6 secret hikes around Melbourne you never knew about!

There are some gorgeous walking tracks around Melbourne that aren't even on the locals' radars. Lace up your hiking boots and tackle these trails next.

Escape the bustle by hiking Yarra Bend Park
  • Rachel Gray
  • April 2019

Whether you’re looking for a quick de-stress in the great outdoors or you need a family-friendly trail that gets the kids involved, there are a surprising number of hikes near Melbourne that fit the bill. Throw in a little wildlife-spotting, interesting historical sites, picnics and playgrounds and you’ve got a pretty perfect day.

Yarra Bend Park: 500m/20min

Thousands of grey-headed flying foxes flock above the city en masse at sunset but little is known about where they actually call home. Welcome to Bat HQ, about eight kilometres from the CBD at Yarra Bend Park, where keen walkers take to the Bat Colony Nature Trail to spot the creatures – also called fruit bats – hanging upside down on trees around the Bellbird Picnic Area. The fruit bats were relocated from Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens 16 years ago to stop them destroying the plants.

Sherbrooke Forest: 2.4km/45min

Take an easy stroll through Sherbrooke Forest but don’t be surprised if you hear a chainsaw – it’s most likely to be the elusive lyrebird doing one of its best impersonations to attract a mate. While not all native wildlife are so lyrically gifted, they are still as delightful to spot. You can often find a wombat or swamp wallaby rustling beneath mountain ash (eucalyptus regnans), the world’s tallest flowering plant, or cooling off in the cascading Sherbrooke Creek. You will also pass miniature waterfalls on this little-known 2.4-kilometre walk, returning to either the Sherbrooke or O’Donohue picnic grounds. All this can be found about an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD.

Listen carefully for the lyrebirds in Sherbrooke Forest
Listen carefully for the lyrebirds in Sherbrooke Forest.

Warrandyte State Park: 3km/1hr

There’s gold in them thar hills and you might just find some on this nearly forgotten walk through Warrandyte State Park. Or maybe not – after all, it has been more than 160 years since pioneers first mined the area when Louis John Michael discovered gold there in 1851, sparking the great Victorian gold rush. Located about 30 kilometres north-east from Melbourne’s CBD, the Gold Heritage Walk loops back to its starting point at Whipstick Gully car park and takes you past disused huts and historic mining sites.

Woodlands Historic Park: 9km/3hr

If you want to spot a kangaroo peeking out from behind Australia’s equally iconic river red gum tree, then head to one of Melbourne’s best-kept secrets – Woodlands Historic Park. The Moonee Ponds Creek Trail is a three-hour walk starting about 20 kilometres north of the city and will give you plenty of time to work up an appetite for Devonshire tea at the heritage-listed 176-year-old Woodlands Homestead. There, you can take a selfie with retired champion racehorses as they graze in the fields out front or pass the Back Paddock, where you might just glimpse an eastern barred bandicoot shuffling around the wildlife recovery site.

Get your fix of Aussie wildlife at Woodlands Historic Park
Get your fix of Aussie wildlife at Woodlands Historic Park.

Plenty Gorge Park: 6km/1.5hr

This park’s great secret is the Blue Lake, a former mineral quarry that now teems with birdlife such as cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets and ducks. The six-kilometre track, which snakes around the lake, starts at the Red Gum Picnic area, located about 30 kilometres north of Melbourne’s CBD. This is the place to go when you want to swap the stress of city life for peace and calm surrounded by the relaxing scent of eucalyptus trees, gliding swans and dragonflies.

Don't forget to bring your togs to the Blue Lake
Don't forget to bring your togs to the Blue Lake.

Brimbank loop walk: 3.5km/1.5hr

At Brimbank Park, about a 30-minute drive north-west from the CBD, you can let the kids run free in the playground, before setting off to visit the abandoned Dodds Homestead along the park’s 3.5-kilometre Loop Walk. Pack a picnic so that when you’ve finished the walk you can put some sausages on the sizzle at one of the several outdoor barbecues and enjoy an alfresco lunch.