In the city centre, graffiti-graced laneways fork off from the arterial streets: here, tucked away behind unassuming facades, are some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, bars and boutiques. Once you’ve unwrapped the city, sally forth to savour spa breaks in Daylesford, arty adventures in the Goldfields, country thrills in the Yarra Valley or beach-hopping along the Great Ocean Road. Nature- and wildlife-packed adventures await.
Spotlight on: the Great Ocean Road
If you’re visiting Melbourne in the height of Aussie summer and wonder where the locals are, chances are they’re in their beach houses on the Great Ocean Road, which loops alongside the windswept Southern Ocean. The Road, one of the world’s most incredible drives, spans 400 kilometres (249 miles) from the town of Torquay to Nelson on the South Australian border. It’s Australian National Heritage-listed, home to diverse landscapes, including limestone stacks, volcanoes, rainforests, beaches – and some incredible wildlife, including koalas and kangaroos.
Smith insider tip #1
Eat at... Kappo, an upscale Japanese restaurant on food-focussed Flinders Lane. It’s omakase, which means there’s no menu, no rush and multiple courses – sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Don’t miss... the sommelier’s skilful sake pairings.
Smith insider tip#2
Drink at... Boilermaker House, which pays tribute to 19th-century boilermakers and their poison of choice (beer with whisky shots). If you like what you find here, chances are you’ll enjoy Boilermaker’s sister shrine to whisky, Eau de Vie, also in the CBD.
Don’t miss... a serving of charcuterie and sobrasada (Spanish sausage).
Smith insider tip #3
Sleep at... Daylesford’s delectable Lake House, which started life as a 40-seat, weekend-only, Alla Wolf Tasker-run restaurant. The award-winning kitchen is still going strong; these days, there are also 34 lake-spying bedrooms (and a cosseting spa) to indulge in. It’s a scenic 90-minute drive to Daylesford from Melbourne.
Don’t miss... a romantic boat trip on the lake.
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