Victoria’s best family walks

Travelling Well | Jeremy Bourke | Posted on 23 April 2019

Five hikes with child-friendly appeal.

Taking a walk is a great way for families to stay connected and, besides the wellbeing and social benefits, a hike can also serve as an environmental and history lesson.

These five hikes have individual appeal, so choose one that suits your children’s energy levels and/or attention spans. None is more than several hours, the hills won’t kill your quads and there’s no bush-bashing.

Just heed the guidelines: Footwear that’s well worn in, sunscreen, plenty of water and snacks, and be ready for changes in weather. Walking times are conservative, allowing for looking, taking photos and absorbing the beauty.

Family at the You Yangs lookout

A lookout on the Flinders Peak path in the You Yangs takes in the 100-metre-wide Bunjil geoglyph. Image: Tourism Victoria


Point Nepean

Distance: Six kilometres return. 
Time: 90 minutes to two hours. 
Suits: School age.
Park at: Gunners Cottage. 

Point Nepean has a diverse history so there’s plenty to see, on land and at sea, from the calm of Port Phillip to the swell of Bass Strait. Watch everything from jet skis to container ships negotiate the tricky heads, and climb to Cheviot Hill and Monash Light for 360-degree views.

About 35 minutes’ drive from RACV’s Cape Schanck Resort, the area has abandoned forts and other defence installations: the first shot in World War I was fired from Fort Nepean. The walk is mostly on Coles Track with a few shallow hills but one section is on a sealed, vehicle-free road. 

Don’t miss: The memorial to Harold Holt, the prime minister who drowned at Cheviot Beach.

Find out more from Parks Victoria.

You Yangs

Distance: 7.7-kilometre loop/return. 
Time: Three hours. 
Suits: School age.
Park: Big Rock Picnic Ground.

This walk has lots of variety on a roughish undulating track that does a 4.5-kilometre circuit of Flinders Peak before you climb the peak on a 3.2-kilometre return switchback trail.

You’ve got unusual formations including a huge lookout rock, a large rock shelter, views across the western plains – most of the cone-shaped hills are (dormant) volcanoes – and the chance to sight lizards. The Flinders Peak ascent can be challenging for, say, under-eights, but the view is great.

Don’t miss: On the flat below the eastern path is the 100-metre-wide stone geoglyph of Bunjil, an eagle in the mythology of the Wathaurong people.

Find out more from Parks Victoria.

The Pinnacles at Phillip Island

The Pinnacles on Phillip Island. 


Pumping water at Argyle Spring, Daylesford

Pumping water at Argyle Spring, Daylesford. 


Kookaburra on a wire at Sherbrooke

A kookaburra at Sherbrooke. Images: Jeremy Bourke


Daylesford

Distance: Seven-kilometre loop. 
Time: Two to 2.5 hours. 
Suits: Ages 10-plus. 
Park: Tipperary Springs Picnic Ground. 

This hike is a good introduction to true bushwalking, as the landscape is so Australian, through eucalyptus forest crying out for a drink. So it’s ironic that it starts at Tipperary Springs, where a pump dispenses the renowned spritzy mineral water, so bring cups and bottles. 

You follow Sailors Creek at all times, although in summer and autumn it’s usually dry. At Bryces Flat take large stepping boulders across the creek to return to Tipperary Springs along the other bank. The track is narrow and rocky in parts, and sometimes drops away on one side. 

A short alternative for younger children is a one-hour return track from Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve to Argyle Spring. 

Don’t miss: Replenish calories with a treat from any of three bakeries in the block between the roundabouts in Vincent Street, Daylesford, then spend the night relaxing at RACV’s Goldfields Resort, about 30 kilometres away at Creswick. 

Find out more from Parks Victoria.

Cape Woolamai

Distance: Eight kilometres. 
Time: 3.5 to four hours. 
Suits: Ages seven-plus. 
Park: Woolamai Beach Surf Club. 

This loop around a spectacular cape on Phillip Island is a nature wonderland. Swamp wallabies abound, and if you don’t move too close or suddenly, you can watch them graze. It’s also a shearwater breeding ground – a million birds nest here September to May – and they return to the dunes at dusk. But there are plenty of tiny birds too, such as swallows and red-bellied parrots. And whales pass the cape in June and July. 

The Pinnacles is one of several spectacular rock formations, there’s a tiny ‘lighthouse’, and while the west side has waves that surfers adore, the eastern side is tranquil and incredibly blue. 

This trail, which makes a great day trip from RACV’s Inverloch Resort, starts along the Cape Woolamai surf beach before steps lead to a wide, even and gently undulating track. Some other sections are also sandy, such as the beach detour along Cleeland Bight. But never attempt this detour at high tide – retrace your steps to the last junction and return via the surf beach.  

Don’t miss: The old pink granite quarry at Cleeland Bight.  

Find out more about the Cape Woolamai Coastal Walk.

Bike riders on the Point Nepean bike path

Point Nepean has abandoned forts and other military installations. Image: Tourism Victoria


Sherbrooke Falls

Distance: 2.5 to three-kilometre loop. 
Time: One hour. 
Suits: Ages four-plus.
Park: Sherbrooke Picnic Ground, Sherbrooke Lodge Road.

This is a short dip into a cool Dandenongs forest. The shorter the child, the more they’ll be astounded at the soaring mountain ash, the tallest flowering plant on Earth. At eye level are beautiful ferns, gnarly trunks and huge logs to clamber on. Tiny birds dart about, and you may spot a friendly kookaburra.

There’s a network of paths, so follow Sherbrooke Track to link to O’Donohue Track and the falls. Then loop around to rejoin Sherbrooke Track to return to the car. Paths are wide and well groomed, and the only steps are to the bridge on either side of the falls.

Don’t miss: Lyrebirds scrubbing about, so go early before too many people are around.

Find out more about the Sherbrooke Falls walk.