On a trail staring East the bush below me is exploding with life as the day breaks. Nobody stirred in the campsite when I packed off ninety minutes ago, now I’m rewarded and taking in the rising sun solo from north jawbone peak, central to the Cathedral Ranges in my home state of Victoria. It’s an early summer this year, and I can feel the need to escape the city and its heat – to find shade somewhere wild..

Where do I want to go?! Unknown to so many are the complete and utter gems scattered a sedimentary stones throw away from the Melbourne suburbs. Past traffic lays gullies and mountains! Past shopping centres sits flowing creeks and waterfalls! Take your weekend, invert it, and pack it with adventure nestled somewhere in our Great Dividing Range..

Possibilities are endless within an hour (or so) from town – set off to the north east (this week) and you can be settling on to some incredible hikes spiralling their way under magnificent mountainous Australian landscapes before your morning cuppa. A range of parks offer a huge array of quality weekend hikes short and long, just waiting to be explored by you!

The Cathedral Ranges State Park

This park looms from the distance as you conclude the classic drive through the Black Spur. For challenging, brief hikes, try either the Canyon or Wells Cave tracks – we’re talking breaking a nice sweat and throwing your pack ahead of you as you squeeze through rocky openings. Once you’re up top and taking in the awesome valley views, the Ridgeline and Razorback tracks run the length of the ridge making a spectacular full day walk.

Kinglake National Park

This is the Melbournian’s closest big park. Mostly remembered for the damage inflicted by the Black Saturday bushfires, the area has exploded back to life like all top quality patches after fire, and is right now bursting with life. Take the extensive Mt. Everard track, another day trip, and introduce yourself to an undulating, fascinating landscape full of wonder.

Toolangi State Forest

Just beyond Kinglike hides Toolangi State Forest but not for long! Who’d of thought you’d discover rainforest on the doorstep of Melbourne?! The Wirra Willa Walk winds under dense, ancient sassafras and myrtle beech trees, alongside the towering tallest flowering trees (and moss) in the world! The longer, equally brilliant Tanglefoot loop takes the better part of a day.

This is just the surface of the north east, and at only a short drive from Melbourne, how could you ever, ever! be bored?!? So pack something tasty (remember: Savoys with a little Vegemite and cheese are a great hiking treat), plenty of water, keep an eye on the weather, and have the best weekend possible!

These are the exciting moments of life. They’re our stories, and the uncontrollable buzz in every word that escapes our mouths because we were one of the lucky ones that didn’t just read about it but actually did it..

Walking time/difficulty:

Canyon, Wells Cave – 30 minutes, hard/very hard
Ridgeline, Razorback – 2 hours, medium/hard
Mt.Everard – 6 hours, medium/hard
Wirra Willa – 30 minutes, easy
Tanglefoot – 6 hours, medium/hard