If you love the idea of wandering through nature but the thought of stuffy tents and long-life milk puts you off, join the One-Day Walk Club. It’s free, you’re a member the second you choose to be, and fresh air, wildlife and abundant greenery are all included. Start with one of these single-day walks, which we’ve assembled from all over Victoria. There are a couple that hug the coast, another that traverses striking granite peaks, and plenty in between.
Grampians National Park
If you’re strapped for time (or motivation) but refuse to skimp on views, the two-kilometre hike to The Pinnacle in the Grampians National Park is your jam. Passing through the intriguingly named Silent Street and Grand Canyon, this walk rewards you with a spectacular outlook you don’t have to slog too hard for.
If you’re keen for a few more hours of walking, you can tackle the entire Wonderland Loop, which runs from Halls Gap to Venus Baths, Splitters Falls and onto Grand Canyon, Silent Street and The Pinnacle Lookout. Along the way, spot wild flowers such as the parrot pea bush and sun orchids (the region is home to more than one third of Victoria’s flora) and once you’re at the top, stay a while. You’ve earned it.
Bushrangers Bay Walking Track
Quiet sandy beaches, basalt cliffs, native Banksia forest and the occasional mob of kangaroos. Such are the draws of this coastal gem, which stretches from Cape Schanck to Bushrangers Bay. The walk works in either direction (2.5 kilometres each way) or as a loop.
More ambitious walkers can tackle Bushrangers Bay as part of the 26-kilometre Two Bays Trail, which begins at Latrobe Parade Car Park in Arthurs Seat and concludes at Cape Schanck Lighthouse. This track is signposted by a circular symbol containing a blue wren, which appears on power poles in places where the route passes through residential areas. On its way past vineyards and farmland, the undulating walk offers spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay and Bass Straight.
Please note the beach and rock pools at Bushrangers Bay are not patrolled. If you are planning to swim, refer to beachsafe.org.au before visiting.
Great South West Walk
South West Victoria’s Great South West Walk is the pick’n’mix of one-day adventures. The entire 250-kilometre track, which starts and finishes in Portland, can be broken into two-hour loops or longer day walks. Picking a track depends on what you fancy: sand dunes and seal colonies, or national parks and Aboriginal heritage sites. Either way, you’re bound to see some incredible wildlife such as the elusive platypus, the glorious azure kingfisher and the only mainland gannet rookery in Australia.
You Yangs Regional Park
If you’re a one-day walker who doesn’t have all bloody day, you need a quick retreat into nature that’s close to the city. Enter the You Yangs. You’ve probably eyed (and driven right past) these distinctive granite peaks on your way to Geelong or the Surf Coast. No longer – make today the day you investigate their beauty close-up.
Climb Flinders Peak, the highest point in the You Yangs. Take a picnic and relax in silence, contemplating the ancient boulder-strewn landscape. Get involved in guided tours to see wildlife and undertake conservation efforts with Echidna Walkabout Tours. Or, if your feet aren’t feeling a walk, there’s also more than 50 kilometres of purpose-built mountain bike trails.
Tarra-Bulga National Park
For a more Avatar, otherwordly kind of vibe, head two hours east of Melbourne to the Grand Strzelecki Track, home to some of the tallest flowering plants and hardwood trees on earth, plus an abundance of lyrebirds. Take in the awe-inspiring sight of the towering mountain ash specimens as you wind through the prolific jungle-like undergrowth that cloaks the Strzelecki Ranges. Keep an eye out for koalas and your ears open for birdcalls. There are a bunch of one- and two-day loop walks, ranging from 18 to 25 kilometres, plus a variety of short rainforest walks to waterfalls and picnic areas.
Mount Buffalo National Park
Escape the heat of the city this summer and breathe in that sweet, crisp alpine air on a one-day walk around Bright. This pretty town is your base for exploring the peaks of Mount Buffalo National Park and the Alpine National Park, including Mount Hotham.
There’s a plethora of walks to choose from, so plan before you go. But if you’re not the researching type, we’ve got you covered. Following the Ovens River, the four-kilometre Canyon Walk reveals wildflowers and a proliferation of birdlife, while the six-kilometre Wandi Walk features hidden swimming holes and remnants of the area’s gold mining heritage. Make a weekend of it and stay the night at the charming Wandi Pub.
George Bass Coastal Walk
This four-hour, 14-kilometre, out-and-back trail in Gippsland hugs sandstone clifftops almost the entire way, with a few dips down to secluded beaches. On your right, you’ll see acre after acre of farmland and placid herds of dairy cows. On your left, the squalling, striking blue ocean of Bass Straight. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot a seal sunning itself on the rocks below.
Start at the Kilcunda General Store and pick up house-made quiches, sausage rolls, salads and other supplies. When you reach the other end (Punchbowl Road, San Remo), you can come back via the main road, or turn around and repeat the seven-kilometre walk back to Kilcunda. Finish the day with a drink on the deck at the Ocean View Hotel. We guarantee your beer will taste better than usual.
Gunbower National Park
If you like your one-day walk with a side of cultural and ecological education, head for the Koondrook Red Gum Forest Walk in the Gunbower National Park, three and a half hours north of Melbourne.
The information boards dotted along two separate half-day hikes (the delightfully named Turtle Loop and Eagle Loop) are filled with tidbits about the area’s rich Indigenous and pioneer heritage. Along the walk you might see shell middens, stone tools and tree carvings. If natural history is more your thing, the red gum forests are home to plenty native fauna, including broad-shelled turtles, banjo frogs and some 200 species of birds.