Ahhh… it’s that magical time again. Autumn in Melbourne!
We all live in a hectic world these days don’t we. 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. And one of her most beautiful is autumn in Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
Autumn is the season when we celebrate transformation. It’s a time when we bid farewell to the baking heat of summer and welcome the vibrant autumnal hues of oranges, reds and yellows in the foliage around us.
And as beautiful as this season is in the city it’s actually even better in the countryside!
Our favourite spots to view autumn leaves near Melbourne.
Over the last three years the Thirty Summers team have greatly enjoyed criss-crossing Victoria in search of beautiful autumn colours. On these road trips we’ve had smiles on our faces, the car windows down and a camera to hand. However we thought it was time we shared what we’ve found.
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 CBD.
- Many of the places can be also be visited by train. We’ll indicate that in our listing.
- A good way to check if the leaves have turned yet is to check on Instagram. Just enter the town’s name or hashtag into the search field and have a look at the most recent photos. Eg Enter ‘Macedon Victoria’ or #macedon
- 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 just remember that these are only our opinions.
Ok then. Fill up the car, get the playlist ready and let’s hit these autumn colours.
Quick View: Our Top Ten spots for autumn leaves near Melbourne.
- Macedon | Leaf Rating: 10/10 🍁
- Kyneton & Malmsbury | Leaf Rating: 8/10 🍁
- Castlemaine | Leaf Rating: 9/10 🍁
- Maldon | Leaf Rating: 7/10 🍁
- Daylesford | Leaf Rating: 10/10 🍁
- Glenlyon | Leaf Rating: 8/10 🍁
- Marysville | Leaf Rating: 7/10 🍁
- Yarra Valley & Red Hill Vineyards | Leaf Rating: 9/10 🍁
- Healesville | Leaf Rating: 9/10 🍁
- Dandenong Ranges | Leaf Rating: 10/10 🍁
Autumn leaves Melbourne. North and west of city.
1. Macedon (& Mount Macedon)
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 🍁
2. Kyneton & Malmsbury
Observation: At only about 3 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: 8/10 🍁
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.
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: 7/10 🍁
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.
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. 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.
7. Marysville/ Goulds Memorial Drive
Observation: The beautiful small town of Marysville is located about 90 minutes drive north-east of Melbourne. It is a town and region regenerating after the tragic fires of 2009. But like a phoenix it has triumphed out of the ashes. Marysville today is a place to come and breathe-in the pristine air, go for a hike or a cycle or simply stay in the village and catch up over coffee and a bite of delicious local fare. There is no better time to visit than autumn when a stroll down Murchison Street to take in the colours is a must!
If you fancy a short drive from town then be sure to hit the fabulous Goulds Memorial Drive. Take the C508 in the direction of Buxton and drive for a few kilometres. The explosion of colour along this golden avenue of trees is stunning. You can’t miss it. Take care finding a parking spot nearby for both you and the passing traffic.
Marysville – 100 kilometres from CBD | 1.5 hour drive (without too much traffic!)
Leaf Rating: 7/10 🍁
8. Vineyards. Yarra Valley & Mornington Peninsula
Observation: One of the true spectacles of autumn near Melbourne is the soothing vista of golden grape vines stretching out into the distance. What better time than autumn 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 one-lane roads flanked on either side by magnificent scenery and tempting wineries. Both wonderful regions to just drive and see what you discover!
Yarra Valley – 60 kilometres from CBD | 1 hour drive
Red Hill – 80 kilometres from CBD | 1.1 hour drive
Leaf Rating: 9/10 🍁
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.
Healesville – 65 kilometres from CBD | 1.1 hour drive
Leaf Rating: 9/10 🍁
10. 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:
Gardens – 55 kilometres from CBD | 1 hour drive
Leaf Rating: 10/10 🍁
Other amazing spots to find autumn leaves near Melbourne
Victoria is so blessed with incredibly beautiful places to view autumn leaves. We’ve listed ten but it could easily be so many more. Here are a few other spots that are well worth a visit during autumn…
Clunes, Ballarat, Heathcote, Creswick & Warburton. If you are happy to travel further then beautiful Walhalla and Victoria’s High Country including Bright and Beechworth are must sees.
Now over to you… 🍁
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.
Autumn leaves Melbourne photography ©Thirty Summers (unless otherwise credited) all rights reserved.