Victoria has some wonderful country towns and the good news is you don’t need a car to visit them. Thanks to V/Line, the country train service, a number of these towns are easily accessed by train and or bus. And as an added bonus you’ll see some great countryside getting there. While some towns can be explored in a day it’s a far better idea to take an overnight bag as there’s so much to see and do and great accommodation on offer. Here are some of our favourite destinations.
V/Line rail services originate at Southern Cross Railway Station. A myki card is needed to travel on some V/Line services. Other services require paper tickets. Visit vline.com.au for details on train times, possible delays, the type of ticket needed and the cost.
A fascinating history, magnificent buildings, top notch restaurants, stunning gardens, world-class galleries and a great array of shopping opportunities are just some of the delights awaiting visitors to Ballarat. Then there’s the town’s gold mining history highlighted at Sovereign Hill.
Catch the 9.16 am V/Line train from Southern Cross to Ballarat and you can join the Goldrush Special, a bus which takes you directly to Sovereign Hill. The return transfer coach departs from Sovereign Hill at 3.25 pm on weekdays and 3.50 pm on weekends. Otherwise you can catch the 21 bus from Ballarat Station. Travel time between Melbourne and Ballarat varies from around 65 minutes to 2 hours 48 minutes.
Bendigo is renowned for its vibrant arts hub and flourishing food and wine scene. Then there is the city’s grand architecture and its beautiful gardens. A great way to explore the city is on the Vintage Talking Tram. This hop-on, hop-off tour stops throughout the city allowing you to explore many of the parks, attractions and shopping and dining facilities.
At Bendigo’s Central Deborah Gold Mine you can explore the hidden underground tunnels
of a real gold mine that operated during
the gold rush boom of the 1900s. Travel time between Melbourne and Bendigo varies from around 1 hour 43 minutes to
2 hours 15 minutes.
Castlemaine is another fascinating historical town which is also known for its arts centre and food. You’ll learn about the town’s history by taking one of the self-guided walks which takes in its grand public buildings, wide streets, ornate hotels and century-old shops. Head to the Castlemaine Art Museum to see Australian and international works.
A number of talented chefs now call Castlemaine home and take advantage of the olive oil, cheeses, preserves and fresh apples grown in the area. Travel time between Melbourne and Castlemaine varies from 1 hour 17 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes.
Located on the banks of the Murray River, the twin towns of Echuca Moama are renowned for their paddlesteamers. Indeed, the towns are home to the world’s largest fleet of operating riverboats as well as fine-dining restaurants and an array of water sports. Visit the Echuca Discovery Centre and you’ll learn about the history of these paddlesteamers and see such attractions as working steam exhibits, the historical Echuca Wharf and cargo shed museum.
Paddlesteamer trips are another highlight of a visit to Echuca. A range of cruises are on offer ranging from a couple of hours to a few days. Travel time between Melbourne and Echuca varies from 2 hours 48 minutes to
4 hours 16 minutes.
Lorne has been attracting holidaymakers for more than a century thanks to its location on the Great Ocean Road. Built around Erskine River and on the shores of Loutit Bay, it’s the perfect destination for water enthusiasts. It’s also great for lovers of "everything green" thanks to the surrounding Great Otway National Park. Here you’ll find misty waterfalls, giant ferns and ancient forest. As a result of its popularity with tourists Lorne is home to plenty of boutique gift shops, eateries and galleries.
Lorne is included on a V/Line bus service which departs from Geelong Railway station and travels along the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool. Travel time between Melbourne and Lorne takes between 2 hours 32 minutes and 2 hours 40 minutes.
Victoria’s second largest city, Geelong, is known for its waterfront which includes public artworks, landscaped gardens and restaurants. Then there are the 100 National Trust listed buildings. You can delve into the region’s history at the National Wool Museum and also learn about Australia’s wool story. The museum also hosts contemporary exhibitions.
There’s an outstanding collection of Australian paintings, sculpture and decorative arts at the Geelong Gallery, while urban art enthusiasts will love the Powerhouse Geelong, home to work by some of the country’s finest street artists. Travel time between Melbourne and Geelong takes around one hour.
Wonderful food, interesting shops and galleries and some great attractions are just some of the many delights on offer at Daylesford and the adjoining Hepburn Springs. Then there are the many mineral springs. A walk around Daylesford reveals numerous art galleries including the Convent which houses seven galleries featuring work by over 100 local, national and international artists.
Another great walk takes in the picturesque Lake Daylesford. A number of Daylesford’s many restaurants take advantage of the region’s fresh local produce. Travel time between Melbourne and Daylesford takes between 1 hour 50 minutes and 2 hours 29 minutes.