Although Melbourne is known as one of the world’s most culturally vibrant and sophisticated cities, it is generally Sydney that is more celebrated for its natural beauty. While Melbourne does not have a harbour to rival its northern sibling, the greater Melbourne area also has its pick of sublime natural wonders. Rest assured, you don’t have to be a professional explorer to enjoy the wide variety of bushwalks that the Melbourne region has to offer.
With excursions to suit all abilities, fitness levels and time constraints, your only problem will be trying to choose which Melbourne bushwalk to try first.
Even though it’s a thriving metropolis of approximately 5 million people, you don’t have to go far to find a choice of Melbourne bushwalks that offer adventure, serenity and seclusion.
Whether you want mountain views, nearby cafes or a feeling that you’re the only person left on earth, here’s a few of the best Melbourne bushwalks offer.
Distance from Melbourne: 68 km
Drive time: 1 Hr
Walk distance: 10.4 km
Time: 5 -6 Hrs
Although Melbourne wasn’t officially settled by Europeans until 1835, the area has obviously been around for a lot longer. Think at least 500 million years, which is the age of the rock formations of nearby Werribee Gorge. Just an hour’s drive north-west from the city centre, the Werribee Gorge Circuit is well worth the hike in both senses of the word. Perfect for lovers of adventure who want to work on their cardio, the walk is best suited to experienced walkers with a decent level of fitness.
Not for the faint-hearted, the walk is difficult in places with river crossings, cable climbs, steep descents and ascents,. Rock hopping is par for the course in places, though you’ll be pleased to know that the rewards well and truly match the effort. Although a long day, it is a bushwalk to remember for years to come.
With ample wildlife, sweeping views of the gorge, bushland, and glistening waterhole below, be sure to take a camera but don’t get too close to the edge. For those who are short on time but still want to work up a sweat, there is a stunning 3 km walk along the gorge.
Lerderderg State Park - East Walk
Distance from Melbourne: 91 km
Drive time: 1-1.5 Hrs
Walk distance: 13.5 km
Time: 4-5 Hrs
Not far from the charming village of Blackwood little more than an hour’s north-west drive (91 km) from Melbourne’s CBD, the East Walk forms part of the Lerderberg Gorge Circuit - part of the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. Best undertaken in autumn, be aware that the levels of the Lerderberg River can change with consistent rainfall, so be sure to plan around the weather and be prepared to get wet when crossing.
The East Walk section contains the majority of the highlights of the longer Circuit Walk, so you’ve ample time to enjoy the sights and explore the river section. Be advised that the area was once heavily mined for gold, so be aware that there are countless mine shafts about. If wandering away from well trodden areas through the bush, be sure to watch where you step (as mine entrances can be hidden) and stay away from any mines you see - shaft edges may not be as secure as they seem.
Take your swimmers for a well deserved dip if you’re there in summer, though water levels may be quite low. Enjoy rock hopping along the river, and if you’re quiet you’ll most likely see wallabies, echidnas and wedge-tail eagles going about their day.
Be sure to take at least 2 litres of water per person and ample snacks, being sure to take all rubbish with you. With slippery rocks and uneven ground, it’s advisable to wear sturdy shoes like hiking boots if possible, though in good condition running shoes will be fine also. If you want to make a weekend of it, you can camp at O’Briens Crossing campground or stay in the nearby town of Blackwood - just 9 km away. For more information, please visit www.parks.vic.gov.au.
Point Nepean Walk - Point Nepean National Park
Distance from Melbourne: 111 km
Drive time: 1.5 - 2 Hrs
Distance: 14.5 km
Time: 3 Hrs
Although unfortunately best known as the final resting spot of arguably Australia’s least competent swimmer, former prime minister Harold Holt (ironically there is a Harold Holt Swimming Centre an hour away in his former parliamentary seat of Higgins), Portsea is also home to the Point Nepean National Park - one of coastal Victoria’s true jewels. Ultra accessible by car and approximately 1 hr 45 minutes away from the CBD, this superb bushwalk has a lot to offer even the most jaded of day walkers.
Situated at the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula on the traditional lands of the Boonwurrung people, the area is a mix of breathtaking landscapes, stunning views and rich history. Starting at the Point Nepean entry gate, the bushwalk combines both coastal and bush tracks and has evidence of some of the oldest European settlements in Victoria, including lime burning and pastoral enterprises.
