I love Melbourne. For me this city has pretty much everything. It is big enough to feel like a city, but is cosy and accessible at the same time. I’ve visited Melbourne a few times, but now was the first time that I explored outside of the city.
Let me tell you one thing: I was surprised. I left New Zealand without many expectations, only with a plan to explore the coast (south-east side) around Melbourne and see what it has in store. There are multiple spots that will take your breath away. Let me list a few must do trips from Melbourne!
Picturesque Phillip Island
It takes about an hour to really leave the city behind you. And how much I love Melbourne, I was excited to explore outside of it. It was surprisingly busy and long to get out of the city or maybe I was just impatient to get out and see some nature. We drove about two hours from Melbourne to Phillip Island.
The first fun thing when arriving at Phillip Island is crossing the bridge. Phillip Island is a little island of about 100km2. The only way to reach it (if you don’t have a boat or helicopter) is crossing a lovely bridge.
Our arrival was accompanied with lots of wind. Not a nice ocean breeze, but strong wind gusts. Sand was flying everywhere, and painful when hitting your face. You can imagine, not really the best conditions to get out and explore.
We were sitting in the van at Cape Woolamai – which is the highest point on Phillip Island – and almost gave up on shooting (photos that is). It crossed our mind to go to the only cinema on the little island: in a retirement home. A few glasses of wine later we decided to give the walk a try and face those strong winds.
That turned out to be a great choice. With our boots on and wind jackets closely strapped on we were ready to face nature. An 30-minute walk later we arrived at the coastline with views on a massive rock formation: the Pinnacles.
The wild mix of wind, clouds and sun made it a great sunset. We couldn’t have been happier. Lesson learned: don’t go to the cinema when the weather is bad. Although I’m sure it would have been fun with those oldies.
Where? Start walking from the Cape Woolamai car park. You access the beach, walk about ten minutes and you will see stairs appearing on your left. Go up and follow the track! The walk is about 1-1.5h return.
The beaches on Phillip Island are perfect for some nice strolls. I highly recommend exploring the area around Surf Beach, because you’ll find some cool sea caves. They’re formed by erosion and that makes it into one big playground. Don’t forget to visit at low tide; otherwise you just won’t see them!
We did a bit of exploring along the surrounding coastline too and it’s clear: it is beautiful everywhere. Seeing the wild waves slamming onto the rocks is something special.
Where? The caves are located just before the Surf Beach town, left off the main Phillip Island Road. Walk up the steps from the car park on to the beach, then turn left.
Apparently Phillip Island is also a great place to spot penguins and seals, but because of our tight schedule we didn’t have time to check this out!
After a successful first night and a stop at the Forrest Caves we headed to Mornington Peninsula, and more particular: Cape Schanck.
The boyfriend and I wanted to check out Pulpit Rock, a weird-looking dramatic big rock at the coast. It turned out that the walk there is pretty cool too. They’ve installed a huge staircase down to the beach! There is also a historic lighthouse, but we didn’t check that out – as it doesn’t appeal to me to pay to visit a lighthouse.
Our mission was: taking a nice picture from Pulpit Rock, preferably with an amazing sunset.
I did not succeed, as you can see below. It was super hazy and the sunset was average, as the clouds didn’t let much light through. And framing a big bulky rock isn’t easy too. I’m posting the picture anyway so you can at least have an idea of that massive rock!
The experience was great though. At low tide you can walk close to the water and jump from rock to rock. Not for wimps, as the waves crash so close to you.
Where? Go to the Cape Schanck Lighthouse car park. After a short walk on the wooden staircase you will reach the rock. If you want to explore further you can start climbing over the rocks (which we did to get this view).
I was happily surprised to see how many cool spots you can visit in only two days outside of Melbourne! Maybe next time you might want to explore outside of the city too. I promise it will be worth it!