If you’re a new international student – or even if you’ve been here for a while – it’s well worth exploring the parks and bushland that are part of the city you now call home.
Here are five great walks to get you started.
This 4.2km trail is one of the jewels of the vast Yarra Bend Park, which spans more than 260 hectares of the Melbourne landscape. Here, you can explore all kinds of native animal life, including platypi, grey-headed flying foxes and striped mask frogs, as well as a huge variety of Australian birds. The Dights Falls walk starts on Yarra Bend Road near the heritage-listed Kane’s Bridge, taking you through the beautiful Studley Park Boathouse Picnic Area past Galatea Point, known for its vast River Red Gum trees, through to Dights Falls and the Deep Rock Swimming Hole. Once you’re done, wander back to Abbotsford and stop at The Farm Café for a lunch of local, ethical and organic produce.
This popular walking and cycling trail runs from Broadmeadows to Abbotsford for 20-ish kilometres – but you don’t have to do it all! Check out a map of the walk online and pick the section that appeals to you – just follow the creek and you’ll be on your way. Although the trail meanders through Melbourne’s inner-city suburbs, you could see tortoises in the creek and native birds flying above you. If you’re walking in summer, pack your swimmers and plan a walk that ends near Coburg – you can go for a dip at the Coburg Swimming Pool and then jump on the tram to head home.
Please note: The creek can flood after heavy rains, so pay attention to warning signs and safety instructions. Never try to walk or cycle through floodwater.
Plenty Gorge Walk
There are lots of walks in and around Plenty Gorge, but this 6km track is a short and satisfying way to see all the best bits of this native bushland area. Clocking in at 1.5 hours, the walk starts and finishes at the Red Gum Picnic Area and loops its way around the Morang Wetlands and the Plenty Gorge Lake. Follow the walk markers and admire waterbirds like black swans and herons, as well as some of Australia’s most well-known wildlife, including Eastern Grey kangaroos and echidnas.
Beachside St Kilda is one of Melbourne’s most famous suburbs thanks to its seaside location. But what you might not know is that St Kilda’s architecture tells a fascinating story of the suburb’s history – specifically, its evolution from a working-class neighbourhood to one of the city’s most sought-after locations. And, with a self-guided walking tour, complete with audio narration from the Heritage Council Victoria, you can now experience that history for yourself. You’ll start and end on Acland Street, meandering through the suburb’s side streets to spot architectural landmarks like the Summerland Mansions and Alfred Square. The best bit? It’s free – all you need to do is jump onto the Heritage Council Victoria website to download the audio guide and map.
This beautiful walking track, which is officially named the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, dates back to the early 1900s. Located in the Dandenong Ranges, it’s a memorial for veterans of the Kokoda Trail campaign during World War II, and it’s also one of Melbourne’s most popular walks. Start at Ferntree Gully Picnic ground and follow the steep track for three kilometres through native trees, ferns and lush rainforest. Keep an eye out for stunning Australian bird life, including crimson rosellas, rainbow lorikeets and yellow-tailed black cockatoos, as you go. You’ll need to be reasonably fit to do it – it’s a three-kilometre loop but it’s pretty steep!
Australia is a stunning country, but when it’s time to get out in the great outdoors, it’s important to do it safely. Before you set off on a walk, pack plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen (even if it’s cloudy!), snacks and comfortable shoes. Read up on the walks and track conditions before you set out and choose a walk that’s a good match for your fitness level and experience.