Melburnians are lucky enough to have access to some of Australia's most breathtaking hiking terrain. Hiking is one of Concrete Playground's favourite activities — it's cost-effective, great for fitness and gets you outside. And with crisp sunny autumn days ahead of us, now is the perfect time to swap the city streets for dirt bush tracks. Victoria is plentiful in coastal trails, inland waterfalls and alpine terrain, so whether you want to be able to stop for a swim, stroll for half a day or spend the weekend trekking up a mountain, these eight walks should cover just about any whim and any time constraint.
Hiking to Kalimna Falls is the ideal activity for a hot afternoon. The drive to Lorne along the Great Ocean Road is scenic, but you should probably allow more than two hours when traffic is heavy. Alternatively, the inland route isn't as picturesque but is substantially quicker. The hike itself is only eight kilometres. The highlight of this walk is the lower falls — on a day when nobody else is about, it feels like your own private watering hole. If you like a bit of rock climbing, make sure you head up to the upper falls. While you're in the area, check out our guide to the Great Ocean Road.
The Razorback Trail up to Mount Feathertop is a 22-kilometre behemoth in the Alpine National Park. Starting at the Diamantina Hut, it's not for the faint-hearted. But for all the commitment and hardship, this hike is truly worth it for the views. Wear in your hiking boots prior to setting out, take lots of water and sunblock, and don't go on a windy day. If you want to do the hike over two days there is a campsite three-quarters of the way up with water and a long drop. If you're not into camping, do it in one go and find a cosy cabin to spend the night in — there's plenty of accommodation at Mount Hotham, Dinner Plain, Harrietville and Bright.
If you're looking for a hike you can complete and still be home in time for lunch, head to Werribee Gorge State Park — it's only an hour out of the CBD. Starting at the Quarry Car Park, the main circuit takes you around the top of the gorge and down again to the bottom. This is the best part where, with the great rock faces looming either side, you feel like you could be in Jurassic Park. The main circuit is ten kilometres, takes approximately three hours and is clearly signposted (just follow the orange-brown arrows). The rock scrambling along the edge of the river is a lot of fun, but I wouldn't recommend it after heavy rainfall.
The Grampians are among the most spectacular mountain ranges in Victoria. The catch? They're a three-and-a-half hour drive away. Luckily there are plenty of campgrounds and hotels in the area, and it's a great place to spend 48 hours. The Mount Rosea walk is of moderate to hard difficulty and takes three to four hours to complete. Without a clear path, you have to hunt for markers scattered along the trail. Occasional rock scrambling keeps it interesting. A word of warning: the bridge you have to cross is quite horrifying for those afraid of heights. As such, this track is best for those who are a little adventurous, and a 4WD is recommended as not all roads are sealed.
Aireys Inlet is a quiet town 90 minutes from Melbourne. Close to both the beach and the Otways, the area is great for hikers — but our pick is the one that runs along Ironbark Gorge to Currawong Falls. This 10.2-kilometre circuit takes three-and-a-half hours to complete and starts at Distillery Picnic Area. There are a number of hikes that start from this spot so make sure you pay attention to the signs to avoid getting lost (we speak from experience). The walk is a pretty easy climb and stunning views can be appreciated at the halfway point. Unfortunately, the last few years it's been too dry for there to be any water at the falls.
The Surf Coast Walk is a 44-kiolmetre track connecting the towns of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. You don't have to cover the entire 44 kilometres — just pick a section that suits you. The walk is one-way, so you'll need to car-shuffle or arrange a lift. Some sections are along the beach so I recommend leaving early in the morning, before high tide. This walk is great for beginners, but not for those who hike for seclusion. But you will get some astounding ocean views, be able to stop at a cafe for lunch and have a dip in the ocean at the end.
Mount Bogong is the tallest mountain in Victoria, and the Staircase Spur Trail (as the track is very appropriately named) will see you get to the summit. The 16-kilometre walk can be completed in either one or two days — there are campsites with (emergency) huts, drop toilets and water along the track. If you go on a clear day you're in for a spectacular, panoramic view of the Alpine area. If you go in poor weather, well, you're in for a lot of discomfort and disappointment. If you don't have a 4WD you'll also have an extra two kilometres added at the end. Needless to say, this walk is best for those with hiking experience and good fitness.
All images are by Alexandra Milne unless otherwise stated.