Five long weekend getaways that don’t need a car
For a car-free weekend away, board a getaway train or bus for regional Victoria.
So, you don’t drive and all your friends with wheels are taking off for a weekend getaway? You can still take time out and explore regional Victoria using public transport with a bit of expert guidance from RACV’s journey planner app arevo. Many Victorian getaway destinations have good public transport, cycling and walking options when you have a few days to unwind by taking a leisurely trip.
Weekends are the perfect time to get out and explore regional Victoria and enjoy the scenery from a train or bus, says arevo marketing manager Katie Chuang. She says arevo is a personalised pocket journey planner ideal for people who don’t drive, that covers all modes of transport – from trains and buses to ferries and cycling.
It provides personalised routes and calculates the time and distance of the journey, the carbon footprint according to the mode of transport, and even the kilojoules spent walking or cycling.
Every weekend, many regional centres host special events while others have timeless appeal. So leave the car at home and explore Victoria by foot, bus or train this weekend. Here are five places to have a car-free getaway.
Slides: Heathcote wine region, Torquay’s Cosy Corner, Australian National Surfing Museum, Healesville Hotel, Dirty Three Wines in Inverloch.
Five easy weekenders without a car
Heathcote’s rich earth produces meaty, lusty shiraz that leads to much merriment. As do many other local grape varieties like marsanne, sangiovese, tempranillo, viognier and cabernet sauvignon, to name a few.
There are about 30 wineries around the area, and many are family owned with second and third-generation winemakers. For a selection of local wines there are a number of cellar doors on the main drag, High Street, whose historic architecture reflects the township’s gold-rush beginnings.
For wannabe winemakers, The Shiraz Republic lets you ‘rent-a-row’ of grapes, maintain them over the year, then pick, crush, press and bottle your own wine.
Cyclists can catch a V/Line train to Bendigo and ride the popular O’Keefe Rail Trail past bush, waterways and wildlife to Heathcote.
arevo says: Get the Deniliquin or Barham V/Line coach from Melbourne’s Southern Cross coach terminal to Heathcote (1 hour and 46 minutes, using Co2 5.7kg).
Australia’s surfing capital
Surf world-famous breaks or catch your first wave at a beach that gave birth to Australia’s surfing culture. For die-hard surfing fans there’s a local bus to Bells Beach, the international surfing hotspot. Land lubbers can stroll along pristine beaches or tackle the Surf Coast Walking Trail, which is suitable for bikes with easy paths and clifftop lookouts.
Chilling out comes in many forms, including RACV Torquay Resort’s One Spa where luxurious treatments revive and promote balance within the body, while Torquay’s Australian National Surfing Museum has everything to do with catching waves.
arevo says: Get the V/Line Geelong line train from Southern Cross railway station and get off at Geelong (1 hour and 10 minutes, Co2 4.4kg), then take Apollo Bay 101 bus from the station to Torquay (1 hour and 1 minute, Co2 1.3kg).
Healesville is the gateway to the Yarra Valley and a hop-on, hop-off mini-bus service, Hop It, picks you up from Lilydale station and lets you choose which designated stop you want to explore and how long you want to stay.
For wine lovers the stops include Yering Station, which is in Australia’s Tourism Hall of Fame, Domaine Chandon and its vines, wines and cocktails, Rochford Wines with its red five stars in the James Halliday Wine Companion, and the unpretentious Payten and Jones where they admit their wines can come with a touch of sediment.
Non-drinkers have options too. Like the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie with its decadent desserts and hand-made French and Belgian chocolate, Healesville Sanctuary’s wildlife shows and the TarraWarra Museum of Art.
For those wanting to chill out, drop in to RACV Healesville Country Club’s One Spa for a spot of pampering.
arevo says: Get the Lilydale line train from Southern Cross Station and get off at Lilydale station (1 hour and 6 minutes, Co2 2.3kg) and cycle to Healesville (1 hour and 36 minutes).