Some things just go together, like PB and jelly, and Posh and Becks, so this year we’ve teamed up with MINI to bring you, our discerning readers and drivers, our fortnightly MINI Fave 5 series: The must-try guide to Melbourne, celebrating the launch of the new MINI 5-door hatch!
Summer is in full swing, and with it comes weekends spent exploring the best beaches, waterfalls and nature hot-spots that Victoria has to offer. Whether you’re a fan of mountain biking through the Otways, or surfing at one of the Great Ocean Road’s best beaches, here are five jaw-droppingly beautiful nature spots that you will find within driving distance of Melbourne. Get planning your journey to an epic nature adventure!
#1: Lake Elizabeth, Forrest
Take a drive along the Great Ocean Road and head inland from Apollo Bay to Forrest, where you’ll find heaps of things to do from checking out the tasty local microbrewery, Forrest Brewery, to hiring a mountain bike and speeding through the Otways’ many bike tracks. One of the most beautiful nature spots in this area is Lake Elizabeth, a sunken lake where you will find gumtrees, wild platypus and, after dark, thousands of glow worms.
Not content with a day trip? Pack a tent – you can camp for free nearby, letting you take advantage of the area’s beauty and wildlife at dawn and dusk. The perfect forest getaway!
#2: Wreck Beach, Great Ocean Road
Wreck Beach is only one of the incredible stops along the Great Ocean Walk, a 240-km route that runs the length of the coast from Torquay to Warnambool. The petite beach inlet is surrounded by the area’s notorious jagged coastal rock faces, and the beach itself is dotted with remnants of shipwrecks that had sailed too close to land. The stand out feature is a giant anchor that lies part-submerged in the sand, making for that perfect Pirates of the Caribbean proto opportunity.
#3: Torquay Beach, Torquay
Home to one of Australia’s biggest surf brands, Quiksilver, and the spiritual home to many waveriders in Victoria, Torquay Beach is one of the best surfing beaches on the Great Ocean Road. The beach itself stretches out towards a western point, where you’ll find surfers, bodyboard and paddleboard riders challenging the waves, so remember to pack a wetsuit and get ready for some ocean action. And, if that’s not your thing, park and check out Blackman’s Brewery for some fantastic local beer and delicious food on the town’s foodie strip, Bell Street.
#4: Port Fairy Beach, Port Fairy
If history is your thing, Port Fairy – a fishing village dotted with cute 1800’s cottages on the Great Ocean Road – is a fantastic road trip destination. The town is buzzing with fishermen and tourists during the summer months, and not only are the preserved buildings amazing, but the beaches are also stunning. Relax by the cheekily named Pea Soup Beach and keep your eyes peeled - you’ll see southern right whales frolicking in the water if you’re lucky! One of our favourite long-weekend chill-out destinations in Victoria.
#5: Hopetoun Falls, Beech Forest
Take to the hills from Apollo Bay and you’ll find Hopetoun Falls, some of the most stunning natural waterfalls in Australia. Situated a short drive through the Great Otway National Park from the bay, this natural landmark is one of the most picture-perfect nature spots you’ll find. Stretching 30 metres in height and plunging into a pool that’s a hub of plant life and other wildlife (especially brightly coloured birds), you’ll want to bring a camera for sure!
We're thrilled to partner with MINI to bring you our Fave 5 series—our fortnightly guide to the best of the best in Melbourne. From food to fashion, Campari to Crossfit, each Fave 5 edition is researched and recommended by The Urban List, and driven by the new MINI 5-Door Hatch—putting the city at your fingertips and giving you the freedom to explore it!
Image credit: Lake Elizabeth, Wreck Beach, Torquay Beach, Prot Fairy Beach, Hopetoun Falls by Carolyn Hall