Autumn leaves Melbourne. The 10 best spots near the city to see them.

We all live in a hectic world these days. Modern life seems to come with a constant sense of rush, rush, rush and technology dominates our lives at every turn. It’s nice to know then that sometimes mother nature can still offer up some simple pleasures.

There is something so soothing about autumn in Melbourne. It’s a time that a city emerges from a hot summer where heat has muted colours and robbed them of their vibrancy. Autumn is the season that celebrates transformation. It’s a time where our city’s palette of colours transcend from baked beige into vibrant hues of glorious oranges, reds and yellows.

autumn leaves daylesford victoria

Autumn leaves Melbourne. An amazing time of year!

And as beautiful as it is in the city it’s actually even better in the countryside!

Our favourite spots to view autumn’s splendour within 90 minutes of Melbourne CBD.

Over the last two years the Thirty Summers team have greatly enjoyed criss-crossing Victoria in search of beautiful autumnal colours. On these road trips we’ve had smiles on our faces, the car windows down and a camera to hand. We thought it was time we shared what we’ve found.

exploring fall colors

How it works.

  • We have listed the destinations as either West or East of Melbourne
  • All of these locations can be reached within around 90 minutes (ish) by car from Melbourne.
  • Many of the places can be also be visited by train. We’ll indicate that in the listing.
  • This post was written on 26 April, 2017 (if you’re taking notes) and all of these locations are amazing right now! Be quick though.
  • Even though we think all of these spots are wonderful some are more special than others. We give our own Leaf Rating  🍁/10 to each location. Before you call your solicitors however remember that these are only our opinions.

Ok then. Fill up the car, get the playlist ready and let’s hit these autumn colours.


Autumn leaves Melbourne. North and west of city.

1. Macedon (& Mount Macedon)

macedon avenue of honour autumn

The Avenue of Honour

Observation: The crème de la crème of Victorian autumn colours. The Avenue of Honour in Macedon is like something plucked off the pages of a children’s fairytale book. Its colours and hues are simply spellbinding. You are unlikely to be alone here as you gaze and please, please respect the signs to not park on the road verge beneath the trees. You’ll ruin everyone else’s photos if you do so. And no-one likes a party-pooper. Pop up the road to Mount Macedon too if you have a car. It’s grandiose mansions and sprawling estates will make you feel both awe-struck and poor in equal measure.

Getting here: 60 kilometres from Melbourne CBD | 50 minute drive | Train to Macedon station and 15 minute walk to Avenue of Honour.

Leaf Rating: 10/10 🍁

avenue of honour macedon

You won’t be alone but it’s SO worth it!

2. Kyneton & 3. Malmsbury

kyneton stone building autumn

Outskirts of Kyneton

Observation: Less than five kilometres apart it’s the Botanical Gardens of both towns that are the best places to head for autumn colour. The gardens are good spots for leaf-hunting families and both towns sport great cafes and places-of-interest. If you do visit Malmsbury then make sure you don’t miss the magnificent Railway Viaduct tucked away at the back of the gardens. It’s 100 metres long and about 150 years old and looks like a Roman aqueduct. Seriously impressive.

Getting here: 90 kilometres from Melbourne CBD | 1.10 hour drive | Train to Kyneton (gardens right next to station) & Malmsbury (10 minute walk from station to gardens)

Leaf Rating: 7/10 🍁

Click an image to enlarge.

4. Castlemaine

castlemaine autumn colours

The back streets of Castlemaine

Observation: Castlemaine has some amazing spots to visit that are laden with glorious autumn leaves. Key amongst these are the Botanic Gardens, Kennedy Street (immediately north of the train station) and the view across town from the lofty site of the Old Castlemaine jail. However a drive around town will reward as well. There are scores of quiet tree-lined streets that will amaze. Just hit the back streets and see.

Getting here: 130 kilometres from CBD | 1.30 hour drive | Train to Castlemaine. (An amazing walk is left from the station along Kennedy St to the Botanic Gardens. 20 mins)

Leaf Rating: 9/10 🍁

Click an image to enlarge.

5. Maldon

maldon victoria in autumn

Main St Maldon

Observation: One of the pleasures of visiting Maldon in autumn is the 20 kilometre journey along the Castlemaine-Maldon Road. It is more akin to the rolling valleys and hills of Wales than regional Australia. The village itself is cuter than a baby with dimples. There are plenty of fine historical buildings, cosy cafes and many bric-a-brac stores if you need to stock up on some ‘shabby-chic’ trinkets. (Is that still a thing?) You can also travel on a tourist steam railway known as the Victorian Goldfields Express that runs between Castlemaine and Maldon. Visit the link for timetable.

