Walks around the lake, Jells Park
Photograph: Parks Victoria

The best walks in Melbourne

Don’t venture far from the city with these great walks and trails near Melbourne

Rebecca Russo

Who says you need to leave the city to get into nature? There are plenty of gorgeous places to stretch your legs in Melbourne itself, no car trip needed.  

You can get to many of these walks on the tram, bus or train. There are plenty of beautiful walking trails dotted in and around Melbourne, running right through the CBD and stretching out to the suburbs. Lace up your sneakers and try out one of Melbourne's top walks.

Looking for more things to discover around Melbourne? Here are some day hikes to try, or secret gardens to explore. 

Melbourne's best walks

1. The Yarra Trail

Distance: Approx 20km return (easy)
Start: Hoddle Bridge, Richmond (intersection of Punt Road and the entry to the Monash Freeway)
End: Dights Falls, Abbotsford

There are 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.

2. Kororoit Creek Trail

Distance: 16km return (easy)
Start: Fearon Reserve, Williamstown
Turn around at: WG Cresser Reserve

The stretch between Williamstown and Altona is a 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 out 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.


3. Capital City Trail

Distance: 29km loop (hard)
Start and end: Anywhere

The Capital City Trail is a composite trail of sections of other trails, including the Merri Creek, Yarra Trail, Moonee Ponds Creek Trail and Inner Circle Rail Trail and the loop passes by landmarks like Southbank, Melbourne Zoo and the Royal Botanic Gardens. If you’d like to explore a stretch you might not have explored much of, we’d recommend following the bikes across Webb Bridge near DFO South Wharf and walking along Harbour Esplanade in Docklands.

4. Maribyrnong River loop

Distance: 3km loop (easy)
Start and end: Near Poyntons Nursery on the Boulevard

A very popular loop for those in the area, this path is situated right next to the Maribyrnong River and undulates around the river’s many bends and snaps. Follow the path west toward the pedestrian bridge and cross over to the Maribyrnong side and walk back towards the Anglers Tavern. You can continue further south to lengthen your walk otherwise cross over at Maribyrnong Road to loop back to your starting point. Expect lots of dogs on this path and be sure to pick up a coffee from The Boathouse to keep your caffeine up.


5. Plenty Gorge Walk

Distance: 6km return (intermediate)
Start and end: Red Gum Picnic Area

A pocket of native wildlife within Melbourne’s suburbs, Plenty Gorge is a great area for animal spotting. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot kangaroos and echidnas, as well as some beautiful herons and swans on the water. Walk a loop around the lake and be mindful of where you step and the local bird life you come in contact with.

6. Port Melbourne to St Kilda

Distance: 14km return (easy)
Start: Westgate Park (the one that turns pink in summer)
Turn around at: St Kilda Pier

It’s one of the world’s worst kept secrets – that you can spy fairy penguins at the end of the St Kilda Pier and surrounds after sundown. 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 stretch of sidewalk between Port Melbourne and St Kilda is also great if you like looking at gargantuan glass houses.


7. Merri Creek

Distance: 14km return (easy)
Start: CERES
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 (local musos 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 veggies, chickens and vegan eats. The choice stretch is between CERES and Dights Falls (where the Yarra and Merri Creek meet).

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  • Melbourne

Distance: 1.5km loop (easy)
Start and end: Organ Pipes car park

Less of a straight forward “walk” and more of a “wander and point and cool shit,” Organ Pipes National Park is a 121-hectare park located just off the Calder Freeway only 20 kilometres north of Melbourne. The park is named after its star attraction: 2.5 million-year-old basalt columns that look strikingly like organ pipes. Take the short circuit walk around the park while you're there. Starting at the visitor centre, you can follow the trail that passes along the main features of the park, including Keilor Plains, the Tessellated Pavement and the Organ Pipes themselves.


9. Blue Tongue Bend, Warrandyte State Park

Distance: 3.5km loop (intermediate)
Start and end: Jumping Creek Reserve

Any point of the Yarra River has its merits, but as you know, the higher up you go, the cleaner and cooler the river is. Up here in northern Warrandyte, you can take a casual stroll through thick bushland and narrow paths and inhale that sweet mountain air city folk are missing. There are a few small inclines but this particular path is good for intermediate walkers (and those keen on taking a dip in the fresh water). Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed in this park.

10. Elwood to Sandringham

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.


11. Jells Park Walk

Distance: 3km loop (easy)
Start and end: Jells Park car park 

Out over in Wheelers Hill, you can visit the beautiful Jells Park and take a walk around Wildlife Lake. It’s a popular spot for picnickers, bike riders, joggers and walkers so don’t expect a completely empty path ahead of you. There are actually around 127 hectares to explore in this park so feel free to create your own loop and spend time exploring the playgrounds, picnicking near the barbecue areas or just wandering around and spying wildlife.

More ideas for nature lovers

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Craving some closeness to Mother Nature? There's nothing like a romp through a local CBD park to restore some balance. Next time you're sick of the sight of concrete, head straight to these green spots.

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