Small Towns of Victoria, Australia

Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state, but nevertheless, it has a lot to offer. Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Yarra Valley, The Grampians – it’s full of scenic routes, historical sites, vineyards and wildlife. But one of the things we found particularly charming about Victoria is its collection of small towns. In this article, a collaboration with other travelers, we’d like to share travel bloggers’ favorite towns in Victoria!

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay, Victoria

Apollo Bay, Victoria *courtesy of Gadsventure

As you follow the incomparable Great Ocean Road along the southern coast of Victoria, a stunning seaside town comes into view.

Apollo Bay is my favourite little place in Victoria, and I will let you know why! It isn’t just its perfect location situated on one of Australia’s most famous coastlines, or it’s gorgeous scenery, accessible waterfalls, nearby koala populated forests or attractive front beach. The very soul of Apollo Bay, its people and the super friendly village atmosphere all contribute to making it one of the best small towns of Victoria.

We spent a Christmas here on our around Australia trip. The festive vibe was everywhere as the locals going about their normal lives intermingled with visitors from Victoria and interstate. But the hustle was always perfectly paced. We topped off our boutique shopping and great coffee with a play on the spectacular beachside adventure playground for the kids. Despite the number of visitors Apollo Bay receives during the Summer Holidays especially, it still retains a quaint and relaxing small town feel.

Make it a stop on your next Great Ocean Road adventure, you won’t regret it.

Kris and Brian are totally fun-loving Australians on an international gap year with their 4 kids while world schooling and documenting every step on their blog Gadsventure. They believe that life is short and the time is now!

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Beechworth, Victoria

Beechworth, Victoria *courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

From the moment you set foot in Beechworth’s main street, you’ll be transported back in time to the pioneering days of gold mining and bushrangers. Heritage buildings are not just a quaint addition to a bustling tourist hub, but an integral part of the historic town. From a surprisingly large range of pubs and restaurants (try Bridge Road Brewers’ overfired pizzas), to the local Post Office, you’ll find everything you need here, carefully maintained in a picturesque 19th Century setting.

Like many of the surrounding towns, Beechworth has a connection to the famed local outlaw, Ned Kelly. The Old Beechworth Gaol housed Ned, his friend Joe Byrne, and his horse-rustling mentor, Harry Power, at one time or another. Ned’s mother, Ellen, also did time there. Magistrates used the Courthouse in Beechworth to try Ned following the plough-clad shootout in Glenrowan where his folk hero status was born. The Vault contains the biggest collection of Kelly memorabilia in the world. Tours of the town, and the gaol, are available.

Other highlights of the town include the Beechworth bakery, the telegraph station, and the old Mayday Hills lunatic asylum, where the escape room and ghost tours will you wish for the peaceful confines of Ned’s cold, dark cell.

Jo from Over the Edge of the Wild. Over the Edge of the Wild is a platform where Jo shares the experiences she had on the road. It highlights the amazing things that people are doing all over this crazy world of ours.

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Bendigo, Victoria

Bendigo, Victoria *courtesy of Melbourne Family

Bendigo should be top of your list when looking for towns to visit in Victoria. At just under two hours drive from Melbourne in the centre of the state and on the train and bus routes, Bendigo is easy to visit with an interesting history and many attractions so that you can have a great stay.

Gold was discovered in Bendigo in the 1850s which resulted in a large influx of migrants from around the world. At this point, it transformed from a sheep station to a town. In the 19th century, it became Australia’s highest gold producing town.

This has lead to a town known for its architectural heritage. The centre is full of late Victorian colonial style buildings which give it an elegant air. A stroll through the city centre to experience this is a must. In addition, there is much more you can do including a mine tour. The Central Deborah Gold Mine operated from 1939 to 1954 and today is a tourist attraction which you can visit. You can have a self-guided tour above ground, but the highlight is a tour of the mine itself.

