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15 small towns in Victoria worth visiting

Australia’s second smallest state is home to some beautiful and historic towns. Read on to discover some of the best small towns in Victoria and why you should make the time to visit them.

A child stands holding a red balloon in a street filled with people and lined with gold rush era architecture in Clunes, Victoria during the annual Book Town Festival.
The historic town of Clunes during its annual Booktown Festival.

Australia has plenty of small towns worth visiting.

There’s cute destinations to be found in each state, but I think Victoria is home to some of the loveliest in the country (with Tasmania running a very close second).

Victoria’s gold rush-era led to the construction of magnificent buildings, some of which have been carefully preserved to this day.

Many of these towns are truly excellent to visit – whether you’re making a dedicated trip, or dropping in on the way to somewhere else in the state.

Here are some of the prettiest small towns in Victoria, each worth a visit in their own right.

For more, check out the best weekend getaways from Melbourne.


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Need a set of wheels before you set out to visit these beautiful towns in Victoria?

The best small towns in Victoria to visit

Streetscape of Sassafras in the Dandenong Ranges.
The main street of Sassafras.

1. Sassafras

Sassafras is a charming town a short drive from Melbourne, within the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

You can spend a decent couple of hours walking around the main, very picturesque street, dipping into the various boutique stores and local specialist shops.

The main tourist draw-card is Miss Marples Tearoom, inspired by author Agatha Christie. It definitely has an English feel to it, along with the rest of the town.

Are you a tea enthusiast? Explore Tea Leaves, which has some wonderful teapots.

Sassafras’ close proximity to nature is another boon.

Check out the nearby Alfred Nicholson Gardens, take a gentle hike to Sherbrooke Falls or head to nearby Olinda (another really lovely town) to wander around the gorgeous Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden. And explore plenty of other things to do in the Dandenong Ranges.

Outside the Healesville Hotel.
The Healesville Hotel.

2. Healesville

Healesville is a village in the Yarra Valley.

In my opinion, it’s one of the best small towns in Victoria. I go there fairly regularly, as I seemingly can’t get enough of it.

Take a trip to this small town in Victoria for nature walks, delicious meals in cosy settings, wildlife sightings and wineries.

Any nature/animal lover should drop into Healesville Sanctuary. Say hi to Australian flora and fauna and hear about the sanctuary’s numerous conservation efforts. Book a ticket to the Sanctuary in advance.

The food is also on fleek (is that still trendy with the kids these days?). Innocent Bystander does great food and pizza and a visit to Four Pillars Distillery is a must.

I also highly recommend jumping on Black Spur Drive, which will take you from Healesville to Marysville. It’s only 27km long but is a wonderfully scenic trip, winding through ancient Eucalyptus forest.

Discover other things to do in the Yarra Valley.

Streetscape in Bright during autumn. Bright is one of the prettiest small towns in Victoria.
Bright, in Victoria’s High Country. Image courtesy of Visit Victoria.

3. Bright

Bright is one of the most beautiful towns in Victoria.

Most visitors flock there in the autumn, to take in its autumn foliage. However, it really is lovely anytime of the year.

Summer trips lend themselves to hikes, mountain biking and dips in the Ovens River in Centenary Park.

In winter, you can stop in Bright on your way through the Alpine Region or even base yourself there for snow activities.

There’s fab food and drink to be sampled in Bright too. Hop into Bright Brewery for sips by the river, or linger in cafes such as Ginger Baker and Sixpence Coffee. Drop in to Reed & Co Distillery, Billy Button Wines cellar door or Tomahawks for food, fine wine and good times.

Town centre of Beechworth in Victoria, with a sign that reads '10 Stanley, 30 Myrtleford', nearby towns in the region.
There’s plenty to do in the historic hub of Beechworth.

4. Beechworth

Beechworth is known for three things:

  1. historic gold rush era architecture
  2. a fabulous food scene
  3. the gorgeous nature surrounding it.

So – why wouldn’t you visit this small town in Victoria?!

Take your tastebuds on tour through the town. Hop into Bridge Road Brewers for crafty ales or Billson’s Brewery/Soda Bar for a range of alcoholic and non-alc tipples. Stay or fine dine at Provenance, which boasts two chef’s hats from The Age Good Food Guide. Fuel up with coffee or a toasty from Tiny or pick up pies from Beechworth Bakery.

