Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne

Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne.

In terms of landscape projects, this place started as nothing, except for the original native terrain, and just keeps on growing! Yes, it is the OTHER botanic gardens for Melbourne and focuses on native flora only. Well worth the excursion time from Melbourne CBD to just the other side of Melbourne.

Photo: David Mitchener

Du Fermier

Du Fermier, Trentham.

Annie Smithers: Cook, author and farmer.

Quote from website: Annie creates a seasonal menu each weekend. Sometimes the dishes are plated, sometimes shared, always they revolve around what is being harvested from the garden or taken from the store cupboard. The food is based on classic French farmhouse dishes that are to be enjoyed with friends and family.

This is a lovely place to stop for lunch while headed north from Melbourne. Actually, it is a complete reason to head north from Melbourne!

Photo: Robert Blackburn

Kalorama Lookout

There are a number of fabulous places to stop and admire views from along the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, once of our favourite scenic routes close to Melbourne. Most look to theist or north, but the view from SkyHigh Mount Dandenong provides a complete look back to the Melbourne skyline and beyond.

McClelland Gallery

McClelland Gallery, Langwarrin.

Actually, this is a sculpture park as well. Two fine art experiences together. In fact three, if one includes the clever public sculpture pieces that adorn the EastLink sides as Langwarrin is approached from the north. This makes for a wonderful stop about an hour from Melbourne, and a perfect partner with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, for a trip to the south east.

Photo: David Mitchener

Portsea Hotel

Portsea Hotel, Mornington Peninsula.

What an institution. The view, the lawn … it is quintessential Portsea. And even mind that it is properly known as the Portsea Hotel – everyone just calls it the Portsea Pub.

Photo: David Mitchener

Mt. Macedon Hotel

Mt. Macedon Hotel – beer on tap
Mt. Macedon Hotel

This is classic country pub territory. Just an hour from Melbourne, it is a popular stop for people passing through (or over) or simply making it their destination for a day trip from the city. It is old school and simple, and for us represents a great focal point for exploration of the small town of Mt. Macedon and its famous lookout.

You Yangs

One can see them from Melbourne, and Melbourne can be seen from them – they are a kind of yin and yang (no pun intended) on the local scene. The You Yangs are one of the last elements of The Great Dividing Range and provide a wonderful nature stop for views and a little walking – and the drive in and out is just wonderful. Perhaps they can be included as a side-trip to the Surf Coast?

Chelsea Kebab House

Melbourne is pretty much the kebab capital of Australia, and there are probably more than a hundred (or more?) places to get some lamb on a skewer or wrapped with goodies in bread from around the metro area. It would be risky to call any one of these the ‘best’, but this unassuming little joint down on the main road through Chelsea, on the way to Franskston, is definitely worth the stop, or even a dedicated drive from Melbourne. (Ask me how I know!)

Lake House, Daylesford

Daylesford definitely qualifies as a d’Luxe one-stop-destination from Melbourne. The drive there is beautiful. The lake is beautiful. And the old Victorian town is beautiful. Also, if you have the chance to dine at the Lake House, run by Alla Wolf-Tasker, that too is beautiful.