There are also many other attractions including the Talking Tram which will take you around Bendigo while giving you an audio tour. Lake Weeroona is perfect for a picnic and relaxing. We also recommend the wineries in the area.

Simpler And Smarter is a travel and lifestyle blog that helps inspire you to live simpler and smarter while parenting and travelling the world.

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Clunes, Victoria

Clunes, Victoria *courtesy of Bearly Here

Clunes is one of the starting points of the gold rush fever in 1850s. Located close to Ballarat and Daylesford, Clunes is a small town with population under 2000 people. While I wouldn’t recommend it for a week-long stay, Clunes is a great stopover for a day or two.

Dive into antiques and second hand book shopping on the main street and learn town’s history at the Clunes Museum. Take a walk to Clunes Dog Park and find a lookout to the city. Visit Farmer’s Market and eat in one of the many food places. Those who visit in May could be lucky enough to catch the annual Booktown Festival.

Clunes isn’t a big town, but it’s quaint and charming. Locals, like in most places in Australia, are friendly and always willing to help. Variety of accommodation options include Clunes Caravan Park, Beckworth Retreat and Madam Saddler charming cottage.

*By yours truly.


Daylesford, Victoria

Daylesford, Victoria *courtesy of Traveling Honeybird

For over 100 years the people of Melbourne have used the petite town of Daylesford for a much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. Once a town famous for its mineral springs, it was the place to be in the Melbourne summer, for the rich and wealthy. A town within a days coach ride from Melbourne – and now only a mere 90mins drive – it boasted wonderful food, even better accommodation options and that all important reconnect with nature.

To this day Daylesford stays true to its relaxation heritage. There’s no shortage of boutique and unique accommodation options available to suit every budget. Along with internationally renowned restaurants, cute cafes and generally an area that pays homage to the local producers. Along with a strong sense of community you’ll find this town an absolute delight to visit. Just a tip – go on a Sunday for the famous Daylesford station market.

Traveling Honeybird is Australia’s favourite coffee fueled adventure travel blog. Written by Jean and accompanied by James, who are mountain bikers & hikers, beach babes, snow bunnies and cafe regulars.

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Dunkeld, Victoria

Dunkeld, Victoria *courtesy of Rolling Along With Kids

Located in the Western District of Victoria, Dunkeld is a beautiful small country town that is very relaxed but with plenty to do. Situated at the southern entrance to the Grampians National Park, walks around the town reveal the most stunning mountain views. The Arboretum is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. Visit the Dunkeld Old Bakery to choose from the beautiful freshly baked food then wander down to this peaceful oasis. You must also climb one of the local mountains. Do not worry, there is something for every fitness level!

Dunkeld is a foodies delight. As I mentioned before, the Dunkeld Old Bakery has delicious food but for something a bit fancier, enjoy a lunch or dinner at the Wickens Restaurant at the Royal Mail Hotel. You will be delighted with its extensive wine list and innovative food. If you haven’t made a booking for this popular fine dining restaurant or want a more relaxed food experience, the Parker Street Project at the Royal Mail Hotel is an option for yummy food that is great value. For the best coffee in town, head to the Dunkeld General Store. They also have a selection of take away food, local wine, gourmet food, gifts and supermarket items.

Throughout the year there are different events held in the town. These include 3 Peaks Trail Run in August for people who enjoy running, the 3 Peaks Market in October showcasing wonderful local products and the Dunkeld Horse Races held once a year in November.

Dunkeld has something for everyone and you won’t be disappointed.

Rolling Along With Kids is all about inspiring families to travel to Bali. They have tips on where to stay, what to do, where to eat and much more.

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Lorne, Victoria

Lorne, Victoria *courtesy of Girl Seeking Purpose

If lush, adventurous, and tranquil sound appealing, then you definitely need to head to the quaint sea-side town of Lorne. It encapsulates everything there is to love about life in Victoria – sprawling nature, delicious food and coffee, and stunning opportunities for photography and adventure.

