When you’re stuck in the centre of the city, it’s easy to forget that Melbourne is flanked by forests, mountains, and beaches. These are our favourite day trips from Melbourne.
1. Explore Beaches and Rock Pools at Mornington Peninsula
Time from Melbourne: 1hr 10min
With its beautiful coastal views and beachy vibe, the Mornington Peninsula offers you that coastal getaway you’ve been dreaming about.
Point Nepean Walk
There’s a range of hiking options available, starting with the Point Nepean Walk at the tip of Mornington Peninsula. This walk has stunning coastal cliff views, is 14.5km and takes about 3 hours to complete. There are multiple tracks in the Point Nepean area if a 14.5km trek isn’t your cup of tea!
Arthur’s Seat State Park
I’ve always assumed the Mornington Peninsula was a pretty flat area, but Arthur’s Seat State Park definitely challenges that. It’s a beautiful area with a wide variety of walks and views overlooking the coast.
If you want a full day of hiking, check out the Two Bays walking track, which covers a full 26km over 8 hours. Or there are series of short walks with pretty rewarding views, including Summit Circuit Walk (1.8km, 1 hour) and Kings Waterfall Circuit Walk (1km, 1 hour).
Blairgowrie Rock Pools
The Mornington Peninsula is also the best place to be if you love a good rock pool. The Blairgowrie Rock Pools, in Bridgewater Bay are perfect for those who love the coast and a good rock jump.
With an eight metre jump available (the rock pool is at least three metres deep) and a beautiful blue pool to land in, this really is the perfect combo.
Head to St Johns Woods Road and take a 1km walk to the southern end of the beach. It’s best to visit at low tide, as high tide makes the pool dangerous to jump in!
There’s also a stunning rock pool in Bushrangers Bay, which is about a 30 minute drive from Bridgewater Bay and is a good option to avoid crowds. To reach the rock pools, follow the Bushrangers Bay track about 3km from Cape Schanck lighthouse. Once you’re there, find the rocky coastline and you’ll discover this rock-pool treat.
Bushrangers Bay can also be accessed from Bushrangers Bay parking area, but the walk down’s roughly the same, and the Cape Schanck route is arguably better! Remember, this is also a low-tide location.
Mushroom Reef Sanctuary
If you’re after more of a wildlife experience, the Mushroom Reef Sanctuary area is well known for its marine life. Grab your snorkelling or dive gear, and head down to this sandstone stunner. There are lots of little rock pools to explore. Go and see what’s hiding in all the nooks and crannies.
2. Feel Small in The Towering Toolangi State Forest
Time from Melbourne: 1hr 25min
The Toolangi State Forest in the Yarra Valley is a peaceful escape, full of tall, ancient trees.
If you have a moody-weathered Saturday that you don’t want to waste (and a rain jacket), then this is a beautiful place to be. Rain or shine, the forest is wonderfully misty (and relatively dry, for rain walking at least!).
The drive from Melbourne is beautiful, following along some twisty roads and through the wineries. If it’s on your route, stop in Warrandyte for a cheeky pie at The Bakery Warrandyte, or via Healesville for a visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery and the Four Pillars gin distillery.
There are multiple walks on offer, and there are even a few campsites if you want to stay the night.
Mt St Leonard
Mt St Leonard is probably the best hike if you’re looking for an epic view, and at only 3km return, it’s pretty accessible for everyone.
The Tanglefoot loop is a nice and easy loop track around the forest, keeping you towered by the beautiful trees the whole way round. Make sure you check the map and keep to the trail!
Kalatha Giant Tree Forest Walk
The Kalatha Giant Tree forest walk is another easy addition to sneak into your itinerary (only a 500m circuit walk).
3. Hike up to Keppel Lookout
Time from Melbourne: 1hr 55min
The journey to Stevensons Falls (the start of the Keppel Lookout trail), is a treat in itself. After checking out the enchanting Stevensons Falls, head up the Keppel Lookout trail for beautiful views over the Yarra Valley.
