Blue Mountains a perfect weekend escape or day trip from Sydney!
A weekend in the Blue Mountains will leave you relaxed, refreshed and re-energised for the week ahead. It’s the perfect romantic weekend getaway. The Blue Mountains lookout points, stunning scenery, waterfalls and walks are not to be missed. You’ll want to return every weekend to the Blue Mountains to discover more. The Sydneysiders’ secret nature playground is out!
The Blue Mountains is a national park with outstanding natural beauty and World Heritage status. For geology geeks, it’s good to know that the Blue Mountains is a mixture of all 3 rock types. Yes back to your school days to recall them. There are igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and landforms to gaze upon. The forces or uplift, erosion, weathering and even fire have all contributed to the stunning landscape that is the Blue Mountains.
Where are the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are an hour away from Sydney, along the M4, heading West. The Blue Mountains are located in New South Wales, Australia. It’s a vast area over 1000kms squared. You will pass Parramatta, the area where Sydney had the 2000 Olympic Games. The Blue Mountains is a national park and area of designated beauty. It is famous for The Three Sisters rock formation around the world. International and domestic tourists alike are drawn to the Blue Mountains for the stunning waterfalls, jaw dropping lookout points and hiking opportunities.
How to get to the Blue Mountains
The best way to explore independently is by car. Hire a car for the weekend directly from the airport. If you’re a Sydneysider, you’ll obviously be driving. The two main towns which everyone visits are Katoomba and Leura. If you have time, or on a return visit, you can’t miss out the walks from Springwood, Blackheath, Glenbrook and Lawson. These towns all have walks of their own.
You can join day, or 2 day tours too which will take you to the “Big Three” sights – The Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls and Leura Falls. You can also ride the scenic railway, valley cableway and the skyway (suspended cable car). Some tours stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park, where you can get your picture taken with a cute koala. Meet kangaroos, wombats and dingoes too! Tours are best if you can’t be bothered with the hassle of driving in a foreign country.
Best time to go to the Blue Mountains
If you’re a keen hiker, the best time to go to the Blue Mountains are Spring and Autumn. Winter and Summer are still good. However, optimum conditions to avoid sunstroke and hyperthermia (if you get lost, which has not been unheard of) are Spring and Summer, as a rough guide. Also, rain is a big dampener on mountain scenery, so sunny days are best for those blue sky shots!
The seasons in this part of Australia are:
Spring – September, October, November
Summer – December, January, February
Autumn/ Fall – March, April, May
Winter – June July, August
Your Saturday Blue Mountains Walk Wentworth Falls
Where to start: At the Wentworth Falls Picninc area car park. Here is the Jamison Lookout platform where you can get a rough idea of the walk ahead. Wentworth Falls is after the town of Bullaburra.
The Wentworth Falls walk was named after a famous explorer who basically wanted to discover if you could get through the mountains. William Charles Wentworth with two others, did it in 1813. Wentworth Falls are 867 metres above sea level.
The full circuit of going up and down the valley, in a loop, will take around 5 hours. This includes the Charles Darwin Walk, the Rocket Point lookout and Princes Point Lookout. This is quite hard work with lots of steep steps between lookout points. The rewards though are worth the sweat. The thing to note here is that there are loop walks within this walk. If, at anytime, you need to turn around you can.
You can get much closer to different parts of the falls on the loop trail.
So this walk can be as short as 1.5 hours if you wish. If you want more of a challenge or a workout in nature, we suggest the entire loop. This will take around 5 hours, depending on your fitness levels.
Bring plenty of water as you cannot drink the crystal clear water. On our walk we saw lots of people without water or sun protection. There are no water fountains installed on the Wentworth Falls Walk.
The Gundungurra people occupied this area for over 40,000 years before European ‘discovery’. The Blue Mountains is home to indigenous species such as kangaroos and koalas. These iconic creatures are hard to spot however. You’re better off going to the Grampiansmountain range in Victoria, to see kangaroos and even emus. You will see the Australian water dragon, pictured above catching the sun’s rays on warmer days.
