In a sentence: This vibrant Goldfields city offers an effortless yet rewarding escape from Melbourne, mixing trendy dining options and first-rate modern attractions with visible signs of its heady gold-rush days.
The drive: It’s an easy 115km highway-dominated path that quickly trades city limits for pleasant countryside. There’s no need to stop – you’ll be at your destination in no time.
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What’s nearby: Venture further north to explore the gorgeous historical township of Clunes; its streetscape seems to have been forgotten by time.
In a sentence: Dotted with heritage buildings, Port Fairy is an attractive seaside village with a pleasant ambience that allows visitors to unwind with ease.
The drive: There’s a choice between two direct inland paths of about 280km or a 370km route that encompasses the stunning scenery of the Great Ocean Road.
If heading inland via Colac, the town has pretty botanical gardens by the lake. If taking the scenic route, Great Otway National Park, the Twelve Apostles, and Loch Ard Gorge are among a litany of must-stop sites.
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What’s nearby: Check out the many attractions of neighbouring Warrnambool, stopping halfway at the nature lover’s playground of Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.
Stay at: BIG4 Port Fairy Holiday Park.