Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Living in and around Melbourne makes us spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a bushwalk. Not only do we have the Dandenong Ranges, Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula just an hour or so away we also have inner city trails that can make us feel as if we have all but left the city behind us. The question is though, where's Melbourne's best bush walks?
Whilst I haven't walked on every trail near Melbourne I will share the trails that I have thoroughly enjoyed and readers are encouraged to leave a message of their favourite bush walks near Melbourne.
In the Dandenong Ranges the RJ Hamer Arboretum is a lovely walking area especially in autumn with the many deciduous trees and views over the Yarra Ranges. You can make this walk as long or as short as you like with many trails criss crossing through the arboretum. The Olinda Valley walking trail starts and finishes here and is 12.1km return ( make sure you take a map).
The Olinda Falls is a nice short but steep 500m walk from the Olinda Falls carpark that can be extended if preferred. You can view my review of Olinda Falls here. Sherbrooke Falls starting at the Sherbrooke picnic ground is and is an easy 2.4km return walk and is very popular on weekends.
Everyone knows of the Kokoda memorial trail, or more commonly known as the 1,000 steps in Ferntree Gully but have you ever been on the Bellview Terrace track to One Tree Hill? It's 3 km up and is a much harder workout than the steps and the best part is you will not be sharing the track with 1,000 people.
Mornington Peninsula has a few great walks with my favourite being the 28km Two Bays Walk starting from Dromana going over Arthur's Seat, through Main Ridge to Greens Bush and finishing at the Cape Schanck lighthouse. This track is also used for the Two Bays Trail Run held in January and is fantastic.
Bushrangers Bay is spectacular and well worth the walk ( 5km return ). I remember doing this walk many times when I was younger and now incorporate it into a longer walk to the Cape Schanck lighthouse for a 10.2 km walk.
Baldry's Crossing is a lovely short walk for the family at 3.9km long. There is always plenty of wildlife to see including kangaroos, echidnas and plenty of bird life. This walk can easily be lengthened to incorporate some of the Two Bays Trail if preferred.
Pt Nepean National Park has some great coastal walks with plenty of historical sights to see along the way. The walks are generally under 2km each but you can do as many as you like .
The Yarra Valley is spectacular and has many fantastic walking trails. One of my favourites is the Mt St Leonard walking track starting from Donnelly's weir in Healesville to Mt St Leonard and return via Condon Track. This walk is not for the faint hearted with many steep sections over the 21km walk, though you can make it 16km by going out and back via the National horse trail.
The Warburton Rail Trail is a flat gravel trail that gives you the option of covering the entire distance of 38km from Lilydale to Warburton either on bicycle or foot or you can choose a section to complete.
La La Falls is a picturesque short walk ( 3.9km ) in Warburton and is perfect to do as part of a day trip.
Mt Donna Buang is the perfect training for competitive runners/walkers, anyone travelling overseas to conquer some mountains or to just test your limits. This walk is not overly long but allow between 5 - 7 hours to complete it if not more if you like to stop for photos and rest breaks.
Just out of the city is Lysterfield Lake park and Churchill Park that join together. On occasions we have walked the perimeter of the two parks on one day which would be about 25km in total but there are so many different tracks that criss cross through the parks that options are limitless. A lap of the lake is an easy 5km with a cafe at the start/finish. Lysterfield park was where they held the 2006 Commonwealth Games mountain bike competition and is extremely popular with cyclists.
Northwest of the city you will find the Trentham to Domino rail trail about 95km from Melbourne. The walk is an easy 12km return. Whilst in Trentham have a look at the Trentham Falls. The falls are one of the longest single drop waterfalls in Victoria.
North of the city will see you at the Macedon Regional Park which has a 30km loop that links in with most of the sites such as the Memorial Cross, the Camel Hump Rock formation and the Sanatorium Lake Forest eco tourism trail. This walk will take between 5 - 7 hours depending on fitness. For a map and park notes click here.
I really like walking through cool temperate rainforest with the sounds of babbling creeks and gushing waterfalls, not to mention brightly colored fungi. For walks like this I enjoy the Toorongo Falls at Noojee, many walks in Marysville including The Beeches and the La La Falls as mentioned above.
For something completely opposite to rainforests have a look at the You Yangs near Geelong. It's a really popular walking spot with good views from the top on a nice day. Flinders Peak walking trail is 3.2km return and is the highest peak within the park.