The town is located on the world-famous, Great Ocean Road. It offers visitors stunning views of the unique and harsh Victorian coastline, as well as several heritage listed historical sites. While the town is usually a convenient stop on multi-day coastal road trips, it has enough food, accommodation and activity options to warrant its own individual escape.

For the outdoor enthusiasts, you have easy access to the magnificent Otway National Park. Here you will find several hiking trails that weave through lush rainforest to some of Australia’s most spectacular waterfalls. You will also find an endless number of wildlife to watch and photograph in this ancient and sprawling national park.

For absolute relaxation and connection with nature, I would recommend staying at the Cumberland River Holiday Park. It is uniquely nestled on a beautiful river, between the harsh cliff faces of the Victorian coast line and the rolling waves of the Southern Ocean. You can drift off to sleep with a clear view of the starry night sky, to the sound of waves rolling onto the shore, and the camp-side river trickling.

For the foodies, Lorne showcases a variety of excellent local Victorian food and produce. If you have some time to spare, I would recommend finding a spot at one of the many waterfront cafes. Take a moment to soak it all in.

As you can see, this coastal town may be small, but it is certainly not lacking in what it can offer you on your next adventure in Victoria.

Girl Seeking Purpose is a blog about finding purpose and fulfillment in life. It’s about exploring what it means to be alive and being present in the moment you are in.

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Mildura, Victoria

Mildura, Victoria *courtesy of Small footprints, big adventures

My home town of Mildura is a beautiful river town at the very top of Victoria. It couldn’t be any flatter here, there’s barely a hill to be seen for hundreds of kilometers in all directions! It was settled by Europeans in the 1880’s and paddlesteamers were used to carry goods in and out of the town along the Murray River.

Of course, before European settlement, aboriginal people lived here for many thousands of years. The Latje Latje people inhabited the Victorian side of the river, and the Kureinji and Barkindji people lived on the New South Wales side. They used canoes made from a single sheet of red gum bark to cross the river and to fish. Today we can see and feel where canoes were cut from trees along the river.

Now, Mildura is known for great food as it is predominantly a food and wine growing region. We have many busy cafes, restaurants, markets and wineries with reputations stretching much further than the surrounding towns. Also, the river continues to attract people for fishing, watersports and houseboat holidays. Some paddleboats still operate along the Murray river too, taking tourists for a ride along the trail of yesteryear.

There are some beautiful national parks and walking tracks around Mildura, and the main waterfront has been upgraded in recent years to include more dining and entertainment options. Mildura gets very hot over the summer months, so many of our attractions involve cooling off! The wave pool is excellent and is open all year. Several outdoor pools and water parks are open from October – April. And many people love our arts and history scene too, with historic Chaffey House, Big Lizzie in Red Cliffs, and several art galleries and museums to explore. Finally, Mildura is also host to several annual events. These include a speed boat and skiing race, a country music festival, and a vanilla slice competition! We have huge numbers of visitors here each year to enjoy what our region has to offer, and I personally love that it’s a very multicultural town.

Small footprints, big adventures is a blog about sustainable family travel, eco-friendly living, and conscious lifestyle topics. Emma and her family travel often to ‘worldschool’ their kids by embracing different cultures and focusing on ethical and supportive tourism experiences. Emma and Anthony are from Mildura, Victoria and are currently based there. 

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Portland, Victoria

Portland, Victoria *courtesy of Four Around the World

Portland is a favourite town for me in Victoria, mostly because I am a little biased as it is where I was born. However having lived in Queensland most of my life, it is only every few years I get back for a visit. Every time we discover something new to love. Portland was the birthplace of Victoria, which means many of the buildings were built by convicts. There is so much history in this small town simply because of its position on the coast.

Portland is home to the only deep sea port between Adelaide and Melbourne. That’s why there are always ships coming in and out, making it a vital location for trade. It is also a popular fishing town, due to the sheltered harbor and mostly calm water. This means there is a high chance you might have some unique animal encounters too, like a friendly seal waiting about for the fisherman to come back from a day on their boat.