Your Sunday Blue Mountains Walk Leura Falls
The full circuit will take around 3 hours , if you don’t start at Leura Falls Picninc Area. We started at the Bridal Veil Lookout point, which incorporates the Fern Bower Track. If you search for “best hikes Blue Mountains”, this one will surely come up! It can be difficult or moderate. You can even incorporate it into another walk, like the Gordon Falls walk.
Where to start the Easy Leura Cascades walk:
Go through the stone arch at the Leura Cascades picnic area. There is plenty of car parking. You start a set of stairs descending towards Leura Falls. This is really short and will take you about 5 minutes.
Gordon Falls lookout area is a popular spot with families. With its magnificent panoramic views, excellent birdwatching, space for the kids to play and bushwalks, who wouldn’t come here? This will explain why you might see more people when you get to this part of the walk.
From Gordon Falls, it will take you about 75 minutes, depending on your fitness level, to reach Leura Cascades. But from the picnic area it’s only 3 minutes!
Now if you’re super enthusiastic, on the drive back to Sydney, we really recommend the Clarinda Falls walk near Springwood. It will be absolutely deserted as most people do the Wentworth and Leura walks when they go to the Blue Mountains. Here you will definitely feel like you have stepped into the film set of Jurrassic Park. Massive ferns and boulders and dense foliage envelope you until you get to lovely clearings of refreshing mini falls. Don’t miss out!
The Clarinda Falls walk starts at Faulconbridge train station. It’s a bit confusing as you have to walk down a residential road called Sir Henrys Parade. Look for signs for Victory Track which will lead you down into bush land.
Once you have found the track, you can smell the earthy forest floor and ferns. Look down at your feet for the lovely green moss.
The Clarinda Falls Loop Walk will leave you feeling energised or exhausted! Have you been to the Blue Mountains near Sydney? Share your comments below.
Recently we returned to the Grampians National Park for a week of hiking, fresh air and nature sight seeing. It’s always a beautiful experience with a mix of dry eucalyptus forests, scrubby bushes, waterfalls, lakes and rainforests set amongst sandstone and granite rocks. There is an abundance of native wildlife. You will see many kangaroos and may see koalas, emus and vast range of marsupial and native animals. Below we share some of our favourite walks and photos as well as essential tips and advice, enjoy!
The Grampians national Park is a mountainous region in the state of Victoria. Fresh air, rivers, waterfalls, grey kangaroos at your door and stunning rock formations await.
Not only for outdoor adventures, such as rock climbing, the Grampians offers gourmet food and wine with a genuine friendly welcome. Gariwerd is the traditional name used by the indigenous peoples of the area. Gariwerd can be divided into North, South, East and West for hiking and tourist purposes.
Where are the Grampians?
The Grampians area is a national park area under 3 hours west from Melbourne. It is situated between Stawell and Horsham on the Western Highway and Dunkeld on the Glenelg Highway.
What’s there to see and do in the Grampians?
There are numerous peaks, hikes and waterfalls to conquer! It is the place to see kangaroos and wallabies and emus. We even saw some deer, which was a bit of a surprise. It has its own Grand Canyon! A growing foodie destination for wine. The Grampians region has the best indigenous rock art in Victoria.
Best Time to go to the Grampians
We went in Winter and we have to say, it was really good! Apart from the chilly starts, when the sun is shining and it’s not raining, Winter is a good time to go. Less tourists, often there were only about 5 other people on some of the more challenging hikes, such as Mount Rosea. Even the most popular Pinnacle walk wasn’t too bad in terms of foot traffic. You could even get a photo with no one else in the background along Silent Street. That won’t be happening in peak season! We don’t recommend going hiking in Summer, as there is no shelter as you clamber over ancient rocks. Plus you will have to carry a lot of water!
Here are the seasons in the Grampians area:
Spring – September, October, November
Summer – December, January, February
Autumn – March, April, May
Winter – June, July, August
Day 1 wonderful walks of the Grampians
We arrive on a Saturday afternoon at Halls Gap, after a fabulous lunch at a tiny town called Great Western, just 40 minutes from Halls Gap. The food was sensational and very much unexpected. Never judge a town by its cover!