For a double dose of history, tour Old Beechworth Gaol. Or scare your socks off by entering Beechworth Asylum after dark.

And if you love waterfalls, head to Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park and feast your eyes on Woolshed Falls.

If you’re up for more gourmet goodness, make a side trip to the King Valley, best known for its ‘Prosecco Road’.

An historic shopfront in Maldon. There's an ad for Bushells on one building that reads: 'Bushells more cups - finer flavor.
One of the most notable preserved buildings in Maldon.

4. Maldon

I am enamoured with Maldon.

It’s probably the closest you can get with experiencing what life was like in Victoria during the gold rush of the 1850s – at least visually.

Old weatherboard homes, stone buildings, age-old advertising and traditional shop fronts have all been preserved in this town. It is a bit like stepping back in time.

Having been perfectly preserved, it was named Australia’s First Notable Town in 1966. The accolades don’t end there – in 2006, Maldon was awarded the ‘most intact heritage streetscape’ by the National Trust.

Quite fittingly, Maldon is an excellent destination for antique shopping.

It’s the perfect side trip to make if you’re spending some time in Bendigo.

A colourful mural of a regent honeyeater on the wall of a building in Benalla.
Benalla is full of vibrant and colourful murals.

5. Benalla

Although Melbourne gets a lot of attention for its street art, there’s plenty of regional towns in Australia with a strong street art game.

One standout is Benalla, about three hours from the capital, in the state’s north east.

To bring in tourism, murals have been painted across pretty much every available surface of the town – public buildings, shops, library walls, the skate park and even public toilets.

The annual Wall to Wall Festival has been a big catalyst in facilitating this, bringing rock stars of the street art scene to the town, to make their mark on its surfaces.

Benalla is also gateway to the North East Art Trail. Unlike the much larger trail in the state’s north-west, this trail can be easily seen in a day, starting at Benalla and ending at either Tungamah or the Winton Wetlands.

A car drives down a street in Port Fairy just before dawn breaks.
Port Fairy’s streetscape, just before dawn.

6. Port Fairy

Confession time – I’m kinda in love with Port Fairy.

Although the Great Ocean Road is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations, its a favourite region of mine and Port Fairy is one of the best stops along it.

Once a fishing village, the town’s wide streets are lined with gorgeous cottages and old stone churches.

It’s also the setting of one of Australia’s largest music festivals – the Port Fairy Folk Festival, held in March.

For good food, settle into the Merrijig Kitchen, grab a bite to eat at The Oak & Anchor Hotel and break your fast at Bank St & Co.

If you have the time, discover things to do in nearby Warrnambool, including whale watching in the cooler months (June–September).

Ferns line the walkway of Fern Gully Walk, just outside of Forrest, Victoria.
Fern Gully walk in Forrest.

7. Forrest

Forrest is a small town located north of the Otways rainforest. It can easily be visited as a side trip on the Great Ocean Road.

It’s known for its MTB trails and nearby Lake Elizabeth. There’s excellent walking tracks and hiking trails. It’s also one of the top spots in Australia to spy platypi.

As with most towns in this area, impressive falls are a hop skip and a jump away. Stevensons Falls is located in Otways Forrest Park and also has free camping sites. Both Beauchamp Falls and Triplet Falls are not far from the town.

Or take in a new perspective at Otway Fly Treetop. As the name may suggest, you can walk among the treetops or zipling through the air.

West Barwon Reservoir is also worth ducking into. While you’re in the area, make friends with ferns on the Fern Gully walking trail.

In town, hop into Forrest Brewing for excellent ales and grub and grab gourmet produce at Forrest General Store.

Two people stand on rocks on Lorne Beach, with the small town in the background.
The town of Lorne.

8. Lorne

This small town in Victoria is one for nature lovers.

Cool off at Lorne surf beach or chase waterfalls in Great Otway National Park.

Ten waterfalls flow within cooee of Lorne, including Erskine Falls with its 30 metre plunge, Phantom Falls and Sheoak Falls.

There’s also some cracking walks of varying length, including the Great Ocean Walk, which totals 91 kilometres.

Back in the town itself, you can relax on the pavement with a hot bev or dine on fresh seafood from local restaurants.

Outside the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Trentham.
The cute and cosy Cosmopolitan Hotel.

9. Trentham

Trentham is truly tiny, but there’s plenty on offer.

