The crew over at We Are Explorers HQ will wager you haven’t been to all 5 of these Victorian National Parks. If you know someone who has (and has photographic proof) send them our way… we’d like to meet this legend.
Victoria has a cracking National Park in every corner, and a few belters in between. Despite its relatively small size though, uncovering the far reaches of the state is no day trip… even a weekend isn’t quite enough! What you need is a long weekend. Line up your next one (or take an extra day off!) to visit one of these 5 further afield Victorian National Parks. They’re about as far as you can get from a deconstructed latte without crossing a border.
1. Croajingolong National Park
6.5 Hours From Melbourne
In the far-east of Victoria, right up in the pointy bit known as East-Gippsland, there’s about 100 kilometres of wild coastline called the Croajingolong National Park that’s just begging to be explored. Although this sandy slice of Coastal Victoria extends just 20 kilometres inland, there’s so much biodiversity crammed into the park that in 1977 UNESCO declared it a World Biosphere Reserve. Fancy.
The Wilderness Coast Walk runs the length of the park. It’s a 100 kilometre, sparsely maintained track that takes the best part of 5 days to complete. Or if you don’t feel like snailing-it you can access the track at Thurra River, Wingan Inlet or Shipwreck Cove.
Also on the menu: Kayaking at Mallacoota Inlet, Sea Kayaking if you’re bonkers, sandboarding the Thurra River Sand Dunes or summiting Genoa Peak.
2. Murray-Sunset National Park
6 Hours From Melbourne
The massive Murray-Sunset National Park is located in the North-West corner of Victoria and it’s about as outback as it gets in the education state. Sprawling and isolated, the park’s wide open spaces are the perfect antidote to the claustrophobia of urban living.
Wallpolla Island is top-notch for a paddle and the perfect way to experience the oodles of bird-life in the park. If that sounds like too much of a hassle, simply set up camp, acquire a beverage and soak up one of the burning sunsets that give the park its name.
The highlight is without doubt the “Pink Lakes”. Towards the end of summer the algae in the lakes secretes beta-carotene and it all gets a bi fabulous. At other times of the year the lakes dry to a brilliant crusty white and the wildflowers bloom en masse, desert style.
3. Mount Buffalo National Park
4.5 Hours From Melbourne
Feeling adventurous? Want to smash out some hikes, climb imposing granite cliffs, hang-glide over the granite tors, cliff-camp or ski through fresh alpine backcountry? Mount Buffalo National Park seriously has it all.
Hikers will be spoilt for choice with over 90 kilometres of trails that cater for all skill levels. The Horn and The Cathedral are absolute bangers, but listen to your explorer senses and you might find a hidden gem. Don’t forget your cold weather gear! This is alpine park reaches heights of 1723 metres, ensuring year-round chills to match its thrills.
4. Budj Bim National Park (Mount Eccles)
4 Hours From Melbourne
Budj Bim National Park is a small, protected region in the west of Victoria, centred around the dormant Budj Bim volcano. It’s the first national park in Victoria to be co-managed with its Traditional Owners – the Gunditjmara people. I’m stoked about this and have decided to refer to the park using its traditional name instead of “Mount Eccles”, which is the whitest name imaginable. Because volcanoes are badass, there’s an abundance of geological shenanigans to get stuck into. And I mean that literally, on the Crater Rim Circuit you can descend into an ancient lava tuba. Feel small yet?
Camping is located less than 250 metres from the crater’s edge and is surrounded by dense vegetation thanks to rich volcanic soil. Oh, and there are hot showers. They’re definitely not geothermally heated, but who says you can’t pretend?
5. Lower Glenelg National Park
5.5 Hours From Melbourne
Sorry but how weird is the word “Glenelg”? Say it out-loud and try not to sound like you’re swallowing an egg. Anyway, that’s the name of the impressive river that runs throughout the Lower Glenelg National Park in far-west Victoria. The river winds through limestone country, which means deep gorges that run right up to the river’s edge. The only way to see some of these wild places is from the river; 7 of the campsites don’t even have road access. Grab a kayak and get paddling!
The park also includes the Princess Margaret Rose Cave, a small, but exquisite, collection of actively growing limestone features. Geological! Want to stay dry and above ground? The epic Great South West Walk runs throughout the park on its 250 kilometre loop from Portland, but you can jump on wherever you like.