For those with a keen interest in history or those merely seeking a quality shot for instagram, a perfect place to stop on the journey is at the old Quarantine Station. Established in 1852 with almost 50 heritage listed buildings still standing, the station ran until 1979. Fort Nepean is also well worth a look, and as one of the best military complexes in the country, it provides a rare glimpse into the changing face of military engineering over the 19th and 20th centuries.
Flat and variable with plenty of places to rest should the need arise, the bushwalk is a return trip that could easily be shortened if you’re running low on time or energy. As always, be sure to take ample water and snacks, as well as a raincoat or jumper. Given its exposed location, the weather on the Mornington Peninsula can change rapidly, so be sure to check the weather forecasts closely.
What is a Bushwalk?
On the surface, a bushwalk is exactly what it sounds like - a walk in the bush. But beyond the fairly basic name, you’ll find that bushwalks come in all shapes and sizes, and suit all shapes and sizes.
Once solely the domain of the seriously bearded with canvas A-frame tents, thousand yard stares and weeks to spare, bushwalks are now an increasingly popular way of experiencing the peace and beauty of the natural environment.
So whether it’s a serious chance to spend a week putting your survival skills to the test, or simply while away a pleasant afternoon in the sun between cafe stops, rest assured that there is a Melbourne bushwalk to meet your needs.
What should I bring on a bushwalk?
Regardless of the time of year, it is important to understand that Melbourne (and Victoria’s in general) weather conditions can change rapidly. A southerly storm in summer could see heavy rain and a quick drop in temperature within minutes from highs of 40c, while daytime winter temperatures often don’t exceed 10c in Melbourne’s hilly outskirts. In other words, it’s important to know the forecast, and plan accordingly.
Whatever the distance you’re planning on walking or the terrain, it is important to have sunscreen, a hat (preferably with a full brim), ample water, and sturdy shoes with good grip. If it’s longer than an hour or two, then a small day pack with some food (like muesli bars, sandwiches or fruit) is also advisable. Should you be looking to walk overnight, then a tent, season-appropriate sleeping bag, wet weather gear and enough food for each meal is necessary.
What should I wear on a bushwalk?
No matter what the season, a hat, sturdy shoes and sunscreen is essential. Long sleeves and long pants (light in summer, thicker in winter) are also recommended, as they will provide protection from the sun, insects and branches, as well as warmth in the cooler months. If the bushwalk is longer than 2 hours, a small pack to carry a raincoat, food and water is also suggested.
Types of animals you see on a bushwalk
World-famous for many things, Australia is perhaps best known for its unique wildlife. From kangaroos and koalas to quokkas and quolls, many bushwalks provide the perfect chance to see some of these iconic creatures up close and personal. While there is no guarantee of seeing native animals on your bushwalk, especially given some animals (like wombats and possums) are nocturnal, be sure to have the camera ready just in case.
In the Melbourne region kookaburras, cockatoos, lorikeets and rosellas are all quite common. Kangaroos and wallabies are often present in the areas furthest from the city centre, as are goannas, blue tongue lizards and echidnas. Some native animals have discovered that picnic grounds are a great place to get free food, so be careful not to feed them despite how insistent they may be, as it can greatly endanger their health.
In late spring and summer, it can be quite common to see snakes sunning themselves on pathways and rocks after a long winter hibernation. Although they may look scary, snakes as a rule won’t engage nature walkers unless they feel immediately threatened or cornered.
If you see a snake, back away slowly to a safe distance and give the snake a chance to escape. Note the direction it leaves in, and then wait a minute or two to ensure that it is far enough away before proceeding. If the snake hasn’t moved, then don’t engage it with sticks or rocks - not only are snakes a protected species, but they play an important part in our ecosystem.
If the snake remains, then turn back the way you came. Be mindful that snakes are very well camouflaged and may be obscured by shadows, so tread carefully and always watch where you are going, especially if you are stepping over rocks, branches or tree roots.
In short, be respectful of our native wildlife and keep your distance where possible.
Did you know you can earn Qantas Points doing all kinds of activities. Simply download the app, keep your phone or wearable device on you - and get moving.
You can also earn points with your Qantas Health Insurance.
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