We learn that the indigenous peoples of the area call it Budja Budja. There’s only time to do a quick walk after checking in at the Gariwerd Motel. This will be our base for the 7 days of great Grampians walks.
Venus Baths via Stony Creek Loop Walk
We choose the Halls Gap Botanical Gardens, the Venus Baths and the Clematis Falls Walk. It is Winter so we have to get back to paved road by 5.30pm.
Every walk is very well marked. The first port of call is Venus Baths. An easy walk for all ages. This is a loop walk.
You can get the 2.3kms done easily in half an hour each way, at the most leisurely of paces.
You can also come back via a different track on the opposite side of Stony Creek.
On the way back from Venus Baths, we stop to wander around the Botanic Gardens.
Day 2 of our Grampians walks adventures
Our first full day of walks of the day of walks for those National Geographic moments, starts with the Bullaces Glen and Chatauqua Peak walk. Don’t forget to cross the road carefully to get to Bullaces Glen. A medium grade walk with some rock scrambling. Hiking shoes recommended for grip. You can do it in running shoes/sneakers, but we find the ankle support of hiking boots much more comfortable.
After a lunch break we take on Splitters Falls. This walk involves a bit of rock scrambling. You can do it the easy way or the hard way.
Bullaces Glen – official time and distance depends on where you start – medium grade 1 hourish return
How to get there – Start at Halls Gap Road and follow the now familiar green signs. This is a pretty circular walk through a green fern covered glade that also has a small waterfall.
Clematis Falls – Official distance and time – 2.4 kms- 40 minutes to1 Hour easy grade walk
An easy walk from Halls Gap, that you can access from the recreation reserve. You may see emus or kangaroos along the way. The waterfall is best after a rainfall and a good place for a refreshing shower in the hotter months.
Chatauqua Peak – 5.6kms circuit medium grade Official time 2.5 hours.
This is one of the lesser known and less popular walks in the Grampians. Make the effort to go though as you get sweeping valley views near the peak. Don’t be fooled by Google Maps. If you put in Halls Gap to Chatauqua Peak, it says 29 minutes on foot! If it was flat, that is achievable but it is a steep climb up.
Where to start: This peak walk can be accessed after the Venus Baths or the Oval Car Park in Halls Gap. You can also take in Clematis Falls on the way up or on the way down.
There are some very difficult parts right near the peak, but, we agree with the official listing as medium.
Splitters Falls medium grade 2.7kms one way 1.5 hours each way
You guessed it named because the falls split! Getting there is quite the adventure, scrambling over rocks and walking through damp forest. At some points it looks as if you’re going to drop off the mountain, but don’t worry, you won’t.
Official grading – easy if you start from the Wonderland Car Park. It’s only 700 metres.
2.7kms one way – moderate grade which means medium.
Where to start: At the bottom of the Venus Baths there are some steps. Take these. If you want to cheat you can drive to the Wonderland car park, where it is then only a 700 metre stroll. Nah, we don’t do that, we have legs, they’re not painted on. Besides we have calories to burn.
It’s not as easy as the official website makes out. It isn’t difficult, but it isn’t a flat stroll through a, park! So take the steps up and you will arrive here (picture of J below).
At times you can’t really see if the rocks will take you to Splitters Falls. There wasn’t anyone else coming back either to ask. We just keep going!
Surely this trickle of water means we are not lost? Splitters Falls here we come!
It takes us about an hour and a half one way. We’re finally here, yay! Time for some photographs.
Day 3 exploring the Grampians on foot
Boronia Peak – officially graded medium – 2.5hrs return
A fabulous walk with magnificent views at the very top. A bit of vertigo for us! Very windy and suddenly cold at the top. Requires rock scrambling to the last part of the jagged peak. Breathtaking! (2.5 hours 6.6kms return official time) This was a medium grade track with some very steep parts. It took us about 3 hours, including time for photographs.
Where to start: You start the Boronia Peak Walk at Tandara Road. Just park on the street.
