|Melbourne has a wide range of family walks which cover art trails, bayside views, rainforests, huge Botanic Gardens, creeks, rivers and flora and fauna. Many of the longer walks can easily be broken up into smaller sections which are manageable by a family. We have put together a list of the best walks for families in and around Melbourne.
Take a walk through the lovely parks and gardens surrounding the Melbourne Central Business District. Alexandra Gardens located along the south side of the Yarra River features a row of historic rowing boathouses, palm trees, ornamental shrubs and a star-shaped garden bed designed to represent the Federation of Australia. Queen Victoria Gardens has a range of outdoor sculptures, landscaped gardens, ponds with a small waterfall, waterbirds, monuments and the iconic Floral Clock. A wander around Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne will uncover Cooks’ Cottage, a Tudor Village, the Fairy Tree, dragon playground, fountains, sculptures and the Conservatory.
The 5km walk around Albert Park Lake has plenty of aquatic activities to watch, great views of the city skyline, plenty of water birds and an adventure playground to burn off any remaining energy.
The 5 km uphill 1000 steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk from the Ferntree Gully Rangers' Office finishes at One Tree Hill Picnic Grounds. The walk has a series of memorial plaques commemorating the history of the Kokoda Trail and if you've got enough energy you can count the actual number of steps (which is not really 1000).
The 17 km Bayside Coastal Art Trail celebrates the lives and artwork of notable Australian artists who painted the Bayside coast in years past. There are 90 signs along the entire length of the Coastal Trail covering Art, History, Indigenous and Environment. The trail covers the stretch of bat between Mentone and Elwood with Half Moon Bay having an interesting café as a stop-off point.
Take the 6km return Bushrangers Bay Nature Walk starting at Cape Schanck which follows Bushrangers Track along the cliff next to the ocean to Bushrangers Bay. You can also visit the Cape Schanck Lighthouse which is located close to the car park.
Take a trip to Coolart Wetlands & Homestead in Somers and explore the homestead before walking around the wetlands area. Keep your eyes scanning the gum trees since you might even spot a koala in the trees.
The 28 km Two Bays Walking Trail on the Mornington Peninsula will take you from Dromana on one side of the bay over to Cape Schanck on the other side. The route can be done in sections.
Dights Falls Trail in Yarra Bend Park, Kew is a 4.2 km trail close to the city which is a loop between Kanes Bridge and Dights Falls. Refreshments are available at the Studley Park Boathouse.
Yarran Dheran Reserve in Mitcham is a nice bushland area with a number of paths which has the attraction of Mullum Mullum Creek running through the area. One of the paths leads to Schwerkolt Cottage.
The Capital City Trail is a 29km shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians, which loops around the Melbourne city centre and includes some inner eastern and northern suburbs. The trail is almost completely smooth, pavement and is a great way of seeing Melbourne, either by cycle or walking.
Follow the Darebin Creek Shared Trail at the Darebin Parklands in Alphington. Enjoy a lovely bushland setting less than 15min away from the CBD.
To the north of the city is the 21 km Merri Creek Trail which follows the Merri Creek through the northern suburbs of Melbourne between Clifton Hill and Fawkner. Along the way it passes by CERES and some nice playgrounds at Quarries Park and the Coburg Lake park.
Take a trip to the Dandenongs and enjoy a walk through the beautiful gardens which have free admission. This area is especially lovely in Autumn when the seasonal colours are displayed in all their splendor. Alfred Nicholas Gardens in Sherbrooke has many linking paths under a canopy of mountain ash trees which lead to extensive water features including waterfalls and an ornamental lake.
The 126 hectares R J Hamer Arboretum in Olinda has lovely walks through an ever changing variety of trees with views across the Yarra Valley out to the Warburton Ranges and beyond.
Warrandyte State Park has a range of walks including the 3.5 km Pound Bend River Walk which leaves from the picnic area will lead you to the historic Pound Bend Tunnel. In 1870, the Evelyn Tunnelling and Mining Company dug through 145 metres of hard rock at Pound Bend to divert the Yarra through what is now known as the Tunnel. This left five kilometres of old river bed exposed to dredge for gold.
