It’s a VERY big day out, but Phillip Island represents on of the great tourist destinations out of Melbourne, with enjoyable driving there and return, with a host of interesting and enjoyable stops to make once there. Think: beaches, wineries, townships, animal life, headland views, GP race track, gentle walks, historical locations along with lots and lots of changing scenery in between.
The Alchemy Distillers lies in the heart of Healesville, which itself is the heart of the Yarra Valley, approximately 45 minutes drive from Melbourne’s CBD. (We won’t tell you what Melbourne etc. is the heart of!) The nice thing about this rambling place, which flows up from the main street through various rooms, passages and paths, is the variety of spirits they distill (for drinking, tasting and buying) – whiskies, gins, bourbons etc., and all with most interesting flavour profiles. Also on location is a neat food room with quick-serve fried chicken, burgers and similar comfort food. And the setting is pleasantly quirky, retro and all ’round fun to be in.
On the other side of the Mornington Peninsula from Dromana lies the small haven beachside village of Pt. Leo – a welcoming short stop for a tour through the area. With a headland dividing the area, it provides for a multitude of varied water activity for locals, visitors and holiday makers alike: sailing, surfing, swimming, SUP, snorkelling and anything else that makes you wet, really! d’Luxe tours to the location are often brief at 20 minutes length or so, enough to stretch legs, touch the same and maybe throw a Frisbee – and wonder about calling a local real estate agent to see about a summer holiday booking.
Heading north out of Melbourne and past the airport you quickly come to the countryside. From there drive another 10 minutes and turn right and drive for a further 20, with beautiful changing rural landscape through ‘granite’ territory until you come to Tooborac. At that point you will find a quaint hotel that is also a brewery that is also a bakery (lovely meat pies!). This is a perfect first leg for a Goldfields tour which can encompass Kyneton, Daylesford and other similar Victorian towns.
Without question, the most popular outdoor place around Melbourne to visit for international travellers is Brighton Beach and the iconic bathing boxes. It is the perfect place for a quick tour stop as part of a drive along the scenic roads around Port Phillip Bay – kick the sand, takes some all-important photos, grab an ice cream from the van and soak in the views back up to the city.
Central to the Mornington Peninsula area, the Montalto Winery in Red Hill South is a favourite stop for d’Luxe guests, offering wine tasting (and sales, of course!), fine dining, indoor/outdoor trattoria for drinks, light meals and coffee, picnics, as well as a glorious sculpture gallery (and walk) across the vineyard grounds. Yes, it’s very easy to spend a chunk of time here. And to keep coming back!
A single stop Yarra Valley destination? Vineyard, art gallery, café, winery, restaurant, cellar door – this beautiful collection of spaces and buildings is one of the most wonderful settings to experience in the Yarra Valley, and one that can service as sufficient lone reason to head out of the Melbourne metropolitan area for a day trip.
Ok, while Notel (not a hotel) is actually not one of our tour destinations, it is still a super cool anchor point to have in Melbourne CBD and could actually serve as accommodation for guests wanting to round out their whole US/50s motoring-themed getaway experience. The thing with Notel is their five glorious (and gleaming) Airstream trailers which have been perched above the street line in downtown Flinders Street and kitted out as couture accommodation – the perfect alternative to a standard, boxy hotel room – and they hold functions, events and happenings on the grounds all year ’round.
Probably named after the famous John Coltrane album – which is great! Giant Steps is a wine brand in the Yarra Valley that sports a decent sized and lively cellar door, which is as much about food as it is about wine. It’s the perfect end point for a drive to Healesville, or stopping point before heading on to Marysville via the super scenic Black Spur Road.
Photo: David Hannah
To be truthful, we have not been there yet. But a reliable friend has – and that’s good enough! Guessing that this tasting bar and cocktail lounge is a great contributor to the ever-growing and popular gin scene in Australia – and a good reason to hit upon Kyneton and surrounds for a day trip.
Update: Fortune saw me drop in to the Animus Distillery in Kynton earlier this winter (2019) and what a fabulous stop it was at the end of a day trip that featured Daylesford and environs. The bar is fabulous and we indulged in a charcuterie platter and some of their splendid cocktails. (The driver took it easy, though, but transported a bottle of their ‘classic’ gin back home to Melbourne for enjoyment over a longer time frame.)