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Where to visit outside Melbourne for several days?

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Jan 17th, 2015, 02:02 PM
  #1
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Where to visit outside Melbourne for several days?

Tossing around ideas for our itinerary in March- yes, coming up fast. Fly in and out of Melbourne spending around 5 days there. (We've been before.) Fly to Tasmania, probably into Hobart and out of Launceston, spending around 4 days each; I see there's a bus in-between.

We could spend a few more days in Australia in addition to what I've mentioned, and wondered if there's a nice destination an hour or two outside Melbourne that can be reached by public transportation. (We considered Adelaide but don't want to add another flight. Have been to Sydney a few times.)

Any ideas would be appreciated! I see there's a similar post for staying outside Melbourne, but thought I'd post myself as it's the two of us, early 60s, no kids.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 04:20 PM
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I really like Ballarat - my family really enjoyed the Sovereign Hill experience. I was doing some research recently as I was thinking of a girls trip to Ballarat so I know there seems to be very good access there via public transport. There are also day spa destinations not far from Ballarat.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 05:00 PM
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Most of regional Victoria really requires a car to explore the countryside. (Same for Tasmania.)

I agree that Ballarat would be your best option - easily reached by V-line train. This can be a good base to visit the Daylesford spa region and also the Grampians NP, but I don't know the transport options to visit these without a car.
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Jan 18th, 2015, 12:25 AM
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We had a weekend in Ballarat last year and really enjoyed it. The motel we stayed was central so we could easily walk into the centre of the town to look at the historic buildings and shop. Also lots of options to eat within 10-15 min walk. We found a terrific Spanish restaurant we'd love to visit again.

You would be limited without a car but a lot is walkable and you could always catch a taxi somewhere if necessary.

Bendigo is another option, it has a great art gallery. We also went on a free guided walk from the visitors centre that was interesting. But not sure of trains or buses as most Australians drive to these places.

Kay
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Jan 18th, 2015, 03:54 AM
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So, what were the places you thought you'd like to visit last time you were in Melbourne, but didn't have time? Or have found out about since?

And what are your interests?

I might suggest a day at the Taralgon races, a few days in Daylesford or Queenscliffe. Or a loop around Wangaratta & Beechworth. Or a 3-4 day walk along the Great Ocean Road. But that might bore you spitless.
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Jan 18th, 2015, 04:09 PM
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Ballarat sounds intriguing. It occurs to me we may want to go there first, to spend a few days in a low-key place, recover a bit from the flight. I looked at the train website, and a map- would be nice to go directly from MEL to Ballarat without having to go into town first. However, it doesn't look like that's possible.

Does anyone have any suggestions about that?

The races sound fun, maybe we do a day trip from Melbourne.
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Jan 18th, 2015, 04:29 PM
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Just found the shuttle bus between MEL and Ballarat!
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Jan 18th, 2015, 09:48 PM
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A bus would be fine, depending on departure times and your flight arrival. Does it go from Melbourne airport?

Otherwise you could catch the Skybus from the airport to Southern Cross Station in the city, where your train to Ballarat will depart from. If you have time before the train leaves, there are lots of places to eat (or shop) upstairs, next to the station. Bit hard to find I think, if you walk outside the station, along Spencer St (away from the river), go up the escalator and you are there.

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Jan 18th, 2015, 09:54 PM
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Daylesford is a nice spa town - no idea about getting there without a car, but I'm sure there would be day tours.
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Jan 18th, 2015, 10:56 PM
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Bendigo is worth a thought. Stay at the Shamrock, visit the art gallery, Chinese temple, and there are lovely gardens to wander in. Easy by train from Melbourne.
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Jan 19th, 2015, 01:21 PM
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Another vote for Ballarat. The folk museum (Sovereign Hill) is excellent, and has a special show at night. Also see the gold museum opposite which is interesting. Good art gallery in town, walks around Lake Wendouree. Some lovely old buildings in town (Ballarat was at one stage one of the richest towns in the world).
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Jan 20th, 2015, 10:25 PM
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..... and another vote for Ballarat. As already suggested, if you're feeling energetic, walk the (6 km) Steve Moneghetti Track around Lake Wendouree - a nice walk and there are some interesting houses (architecturally) on the way. Last time we did it, we rewarded ourselves with lunch on the deck at the back of the Ballarat Yacht Club.

