It's time to get out and about. Set your sights on the horizon and find freedom with a coastal Victorian escape.
Gibson Steps Beach, Great Ocean Road
Image: Gibson Steps Beach, 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Restore yourself with sunny walks along expansive beaches, through pristine rainforest canopy and atop dramatic sea cliffs. Discover the region's cutest wildlife, and jump on your bike for a scenic coastal cycle. Swim, surf, fish or stroll along the local pier, and follow village heritage trails.
Beachside accommodation is part of the fun. Wake to bright summer's mornings or to spring’s golden light in your home by the sea. 'Tis the season for barbecue dinners: get grilling with local seafood and fresh produce, and settle in at the end of the night with a glass of wine and calm ocean views beneath the twinkling sky.
Fancy a break from cooking? Pop out to the local eatery – some of the smallest villages are host to the biggest names in hospitality. Local ingredients and warm welcomes come hand in hand. All you need to do is set out on your coastal escape and find out for yourself.
Meander the Shipwreck Coast to historic 19th-century fishing village Port Fairy, where wild nature is at its best.
Set yourself up for summer at the end of the Great Ocean Road. Test out your skill on the waves with surfing lessons, head out for paddle boarding, or don your snazziest sun visor for a round of golf. Spot seals, birds, koalas, emus and plenty more wildlife on a visit to Tower Hill Reserve, a tour to Lady Julia Percy Island or on a beach walk all the way to Warrnambool's Thunder Point. Make it a relaxed afternoon following an art trail or historic walking tour around the village. At night, sample the seasonal menu at French-inspired Merrijig Kitchen, and bed down in boutique accommodation for an easy breezy escape.
283 kilometres (3.5 hours) out of Melbourne (inland route)
Make a quick getaway from Melbourne to the seaside village of San Remo, gateway to Phillip Island.
Take time out on the island's pristine beaches: head south for Southern Ocean surf and north for gentle Port Phillip bay waters. Walk along the pretty sands and dig sand castles with the kids. Look out for a pelican or two. Explore dramatic blowholes and rock formations, and take your board for a surf – the waves are outstanding here. There's angling to be done, cycling trails to free-wheel and tasty seafood to be savoured. At night the famed parade of adorable waddling penguins is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Follow the curving Mornington Peninsula to Sorrento, where creature comforts fit snugly with waterside adventures.
Dine along the waterfront, sleep in historic hotels, tee off on the golf course and browse designer boutiques. The pier is your launching pad for afternoon fishing or a dolphin tour out on the water. Hop on the ferry over to historic Queenscliff to explore the Bellarine Peninsula. This picturesque stretch of coast between Sorrento and neighbouring Portsea has inspired numerous artists – discover which sights have been captured on canvas on a stunning bay beach walk, then relax with a soak at the renowned Peninsula Hot Springs a short distance from the village.
Shake off all those stresses with a visit to wee Inverloch, Gippsland's perfect hub for a nature escape.
Step out for a dose of salty Southern Ocean air on beaches and boardwalks, through marshlands and atop coastal cliffs, or pedal along magnificent rail trails. You're bound to spot plenty of birds and wildlife while you're out exploring. Water lovers can swim, surf or wakeboard, and pretty Anderson Inlet provides sheltered family fun beside turquoise waters. It's easy to add a side trip to world-famous Wilsons Promontory 75 minutes away, or simply stay put and savour the magnificent Bass Strait views from luxe coastal accommodation.
Nestled along the dramatic Great Ocean Road, Lorne combines the best of seaside relaxing, rainforest explorations and gourmet grazing.
Head down to the white-sand beach for a quick dip or stroll along the pier to meet the locals. Hike easy or more challenging trails through the Otway National Park, exploring lush fern undergrowth and ancient forest canopy, waterfalls and coastal lookout points. The bustling village has a bunch of enticing options for wining and dining next to the sea: enjoy Med-style tapas with a view at MoVida. Just down the road, Wye River is worth a coffee stop or a holiday house stay with a dreamy ocean outlook.