Bigger is not always better, says Visit Victoria. Some of the region’s best discoveries can be found in Victoria’s tiny towns and villages. Some of these are off the beaten track while others are already well known.
These villages are home to local secrets that are worth seeking out (like where to find the best vanilla slice). They’re full of vintage boutiques, second-hand records, artisan products, postcard-perfect gardens and captivating small galleries.
In regional Victoria’s diverse and stunning landscapes – from the coast to the mountains – you’ll uncover slow food treats, memorable distilleries and wineries, and some of the best restaurants around.
The protected waters of Anderson Inlet make the coastal town a favourite holiday spot. Swimmers, water sports enthusiasts and surfers flock to the beaches during warmer months, while the surrounding walks and drives make the village a popular year-round destination.
By the water
Try a new water sport or practice your favourite one at Inverloch’s pristine beaches. The still waters of Anderson Inlet make wakeboarding or windsurfing a breeze. Charter a boat or take a cruise to enjoy Inverloch from the water.
Walking and cycling tracks
Explore the many boardwalks and coastal trails to discover the town’s beautiful natural surroundings. Wander along the kid-friendly Screw Creek Nature Walk to explore the marshlands, which lead to gorgeous views of Anderson Inlet. For a bit of fresh sea air, stroll along the cliffs of the George Bass Coastal Walk or get the legs pumping on Victoria’s only coastal rail trail, the Bass Coast Rail Trail.
Make your way to Dinner Plain and nestle among the snow gums on the high plains of the High Country, enjoying snowy adventures in the wintertime and outdoor fun in the warmer months. Stay in luxury accommodation inspired by the historic cattlemen’s huts of the surrounding region and feel a million miles from city life.
Spring and summer
When the snow melts and the ski resorts are all but closed, you’ll discover this alpine village in full working order, ready to accommodate you. Spoil yourself at the indoor-outdoor, Japanese-style Onsen Retreat and Spa, then relax with a glass of local wine in the lounge or dinner at the restaurant at the Ramada Resort.
Discover the local cattlemen history on a horseback riding adventure through the Alpine National Park. Try a game of high-altitude tennis, grab a map and walk from village to village, or challenge yourself on the 10km trail from Mount Hotham.
Make the most of Dinner Plain’s rugged terrain, one of the Alpine Ascent Challenge’s seven Peaks. Test your skills on single tracks, downhill rides and rock garden jumps. For those looking for something more relaxing, hit the road and explore the area’s historic villages and quaint cafes.
Discover the taste of history with a fresh palate in Rutherglen, a historic wine-growing area invigorated by a crop of bold young winemakers. Take in stunning gold rush-era streetscapes, explore the surrounding vineyards, and enjoy outdoor fun in the nearby lakes and rivers.
Quench a thirst
You won’t go thirsty in Rutherglen, home to world-beating fortified wines, robust reds and crisp white wines since the early 1800s. Visit revitalised cellar doors and meet fourth- and fifth-generation winemakers drawing on family tradition and modern techniques to keep Rutherglen on the map.
Explore the scenic winery circuit in a hired limousine or tour bus, or cycle the banks of the Murray River to wineries along the Muscat Trail.
Linger at cellar door restaurants such as Tuileries at DeBortoli Rutherglen Estates or settle in at picnic areas among the vines. Spend long afternoons in country pubs and save room for the iconic Parker Pies.
Sample delicious local produce like lamb, honey, Murray cod, cherries, nuts and preserves. Pick up a picnic hamper or stock up on supplies to take home.
The outdoor life
From sun-soaked summer days to autumnal splendour, the Rutherglen region is the perfect spot for those outdoor adventures with the family. Cast a line in the Murray, pedal along the riverbanks or cruise the waters in boats, canoes and kayaks.
Hire or bring your own bike and explore the Rutherglen region at your own pace. Join the Pedal to Produce Cycle Trail to sample the very best wine, fruit and produce at local orchards, wineries and cafes.
Get to know the gateway to Phillip Island, a lively seaside town where fishing and dining options abound and pelicans keep watch along the foreshore.
The sea’s bounty
Celebrate all things aquatic in San Remo, home to Australia’s largest shark fishing fleet. Cast a line off the jetty or, for some serious ocean angling, join a fishing charter and head out to sea.
Snap up fresh fish and seafood at San Remo Fisherman’s Cooperative, or dine out at a local hotel and have it served up in true gourmet style. Head to the foreshore at noon for pelican feeding time and witness a merry crew of these birds gobble up their own seafood lunch.
Soak up the village atmosphere in local cafes and pubs, or visit San Remo Bakehouse for picnic provisions and to satisfy your craving for baked goods. Peruse contemporary artworks and handmade jewellery at galleries and pick up knick-knacks and homewares at shops in town.
Walk in the footsteps of the island’s early inhabitants on a stroll along the cliffs from San Remo to Kilcunda on the George Bass Coastal Walk. Take detours to deserted beaches and bays, passing by Quarry Rocks where stone was quarried to build banks and business chambers in Melbourne.
Stop off at Port Campbell during your Great Ocean Road journey and admire the spectacular coastal scenery, including Port Campbell National Park and the mighty 12 Apostles.
Port Campbell, a colourful and lively seaside village, is home to restaurants and cafes with views of the beach, bakeries selling homemade goodies, and plenty of vibrant shops and galleries to explore. Sheltered by cliffs and Norfolk pines, the town feels like a haven on the edge of wild nature.
Drive the short distance to the towering 12 Apostles, the dramatic limestone stacks that have made the region famous. Take to the air in a helicopter for a bird’s-eye view or join a boat tour and marvel at their immense size.
Be sure to leave time to check out some of the other coastal features in the area. Discover the eerie beach at Loch Ard Gorge, walk down the 70-metre cliff face via the Gibson Steps, and look out over the serene Bay of Islands. And bring your camera to capture the unique rock formations at London Bridge, The Arch and The Grotto.
Something for the foodies
Sip, sample and savour the region’s bounty along the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail. Take an afternoon cruise and pick up a basketful of regional cheeses, wines, chocolates, ice cream and fresh berries. Round out the tour with a sip of whiskey or sweet liqueur from Timboon’s finest.
Have you visited any of these villages? Why not share your favourite Australian village to explore in the comments section below?
Also read: What to do in Mildura, Victoria’s own oasis