Getting here: 150 kilometres | 1.45 hours (ok a little bit over 90 mins but worth it) | You could use the ‘VGE’ Steam railway timetable to get here via Castlemaine if you don’t have a car. (Consult the timetables)

Leaf Rating: 8/10 🍁

countryside in autumn victoria australia

Along the Castlemaine-Maldon Rd

6. Daylesford

central springs road daylesford autumn

The view down Central Springs Rd at dusk

It doesn’t get much better than this. Daylesford is beautiful all year round but goes to another level of riches in the golden hues of autumn. Make sure to visit the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens (and climb the viewing tower) and travel down into town via the ethereal, and very steep, Central Springs Rd. No visit here is complete without a trip down to Lake Daylesford and the explosion of colours surrounding it. The ‘Peace Mile’ walking track meanders around the lake and the Boathouse Cafe is a perfect spot for a coffee or a wine to take in all the beauty.

Getting here: 115 kilometres  from CBD | 1.20 hour drive

Leaf Rating 10/10  🍁

Click an image to enlarge.

7. Glenlyon

glenlyon general store

Observation: 20 kilometres back towards Melbourne from Daylesford is the tiny hamlet of Glenlyon. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of place. But that would be a shame. If you time it right the canopy of leaves above the main street will be an amazing amalgam of yellows, burned orange and greens. There is one of my favourite regional cafes here too – the Glenlyon General Store. Whilst they might lose points for naming creativity they more than make up for it with the yumminess (is that a word?) of their food.  If weather allows sit outside so you can drink in the scenery as you eat.

Getting here: 95 kilometres from CBD | 1 hour drive

Leaf Rating 8/10 🍁


Autumn leaves Melbourne. East and south of the city.

8. Vineyards.

yarra valley vineyard autumn

Views across a Yarra Valley winery

Observation: One of the true spectacles of autumn in Victoria is the soothing vista of golden grape vines stretching into the distance upon softly undulating hills. What better time to head out for a wine-tasting excursion with treats on offer for both the palate and the eyes! Although there are wineries in every corner of Victoria we recommend a visit to the Yarra Valley and Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula at this time of year. Both are easily accessible by freeways that then downgrade into meandering and much quieter one-lane roads flanked on either side by magnificent scenery and tempting wineries. Nice!

Getting here:

Yarra Valley – 60 kilometres from CBD | 1 hour drive

Red Hill – 80 kilometres from CBD | 1.1 hour drive

Leaf Rating: 8/10 🍁

golden vines autumn in victoria

Red Hill vines

9. Healesville (& Warburton)

maroondah reservoir park autumn

Maroondah Reservoir Park

Observation: The appeals of Healesville are pretty much a secret to no-one these days. With that in mind if you can visit during the week rather than on a weekend you will be rewarded with a much quieter experience. People come here to wine and dine, wander and observe and to stay on weekend retreats. However you can easily do Healesville as a wonderful day trip.

On your leaf quest you simply need to drive along the Healesville-Yarra Glen Road to be rewarded with stunning roadside foliage, golden vines and rich colours. A stop into Tarrawarra Estate is well worth it en route! However an autumn must-do is a visit to the Maroondah Reservoir Park about one kilometre past the centre of Healesville. This expanse of parklands must be a contender for one of the most beautiful spots in all of Victoria in the height of autumn. 

Warburton – For those keen to walk – or cycle – amongst mother nature’s glorious autumnal colours then the Lilydale – Warburton Rail Trail is a great option. Spanning 40 kilometres in total for those just wanting a day trip section the few kilometres nearby Warburton can deliver a burst of colour in season. A nice low-key and pleasant option is to wander beside the Little Yarra River before partaking in the excellent selection of fine restaurants, cafés and arts & crafts boutiques on offer back in town.

Getting here:

Healesville – 65 kilometres from CBD | 1.1 hour drive

Warburton – 30 kilometres on from Healesville | + 30 minutes (very windy roads from Healesville)

Leaf Rating: 9/10 🍁

10. Dandenong Ranges.

dandenong ranges autumn

The gorgeous Dandenong Ranges

Observation: Have we left the best to last? Perhaps…

There’s little point trying to  translate the beauty of this region into words. Our photos will give you some hints but it’s not until you visit that the staggering beauty will truly be revealed, and understood. A divine spot at any time of year it is during autumn that the ‘Dandenongs’ truly shine – quite literally!  If you can be here in the ‘Golden Hour’ (the hour before sunset) the sunlight strobes through the foliage truly appearing to shine! It’s magic.

The roads in the Dandenong Ranges are very winding and deserve attention so take some care. Alongside this natural roadside beauty are some incredible gardens that are a must for colour-hunters. Three that we consider as must-visits are the:

Autumn in our opinion is also the perfect time to take the family on the famous Puffing Billy. The historic steam train puffs from Belgrave to Gembrook and return through incredibly beautiful scenery. Trust me your kids will love this! You don’t need a car to access Puffing Billy either with clear signage provided from Belgrave railway station. Couldn’t be easier. Advance bookings are advised to avoid disappointment.

puffing billy belgrave

Getting here:

Gardens – 55 kilometres from CBD | 1 hour drive

Puffing Billy – 45 kilometres from CBD| 50 minutes drive

Leaf Rating: 10/10 🍁


What a releaf!

