Whether you're a dedicated bushwalker kitted out in the latest in wickability-breathability or just after a leisurely stroll, Just outside of Melbourne there are some top spots for day walks. From forests full of wildflowers to thundering waterfalls to spectacular coast, there's a walk for everyone to enjoy. But exactly which walk is Melbourne's best?
Here are some suggestions of top walks near Melbourne:
George Bass Coast An hour and a half's drive south-east of Melbourne, this 14km (return) cliff-top walk, from the end of Punch Bowl Road, San Remo to Kilcunda, gets my vote due to its amazing views over Bass Strait. It's a great walk in all seasons and the navigation is dead easy – just keep the sea on one side, land on the other. For more information, including how to get there, click here.
Silvan Reservoir Park, in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, is 56 kilometres east of Melbourne. With wide green lawns and picnic tables, it's a great spot for a picnic and also offers a good range of walking tracks. The trails wind through quiet eucalypt forest (quiet, that is, unless it's koala mating season – don't be surprised if you come across an extremely noisy koala – that growling sound isn't serious indigestion, it's supposed to be attractive).
My favourite trail here is the 11 kilometres (return) walk from the reservoir to Mt Evelyn, following the aqueduct that pipes huge supplies of drinking water to Melbourne. If 11 kilometres seems too long, it's well worth doing a shorter section through the forest, seeing if you can spot a kingfisher, hear a lyrebird, or see an echidna. Or even one of those noisy koalas.
The wildflowers are excellent too - from late winter through spring and summer.
And finally, Steavenson Falls, Victoria's tallest waterfall, is at Marysville, 98 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. For many years, it's been one of Victoria's most popular spots for a day walk.
My favourite here is the 7 kilometre Tree Fern Gully trail, which winds beside the river until it reaches the falls. There are sweeping views from the waterfall and lots of interpretative signs along the way providing information about the history of this region.
The area was badly burned on Black Saturday in February 2009 and the trail was closed while repairs were underway. These days, the new, improved trail is definitely open for business and, while the tall forest that once shaded the riverside path has gone, there's an eruption of new growth. Below the stark dead trees reaching for the sky there's a green sea of young silver wattles and eucalypts. Small birds flit in the dense regrowth. From the rushing river, there's a noisy chorus of frogs. And beside the path, blackened tree fern trunks unfurl healthy green fronds.
There's a map of the trail here (and it includes other nearby tracks).
The township of Marysville is also worth a visit. There's information on the town and its sights here.
And not far from Marysville, there are also good walks around Cambarville. You can walk below some of Victoria's tallest and oldest trees, along winding fern-filled trails. There are also impressive views across the Cumberland valley.