at Jackalope Hotel. Luckily the funky design allowed for a roaring open fire. 

DO

It’s often packed with visitors, but the Peninsula Hot Springs (pictured) is definitely worth a visit to warm you up. There are dozens of pools of varying heat, plus private pools if you'd like a bit more space to yourself. If you're up for a bit of an adventure, rug up and visit Enchanted Adventure Garden, where you can lose yourself in a cool hedge maze.

STAY

It is not an exaggeration to say the Jackalope Hotel has changed the Mornington Peninsula. The cutting-edge, ultra-luxe hotel is what you might expect to find in New York's uber-hip Meatpacking District, not set among rolling hills and gently swaying vines.

If you don’t want to shell out $650 a night, try the Lindenderry at Red Hill. It sits on almost 14 hectares of vineyards and gardens and inside it feels like one big, glam country house with all of the elegance but none of the kitsch.

If you do one thing... Book yourself a treatment or private bath at the Peninsula Hot Springs. It's luxe, but it's worth it.

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Mount Hotham
Photograph: Robert Blackburn/Visit Victoria

High Country

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If the words "winter getaway" conjure up images of crystal blue skies dancing over snow-kissed mountains as far as the eye can see, you need to hit the road to the High County. Victoria's Alpine Region is justly famous for its snowfall on mountains like Mount Buffalo and Mount Hotham, which are perfect for skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and other winter sports. And of course, after the day's exertion is done comes the best bit, the après ski. And you can take part in that whether you put in a hard day on the slopes or not. 

EAT

There is one venue in the Alpine town of Bright that every single person recommends: Tomahawks. The venue feels like the most fun Hawaiian beachside bar you can imagine got transplanted to the snow, and the food is exceptionally good. Burgers and small sharing plates are the order of the day here.

Or go fancy and head to Provenance. Although you might eat one of the animals from our coat of arms on your visit, the flavours will remind you a little bit of Europe and a lot of Japan.

DRINK

If you are looking for a classy cocktail bar that would feel at home in Fitzroy or Carlton, make sure you visit Dr Mauve in Bright (and do ask a staff member about the name, and the provenance of the wall full of ridiculous cat pictures and paintings).

Or head to the neighbouring King Valley, whose prosecco is the envy of Australia. Our recommendation is family-owned Pizzini

DO

If it's winter sports you're after, you're going to want to make tracks in the snow to Mount Hotham, Mount Buffalo, Falls Creek or another of the peaks in the region. If you're not confident with your equipment, there are plenty of lessons to be had. If you are, black diamond trails await your inner daredevil. Make sure you have your Medicare card on you. Check out our comprehensive guide to the Victorian snowfields.

STAY

Go all out at the 1860 Luxury Accommodation in Beechworth. The timber cabin (from, yes, 1860) was originally situated in the town of Emerald and was shifted to Taggerty and then to its present home in Beechworth. No expense has been spared to turn the cabin into a gorgeous retreat, complete with modern comforts and beautiful period styling.

If you do just one thing... Check out the historic precinct in Beechworth to learn about Victoria's colonial history – along with more Ned Kelly facts than you can shake a bucket at.

Jack Rabbit Vineyard
Photograph: Trevor Cooke

Bellarine Peninsula

Travel

The Bellarine makes for a lovely summer escape, with beaches and watersports beckoning, but there are also plenty of open fires and even a whisky distillery that make it perfect for colder months.

EAT

Feel like splashing some cash this winter? The degustation-only Igni will bring some culinary mystery to your stay, with a produce-led, ever-changing menu. But for us, winter is all about warming soups, perhaps none more warming than ramen. Check out Sober Ramen in Geelong for rich, silky broth, perfectly cooked noodles and the cosy, satisfying feeling that comes from eating only just a tiny bit too much of truly delicious comfort food.

DRINK

Take your pick from some of the peninsula’s best wineries including Jack Rabbit Vineyard, Curlewis Winery, Basils Farm and Scotchmans Hill. Or for super cosy times, head to the Whiskery. Technically there is no whisky yet (it's maturing and will be available in 2021), but the distillery does sell gin, and you can sit in front of an open fire.

DO

Spend an afternoon wandering around Geelong Gallery, which has a pretty impressive permanent collection as well as an ever-changing array of fascinating temporary exhibitions.

STAY

If you want to stay the night, you can go all out at the French chateau-looking Campbell Point. For a more boutique stay, try the Nest Point Lonsdale, where you'll have your own snug little pod.


If you do one thing… Head to Advance Mussel Supply in Portarlington for fresh, fat mussels and angasi oysters, which are native to the waters of the Bellarine. Everyone knows oysters are best in winter when summer's milky sweetness turns into a briny snap.

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Rochford Winery
Photograph: Memory Box Photography/Visit Victoria

Yarra Valley

Travel Short getaways

Sometimes we forget that there's a world-class wine region right on our doorstep, but the Yarra Valley beckons at all times of year. In summer months it's packed with tourists, but in winter those world-class wineries turn up the charm (and their fireplaces) to invite locals to sip and savour.

EAT

Oakridge Wines is a family-owned winery in Yarra Valley that is gaining renown for its restaurant. The kitchen, which is headed by chef Matt Stone along with pastry chef Jo Barrett, creates dishes highlighting produce from the kitchen garden and local growers. It was our Time Out Food Awards restaurant of the year in 2019, so you know it has to be good.

DRINK

It is a wine region, after all, so you can't really go wrong. We particularly love Helen and Joey Estate and Pimpernell Vineyards, and here are 13 of the best Yarra Valley wineries.

Want something else to wet your whistle? Stop by Alchemy Distillery in Healesville for spirits like citrus vodka and chamomile gin.

DO

No deso? No worries. Book a tour of the valley's wineries, and leave the driving to the professionals while you concentrate on what matters: tasting.

STAY

The beautiful Balgownie Estate and Spa has on-site luxury accommodation, and the best rooms have spa baths that look out over the vines. If that's not enough relaxation, you can also book in with the Natskin spa on the premises. We recommend the very special Rasul treatment for couples, which is a two-hour experience that includes a massage, a salt scrub and a steam bath in a dimly lit room with pretty twinkling lights in the ceiling.

If you do one thing… Winter is a great time to see the native animals at Healesville Sanctuary without the hordes of visitors. Put on a beanie, grab a KeepCup of coffee and make an afternoon of it.

Or hit the road to one of these spots

The best road trips from Melbourne

Travel Short getaways

Don't just read about Melbourne getaways... get out and try one! These day trips from Melbourne are paved with cool things to see and do, and driving means you won't miss a thing along the way. Just choose your direction and hit the road. 

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