It’s summer and there’s so much time for activities. Here’s how to enjoy the longer days in Melbourne.
Since daylight savings set in a few weeks ago, there’s a noticeable buzz in the air. Not only is the commute home from work no longer in the dark cold afternoons of winter, but you can actually do something late into the evening and remind yourself you can have an active, healthy life outside of the office!
Simply being able to dine outside or go for an evening walk as the sun sets feels like a bonus, but there are also plenty of activities around Melbourne to really embrace those summer nights.
Most can be undertaken in the evening, but some may take you the whole day. Here’s our pick of microadventures near Melbourne and surrounds for the summer.
Visit a Natural Swimming Hole
Pound Bend Reserve, Warrandyte State Park
24km north-east of Melbourne is a place I consider a natural sanctuary in the middle of Victoria’s blistering summer days.
Warrandyte State Park, is the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people, who name the Yarra River ‘Birranung’, meaning river of mists. The river marks the centre of Country. There are two carparks at Pound Bend Reserve, the lower one is ideal for access to the river, a loading dock for canoes, picnic areas and some short walking trails.
You can join the trend of floating around the bends of the Yarra River and see where it takes you (be mindful not to leave your plastic floating devices behind) or sit in the cooling cascades formed by the Pound Bend Tunnel, a 145m diversion tunnel which links sections of the Yarra River. You can also follow the steps above the tunnel and access the other side of the river by foot.
Laughing Waters, Eltham
Nearby to Warrandyte, this is another calming waterhole that will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. You’d be lucky to ever have the place to yourself, but even on crowded days you can relish in the fact that most are here for the same reason – to bathe in nature either alone or with friends.
The final stretch of Laughing Waters Road to the river is gravel, and there’s no carpark, so expect company by the river if there are other cars parked – there isn’t a lot of space on the bank. A short walk through the bush forest behind Caitlin’s Retreat will lead you to the large pool of water and its rapids.
The beauty of these swimming holes relies on people caring for the land and taking all rubbish home with them, as there are few facilities for trash. No one wants to swim with beer cans, so please be mindful of your items.
Explore the Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is a playground for so many activities – this Explorer considers it Victoria’s summer sweet spot. Swim in the decidedly fresh waters of Victoria’s bay coastline, anywhere from Black Rock (about 35 minute drive from the city) down to Sullivan Bay in Sorrento. There are coastal walks, either paved or more adventurous hikes from Point Nepean, that take up to four hours.
The rocky territory of Bushranger’s Bay and Cape Shanck introduces you to the ruggedness of the southern coast, and you could wile away many hours walking along the beach and exploring the rock pools. Take note of the tides though, as these waters can be dangerous.
Ride Along Melbourne’s Cycle Trails
Main Yarra Trail
This 33km trail starts in Melbourne’s north in Templestowe and winds along the Yarra River, all the way to Southbank. It’s an abundantly green, leafy trail suitable for cyclists and pedestrians and it’s reasonably flat – perfect for a leisurely evening ride! Highlights include the section between Yarra Bend Park and Collingwood Children’s Farm through Abbotsford, as well as the long stretch between Burnley and the city, descending into Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
You can commence at any point along the river, and loop off to the Capital City Trail or Merri Creek Trail.
The Bayside Cycling Trail
Commencing at the Westgate Bridge in Williamstown, this well-paved cycling route follows along the coastline of Port Phillip Bay, through St Kilda to Brighton. Although still close to civilisation, this cruisy 18km ride offers lovely water views and a great sense of satisfaction when watching the sun set over the city (with a few swimming spots along the way).
For those with ample time, you can continue a further 27km along the coast to Carrum. You beauty!
Take A Hike
Dandenong 1000 Steps (Kokoda Track Memorial Track)
For those living further out of the city to the east, the Dandenong Ranges should be a familiar place. The infamous 1000 Steps Walk is an ideal one to tackle at the end of the day, when the summer air starts to cool. Located in southern point of the national park, it’s accessible with a large carpark and has a café at the bottom.
If you’ve got a whole day, you could go further into the Dandenong Ranges National Park and check out some more adventures.
Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk
About an hour’s drive west of Melbourne, the Werribee Gorge State Park is a great option for a day-long adventure out of the city. You can opt for shorter, 3km return walks along the river or to Falcon’s Lookout, while the longer 10km circuit (start in an anti-clockwise direction and climb the ridge first) offers widespread views of the gorge and the farmland beyond. In summer it can be extremely hot and dry, but there are a couple of small plunge pools as you walk by the river. Take plenty of drinking water with you.
Check out some other lesser-known day hikes in Melbourne’s outer east.
End Your Day With a Picnic
One of Melbourne’s finest qualities is its many green spaces and parks. The greatest end to a summer’s day is spent lying beneath the trees enjoying a picnic. Edinburgh Gardens is an obvious favourite in the inner north, and other standouts include Yarra Bend Park at Fairfield, Royal Park in Parkville, Fitzroy Gardens and of course, the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens, where I’d happily wile away any Sunday. Even my local Allard Park in Brunswick has space for all the activities.