Small Victorian towns well worth a visit

With most of Victoria locked down for the majority of 2020, this summer could well end up being a bumper year for local travel in the state.

And considering 75 per cent of those who intend to travel this summer are inclined to stay within their home state, Victorian regional towns could reap the benefits of people looking closer to home for their holidays.

Some of the best discoveries are to be found in Victoria’s tiny towns and unknown villages, says Visit Victoria, which shares its top picks for summer discoveries.

Port Fairy
Uncover history in every corner of this charming fishing village at the end of the Great Ocean Road. The last destination on Victoria’s famed Shipwreck Coast, Port Fairy boasts wide streets lined with 19th century cottages, great Norfolk pines and old stone churches. Enjoy a buzzing local art scene, get active in the water, and see native animals in the wild, from southern right whales, seals and dolphins to wallabies, kangaroos and emus.

Set along the wide, slow-flowing banks of the Mitchell River, Bairnsdale is the gateway to Gippsland’s natural beauties. The town’s rich heritage can be found throughout the town’s architecture including several of its B&Bs and St Mary’s Church. See first-hand the thriving creative community at East Gippsland Art Gallery or wander the shops and find some local treasures or head down to Mitchell River for a walk along the banks. The fertile area is known as a ‘food bowl’ producing a bounty of delectable produce. Stop by Northern Ground for a lunch that showcases local produce. David Lucke’s Fresh Food Market a great spot to fill the esky with locally sourced produce to create some fantastic meals at home. The Main Hotel will have patrons delighted with quality pub meals of generous proportions.

Feel the sense of wellbeing envelop in the upper reaches of the Yarra River, surrounded by lush, tall forests of mountain ash. Visitors can base themselves in an eco-retreat or cosy cottage and head out to explore the former gold rush town and surrounds. Pick one of the walks radiating outwards from Warburton into the forests of mountain ash and be sure to stroll through myrtle beech rainforest to the Ada Tree mountain ash, more than 300 years old and one of the world’s largest known flowering trees. Rent a bike from Cog Bike Cafe, which services the entire route, and cycle through farmland and bush from Warburton to Lilydale along the 38-kilometre Centenary Trail. The trail follows an old railway line built in 1901 to transport local produce and timber to Melbourne.

Uncover a nature lover’s paradise and soak up the stunning Alpine scenery. Options are plentiful for adventurous travellers. Gallop from the summit of nearby Mount Buller to relive moments from The Man from Snowy River, making sure to stop by Craig’s Hut atop Mt Stirling. Enjoy boating or fishing at Lake Eildon or go cycling along Delatite River Trail. With a wide selection of cafes and fine dining opportunities, settle in and discover the local culinary scene. Find great local coffee and visit regional vineyards that produce rich, weighty chardonnay, crisp riesling and superb sparkling wine from Mitchelton Winery Estate and Tahbilk Winery and Vineyard.

Discover the taste of history with a fresh palate in Rutherglen and take in stunning gold rush streetscapes, explore the surrounding vineyards, and enjoy outdoor fun in the nearby lakes and rivers. Join the Pedal to Produce Cycle Trail to sample the very best wine, fruit and produce at local orchards and wineries. Visitors 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 including All Saints Estate, Morris of Rutherglen and Campbells Wines, and meet fourth and fifth generation winemakers drawing on family tradition and modern techniques to keep Rutherglen on the map.

This tranquil village set at the end of a peninsula is almost completely surrounded by the waters of Lake King and Bancroft Bay. Sumptuous 360-degree waterfront views and gently bobbing boats resting in the marina nourish the soul. Known for its scenic walks, good local food, monthly farmers market and unique galleries with a coastal flair. Embark on a cruise aboard one of the many boats that travel between Metung and Lakes Entrance. The town’s boardwalk offers a leisurely stroll right along the foreshore, perfect to enjoy before stopping at a cafe to sit and take in the view with a glass of local wine.

Have you been to any of these towns? Do you know of any other small towns well worth a visit this summer?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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