Distance: Approx 15km (easy)
Start: Hoddle Bridge, Richmond (intersection of Punt Road and the entry to the Monash Freeway)
End: Dights Falls, Kew
There's about a gazillion ways to approach the Yarra Trail (which winds from the mouth of the Yarra River near the Westgate Bridge to Templestowe). Try setting out from Richmond underneath the Swan Street Bridge and pulling up stumps at the artificial weir and rock rapids at Dights Falls. Then simply retrace your steps.
Allow ample time for stops, not because you'll need them (this is a super easy walk), but because the Yarra Trail covers interesting turf, including New York artist Ugo Rondinone's gigantic and cheerful rainbow sculpture, 'Our Magic Hour', the Collingwood Children's Farm and the Abbotsford Convent.
Distance: 16km return (easy)
Start: Fearon Reserve, Williamstown
Turn around at: WG Cresser Reserve
The stretch between Williamstown and Altona is good stroll for pooches and their humans, because there's an off-leash park at either end. It's also a nice reminder that it's not all industrial Altona way – there's an inner-urban oasis awaiting exploration. While you should be aware that it is a 14-kilometre return meander, the trail is paved and there are cafés littered along the way. Head out from Fearon Reserve in Williamstown and swing back when you hit WG Cresser Reserve in Altona.
Distance: 16km return (easy)
Start: Moran Reserve, Elwood
Turn around at: Picnic Point, Sandringham
Save this one for a warm, but not scorching day when you feel like a walk, a dip and the chance to see how the other half live. You’ll find the historic Brighton Bay bathing boxes midway between Elwood and Sandy. Built in the late 1800s to preserve feminine modesty, they’re now more a conspicuous display of wealth (you can pick one up for around a lazy 260 grand). Loll about on the beach and stroll home afterwards.
Distance: 14km return (easy)
Turn around at: Dights Falls
Find a northsider who’s not enamoured of Merri Creek and we will show you someone who’s lying about their locale. People have even dedicated odes to it – the Orbweavers for example, immortalised it in their tune Merri). Relive a misspent youth by sitting on its banks and downing a cheeky beer or two or go for a wholesome approach, pausing at Brunswick’s haven, CERES, for an amble through the vegies, chickens and vegans. The choice stretch is between CERES and Dights Falls.
Distance: 7km (easy)
Start: Westgate Park
Turn around at: St Kilda Pier
It’s one of the world’s worst kept secrets – you can spy “little penguins” (yep, scientifically those funny little fellas are no longer called fairy penguins) at the end of the St Kilda Pier and surrounds after sundown. The colony is there all year round, but the best viewing is to be had in summertime.
If you time this walk right, you could pull up stumps to watch them stretch and socialise (it’s the time of year when they look for a mate and they’ll basically stay up all night cruising). Don’t be a dick about it though – no selfie sticks in their burrows, put red cellophane over torches if you must use one, no flash photography and don’t touch them – the males have hooked beaks and they’re not afraid to use them. It kind of defeats the concepts of going for a virtuous leg stretch, but, theoretically, you could finish the adventure with a band and a beer at the POW. Just saying.
More ideas for nature lovers
Five inner-city oases to help you get in touch with your green side.