Now more than ever, people’s feet are itchy, thumbs green, and Melbourne’s metro green spaces are hubs for outdoor activity and solace in our natural environment. Whether it is a picnic, forest bathing, biking, strolling or reading setting you’re after, these top 10 outdoor gems have you covered.
- Yarra Bend Park
Yarra Bend Park is Melbourne’s largest natural bushland park just 4km east of the CBD. Enjoy the leafy grounds and abundant wildlife while strolling or biking its many trails. Catch sunrise or sunset with beautiful views out to the city skyline. Hire a canoe at historic Studley Park Boathouse, paddle upstream, and spot flying foxes. Explore the wild river escarpments, open woodlands, formal parklands and sports fields that make up Yarra Bend Park. Stop by the iconic Dights Fall – the closest thing to a waterfall to the CBD. Yarra Bend Road, Fairfield, VIC
- Merri Creek Trail
The Merri Creek Trail is 21 kilometres long and starts from Mahoney’s Road in Broadmeadows proceeding to Dights Falls Reserve in Abbotsford. The trail follows the creek, along the way it passes Coburg Lake Reserve, the Brunswick Velodrome, Cable Suspension Bridge and CERES Community Environment Park where fresh produce and coffee can be picked up for a picnic.
- Lysterfield Park
Lysterfield Park is an unexpected oasis about 45 minutes south of the CBD, offering a range of recreational activities. The Lysterfield Park Mountain Bike Trails and the State Mountain Bike course offers 20 kilometres of trails catering for riders of all ages and ability. Lysterfield Lake is very popular for canoeing, sailing, paddle boating and surf skiing. The area is also a haven for wildlife spotting (mainly kangaroos and wallabies) plus 140 different species of birds. Logan Park Road, Lysterfield South, VIC
- The Solar System Trail
Navigate the Solar System Trail from the sun to the outer planets by following the bike and walking trail on the City of Port Phillip’s foreshore. In 2008 artists and scientists constructed a model of our solar system, to a scale of one to one billion. The full trail is 5.9km from the Sun in St Kilda to planet Pluto at Sandridge Beach in Port Melbourne, which equates to the actual 5.9 billion kilometres.
- Woodlands Historic Park
Woodland Historic Park provides a fascinating glimpse of the landscapes and wildlife seen by European settlers in the 1840s. The park has a 150-year old homestead, Indigenous canoe trees, native woodland and grassland. Wander through the fenced ‘Back Paddock’ and see kangaroos, birds and other wildlife. In the Spring, a sea of purple wildflowers make for very Instagrammable moments. Somerton Road, Greenvale, VIC
- Herring Island
Herring Island may be one Melbourne’s best kept secrets. Accessible only by boat, 3.2 hectares in size and just three kilometres from the city. Herring Island is the only substantial island in the Yarra River. Stroll through the sculpture park which has site-specific works from international and local artists. Yarra River, South Yarra, VIC
- Plenty Gorge Park
Plenty Gorge Park offers a wide range of natural and cultural experiences only 20 km from Melbourne, where the spectacular gorge sets a backdrop for stunning landscape views and the abundant native wildlife are always on show. The 2km loop walk circles the Blue Lake, named for its turquoise colour at certain times of the year. Gorge Road, South Morang, VIC
- Westerfolds Park
Watch adrenaline junkies tackle the rapids at Westerfolds Park from the observation deck (Lower Templestowe). This peaceful walk passes the old Westerfolds Manor, woodlands and shrub land. Take in the ancient Red Gums, as well as kangaroos and wombats who often graze in the open areas in the morning.
- Organ Pipes
Twenty kilometres north-west of Melbourne’s business area is an impressive rock formation called the Organ Pipes. Formed by cooling and cracking volcanic lava, the organ pipes look just like their name suggests, towering above the river below. A short walk away see the Rosetta Stone that looks like the spokes of a wheel, a Tessellated pavement and fossils over four million years old. Great for social gatherings, the park also has picnic spots and easy walking tracks. Organ Pipes Road, Keilor North, VIC
- Capital City Trail
The Capital City Trail links some of the best cultural, entertainment, sporting and outdoor recreation opportunities that Melbourne has to offer. Starting at the vibrant entertainment hub of Southbank, it winds along the grassy banks of the Yarra River past the Victorian Arts Centre, Royal Botanic Gardens, the MCG and Melbourne Park, and the elegant grandeur of historic Como House. It’s a flat 29.6 kilometre loop that provides a great way of exploring Melbourne by bike. Make the most of the trail by allowing plenty of time to stop at your favourite attractions or picnic in leafy gardens or on a tranquil riverbank.
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