Bread is life and you should definitely stop in at RedBeard Bakery, for a loaf of their finest, baked in a 120-year-old scotch oven.

Dine in at the very cute local Cosmopolitan Hotel, or book a seat in advance at the restaurant of famed local chef Annie Smithers at Du Fermier.

Not far from the town is Trentham Falls, one of Victoria’s highest single-drop waterfalls, coming in at an impressive 32 metres. Pack a picnic or take a hike in the surrounding forest.

And if you’re looking for something truly unique to do in the area, why not take a llama for a walk around nearby Hanging Rock?

The streetscape of Clunes, an historic and charming small town in Victoria.
Some of Clunes’ historic buildings during golden hour.

10. Clunes

Onto one of the most historic small towns in Victoria, with some serious star power to its name.

You might recognise it as a setting for Ned Kelly (2002) and Mad Max. It also features in the third season of one of the greatest television shows of all time, The Leftovers.

It’s not only a hero of the silver screen. Clunes is recognised as being one of only 21 internationally recognised ‘Booktowns’ in the world.

Bookworms should flock to the town in early May for a whole weekend of literary discussions, author meet-and-greets and book browsing at the Booktown Festival.

Piper Street sign on the side of a building in Kyneton.
One of Kyneton’s landmarks – the Piper Street ghost sign.

11. Kyneton

Kyneton is certainly one of the prettiest small towns in Victoria and one of my favourites to visit.

A lot of the action is based around Piper Street, with its heritage shops, antique dealers and foodie favourites.

Notable offerings for good nosh include South East Asian restaurant and bar Fook Shing, or French style fare at Midnight Starling. Pop into Piper Street Food Co for gourmet goodies and lift your spirits right next door at Animus Distillery.

Wander further into town for slightly hidden wine bar Musk Lane. Drink in the cosy cellar door or enjoy a vino in the spacious beer garden.

Kyneton is just a hot, skip and a dunk from Victoria’s Spa Country and the town is situated around mineral springs. You can fill bottles at the old pump of the Kyneton Mineral Springs Reserve.

Queenscliff Habour.
Queenscliff Harbour.

12. Queenscliff

This historic town is located at the very tip of the very underrated Bellarine Peninsula.

Wander through its historic streetscapes to a modern harbour, which is perfect for exploring Port Phillip Bay.

You can even catch a ferry to the Mornington Peninsula – and take a high tea onboard, while you do so!

One of Queenscliffs main attractions is the Blues Train, which is basically a moving party. You board the train for a meal and drinks, while listening to the best blues artists in the country rock, roll and riff.

View of the Loch Victoria Street Gallery through flowers.
Some of the historic buildings around Loch.

13. Loch

This tiny town is the perfect stopover on a trip back to Melbourne from Wilsons Prom.

Loch is home to cute cafes, art galleries and antique shops.

Seek ginspiration at the Loch Brewery & Distillery, load up on local produce at The Loch Grocer and cosy up in Olive at Loch.

Or raise a glass of cool climate wine to unreal views at nearby Gippsland Wine Co.

Corner of Fish Creek Hotel, an art deco building with a giant fish on top of it.
The eponymous Fish Creek Hotel.

14. Fish Creek

Fish Creek is a quirky town in Gippsland, easily accessible on a getaway to Wilsons Prom.

The town is mostly know for two attractions.

One is the eponymous hotel, a gastropub with delicious offerings. In homage to the town’s name, the art deco building bares a fish out of water sculpture, flopping across a corner of the pub.

Fish Creek is also the home of beloved children’s author Alison Lester. The illustrator has a gallery in town, where Lester will sometimes pop in to sign books and meet generations of adoring fans of her work.

Beyond these two sites, Fish Creek has a collection of interesting cafes and shops. It’s worth escaping to if you’re after a weekend escape to one of the prettiest towns in Victoria.

As I said, this is by no means exhaustive – I’ve personally still got stacks left on my list to visit. Paynesville, Great Western, Rutherglen, Walhalla, Orbost, Omeo, Mallacoota, St Arnaud, Tarnagulla… the list goes on and on.

These are just some of the most beautiful small towns in Victoria. Have you visited any of the towns or villages on this list? Are you thinking of paying them a visit now? Please let me know in the comments.

For more content like this, check out my Victoria and Melbourne archives.

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Please note, these towns exist on Aboriginal land. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of these lands and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.

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