Keppel Lookout Trail
At just over 10km and with a steep start, it’s a good hike to get some fitness in for the day. The only downfall (or benefit, depending on how you look at it), is that you can actually drive to Keppel Lookout. Regardless you’ll be blessed with good views over Marysville, and if you take the walk up, you’ll get to peer out over the view before you reach the lookout.
4. Amazing Views in Cathedral Range State Park
Time from Melbourne: 1hr 55min
The trek up to Sugarloaf Peak isn’t really ‘accessible’ if you have a massive fear of heights, or can’t get around the idea of scrambling up sheer rock faces. But I had to add this one as I think it’s the best day hike from Melbourne that Victoria has to offer, and I can’t recommend it enough! With the option of taking a 2km return trail instead, it’s definitely accessible for those short on time.
Although heights can be a bit daunting, with a reasonable level of fitness it’s pretty achievable for any skill level. The best part is, you can choose between a full day hike or a quicker version.
If you opt for the longer walk, the full southern circuit is 10km and takes about 4-5 hours. Although the view at the top is amazing, the walk down is pretty mint too. If you take this route, start on the Tween Spur Road side so that you finish with the best views.
If you’re not up for a 4+ hour hike, take the 2km return path to the peak from Sugarloaf Saddle, where there’s a car park. From here you have the option of taking the technical, more daunting (but most fun) route via the Wells Cave Track – this requires squeezing through a cave and a bit of rock scrambling – or going up and down the Canyon Track.
Although the Canyon Track requires some scaling and is still pretty steep, it’s definitely less challenging and daunting, making a more accessible option.
5. Get in Touch With Nature at Kinglake National Park
Time from Melbourne: 1hr 25min
Kinglake National Park is where the terms ‘tranquil’ and picturesque’ come to truth. Just over an hour drive from the city, this place has a good selection of walking lengths and adventures available for all fitness types. It’s also a choice place for bird watching.
Check out Mason Falls and take the steep but short 700m walk up to the observation platform. You can also take one of the longer routes, like the Running Creek Track at under 8km, or the longer Mason Falls Circuit route, which is 16.5km and takes a good 4-5 hours, heading up to Mount Sugarloaf from the circuit. Just drive slowly in this area to avoid running into a bouncing roo!
6. Chase Waterfalls Around Mount Macedon
Time from Melbourne: 55min
Although the drive there’s mostly motorway, Mt Macedon has a few treats, one of the best being Turpins Falls Reserve.
Turpins Falls Reserve
It’s a fantastic waterhole oasis, and at only an hour out of the city, it’s the perfect spot to cool down, escape the summer heat, and crack out that floating device you’ve been dying to put on the ‘gram.
The walk is only 10 minutes down a paved pathway, so is pretty accessible for all. The swimming hole’s quite large, and is surrounded by a picturesque rock formation. If you’re feeling brave, why not jump off the top of the waterfall? It’s a 20 metre drop, so no judgement if you give it a miss! On the way there stop in at Country Cob Bakery, Kyneton – they have a cheesy veg pie, deeeelicious!
Another beautiful waterfall in the area is Trentham Falls. As one of the largest single drop waterfalls in Victoria, it’s more of a viewing destination than a swimming one. There’s no access provided to the top or bottom of the falls, but the view of the falls is still a delight. While you’re there, check out Red Beard Historic Bakery and stock up on baked goodies.
7. Less-trodden Lookouts in The Mt Alexander Shire
Time from Melbourne: 1hr 30min
An underrated destination for Melbourians, the local township of Harcourt is a great day trip to get out of the city.
Mt Alexander West Ridge
Mt Alexander West Ridge walk is the best hike the area has to offer. As it already starts at a relatively high elevation and is about 8km return, this hike is perfect for those who want a rewarding vista, without having to put in too much effort.
The hike begins at Dog Rocks and meanders along a granite outcrop. Follow the trail, which makes up part of the greater Goldfields Track, until you reach Langs Lookout and enjoy those easy-earned mountain views. You can also drive to Shepard’s Flat Lookout for some more views in the area.
La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park
If you’re into mountain biking, the La Larr Ba Gauwa mountain bike park has some pretty sweet trails, which cater for a range of abilities. If you’re looking for food around the area, check out the Goldfield Track Cafe and Harcourt Produce and General Store.