All the signs are one way. Make sure you factor this into your day. When going up to a peak, also remember that the change of terrain and altitude will increase your average walking speed, that you can do on a pavement/ sidewalk. We average 4-5 kms an hour in cities but on this walk there were parts where we averaged only 1km per hour, due to rock scrambling.
The path starts out as an easy pleasant stroll…. Don’t let that fool you for the hard work ahead!
The path gets increasingly more difficult as you ascend.
It’s onwards and upwards from this point. By now, you should be a bit sweaty!
We have walked about an hour and a half, scrambled over rocks and squeezed ourselves through ‘rock stairs’ walls. At times it might not look obvious where to go, but, as long as you’re still heading up hill, you know you’re on the right path!
Time for the panoramic view that everyone says is well worth the trek up.
Needless to say the way down, was much easier, with gravity helping us out. We complete the walk in about 3 hours. The official time is 2 hours 30 mins.
After a break for lunch, it was time for an easier afternoon drive and stroll to Mackenzie Falls.
Mackenzie Falls Walk 2kms return medium grade due to steep steps – 1.5 hours return
One of the most popular and accessible walks in the Grampians. Well developed with wheelchair access to 2 viewing points.
How to get there – By car from Halls Gap Road you drive up the winding roads to the Mackenzie Falls Car park. From there it’s an easy stroll to the viewing point which is wheelchair accessible. To get to the actual waterfall, you descend steep steps. This will take you about half an hour.
Day 4 of hiking the Grampians
The Pinnacle Lookout Walk – From the Wonderland Car Park – 2.1 kms official time 1.5 hrs one way
This walk is a steep medium to hard grade walk but with so much varied terrain. Possibly the most famous walk of all. Taking in 4 other Google maps sights, this has to be the walk to do, if you can only do one. On our walk we saw plenty of children, so it’s a good family hike. There are plenty of opportunities to take rests and the most popular parts have had stairs built into the rocks. This walk takes in 4 popular sites and if you can only do one walk, we recommend you do this one.
When you start this walk from the Wonderland Car Park, you immediately get the impressive Grand Canyon. This is Australia’s answer to the famous North American Grand Canyon. Since we haven’t been to the American Grand Canyon, this will do for now. It’s pretty cool, we think you’ll agree, for a smaller scale offering. Obviously, if you’ve been to the American Grand Canyon, you’re going to be a bit underwhelmed. But, for us, we think it’s fantastic.
This is a rock overhang that is easy to miss. About 30 minutes into the walk. It makes really good echoes. Watch your head if you’re tall. That ancient rock is hard!
Bridal Veil Falls
Best viewed after rain, to get the best effect. Just after the Cool Chamber, Bridal Veil Falls is refreshing on a hot day! You can stand under it to wash off the sweat in Summer. If you go in Summer to the Grampians, you can stand at the back, to get some much needed shade from the relentless Australian sun.
After Silent Street you’re almost at the peak. This is where you start to hear voices of other hikers coming down. It is still up hill, but the promise of a great view keeps you going.
Then you see it and hear it, the Pinnacles!!!
Before you leave there is a huge area to explore at the top of the Pinnacles Lookout. Grab a flat rock and have some lunch or do a balance walk that has now been discouraged for safety reasons.
Here is a closer look at The Needle nerves test. You don’t want to do this if it’s wet!
Before you leave for the trek back down, grab a bite to eat or get eaten by a rock!
Boroka Lookout 6kms one way on foot hard grade about 2 hours each way or 90metres from the car park
This picture of what you should see is from Quincy Lee (Qlee679) we contacted him for his permission from Flickr. It has been taken from the viewing platform. We think you’ll agree it is awesome!
You will definitely need your goat trekking legs for this walk. From the Venus Baths area it’s 6kms of tough going. The first 3kms seem “easy” but, don’t be fooled. As you climb, the terrain gets more and more difficult. On our walk it was misty and foggy the whole way, hence the lack of pictures. We could barely see our own hands at some points of the scramble.
