Felsic episodes in young SE Australian volcanism were studied using new combined zircon U–Pb, feldspar 40Ar–39Ar and fission-track dating. Trachytes, xenocrysts in basalts and derived detrital crystals yielded an 8 Ma range for felsic sequences in the Macedon–Trentham (ca 8–5 Ma) and Western District (< 5–0.0 Ma) provinces of Victoria. At Newham, zircon and feldspar ages of 6.3–6.1 ± 0.1 Ma agree with the local basalt stratigraphy, while near Trentham zircon dating suggests felsic activity at ca 8.3 Ma and 6–5 Ma. Zircons crystallised in high-temperature crustal trachytes that evolved from alkali basalts, following amphibole crystallisation in the mantle (6.3 Ma Brimbank complex). The 8–5 Ma felsic episodes are attributed to lithospheric passage over an asthenospheric plume-like upwelling, now centred under Bass Strait. The Western District Province includes quartz-normative trachyte near Creswick (40Ar–39Ar age ca 2.4 ± 0.4 Ma), zircon xenocrysts in basalt near Daylesford (U–Pb age 1.8 ± 0.3 Ma) and zircon megacrysts in tuff at Bullenmerri maar (U–Pb zircon age 0.28 ± 0.04 Ma). The Creswick and Daylesford felsic phases may represent fractionation of basaltic icelandites during peak Western District volcanic activity. Bentonitic beds of trachyandesite affinities in NW Victoria–SE New South Wales lie in strata dated at ca 2 Ma and may mark a separate distal phase of peak Western District felsic volcanism. The E–W trend of post-5 Ma Western District basaltic activity has been attributed to lithospheric edge-driven or Tasman Fracture Zone fault-driven magmatic up-wells. However, new tomographic modelling of sublithospheric upper mantle suggests that Bassian asthenospheric inputs may explain young felsic components in adjacent basalts. Multiple felsic inputs allow greater appraisal of the young volcanic genesis and eruptive risks for the area.