Where to see Victoria’s best autumn colour

With summer well and truly in the rear-view mirror, there’s a lot to celebrate about autumn.

And one of the best things is the vibrancy of the leaves changing colour, and some of the best places to see them are in the cool climate areas surrounding Melbourne.

Make the best of a day trip this autumn with our guide.


This charming village in the Dandenong Ranges looks like it is straight out of an English landscape, but with gum trees.

Even in midsummer, Olinda is a cool oasis of soaring trees and lush greenery, but autumn is when it looks its best.

Sustain yourself at one of the many enchanting tea rooms or cafes before exploring the RJ Hamer Arboretum, spectacular and a little bit spooky William Ricketts Sanctuary with its lifelike sculptures, Cloudehill Gardens and Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens, where last time I visited, I was thrilled to see lyrebirds in the undergrowth.

The Dandenong gardens are home to a staggering 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3000 camellias and 250,000 daffodils, and are designed to have something in colour all year round. 

Or just drive around the winding roads to marvel at the old-growth trees or pop into one of the area’s many nurseries.

My tip, bring a picnic. While those tea houses and cafes are charming, they are usually busy and expensive.

Mount Macedon and Macedon

This haven of gorgeous gardens is just an hour from Melbourne and embraces its autumn appeal with an annual festival.

Garden and nature lovers can enjoy garden tours, a begonia and fuchsia plant show, access to private gardens and floral workshops.  

If all that sounds a bit too organised you can enjoy a drive along Honour Avenue, considered one of the world’s most scenic roads.

Mount Macedon and Macedon are also great launching points for discovering the area’s many villages and attractions such as cellar doors and accommodation.

But it might be loved a little bit too much. Please be aware, due to the popular appeal of the area, there are parking restrictions during this busy time. It may pay to explore the possibility of catching a train.


Tree-change urbanites have made this village a food and wine haven but there is still plenty for keen sightseers to see and do.

As well as an abundance of walks through the area, you can also visit Wombat Hills Botanical Gardens in the heart of town for uninterrupted views of Daylesford and the surrounding areas.


Probably one of the lesser-known gems of central Victoria is Heathcote, and if you are looking for autumn colour the Valley of the Liquidambars is hard to beat.

The ‘valley’ is a park and picnic sort of place, and the stunning trees turning on their best for autumn make it all worthwhile.

Other attractions include a lively food scene, cellar doors, bike trails and it is just 15 minutes from Lake Eppalock and its many water sports.


At three-plus hours from Melbourne, Bright is not really a day trip, but worth the drive nevertheless.

And the journey is half of the fun. The trip from Melbourne is scenic, but if you are taking the Great Alpine Road from Metung in East Gippsland it’s positively spectacular.

Once you get to Bright, you don’t have to go too far to enjoy some autumn colour as the streets are lined with some massive, absolute stunners.

Since it’s too far to drive back to Melbourne, snuggle up in front of an open fire with a glass of red to do it all again the next day.

Have you been to any of these towns in autumn? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: 15 items to always keep in your car

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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