Luckily this walk can be approached the easy way too. Drive to a car park and walk 90 metres.
The lookout area is fenced off, but it hasn’t deterred those Instagram people from taking selfies and getting others to take pictures of them on the dangerous ledge. The day we went was misty and foggy and we couldn’t see a thing!
If you look carefully at our Chataqua Peak walk pictures, you will see a very similar view. Bellfield Lake and the valley below.
The Balconies 2kms one way from A car park easy walk
Easy half hour walk (2kms one way) through flat forest and gigantic rocks from the Reed Lookout car park.
The Balconies used to be called the Jaws of Death. Either because they look like the jaws of a giant dinosaur, or, because people have actually died here. Whichever story you want to believe, it is a dramatic rock formation, which can be viewed safely from a viewing platform.
You can drive up Mount WIlliam Road and see the Jaws of Death from a viewing platform. You used to be able to go on there and take pictures, but, not anymore. If you see shots of this on Instagram, it’s because of illegal activity, old pictures or clever photography.
Before you get to the Balconies, there is a lovely flat walk across some very interesting terrain and really good views towards Lake Wartook. Park your car at the Reed Lookout car park and look for the signs. to The Balconies.
Silverband Falls 0.8km one way flat gravel path
This is an easy walk from the car park. In fact, this is the easiest walk we did. It was completely flat! Sing hallelujah!
Day 5 of our wonderful walks of the Grampians
Lake Bellfield Tunnel Walk – medium grade
A surprisingly beautiful walk with water views. From the name we thought you could go through some tunnels for the walk, but, no. You can see and hear a tunnel for water, but, you won’t be walking through it.
The walk starts near Pomonal, from the imaginatively named Tunnel Walk car park.
This is where you can start the walk. There are other alternatives if you want to go on further.
OK, head on up the steps and it is a gentle uphill walk for about 20 minutes.
As this walk is not very popular and we are out of season, we only see 5 other people. For most of the walk, we are on our own and free to imitate the bird noises and make silly echo sounds. We don’t expect this walk to be as beautiful as it is. The lake itself is on par with some of the best New Zealand lakes in terms of beauty. At this point the scenery looks very much like Magnetic Island, in the far north of Queensland. This is an island where we have also covered every major walk.
A fascinating glimpse into quarry life with rusting machinery and some original sandstone houses for the workers. We learn a lot about stone splitting and marvel how anyone could have lived out here in the wilderness. Ah, the good old days.
As you walk around the area you start to appreciate the hard work that goes into making your kitchen bench top!
There is even a little village, where the workers used to stay in “the bush”.
The walls are very thick sandstone. Wonder why they weren’t made of granite? Many of Melbourne City’s greatest buildings we discover have been made from granite from this quarry. Well fancy that, you live and learn!
There are information boards everywhere, painting a detailed picture of the working quarry.
Day 6 sore but soldiering on for our Grampians guide
Mount Rosea Official time 2 hours each way
Mount Rosea is 4.6 kms one way. It is medium to hard grade with a lot of rock scrambling and hard to see markers in places. The cardio workout of our dreams and totally worth it!
This walk is challengingly beautiful. Make sure you tell your accommodation or someone you’re doing this. People have had to be rescued on this walk.
Don’t be fooled by the gently sloping first 1.6kms through lush forest and ferns.
This took us 5 hours return and there is plenty of rock scrambling. It was by far the most challenging walk. We wish we had done this walk first, so all the other walks, would have seemed much easier.
After the beautiful messmate forest, you’re on a gradual ascent. 40 minutes later the terrain changes to sand! By now you have covered 1.3kms.
Well that doesn’t seem so bad. A good start. and the sun is shining. We still haven’t seen anyone else. There’s about 20 minutes of this type of terrain (see below) and then things start to change. Even though it’s fairly flat you still have to look out for these yellow markers. They will be invaluable as all rocks start to look the same!
20 minutes later the going gets tough, but still smiling.
Now the real rock scrambling begins and some of the rocks are like climbing apparatus in the gym! If ever you think hiking isn’t a good workout, come and do this walk. Our hearts are racing, our legs are aching and now we have to use our hands too!
