Autumn getaways in Victoria

Looking for a magical autumn getaway? Regional Victoria turns on the seasonal charm at this time of year, with bursts of crimson, gold and burnt orange foliage in leafy parks, gardens and tree-lined streets. Start planning a cosy road trip and find delicious food and wine, gold rush heritage and buzzing festivals and events. Check out these top destinations for a special weekend away in Victoria this autumn.

Bendigo gardens and markets

Bendigo Art Gallery. Image via Visit Victoria
Bendigo Art Gallery. Image via Visit Victoria

One for the art and wine lovers, Bendigo is a two hour drive from Melbourne with a mix of grand heritage buildings, contemporary art trails and one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. Throw in the fact that the entire Bendigo region transforms into a golden-hued wonderland in autumn, and it makes for a perfect getaway with superb colours and panoramic views on display.

Bendigo is also packed with events in autumn, from wine and craft beer events to acclaimed exhibitions at Bendigo Art Gallery, one of Australia’s oldest regional galleries, and the popular Bendigo Easter Fair. Moonlight Markets are making their return this year with food trucks, a licensed bar, live music and artisanal stalls. Groovin the Moo, a regional touring music festival, is also back on the road after a two-year hiatus.

To soak in that vivid autumn colour, take a stroll through the Bendigo Botanic Gardens or enjoy a picnic beneath majestic oaks at the historic Oak Forest in Harcourt, half an hour south of Bendigo. A little further east, don’t miss the stunning Valley of Liquidambers in Heathcote, these ornamental trees put on a spectacular red and purple show each autumn.

How to get there and where to stay

Bendigo is 2 hours northwest of Melbourne, and 1 hour and 10 mins from the Murray river town of Echuca. V/Line train and bus services run from Melbourne to Bendigo and Bendigo regional airport has connecting flights to most major Australian cities. Places to stay include the stylish Quality Hotel Lakeside on Lake Weeroona and the inviting Quality Inn Colonial both ideally located.

Explore Ballarat gold fields and festivals

Lydiard Street, Ballarat
Lydiard Street, Ballarat

Surrounded by extinct volcanoes, old forests and rolling vineyards, the Ballarat region ticks every box for a refreshing autumn escape. An easy hour and 15 minute drive northwest from Melbourne, you’ll find delicious local produce and handcrafted wines, colonial and gold rush history, and a jam-packed calendar of autumn events.

Stroll down the tree-lined avenue of historic Webster Street in the heart of town to Lake Wendouree and enjoy the seasonal crunch of autumn leaves underfoot. Grab a coffee along the way to enjoy lakeside or continue on the walking trail to the cool-climate Ballarat Botanic Gardens, established in 1858. You can join a free tour in autumn and spring at 11am on Sundays.

Autumn is also a great time for festivals and events in Ballarat, such as CresFest, the Folks and Roots Festival in historic Creswick, the Clunes Booktown Festival for book lovers, and the Ballarat Heritage Festival showcasing the regional city’s rich history and iconic landmarks. The stellar Pyrenees Food and Wine Festival is also back after a sold out event in 2021, presenting the wares of local wine, beer, cider and gin makers. 

Dive into Ballarat’s gold rush past at Sovereign Hill, one of Australia’s best-known tourist attractions, and explore diggings and underground mines and try your luck at panning for gold. Slip out of town to Lal Lal Falls, a picturesque waterfall in a rocky gorge and if you’re feeling energetic, hike to the top of nearby Mount Buninyong, an extinct volcano that rises up dramatically from the Western Plains, and enjoy panoramic views in every direction.

How to get there and where to stay

Ballarat is 1.5 hours northwest of Melbourne, and 1hr and 40 mins southwest of Bendigo. Buses and trains run frequently from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, or you can hire a car and enjoy the scenic drive. Places to stay include the Comfort Inn & Suites City Views on historic Bakery Hill, Quality Inn Heritage on Lydiard and The George Hotel both on historic Lydiard St and Quality Inn & Suites The Menzies in the city centre.

Autumn colour in Wangaratta

Ned Kelly, Glenrowan
Ned Kelly, Glenrowan

Two and a half hours’ north of Melbourne, on the edge of Victoria’s alpine region, Wangaratta is ideally located for a seasonal minibreak. Take your bike and explore the spectacular Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, a 95km scenic cycling and walking trail that follows the old route of the original 1880 Bright Railway Line. Wind your way from Wangaratta to Wandiligong, past rolling vineyards in harvest and see ornamental pear and ginkgo trees ablaze with autumn colour. 

Time your visit with the Feast High Country Festival, a two-week celebration of the region’s finest food and wine in a true ‘paddock to plate’ experience. Sample delicious local fare by the makers and growers of Victoria’s High Country at over 40 bespoke events. Foodies can also indulge in the gourmet delights of the Milawa Gourmet Region and the King Valley, both within easy reach of Wangaratta.

Follow in the footsteps of Australia’s most famous bushranger on the Ned Kelly Touring Route. Stop by the Visitor Information Centre in town to pick up information on the various sites dotted around northeast Victoria, including the historic town of Glenrowan, the site of Ned Kelly’s famous last stand. You can also delve into the region’s fascinating heritage at Wangaratta Historical Society Museum in the old fire station in town.

How to get there and where to stay

Wangaratta is 2.5 hours from Melbourne, up the Hume Freeway. Buses run frequently between Melbourne and Wangaratta, and the XPT rail service runs daily between Melbourne and Sydney, stopping at Wangaratta. You can also fly into nearby Albury Airport from most major cities in Australia and hire a car for the hour’s drive south to Wangaratta. Places to stay include the award-winning Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway.

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