The Seven Best One-Day Hikes Near Melbourne
Swap the inner-city pavement for idyllic bush tracks, coastal walks and mountain peaks.
October 27, 2023
Lucky for us Melburnians, some of Australia's most breathtaking hiking terrain is within easy reach of the city limits. And, since hiking is a year-round activity in Oz, it's always a good time to swap the city streets for dirt roads, bush tracks and fresh air.
Victoria is plentiful in coastal walking trails, inland waterfalls, hidden swimming holes and alpine terrain — so whether you want to stop for a swim, stroll for half a day or spend the weekend trekking up a mountain, these walks will cover just about any whim and time constraint. Here's our pick of the best one-day hikes near Melbourne. It's about time you ticked them off, one by one.
KALIMNA FALLS TRAIL, GREAT OTWAY NATIONAL PARK
Hiking to Kalimna Falls is the ideal activity for a balmy afternoon, thanks to the cooling fern-framed waters that await you. Start off with a scenic drive to Lorne along the Great Ocean Road; alternatively, the inland route is substantially quicker (though not nearly as picturesque). The hike itself is eight kilometres return from the Sheoak picnic area, with the option to back-track along the same path or via the 4WD-friendly Garvey Track.
Highlight of this walk are the peaceful lower falls — during off-peak hours, it feels like your own private swimming hole. If you like a bit of rock climbing, be sure to push on and head up to the 15-metre-high upper waterfalls as well.
MOUNT FEATHERTOP VIA RAZORBACK TRAIL, ALPINE NATIONAL PARK
The Razorback Trail up to Mount Feathertop, Victoria's second highest peak, is a 22-kilometre return trek through the Alpine National Park — and it's not for the fainthearted, nor for windy days. But for all the commitment and hardship, this hike is truly worth it for the simply stunning views. Be sure to wear in your hiking boots prior to setting out and take lots of water and sunscreen. If you want to tackle the walk over two days instead, there is a campsite on the way up.
That said, even if you hike it all in one go, you'll need to stay one night in the area, since the park is located over five hours' drive northeast of Melbourne. Luckily, you won't have any trouble finding a cosy cabin to spend the night in — there are plenty of accommodation options at Mount Hotham, Dinner Plain, Harrietville and Bright.
WERRIBEE GORGE CIRCUIT WALK, WERRIBEE GORGE STATE PARK
If you're looking for a hike that will get you home by lunchtime, head to Werribee Gorge State Park, located just an hour out of the CBD. Starting at the Quarry Carpark, the main circuit takes you around the top of the gorge and back down to the bottom. With the great rock faces looming on either side of you, it feels like a scene out of Jurassic Park — which makes sense, given Werribee Gorge has been forged by 500 million years of geological history.
The main circuit is around eight kilometres long, takes approximately three hours to complete and is clearly signposted. You're best not to attempt this trek after heavy rainfall though, as there's plenty of rock scrambling involved.
MOUNT ROSEA WALK, GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK
The Grampians are among the most spectacular mountain ranges in Victoria and are home to one of the region's most epic multi-day hikes. But if you're looking for a shorter stay, the 12-kilometre Mount Rosea Walk takes just four to five hours to complete — though that doesn't mean it's a total breeze, either. Without a clear path, you have to hunt for markers scattered along the trail and occasional rock scrambling keeps things interesting.
You'll also cross a suspended bridge at great heights along the way. And a four wheel drive is recommended to traverse the unsealed roads that lead to the walk. Given all that, this track is best tackled by those who are a little adventurous. While the national park is a three-hour drive out of the CBD, there are plenty of campgrounds and hotels in the area if you plan on staying the night.
CURRAWONG FALLS TRACK, GREAT OTWAY NATIONAL PARK
Aireys Inlet is a quiet town located 90 minutes from Melbourne. Close to both the beach and the Otways, the area boasts plenty of great hiking, but our pick is the trail that runs along Ironbark Gorge to Currawong Falls. Clocking in at just over 10 kilometres, this circuit starts at Distillery Picnic Area and takes around three to four hours to complete. There are a number of hikes that begin from the same spot, so make sure you pay attention to the signs to avoid getting lost.
Along the way, you'll pass through spring wildflowers in the Ironbark Forest, traipse through heathlands dotted with tree ferns and maybe even spot a few wallabies in the melaleuca swamp. Ancient flowering grass trees can also be seen throughout the trail. Once you've looped all the way back, you'll enjoy some seriously stunning vistas with the Split Point Lighthouse in full view.
MOUNT BOGONG VIA STAIRCASE SPUR TRAIL, ALPINE NATIONAL PARK
Mount Bogong is the tallest mountain in Victoria, and the Staircase Spur Trail — as the track is very appropriately named — will get you all the way to the summit. The 16-kilometre return walk can be completed in either one or two days as there are campsites with huts, drop toilets and water along the track. For primo views, be sure to check the weather beforehand and plan the hike on a clear day when you'll be rewarded with spectacular, panoramic vistas of the alpine area.
If you go in dreary weather, well, you're likely in for some discomfort and disappointment. Needless to say, this walk is best suited to those with hiking experience and decent fitness.
SURF COAST WALK, GREAT OCEAN ROAD
The Surf Coast Walk is a whopping 44-kilometre track connecting the towns of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet, though you don't have to cover the entire monster in one day. With 12 trail heads to choose from, just pick a section that suits you. The walk is one-way, but regular car shuttles and local buses run throughout the day (be sure to check the timetables ahead of time).
Your best bet is to leave early in the morning so you can fully enjoy the beachside walks before high tide — one of our favourites is Bells Beach. This popular hike is great for beginners, but not for those who hike for seclusion. But these astounding ocean views are well worth battling the crowds for.
Top Images: Razorback Trail by Mark Watson for Visit Victoria
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