Ah, Easter. The giver of not one but TWO short weeks, plus four glorious work-free days in a row (or at least a few shifts on quadruple uber-pay if you work casual).
Now mankind was never meant to enjoy a four-day weekend–it’s an unnatural freak event, like a solar eclipse– and a lot of people don’t know how to tackle it properly. Our advice? Set aside one day of solid, couch-bound bliss. Another to eat all of the chocolate. One more to see loved ones and grumble about nothing being open and how Easters were better when you were a kid.
That leaves one precious unicorn-type day to fill the car with Doritos and hit the open road. Here’s our guide to the best day trips from Melbourne this Easter.
Great Ocean Road
An oldie, but a goodie (unless you suffer from crippling switchback carsickness). The Great Ocean Road is Melbourne’s ultimate day trip anytime, but over Easter you’ve got the Southern Hemisphere’s premier surf event: the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. If you want to beat the crowds, push on past Lorne to Apollo Bay for a foreshore Easter egg hunt (most day-trippers never make it past Bottle of Milk). Or head inland to check out the Grampians’ best waterfalls (Triplet Falls and Erskine are our personal favs).
A peninsula where Land Rovers stalk the earth like haughty dinosaurs and lattes outnumber people. But there’s more to Mornington than Portsea billionaires literally helicoptering to their private beach houses. If you’re after a good feed, take a trip to Max’s at Red Hill Estate or the Mornington Peninsula Brewery, or head into Red Hill proper for the self-proclaimed ‘Easter Weekend Extravaganza’ (think massive egg hunt, arts and crafts and locally-sourced produce).
Come for the gold, stay for the rush. That used to be Bendigo’s tourism hook, way back in the 19th century. But we’re happy to say things have improved, and the city now boasts a pretty sweet food and art scene, if you know where to look. Check out this article for some general tips, or brace yourself for Bendigo Art Gallery’s super creepy House of Mirrors. For all Easter-type celebrations, check out the Bendigo Easter Festival, running Friday through Sunday.
One for the committed day-trippers. Victoria’s High Country has already received a light dusting of snow (Buller, Stirling, Thredbo and Hotham all got lucky), and there’s a bunch of Easter-themed goodness happening over the long weekend. The Easter Bunny will be searching for a coat at Falls Creek for their annual festival, Bright’s holding an Easter Market on Saturday from 9am – 2pm and there’s an Indulgence Weekend at Auldstone Cellar near Wangaratta, with 25% off all bottles. Totally worth the 3hr drive.
The Dandenongs speak to the doily-loving Grandma inside all of us. Unfortunately, it also speaks to the doily-loving Grandma inside every tourist ever to mount a Greyhound Bus. Head to the 1000 Steps early to beat the crowds (hours might differ a little over the long break) then check out Olinda (for antiques) or Sassafras (for some well-deserved scones, jam and tea at Ms Marple’s). If you snag a car park in either of these towns, defend it with your life. Dandenongs pros will make a bee-line for the Alfred Nicholas Gardens instead, or try local institution Cuckoo, who always hold a big Easter Sunday spread.
‘Spa Country’ is a bit of a catchall name for the bits around Daylesford, Macedon and Lerderderg State Park (hands down the best-named State Park of all time). If you’ve never ventured up this way, you’re missing out: Spa Country’s tea and scones game is strong. Over Easter, there’s a bunch of stuff going on, but the big one is EasterFest at Bacchus Marsh. The Chocolate Mill, just north of Daylesford, will also be open across the long weekend, dishing up a frankly obscene number of chocolate eggs.
Another good one if the price of petrol drops below a billion dollars a litre. The Grampians may be a three-hour drive away, but the journey’s worth it. The Stawell Gift is running (in Stawell) across the long weekend, and there’s even a rodeo running in Great Western. For us though the Grampians are all about Dunkeld, our spirit home (and coincidentally home to the delicious Royal Mail Hotel). If you need to work off some chocolate guilt, take the Mt Sturgeon Hike: a 3hr round-trip with some killer views at the top.
If you're sticking around town this Easter, hot cross buns aren't gonna cut it. You need real food. Here's what's open over the long weekend.
Image credit: Michelle Jarni