Melbourne has two wonderful Botanic Gardens - The vast Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne has a range of interesting gardens, displays and water features.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne has huge and diverse plant collections, vistas, lakes and a special Children's Garden.
To the immediate west of the city, the 23km Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail follows the coast line of Hobsons Bay from near the Westgate bridge to Skeleton creek. It passes through the maritime historical precinct of Williamstown, botanic gardens, sandy beaches, wetlands with internationally important habitat, site specific public artworks, and spectacular buildings
Three short walks are possible within the Organ Pipes National Park in Keilor North. The Park has walks to the Organ Pipes wall, Rosette Rock and the Tessellated Pavement. The shortest walk to the Organ Pipes is only about 700m via a fairly steep paved road and the longest route is about 1.3 km.
A more rugged walk is to Falcons Lookout in Werribee Gorge, Ingliston. The one hour (or longer with smaller kids) walk to the Falcons Lookout rock climbing wall (where you should see climbers on the weekend) which looks down on the gorge below.
To the west of Melbourne past Geelong is the Barwon Heads Bluff Walk is a spectacular walk which winds around the headland and offers spectacular ocean and estuary views. During low low tide you can walk beneath the cliffs and explore the dozens of rock pools and watch the many sea birds.
Take a walk to a waterfall. The walk to La La Falls in Warburton is a pleasant 3.2km walk on a well formed track which passes through areas of tree ferns and tall Mountain Ash trees. The 2.4 km return walk to Sherbrooke Falls passes through tall Mountain Ash and tree ferns.
You can also walk or bike along a range of Rail Trails. These include the Belgrave Railway Trail, Bellarine Rail Trail (Geelong), Inner Circle Rail Trail (a paved four-kilometre walking and cycling route along an abandoned railway corridor just east of the city centre), 38 km Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail which passes through beautiful bush, lush fern gullies, sweeping grazing properties on the fertile Yarra River flood plains, past wineries, flower farms, the Yarra River and the Yarra Ranges National Park and state forest, the Outer Circle Rail Trail which partly follows the Alamein Line through the inner eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Take a drive out of Melbourne to experience these walks.
180 km from Melbourne in West Gippsland is a 3 km return walk to Mushroom Rocks, a maze of giant granite tors. Continuing to Mount Erica is about a 8km return walk.
90 km from Melbourne is the lovely town of Kyneton. Visit the Black Hill Reserve which is a lovely area for walking with lots of granite boulders scattered about the landscape and a variety of walks of different levels and distance. The 3km long Campaspe River Walk provides an interesting walk along the Campaspe River and passes through the Sculpture Park near Quarry Reserve.
The George Bass Coastal Walk is a cliff top walk that stretches from the outskirts of San Remo to Kilcunda in South Gippsland, 120 km from Melbourne. The walk is approximately seven kilometres long and offers spectacular views of the coastline and follows the route of the explorer George Bass' epic voyage of discovery along the southern edge of the Peninsula, over 200 years ago.
There are several pleasant walks of varied lengths and levels of difficulty around Steavenson Falls near Marysville, 100km from Melbourne. The falls, themselves are quite spectacular and are one of the tallest in Victoria, with 5 cascades, a total descent of 122 metres, the last having a clear drop of more than 21 metres. the Steavenson Falls Reserve. The steep walk to the top of the falls and back takes approximately 40 minutes.
Noojee, 130km from Melbourne in West Gippsland has a range of walks. You can visit either of the Toorongo and Amphitheatre Waterfalls but the best option is to make a circuit and take in both falls through the rainforest and tree ferns.
Surrounded by tall forest, follow the old railway line from Noojee along the Trestle Bridge Walk and walk across the restored Trestle Bridge which is one of the only remaining historic timber bridges in Victoria. The bridge is 102m long and 20m high and is said to be one of the largest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.
For information on even more walks in Melbourne see here: