Seven Affordable Winter Cottages You Can Reach by Train from Melbourne
Put yourself (and maybe some mates) on a train out of the city for a weekend surrounded by gums, log fires and fresh country air.
Next time you're contemplating escaping Melbourne for the weekend, consider taking the train. That way, you can forget all about keeping your eyes on the road and plant them square where they should be: gazing at rolling hills and clear skies. What's more, if you've been trying to finish that novel, write that song or have that chat, you'll – at last – have time on your hands. To help you get moving, we've studied Victoria's train network, in search of winter-friendly retreats within walking distance of stations. Book at one of these beauties and, as soon as you hear that whistle blowing, you'll know you're well on your way to fireside wines, comfy couches, a cosy bed and pretty scenery.
HARPSICHORD HOUSE, KYNETON
This former harpsichord studio in Kyneton — a town in the Macedon Ranges famous for its bluestone — is now a beautifully designed loft, dotted with creations by local artists and textiles from all over the world. The airy A-frame ceiling and expansive windows let in plenty of winter sunshine — but, if that's not warm enough, there's a wood fire, too. For an energising dose of greenery, take a wander around the private gardens, with free-range chooks for company, or stroll along the nearby river. Complimentary bicycles and picnic baskets are on-hand. Harpsichord House is suitable for a couple, but can comfortably fit up to four guests (and your dog, too).
How far? A one-hour train ride on the Bendigo line. How much? $200–250 a night.
BE & BE, CASTLEMAINE
This super-cute cottage in the arty goldfields town of Castlemaine is perfect for a couple's getaway. This 150-year-old heritage-listed building has been transformed into cosy designer accommodation, with two beds, Scandi-style furnishings, heating and a rain shower. Be & Be is just one-kilometre from Castlemaine Station and a stroll away from numerous restaurants, cafes and bars. If you're planning on exploring, be sure to visit The Mill, an 1875 wool mill turned into a collective of independent eateries and shops.
How far? A 90-minute train ride on the Bendigo line. How much? $280–320 a night.
BUTTER FACTORY, EUROA
Built in 1901, this spacious red brick building was one of more than 200 Victorian butter factories that, at the turn of the century, supplied Victorians with creamy dairy goods. These days, it's a boutique bed and breakfast, with six rooms, where old features – including factory machinery still attached to the walls – meet contemporary design. If a bath is crucial to your winter comfort, then ask for the Ensuite Queen Room. Wherever you stay, you'll be free to wander the Factory's lovely gardens and common spaces. There's a restaurant onsite and, should you feel like exploring, the gold rush town of Euroa has plenty of picturesque walking trails.
How far? A two-hour train ride on the Albury line. How much? $155–220 a night.
If you're short on time and low on cash, but dead-keen to take a break, Mokepilly is the spot for you. Jump on the train at Southern Cross and you'll be in Macedon, a village at the foot of Mount Macedon, in just over 50 minutes. The one-bedroom cottage, surrounded by gardens, features a queen-sized four-poster bed, a bath where you can soak your workaday worries away, a study nook with a book collection and a comfy lounge room with a massive sofa and complimentary Netflix: all for just 100 bucks per night for two people (or one!). If you're looking for places to feast and drink, try Mr Macedon for excellent cafe fare and Olive Jones for fireside wood fired pizza.
How far? A 50-minute train ride on the Bendigo line. How much? $100 a night.
THE WELSH CHURCH, MALDON
To reach this converted church, built in 1863 in the pretty village of Maldon, you'll be travelling part of the way by steam train. Take the Bendigo V/Line to Castlemaine, then jump on the Victoria Goldfields Railway, which leaves at midday on a Saturday and returns at 10.30am the following morning. Located just 600 metres from the station, the breathtaking building sleeps four people across two bedrooms, among its high ceilings, timber floors and Scandi furnishings. The Jotul wood fire will keep you toasty and you're welcome to take your dog — just let the owners know when booking.
How far? A 90-minute ride on the Bendigo line + a 45-minute ride on the steam train. How much? $240–360 a night.
ARTISAN COTTAGE, BALLARAT
Step off the train and into the 19th century with a weekender at the Artisan Cottage in Ballarat. This two-bedroom hideaway, built during the Victorian era, has everything you need to stay inside all day and all night, including comfy queen-sized beds covered in premium linen, a deep hot tub, a log fire, a private deck overlooking gardens and a massive TV with 3D DVDs supplied. At just $91 a night for two people or $120 for four, it's a steal. If you're keen to get and about eating and drinking, check out our guide to winter feasting around Ballarat, which has just about the biggest foodie scene in Victoria, outside Melbourne.
How far? A 90-minute train ride on the Ballarat line. How much? $91–120 a night.
LAKE HOUSE, BENALLA
If you'd like to a bunch of mates to keep you company on the train, alight at Benalla, a pretty town with a lake and regional art gallery in Ned Kelly country. Here, you'll find Lake House, a five-bedroom Edwardian house with space for ten sleepers. You and your friends will be lazing about a grand lounge room beside an open fire, sharing a designer sofa built for ten — when you're not wandering around half-an-acre of landscaped gardens or gazing at Lake Benalla from the cheery sunroom, that is. If you're keen to get active at any point, take on the 5.7-kilometre walk around the water's edge.
How far? A two-and-a-half-hour train ride on the Albury line. How much? $318 a night.
Published on August 17, 2018 by Jasmine Crittenden