Yay – you got there. Thanks for reading and we hope you will get out there in the coming days and weeks and explore. Remember much like a Shopping Network deal these colours really are for a limited-time-only. 

We’d love to hear from you about your Victorian leaf-hunting experiences or update us about places you think should be on this list in the comments section below.

Now over to you… 🍁

Autumn leaves Melbourne photography Thirty Summers all rights reserved.


And if you fancy Pinning this…

Where to Find the Best Autumn Leaves near Melbourne

 

 

About Saxon

I'm passionate about travelling, music, photography, blogging, 'Social Anthropology' (the posh term for people-watching) and creating content. I travel to learn and observe to understand. My dream day would look something like this.... A bottle of red (or two), fresh baguette (or two) & wedge of Camembert (or two), a balmy Paris September eve spent people-watching in fine company on the banks of the Canal St Martin.

There are 43 comments

  1. tivamoo

    Nice post! The problem with the top one is that it’s now overflown by Chinese tourists! Being a Chinese myself I am super embarrassed by this – last time I went I didn’t even get off the car when I saw so many people :/ i might check out the rest of spots! Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Saxon

      You are very welcome Tivamoo. Yes Macedon is very popular isn’t it. All the leaves are gone there now. Maybe try the Dandenongs. They seemed to have changed later than other regions. Cheers

      Like

  2. Su

    Nice post. Glad to see Daylesford gets 10 leaves. An iconic view is from Albert St, looking east towards wombat hill. Just a note on cafe at the lake. Their recent policy is not to only serve coffee, so if you want to sit down there, you need to order food too. Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Saxon

      oohhhh … now there is a great tip. Thank you Su. What a poor decision – for us that is. Well take away coffee and a seat at any of the many tables around the lake will do just fine 🙂

      Like

  3. Muntasir

    Hi Saxon, what a beautiful article! Would definitely try to visit at least a few of these wonderful places. Just a quick question about the first photo for the Dandenong ranges. Where is that place exactly? Any of the three gardens you mentioned? It would be so soothing to have a walk along that path.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Saxon

      Hi Muntasir – to be honest I was out and about so much, so quickly for this post I can’t remember exactly!! Sorry. Yes it is definitely in one of the first two parks I mention. The third I added after it was mentioned many times. To be honest it’s the light in that photo that makes it so special. The path is like pretty much any other in the Dandenong area. Don’t leaf 😉 it too long – the leaves are starting to drop. Cheers

      Like

  4. lizkoalita

    Gorgeous photos! I think autumn is my favourite season (though it’s very hard to pick!)

    I would also recommend Clunes, Creswick, Smeaton and Bacchus Marsh for autumn colours. Clunes is beautiful at the time of the book festival. Clunes, Smeaton and Creswick have an English country village feel about them: poplar trees and hawthorn. Bacchus Marsh’s Avenue of Honour is stunning as well, and you also have the pick-your-own orchards. Autumn is the prime time for a crisp, freshly picked apple 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jenny

    A little further away Beechworth is gorgeous and Stanley a boutique town at a bit higher altitude has the best display along with chestnut, hazelnut and apple farm gates. Worth a stay over night in the Mayday Hills George Kerford Hotel in the middle of magnificent trees on the National Tree Register.

    Like

    1. Saxon

      Hi Alison. My gut feel is that if you can get to the Dandenongs on a weekday soon that might be better than the next couple of weekends. I reckon it’ll be plenty busy Sat & Sunday. That said the beauty is constant so it doesn’t really matter does it! Enjoy your trip 🙂

      Like

    1. Saxon

      Hi Keizie – if you look at some of the photos we have taken damp weather/ rain is actually a great time to see the leaves. It makes them really moody. Too much sun can actually be a bad thing sometimes. Enjoy your day!!

      Like

    1. Saxon

      Hi Michael. Thanks for the tip! I love it down in Gippsland. This post was focused on spots within about 90 mins drive of Melbourne which make for a good day trip. Maybe another post next autumn on locations further a field. Thanks for your comment.

      Like

    1. Saxon

      Hi Donna. Yes I had heard about that garden but ran out of time. Your recommendation must mean that I missed out on something special. Thanks for letting me know. I think I’ll head back soon 🙂

      Like

  6. kayetempleton

    Your photography is stunning. Makes me super sorry I didn’t get over to Victoria this autumn. Next year for sure! Where is the header picture taken, and please may I borrow it for my cover photo?

    Like

  7. Miriam

    Wonderful place with stunning photos of some of my favourite places in Victoria. 🍂🍂 What a shame, I was in Macedon just yesterday visiting the in laws and we were so busy we forgot to drive down the Avenue of Honor.

    Liked by 1 person

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