First, regional Victoria was hit hard by bushfires, then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
When travel restrictions ease in Victoria, there are many regional communities that are ready and waiting for you to visit once again.
And, of course, after months in isolation, you're in need of a location for a day trip, or a weekend away to clear your head. This could just be the perfect partnership.
Beautiful coastlines and beaches, mountain top walks, and relaxing day spas all await you in parts of regional Victoria. Here are some places you should pack the car and head to once this is all over.
Travel time: 3.5 hours
Great for: Bush Walking
Bright is one of the most picturesque places in Victoria and really comes alive in autumn through to winter.
Leaves turn brown and fall to the ground, couple that with brisk foggy mornings and you've got some beautiful days of sight-seeing ahead of you.
Bright is wedged between Mount Buffalo and Falls Creek, so you can imagine it gets a little cold at night. And with the 3.5 hour drive time from Melbourne, you're best to plan to stay for a full weekend, or even longer.
Grab a group of mates and book Ridgeview, a massive house inspired by the ranches in Big Sky, Montana.
We've got a deep dive into all the things to do in Bright here.
Travel Time: 6 hours
Great For: Wilderness Adventures
Mallacoota was hit hard by the summer bushfires, and when travel restrictions ease the locals will be waiting with open arms.
It's a 6-hour trip to Mallacoota, so you'll want to plan on spending a bit of time there. The town is surrounded by natural beauty being situated on the mouth of the Wallagaraugh River with the Croajingalong National Park to the south-west, and the Cape Howe Marine National Park to the east.
The Thurra River dunes walk is a highlight. A trek through banksias and heathland to sand dunes which sit 30-metres above the Thurra River with amazing views.
Check out some further inspiration for a Mallacoota trip here.
Travel Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Great for: Food & Wine
Jindivick isn't exactly a tourism mecca, but it's well worth a trip to the small west Gippsland town.
In 2019, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival turned the whole town into a foodie paradise which only strengthened its standing as a destination for day-trippers seeking some great food, wine, and produce.
There are many wineries in dotted throughout the rolling hills surrounding the town. Wild Dog Winery is probably the best known, but it's worth visiting others such as Ripplebrook Winery, Piedmont Wines, Narracan Falls Winery, Meriz Winery, and Brandy Creek Wines.
The Brandy Creek Wines property is also home to the Brandy Creek Day Spa which features a Turkish hammam and is a great spot for some rest and relaxation.
Get some more further inspiration for a Jindivick day trip here.
Travel Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
Great For: Beer & Whisky
No trip toward Wilsons Prom is complete without jumping off the South Gippsland Highway and stopping at Loch.
The sleepy town is now home to a range of amazing businesses making the most of the surrounding landscape and produce.
Stop by the Loch Brewery & Distillery for traditional ales, along with gin, negroni, and whisky all available to take home. And try there if restrictions allow.
Olive at Loch is a great spot to stop for a coffee and some delicious baked goods if the mood takes you. It's also worth wandering along the quaint main street and heading into Udder & Hoe for some 'slow food' and picking up some great produce from the surrounding area.
Travel Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Great For: Food & Wine
There is so much to see and do in Healesville it's hard to get it all into a couple of paragraphs.
Healesville Sanctuary is a great spot to spend a day, and there are plenty of picnic spots too. Catch Australian native animals in beautiful habitats. Koalas, platypus, kangaroos, dingoes, and more roam around the grounds of the Sanctuary.
In Healesville itself, you'll find great spots to quench your thirst and fill your stomach for a day of exploring the wineries of the Yarra Valley.
If you're looking to buy some great local produce to cook up a storm at home, stop by Kitchen & Butcher to get your hands on delicious cheese, meats, and everything in between.
Travel Time: 3 Hours
Great For: Bush Walking
Halls Gap is situated right on the doorstep of Grampians National Park, and is a great place to base yourself if you plan on tackling everything the Grampians region has to offer.
The Grampians Peaks Trail is a 160km-long trail that takes around 13 days to complete. The final stages of the trail should be completed in late-2020 and will be an epic adventure for anyone who takes on the full trail.
Halls Gap is home to Victoria's largest regional zoo—Halls Gap Zoo is home to more than 160 different species of animal including American Bison, Giraffe, Saltwater Crocodile, Cheetah, Red Pandas, and many more. Read more about the animals on show via the Halls Gap Zoo website.
Travel Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Great For: Seafood
Situated on the Bellarine Peninsula, historic Queenscliff is the perfect spot for a day trip if you're right into seafood.
Located right on the heads of Port Phillip Bay, Queenscliff harbour is a great spot to grab some fish and chips and watch the boats come in.
If you're in Queenscliff looking for something to eat, you're in luck. Mi Shells Seafood has fresh, locally caught seafood, Saltbush Fine Foods has a range of local producer and delicious dishes, and the Queenscliff Brewhouse & Distillery has more than 100 beers for you to get stuck into while you take in the bay views.
Other highlights of the area including grabbing a meal on the Q Train, which runs on the former Geelong to Queenscliff railway line, or charter a boat and head out onto the bay, or beyond the heads into Bass Strait.
For more trips and things to do around Victoria, head to our Local Escapes section.
Image credit: Loch | Visit Victoria