At the 1 hour and 40 minutes minute mark we decide to stop for lunch. The lunch stop is a great time to marvel at the absolutely jaw dropping scenery enveloping us.
As you rest, it’s good to look out for natural markers. As you’re ascending it’s easy to think you’ll remember your route on the way down, but, those rocks, will all start blending in to each other! Take the time to photograph some natural markers and look at the time stamp.
Rested and rejuvenated, we hear some people coming up behind us! Hurrah, we are not alone! We like to look at their faces and see if they are panting and sweating too. Come on, you know you do that too, when you pass fellow hikers!
At the 2 hour point we almost give up. It’s been really hard and the rock scrambling is some of the toughest for a continuous 45 minute period.
We feel the oxygen deprivation and not seeing many people come down is not very uplifting. Finally we see 2 other hikers who tell us we’re nearly there about half an hour and the view is worth it. It had better be!
We remember our accommodation manager telling us to look out for the bridge and don’t look down, if you’re scared of heights. Well it’s a bit late now! We are glad to see the bridge because it means we’re on the right path.
J is brave and stops to take some scenery shots on the bridge.
Apparently we’re so close……
Apparently we’re really close!
It’s been an epic 2 and a half hours but we make it! We’re 1009 metres up and above the cloud line!
Like we said earlier, we wish we had done this walk first because it’s hard and it is the 6th day of non- stop hiking for us. It’s really windy at the top. For video footage of the views at the summit, go to our Instagram page.
Is it worth it? Hell yeah! Are we tired? Hell yeah! Doing another hike tomorow? Hell yeah! All we have to do now is find our way back down before it gets dark! See you at the bottom.
Day 7 We are victorious in Gariwerd- Grampians National Park
1.8kms one way uphill, quite steep. It should take 45 minutes to one hour each way.
To get to Mount William you need to drive to a car park called…..OK you got it, Mount WIlliam Car Park.
From here the road is fully paved but you cannot drive to the summit. It is quite a steep ascent and you should be at the top in 45 minutes. This walk offers splendid views of the mountain ranges from various angles.
Right where to next? We decide to drive one hour south and head to a famous bakery that apparently has the best sourdough bread. Well let’s see shall we?
After a very pleasant lunch with very good sourdough, a pie, some salad and some good coffee it’s time for another walk! We decide on a short one called un-politically correctly, The Picaninny. We’re not here to judge the names of the walks, we’re just there to walk them.
The Picaninny 2.4kms return 1 to 1.5 hours easy to medium grade
There’s no car park for this walk, you have to look out for the sign. Actually, later we discover there is a car park, but it is up a very steep hill and we don’t have an all terrain vehicle. We park at the bottom.
As you walk in the southern Grampians, you will see Mount Sturgeon towering above you, to your right. We’ll have to save that walk for a return visit. It looks pretty high up!
Fyans Creek Loop Walk 2.5kms easy grade
This walk starts where the Boronia Peak Walk starts as is effortlessly flat! This is the best place to see emu, wallabies and kangaroos. Not same same. Wallabies are like smaller kangaroos, so, OK, kind of similar!
That’s the end of our guide to some of the fantastic walks the northern Grampians has to offer. Time to go back to the big smog, but first, food!
Pomonal Estate Winery (see further below for pictures)- Well after a fabulous week of walking the Grampians, we need a good winery estate lunch, before heading back to the big smog. This place did not disappoint. Cosy, cute, good food and beer paddle tasting, what else can J want?
Grampians Estate winery – The Grampians area is fast becoming a destination for great wine. So when we see the sign for the not so imaginatively named Grampians Estate Winery, we have to stop for a sample or two. A lovely modern tasting room where you can also get lunch or light snacks.
Back to Melbourne we go!
Our Top Tips for walking in the Grampians
Do the hardest hike first, then everything else will seem easier. Looking back we wish we had done Mount Rosea first, because compared to that, Boronia Peak was easy! However having said that, you might get muscle soreness if you do the most difficult walk first.