The position along the coast makes it incredibly scenic too, with many beautiful picnic spots and viewing points. Sitting towards the end of the Great Ocean Road, Portland is situated close to many other beautiful towns along this popular Australian tourist route. Whether you are visiting the Cape Nelson Lighthouse, or one of my personal favorites, a trip to the Powerhouse Motor and Car Museum, there is plenty to love about this small country town by the sea.

Holly from Four Around the World. Four Around the World is a family travel blog focusing on making travel with kids easier and more enjoyable. They love to take their two young girls on adventures and share their tips with other families along the way.

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Queenscliff, Victoria

Queenscliff, Victoria *courtesy of See Geelong

Queenscliff is located on the south eastern tip of the Bellarine Peninsula close to the city of Geelong. A beautiful area known for quaint coastal towns, glorious beaches and boutique wineries.

Reminiscent of a British seaside resort, Queenscliff is the ‘Grande Dame” of the region. Once an old fishing village the elegant town has an abundance of 19th century stone and timber cottages, grand old hotels, elegant guesthouses and beautiful wide boulevards.

The village has a lazy relaxed vibe that’s perfect for anyone wanting to chill out on their Aussie adventure with long lazy days by the sea. This doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do though. And there are plenty of activities to keep you busy – you just won’t feel rushed.

Visitors to the town are treated to galleries and museums, chic cafes serving barista made coffee and local treats, boutique wineries and artisanal produce. And of course, lots and lots of seafood. Energetic water lovers will enjoy swimming with dolphins or diving old shipwrecks and reefs teeming with marine life.

A must do on any visit is to check out the views from the top of the 42-metre observation deck at Queenscliff harbour. It offers stunning views all the way across to the Mornington Peninsula.

Queenscliff is one of the most delightful small towns of Victoria with enough attractions to enchant the most jaded tourists. Be sure to pop it on your itinerary.

Andrew and Audrey from See Geelong are Geelong locals that love nothing better than helping people discover their hometown Geelong and the surrounding area.

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Walhalla, Victoria

Walhalla, Victoria *courtesy of Wicked Walkabout

Walhalla is one of the most charming little towns in Victoria, it is a place that many people have not heard of, yet it definitely deserves a visit, preferably overnight in one of the historic properties such as the Star Hotel or Stringers Cottage.

Founded as a gold mining town in the 1860’s it had around 4,000 residents at its peak and today has around 20 permanent residents. Power was not connected to Walhalla until December 1998, making it the very last town in Australia to receive electricity. I first visited Walhalla in the 1980s and absolutely loved the fact that it had no electricity, life was still quite basic there and it was so quiet at night, so dark.

I love the charm of the old buildings in the little town, the historic feel of Walhalla as visitors enter through the valley to get there. It is quite isolated and yet within easy enough reach from Melbourne to make it a wonderful weekend trip away. The old cemetery clings to the hillside with many old grave markers still to be seen, the town sits below deep in the valley. It even has a tiny oval where the early pioneers played cricket. This can be hiked to from the centre of the town.

A tourist railway operates from Walhalla, taking passengers through the forest to the Thompson River and returning. A tour of the long tunnel mine and browse through the museum will complete a visit to this area of Gippsland.

Jane from Wicked Walkabout writes on a number of travel blogs and focuses mainly on the State of Victoria. As a former tour guide and operator, she is happiest now when promoting some of the states spectacular regions such as the Great Ocean Road and also smaller regions that do not attract as much attention but offer so much too.

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We hope you enjoyed this article, and thanks so much to all the bloggers who decided to contribute. Let us know what were your favorite places in Victoria by commenting on this post below!

For more city guides, read:

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Small Towns of Victoria

Small Towns of Victoria

Small Towns of Victoria

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