Start at Cosmo and head in any direction for endless day trip adventures. Simply grab your compass (or GPS) and you’re on your way. But here are some directions from a local.
South: The Mornington Peninsula
A great day trip all year round, the Mornington Peninsula is a little over an hours’ drive from St Kilda. In summer, the bay beaches are ideal for families with small kids, but they’ll also love tree surfing at the Enchanted Adventure Garden in Arthurs Seat. In cooler weather, the Peninsula Hot Springs is a real treat. We especially love the last of their natural thermal baths, which sits on top of the hill. The Mornington Peninsula Brewery is a must for beer lovers, and for wine connoisseurs we recommend Red Hill Estate, Doot Doot Doot, or Max’s – with the last two serving incredible food as well. For posher nosh, Montalto serves delicious fare in a kitchen garden overlooking sculptures and vines.
West: Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula
An hour and a quarter West from St Kilda lies Victoria’s second biggest city, the up-and-coming Geelong. The scenic Eastern Beach is great for a dip on a hot summer’s day with its diving boards, toddler pool, sunbathing area and Art Deco pavilion. The historic Wool Mill is worth a visit, particularly as the brewery and outdoor cinema for the Aussie classic Little Creatures is right next-door. Drive a little further past Geelong and you’ll come to the gorgeous wine-region, the Bellarine Peninsula. Our faves for a tasting are Scotchmans Hill (wine) and Flying Brick (beer and cider). Follow up a tipple-testing with a meal at the Jack Rabbit Vineyard café or restaurant, with their jaw-dropping views over the bay, or at the fine-dining-meets-farm-house-vibe Oakdene Estate. Don’t want to be the ‘deso’? You can catch the ferry from the Docklands to Portarlington on the Peninsula, which runs several times a day.
East: The Dandenong Ranges
The truly spectacular Dandenong Ranges are about an hours’ drive from St Kilda and well worth the trip. There are number of nature walks that range in difficulty but are consistently beautiful. We recommend 1000 Steps for those with spritely legs and the Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk for something a bit easier. Puffing Billy is a must-do with kids, one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world. Make sure you take a trip to the quaint town of Sassafras and try the scones at the Agatha Christie themed Miss Marple’s Tea Room, or the beautiful of Coonara Springs for a truly treat-yo’-self meal. Sassafras is also full of boutiques selling everything from locally made produce to hand painted teapots and cups.
A little over an hour northeast from St Kilda, the Yarra Valley is worth the trip for the wineries alone. Cutting right to the chase, we recommend Oakridge Wines, Coombe Farm, Punt Road Wines and Domaine Chandon. TarraWarra Estate not only has incredible wine and food, but a contemporary Australian art gallery. Kids will ‘ooh and aah’ over the Australian animals at Healesville Sanctuary, and grownups will love the gin tasting boards down the road at Four Pillars distillery (you MUST try the shiraz gin. MUST.). For an afternoon stroll surrounded by drop-dead-gorgeous scenery, try the Alowyn Gardens – particularly in spring, the Wisteria Archway is bloody magical.
Head north and it’s hard to miss Melbourne. Eat. Watch. Dance. Discover. Repeat. There’s simply too much to do. Stay tuned. We’ll cover Melbourne soon…