Clients can watch the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. // © 2017 Creative Commons user wouterdb
Feature image (above): The colorful Brighton bathing boxes are a 30-minute drive outside the city of Melbourne. // © 2017 Creative Commons user jon_lin
Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, is known for its perfectly laid-out city grid and easy-to-navigate, citywide tram zones. But step outside that grid in any direction, and you’ve placed yourself in reach of one of greater Melbourne’s lesser-known destinations on its outskirts.
Vineyards, hot mineral springs and koala and penguin sightings are among some of the area’s many highlights. And one thing is for certain — clients won’t mind straying outside Melbourne’s city center.
Brighton Bathing Boxes and Peninsula Hot Springs
A 30-minute drive south of Melbourne, the Brighton bathing boxes are a must-see, featuring colorful sheds lined up as a beautiful backdrop to the sand and sea. Suggest that clients grab a coffee and go for a casual walk along the beach, or spend the whole morning lounging in the sand and sun while picking out their favorite house.
Afterward, clients can continue to the Peninsula Hot Springs. The naturally occurring hot springs are the perfect way to unwind and relax while taking in the surrounding grounds. Popular days sell out regularly, so save your clients’ spot by booking their time slot at least two weeks in advance.
Dandenong Ranges and the Puffing Billy
An attraction oozing with family fun, the century-old Puffing Billy steam train runs through Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges on its original track, with spectacular views of the Victorian countryside and plenty of history along the way. During the two-hour ride, passengers will enjoy rolling through forests, fern gullies, Emerald Lake Park and the famous 300-foot-long and 42-foot-high timber Trestle Bridge.
Puffing Billy’s main journey runs from Belgrave to Gembrook, but the steam engine also features many other special events that include dining, dancing and celebrations of the season.
Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park is a hiker’s heaven and a three-hour drive from Melbourne. Clients should head to Halls Gap, one of the most notorious rock formations of the Grampians, and enjoy the many indigenous rock drawings along the way.
For a stress-free hike into the forest, clients should book a preplanned day trip from Melbourne and let their guide drive as they keep their eyes peeled for kangaroos bouncing in the paddocks.
Phillip Island, just an hour-and-a-half drive southeast of Melbourne, is home to thousands of little blue penguins that go out to sea each morning in search of food and come waddling back home to stay warm each night. Book a guided eco tour of this fascinating phenomenon called the Penguin Parade and spend the evening in awe of some of Australia’s most adorable wildlife.
Clients can get the most out of their day by making a stop along the way at the Koala Conservation Centre and the Nobbies rock formations, which are the fur seal’s favorite hangout.
Be sure to plan all activities around an arrival at the Penguin Parade just before sunset and by pre-booking your tickets, as most nights sell out at least three weeks in advance.
The Yarra Valley
A quick hour’s drive from the city of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley offers vineyards and boutique wineries as far as the eye can see. The valley’s landscape of rolling hills mixed with its relatively cool climate makes it an ideal location for growing the perfect chardonnay and pinot noir grapes.
A day trip to the Yarra Valley can easily include visits to up to five wineries with plenty of time for grabbing snacks or lunch at one of the many vineyard restaurants.