On your way round the lake, be sure to visit the Botanic Gardens and, in particular, "Prime Minister Avenue", which has busts of every Australian Prime Minister since Federation [well, nearly every one - the present incumbent isn't there yet but his predecessor now is -- "Julia Gillard Unveils Her Bust" as the Melbourne paper so elegantly headlined it a few months ago.] The bust of her predecessor and successor [Kevin Rudd] isn't a very good likeness but some of the others are - particularly Paul Keating .... and then of course there's Harold Holt, who went for an ocean swim and vanished .... who knew you could lose a Prime Minister that way?

Daylesford has also been mentioned and I would certainly second that suggestion - it (and neighboring Hepburn Springs) is the 'spa capital of Victoria' and a very pleasant place to spend some time. If you go, be sure to visit the Convent.

A few links -
http://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/272
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Wendouree
http://www.ballarat.com/sails.html
http://visitdaylesford.com.au
http://conventgallery.com.au
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Jan 22nd, 2015, 09:53 AM
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I'd suggest going around Melbourne. I found a list of ideas you might found useful http://www.radialtravel.com/city/melbourne Think Phillip Island or Mornington.
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Jan 22nd, 2015, 01:38 PM
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Why not hire a car? Airport to Ballarat is a very easy drive and would be a good opportunity to get the hang of things.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 06:37 PM
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http://www.vline.com.au/home/ for regional trains and http://ptv.vic.gov.au/ for Melbourne region. Regional trains and buses are not always frequent but are certainly easy and we've used them a number of times. Love them - more relaxing than driving (although a car does give more flexibility). I don't drive when I'm overseas so completely understand why you wouldn't want to.

Daylesford can be reached by train and bus - did that some years ago. It's about 2hrs. I'm not a big fan of Ballarat but there appear to be buses between Ballarat and Daylesford if you're interested in combining the two.

If you end up going to Bendigo, then certainly also visit Castlemaine. Both are on the main train line.

For something closer to home, consider staying in the Dandenong Ranges, somewhere like Olinda or Sassafrass. It's lovely and will be cooler at that time of year than central Victoria. Central Victoria is a bit Jekyll and Hyde in that it is beautifully green in the cool months and dusty golden in summer.
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Jan 24th, 2015, 04:22 PM
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Just spent the day at Ballarat this week. I like it, but might be a bit pressed for non-car activities by 5 days. Though I might feel the same about many regional towns, so that could just be me.

One suggested day - the Ballarat Wildlife Park. IMO, it's very well done for a private attraction. It has the cooperation of the public zoo system with animal exchanges. If you have an interest in animals, it's the place to feed and pat a kangaroo or wombat (though I realize some people frown on that sort of interaction). You'll see, see feedings of and hear discussions on the wombat, koalas (they have joeys on board at the moment), Tasmanian devils, Wedgetail eagles, quolls and the eastern taipan (world's most venomous snake). There's a public bus stop out front.
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Jan 25th, 2015, 09:02 AM
  #17
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appreciate all the suggestions. We've seen the penguins at Phillip Island but no doubt will do that again when staying in Melbourne. The wildlife park sounds good; we've been to Featherdale but would enjoy this one too.

I also like the idea of the walk around the lake at Ballarat- the yacht club sounds like a nice stop along with a look at the PMs!
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Jan 25th, 2015, 10:25 AM
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There are bus tours from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road. For me, that would be the top of the list.
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Jan 25th, 2015, 05:36 PM
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The Ballarat Fine Art Gallery is worth a visit, and admission is free. The attached cafe sells delicious pies.

Lake Wendouree is very pretty, and you can take a paddle steamer across it. There are several restaurants around the lake, my favourite is the Boathouse.

There's a laneway type restaurant precinct across the road from the Art Gallery that gets good reviews.
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