The Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk seems to be on every ‘Best Day Hikes Near Melbourne’ list (yep – even ours!) Just an hour’s drive from the city, the 10km loop is the place to test your stamina on uphill climbs and fancy-up your footwork on rock scrambles and ledges.

 

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Is this the best hike near Melbourne?

Following the Werribee River through the rocky gorge is a great break from the usual coastal or forest hikes favoured by Melburnians. For a day hike not too far from the city, the combination of varied terrain, distance and elevation at Werribee Gorge is hard to beat. It’s definitely one of the most challenging walks within an hour’s drive of Melbourne, and as a bonus – there’s options for trail running and rock climbing as well!

To tick this trail off your list – head north-west of the city to the Werribee Gorge State Park. The 10km loop begins at the Meikles Point picnic area and can be walked in either direction. To get the steep sections out of the way first, head anticlockwise up to the rim for some awesome views across the gorge. Then descend to the Werribee River and take on the rock ledges with a section of handrail to guide you. Finish up by following the river through the gorge and back to your starting point.

 

Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk – A Tough Hike Near Melbourne, Leah Furey - Weerribee Gorge, hiking, On the trail - Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk

The Varied Terrain of Werribee Gorge

The Werribee Gorge Circuit get full points for fun and variety when it comes to terrain. You won’t get bored exploring the gravel track, rocky descents, sandy river beaches and rock ledges.

The first section of the trail is uphill through the eucalyptus trees via a gravel trail and short section of dirt road. Up on the rim the trail becomes a bit more rocky and exposed. Then the descent into the gorge is quite steep with plenty of uneven ground to test out your ankles. (Trekking poles could come in handy here!) If you walk the circuit clockwise this will be your ascent – shorter, but steeper and rockier than the anticlockwise ascent.

Once in the gorge, the adventure continues with rock scrambles and a narrow rock ledge alongside the river. There’s 50 metres of cable handrail to help you keep your balance along this section, but it could be difficult for kids, or if it’s raining. There’s a few sandy river beaches in the gorge as well – a great place to have a break and maybe even a swim in summer.

The trail then follows a disused water channel through the remainder of the gorge. To be honest this is the least exciting bit of the walk – but it does get you back to your starting point!

Distance and Elevation

Let’s face it, Melbourne is a pretty flat city. So for a hike that is a decent distance and has elevation as well, Werribee Gorge is a great option. From the Meikles Point picnic area, it’s a 3km, 350 metre ascent to the Eastern Viewpoint. As mentioned, if you choose to walk it clockwise you’ll have a shorter (1.5km), but steeper, ascent. Either way, at least a moderate level of fitness is going to serve you well to conquer the whole 10km Circuit Walk.

For shorter walk options try these other trails, also in the Werribee Gorge State Park.

Short Circuit Walk – 5 km

This includes parts of the Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk – following the river through the gorge and the steep ascent anddescent. However there is a cut-through from Eastern Viewpoint on the rim to Meikles Point picnic area.

Centenary Walk – 4 km

This is an out-and-back trail that starts at the Myers Road Trail Head. It follows a small section of the Circuit Walk, before breaking away to James Whyte Island Reserve where there’s a lookout with views of the surrounding hills.

Ironbark Gorge Walk – 3 km

This out-and-back walk starts at the Ironbark Gorge car park on the other side of the State Park to the Circuit Walk. The trail takes you to the Falcon Lookout for panoramic views of Werribee Gorge.

 

Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk – A Tough Hike Near Melbourne, Leah Furey - Weerribee Gorge, hiking,

Scenery In The Gorge

There aren’t many places to do a rugged, rocky gorge walk near Melbourne. Werribee Gorge definitely brings a break from the usual when it comes to scenery. From the rim, the Eastern and Western Viewpoints give you a good overview of the rocky hills and nearby farmland. There’s a chance to spot wildlife like echidnas, wallabies and plenty of birds, including Wedge-tailed eagles.

Traversing the Werribee Gorge Circuit is quite a different experience depending on what season you go. As per most advice for hiking in Victoria, spring and autumn are the best times to go. In summer you’d be quite exposed on most parts of the trail, so don’t forget to pack water and slip, slop, slap on the sun protection. The river beaches are great places to kick up the feet or take a dip. There’s also picnic tables in the shade at Meikles Point for a good place to sit and refuel post-walk.

Whatever the season, it’s always a good idea to check the latest trail updates from Parks Victoria before you go!

Walk, Run or Climb Werribee Gorge?

If you’re more inclined to run the trails than walk them – guess what? Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk makes our list of ‘Best Trail Running Near Melbourne‘ as well. The rock scrambling, tree roots and loose gravel make it challenging run – as well as the hard slog out of the gorge when you run the trail in either direction.

For climbers, there’s a small rock climbing area on the east-facing cliff at Falcons Lookout. This is the only spot where rock climbing is allowed in the Werribee Gorge State Park and access is via the Ironbark Gorge Track.

 

Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk – A Tough Hike Near Melbourne, Leah Furey - Weerribee Gorge, hiking,Rock ledges in the gorge - Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk

Essential Gear

  • Walking shoes
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks

How To Get to Werribee Gorge State Park

Take the Western Freeway from Melbourne and take the Myrniong exit just past Bacchus Marsh. Turn left onto Pentland Hills Road and right onto Myers Road which takes you to the park entrance.

Along Myers Road there are three car parks – Myers Road Trailhead, Quarry Car Park and Meikles Point picnic area. For the Ironbark Gorge Walk and rock climbing at Falcons Lookout – exit the highway at Bacchus Marsh and drive through the town then along Ballan Ingliston Road until you reach the trail carpark.

Distance Covered

Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk is a 10km loop. There are also three other short-distance walk options between 3-5km in the Werribee Gorge State Park.