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10 incredible national parks within driving distance of Melbourne

Hit the road and explore some of the state’s best looking national parks

Photograph: Roberto Seba
Wilsons Promontory

Seeking an out of town adventure? You’ll find stunning nature and bountiful wildlife at these Victorian national parks, which are all within a day’s drive from Melbourne. Load the car, grab some snacks and hit the road in search of Victoria’s best-looking landscapes.  

Explore more of the state at the best campsites near Melbourne or stretch your legs with the best day hikes near Melbourne.

Victoria's best national parks

1

Grampians National Park

3 hours from Melbourne

People bang on about the Grampians for good reason: it’s positively glorious. Populated by high sandstone peaks, gorgeous wildflowers and the epic Pinnacle walk, it’s the perfect place to shirtfront some nature. Known to the traditional owners of this land as Gariwerd, the area is also known for having one of the biggest collection of Indigenous rock art sites in south-eastern Australia.

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Grampians
2

Wilsons Promontory National Park

3 hours from Melbourne

Get a date to bring you to the Prom. No, not that prom. Wilsons Promontory is mainland Australia’s southernmost point which just so happens to lay claim to a rugged national park ripe with beaches, greenery and friendly wildlife. Whether you’re up for an overnight hike to Sealers Cove, a day hike up Mount Oberon or just a chill one at the well-equipped campsite at Tidal River, the Prom is a true stunner every Melburnian needs to see.

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3

Great Otway National Park

3 hours from Melbourne

Visiting this national park is a no-brainer if you’re driving the Great Ocean Road, especially if you like waterfalls. The park stretches from Torquay towards Princetown, and up towards Colac, and is one of the best places in Victoria to embrace a cool temperate rainforest. Head out on one of the many coastal walking trails and you’ll discover lush forests, quiet sandy beaches and more than one koala poking its head through the gum trees.

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4

Mount Buffalo National Park

4 hours from Melbourne

Welcome to Victoria’s high country. Mount Buffalo gets covered in a cool blanket of snow for half of the year, meaning you’re welcome to cross-country ski (or toboggan) your way across 14km of marked ski trails. In the warmer months, you’re in for over 90km of walking tracks. If you’re thinking about camping, make a beeline for the snow gum woodlands that surround Lake Catani.

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5

Little Desert National Park

4 hours from Melbourne

Fang it down the Western Highway towards the South Australian border and enjoy the profound quiet at Little Desert National Park. The landscape is quite arid, but there are plenty of self guided nature walks, ranging from 30 minutes to three days long, if you’re up for some bushbashing. The best time to visit is in spring, when the wildflowers are blooming and the temperatures are calm.

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Pearcedale
6

Yarra Ranges National Park

2 hours from Melbourne

Yes, it’s possible to have a Yarra Ranges experience without the crowds – you just need to know where to look. We suggest having a picnic at the lakeside Alfred Nicholas Gardens, bike along the historic O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail and drive the scenic Black Spur Drive between Healesville and Narbethong, where tall trees and lush mountain ferns decorate every winding turn.

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8

Croajingolong National Park

7 hours from Melbourne

Looking to get off grid? Pack your car with camping gear and head towards the far-eastern coastline of Victoria and Croajingolong National Park, found just below the border with New South Wales. It’s here you’ll find secluded coastal camping spots that are perfect for boating and fishing fans. Those who like beach walks and native animal spotting will also fare well, as there’s plenty of eucalypt forest and heathland to get lost in.

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9

Kinglake National Park

1.5 hours from Melbourne

Kinglake National Park is the closest national park on the list and sits on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, a stretch of mountains and valleys more commonly known as the Australian Alps. It’s a popular spot for mountain bikers, campers, picnickers and those in search of dramatic views across the Yarra Valley, the You Yangs and even the Melbourne skyline. Be sure to check out Masons Falls and explore the fern forests and gullies that surround it.

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10

French Island National Park

1.5 hours from Melbourne to Stony Point, then a 10 minute ferry to French Island

It’s the largest coastal island in Victoria, and over 70 per cent of it is national park, meaning French Island is relatively unpopulated (they say there’s only about 60 permanent residents). Once you reach the island, you’ll discover open woodlands, vast bush and completely empty beaches. Walk towards the Pinnacles where you’ll get views over Phillip Island and back to the mainland. They even have glamping here!

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Make it an overnight stay

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