Coastal, forest, garden and bushland – whatever type of trail you’re looking for, Melbourne and its surrounds have got it. And with walks scientifically proven again and again to reduce your stress levels, improve your mood and better your coordination, it’s certainly worth getting out and exploring them all.
So, consider the ahead 10 walks a bucket list. From a steep climb through dense forest to a walk entirely over water that’ll have you feeling Jesus, ahead are 10 of the best walks in Melbourne you can do in just a day.
Dandenong Ranges Tourist Track
This track runs through the Dandenong Ranges, a 75-minute drive from Melbourne, from Sassafras to Emerald. It’s 15km one way, so it can be done as a whole or in smaller sections. Spot eucalypt trees, king fern and mountain grey gum along the way. And if you crane your head up, you might see king parrots, yellow-tailed black cockatoos and lyrebirds.
Kokoda Memorial Walk
Warning: This walking track isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a steep, 5km-return climb that’ll give you a glimpse of the exhaustion felt by the Australian soldiers following the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in World War II. Along the way, spot nature like tree ferns, manna gum and blackwood, as well as plaques representing the lives of those who fought and died on the trail in 1942.
George Bass Coastal Walk
This 7km walk takes two hours one way, so give yourself a whole morning or afternoon if you’re planning to leave your car in one spot and return to it afterwards. The walk follows the route of George Bass’ coastal discovery voyage over 200 years ago, stretching from San Remo at Punchbowl Road to the Bass Highway in Kilcunda.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Walk
This walk is a great option if you want to connect with nature but don’t want to drive far. Incredibly, the park displays over 8,500 plant species. It also features ornamental ponds and lakes, birds and, helpful for when your stomach starts grumbling, two cafés. The tracks here run about 4.6 km long, so plan to spend just over an hour.
You’ll find Wangim Walk in Geelong, a 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne. Stretching over Corio Bay, Wangim Walk is one of the country’s largest on-water walkways. It’s named Wadawurrung word for ‘boomerang’. Be sure to check if it’s open before visiting, as it can be closed in bad weather.
Two Bays Walking Trail
The Two Bays Walking Trail starts at Dromana on Port Philip Bay and finishes at Bushrangers Bay near Cape Schanck. At 26km, it’s the longest continuous walking track on the Mornington Peninsula, running through bushland and beach at Arthurs Seat State Park and Mornington Peninsula National Park.
Tipperary Walking Track
This track is in Daylesford, a town in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range of Victoria, an hour and 45 minutes drive from Melbourne. The route passes disused goldfields, mineral springs and, in autumn, trees that blaze with colour. Look out for the Blowhole, a tunnel built to divert water and allow for the washing off of gold.
Point Nepean Walk
This walk-in Mornington Peninsula stretches for 14.5km, taking roughly three hours to complete. It’ll take you to the tip of the Mornington Peninsula in Point Nepean National Park. You’ll pass the old World War Two military defences and the Quarantine Station, which you can pop in to explore.
Cape Woolamai Walk
This Philip Island walk on the highest point on the island will see you teetering on cliff tops with stunning views all around. Explore the full Cape Woolamai Circuit, or choose from of its three walking tracks, Pinnacles Walk, Old Granite Quarry Walk and Cape Woolamai Beacon Walk.
Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Trail
Mount Evelyn is an inland suburb of Melbourne, a 70-minute drive from the CBD. This 6.4 km-long trail uses part of the aqueduct that once cut the town in two. Expect a gravel and bush track with steep climbs, though generally flat. Dogs aren’t allowed.