By Erica Murdoch
Illustration by Elizabeth Darmawan
So, you want to go bushwalking near Melbourne and leave your car at home? No worries—it’s possible. You just need to do some forward planning for public transport and pack the band aids.
Here are five walks to get you started (ranked from closest to farthest from Melbourne CBD):
Yarra Bend Park. Dights Falls Loop Trail 8kms
Who knew that one of Melbourne’s great hikes was within two kilometres of hipster cafes? Squashed in between Kew, Clifton Hill and Fairfield, Yarra Park offers many walking trails. Dights Falls Loop trail is a four kilometre hike allowing you to discover the site of the former ‘lunatic’ asylum, venture through red gum bushland and have the company of many different kinds of birds.
How: Bus 200/201/207 from Lonsdale Street. Get off at Studley Park Boathouse bus-stop. There is a footpath to the trailhead at Kane’s Bridge.
Braeside Park 26kms
If you’re a bird-watcher, this suburban park is the place for you. Wetlands, billabongs, a circuit walk with no hills (yay!) and some pretty picnic areas. And for the avid twitcher—a bird hide.
Warrandyte State Park Pound Bend Reserve 33kms
If you really want to have a proper bush experience, head to Warrandyte and explore the Pound Bend River Walk. Keep an eye out for koalas in the treetops! It’s hard to believe that this pristine waterway turns into our own muddy Yarra — 40 kilometres downstream.
How: Bus 906 to Warrandyte from Lonsdale Street. Alight at corner of Everard and Yarra Streets in Warrandyte and walk along Everard Street to Pound Bend Road. (20-minute walk)
Dandenong Ranges National Park Kokoda Track Memorial Walk 37kms
Don’t let the name deter you. This 1000-step (actually 770!) hike can be for the super-keen planning an intense trek in Nepal, or a Netflix couch potato (like me) wanting to challenge themselves. I recommend taking it slowly and sauntering through the tree fern gully rather than bolting to the top. The sense of achievement you’ll get upon reaching the summit will be the same, whether you are a gung-ho climber or lounge lizard.
How: Train to Upper Ferntree Gully and walk to the Kokoda Track trailhead. (15-minute walk)
If you’re a beach bum, this is for you. A lunch break may be needed as the commute time to the park is lengthy, but the spectacular coastal views make up for it. On days when the break is just right, you may see keen surfers carrying their boards down the cliff face to surf Port Phillip heads. Check out Cheviot Beach where Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared. Explore the historical buildings or if you’re feeling energetic, hire a bike at the Information Centre and ride all the way to the Engine House for great views of the Heads. The bus ride back home is perfect for a nap.