If you feel like escaping the city, getting some fresh air and a walk by the coast, head to Bushrangers Bay in the Mornington Peninsula National Park, about an hour's drive south of Melbourne.
This coastal clifftop walk has excellent views over the sea and rocky bays as well as the spectacular Cape Schanck and its lighthouse. Inland, you also get views over the surrounding farmland and into the creek valley below. There are lots of birds calling as you walk through the Banksia forest and there are grassy clearings where it's not difficult to spot kangaroos.
First glimpse of Bushranger Bay from the path
Depending on how far you want to walk, you can either do the full 11 kilometre trail or a shortened version. The full trail goes from the wild, rocky Bushrangers Bay to Cape Schanck – see map here
I like to start at the Bushrangers Bay end, parking in the car park on Boneo Road. There's a nice picnic area nearby (no barbeques) or you can picnic sitting on the rocks at the stunning Bushrangers Bay (no picnic facilities). The bay is only a short walk from the car park.
Picnic area near carpark at Bushrangers Bay
If 11 km seems too far, you can turn it into a shorter 5.5 km walk by doing a car shuffle, parking one car at the Bushrangers Bay and the other at Cape Schanck. And even the short walk to and from the Boneo Road car park to Bushrangers Bay is well worth doing.
The path starts in the shade of tall banksias, but you soon lose the shade, so it's worth taking a hat and sunscreen. Take plenty of drinking water as well. It's a clear, easy path and well marked with signs – even someone as navigationally challenged as me can't get lost.
The hardest bit of the path is the steep section down to Bushranger Bay, but you're soon rewarded with great views from this wild, rocky beach. It's a great spot to watch waves.
Is there anything more relaxing than watching waves break?
But I wouldn't recommend swimming here – there are dangerous undertows along this stretch of coast.
The story goes that the bay is named after two Tasmanian bushrangers
who set ashore here in 1853 after forcing their way onto a ship from Tasmania. Stealing horses, they headed north, raiding farms for food and ammunition. They were ultimately nabbed at a farmhouse and later hanged.
Climbing up from Bushrangers Bay, the path follows the coast towards Cape Schanck and its lighthouse, with sweeping views over the sea. Once you arrive at Cape Schanck, you can take the boardwalk route out onto the cape (note that this gets pretty crowded in summer).
Cape Schanck Lighthouse
You can also explore the historic lighthouse – for a fee – see here
for tour times and costs.