Regional Victoria comes alive with brilliant red hues, incredible flavours and the spirit of outdoor adventure in autumn. Hike, cycle or taste your way through charming villages, scale mountain peaks on horse back or cosy up by the campfire and gaze at the star-studded night sky. Milder weather and spectacular sites make Victoria’s backyard the place to be this autumn.
1. Chase gold foliage
Head to lesser known towns to discover the golden beauty of Victoria as leaves morph from vibrant greens to pretty shades of yellow, orange and red. Forest Glade Gardens in the Macedon Ranges is a riot of colour come autumn, resplendent with vibrant tones from Maple trees, Birches and Beeches. Head to the gardens in April so you can also take advantage of the Macedon Ranges Autumn Festival running throughout the month.
In Gippsland, call into the historic town of Walhalla, which is cradled by mountains and filled with deciduous trees, or spend some time in the heritage town of Buchan. Further afield, the tiny High Country town of Jamieson is a pretty patch, 40 kilometres south of Mansfield, which is home to an amazing array of trees worth viewing.
2. Go for a paddle
Image: Bright Adventure Company kayaking on the Ovens River near Bright
Hit the water in a canoe or kayak and explore Victoria’s beautiful waterways. Hire a canoe or kayak at Lake Nagambie, which is also popular for fishing and boating, or pay a visit to Bright Adventure Company and make a splash on the Ovens River.
Join a tour along the Great Ocean Road where you can kayak to the fur seal colonies just out of Apollo Bay with Apollo Bay Surf and Kayak, or go river sledding in the Yarra Valley on a tour with Warburton Adventure Company.
3. Get ready to pedal
Conquer Victoria’s longest rail trail, the Great Victorian Rail Trail, and wind your way through the idyllic countryside between Tallarook and Mansfield. The 134-kilometre track provides incredible views of the Victorian Alps. Alternatively, whisk yourself away on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail and cycle 100 kilometres through the Ovens Valley. For an extra dash of adventure, link up to the trail between Rutherglen and Wahgunyah on the Murray River.
After something more leisurely? The 13-kilometre ride along the Red Hill Rail Trail on the Mornington Peninsula is a must-do ride. At the end of the ride, toast to a day well spent with a coffee at a local café or a cheeky wine from a nearby vineyard.
4. Lace up your boots
Head towards Geelong and meander through the distinctive granite peaks of the You Yangs Regional Park. Walks range from an easy three kilometres to more strenuous distances of 12 to 14. Travel past Geelong to the magnificent Otway Ranges and walk along the forest canopy on the 25-metre-high walkway at Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. Thrill seekers can test their limits on the zipline which is 30 metres above ground.
Image: You Yangs Regional Park
Between Daylesford and Ballarat you’ll find Creswick Regional Park, a great spot for nature walks and wildlife spotting. Explore ancient hills and relics of the gold mining era or spot koalas in their native habitat in Creswick’s Koala Park. Follow the circuit track and cast your eyes up the Manna Gum trees to spot some furry friends.
5. Settle into the saddle
Follow in the footsteps of Victoria’s legendary bushrangers and musterers and embark on an exhilarating horse riding excursion.
Learn how to ride a horse against the backdrop of the Grampians National Park on a 12-kilometre trail ride with the team at Grampians Horseriding Centre, or tackle the undulating terrain of Alpine National Park on a ride with Bogong Horseback Adventures.
6. Pick your own produce
Discover flavourful fresh produce and visit a farm gate where you can shop, eat, and even pick a bushel of apples. In autumn, Rayner’s Orchard in the Yarra Valley has apples, plums, lemons and much more ripe for the picking. Or, just 40 minutes from Melbourne in Bacchus Marsh, February to June is peak apple picking season at Payne’s Orchards.
7. Find a slice of outer space
Image: Stargazing from a camp set up by Sheltered Glamping Co on Phillip Island
Soar into outer space without leaving the state and gaze at wonders of the cosmos from viewing spots in regional Victoria. See the night sky aglow from a countryside camping spot, or head to an observatory for a more scientific view of the universe. Ballarat Observatory, Phillip Island Observatory and the Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society make viewing the wonders of the night sky easy through their high-tech telescopes.
Or, head outdoors to the Winton Wetlands in Benalla or Koorooya State Park in Inglewood where you can BYO a telescope or binoculars, or view the pretty specs of luminous gas with your naked eye.