Wear good shoes or boots if you’re serious about conquering peaks. The terrain is rough with small and large stones, sticking out everywhere to stub those toes and trip you up. Oh and don’t forget about those tree roots, that like to make their presence known too!
Layer up for the walks. On the same walk you can wear one layer at the start and pretend you’re sunbathing on a beach, 15 minutes later you need a hat, gloves and that insulated jacket (Winter hiking like we did).
Take snacks and lots of water. Take your rubbish with you. Wear a back pack/ rucksack for the rock scrambling, you’ll want to keep your hands free.
For Mount Rosea, tell someone. We met a couple who got lost and they told us it took them 7 hours to get back down instead of the 4 to 5 hours, it should take.
Get really good at spotting yellow triangles. You know that saying that “all rocks look the same”? Ok, there isn’t one, but, on some of the less travelled walks it is really confusing and there is no clearly marked trail of footprints to guide you. Keep your eyes peeled for the yellow triangles to guide you. Sometimes it is better to go higher and look back to see where they are.
Indigenous rock art in the Grampians
Indigenous rock art in the Gariwerd (the indigineous people’s name for the Grampians is plentiful and well preserved. The Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people have looked after their land for over 20,000 years.
We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. There are over 200 sites but only 5 are “open” to the public. Each site has been fenced off to protect them from vandalism, so, you can’t get too close and touch them, which is a good thing.
We followed this guide to see all the amazing ancient indigenous rock art.
The Billimina and Majna rock art sites
Inside the Wartook valley the Billimina Shelter can be found along The Goat walk. It’s quite difficult to get to due to the narrow and twisting roads. From the Buandik picnic and camping area, it should take about 15 minutes. It is a steady uphill walk. Drive on 10 mins from the Buandik picninc site and you can see the famous “hands” (manja – pronunced man-yar) rock art.
Bunjil Shelter – Stawell
Located in the Black Range scenic reserve the Bunjil Shelter is amazingly well preserved. This site is an easy walk from the car park.
The eastern grey kangaroos are everywhere. They come up to you in car parks, they wait patiently on the lawn and they hop around the grass lands, sometimes waiting to cross the road. These iconic Australian animals will be the most common sighting along with wallabies, their marsupial cousins.
Possums will make their presence known in the trees above you. A rarer sighting will be squirrel and feather tailed gliders. But, good news sugar gliders often jump between trees when dark.
Beware of the snakes!!!! Eeek – poisonous types are known to be in the Grampians – the red bellied black, brown, tiger and copperheads. These short fanged reptiles are not ones you want to boast on your Instagram profile! Luckily we didn’t see any.
We were surprised to see some deer in the forest foothills.
Unfortunately Australia’s most unique monotreme, the duck billed platypus will be a rare sighting near the rivers in the Grampians. You’re more likely to hear Pobblebonk frogs, especially after fresh rainfall.
Food and produce
There are plenty of wineries and some fantastic produce that only the clean air of the Grampians can produce. Before lunch we had to do a quick stop at the famous Seppelt winery. There’s no lunch here but a small cafe and a cheese platter option. They also do guided tours of their underground cellars. Book in advance.
The Toscana (not in Italy as the name may suggest!) olive plantation produces fantastic olives and award winning olive oils including extra virgin.
Red Rock Olives A family owned estate specialising in , yep, you got it, olives!
The Pomonal Estate is worth a visit. Offering beer and cider tastings in addition to home made cakes and cheese platters. How can you say no? Only open until 5pm, except on Fridays, the only dinner day. so make sure you book in for a lunch time slot.
Grampians Estate Winery – offers big and little snacks. Wine has been produced in the Grampians for over 150 years. Sweets and coffee in a very modern setting. Wine tastings are self guided. This winery is known for its Shiraz and sparkling wines.
Places to Eat in the Grampians
We tried a lot of eating places!
The Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel Dunkeld. A 2 hat restaurant with 3 digit figure prices. A kitchen garden and farm produce with an award winning chef. Degustation menu 190 with matching wines an additional 130. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 they were closed when we visited. There’s a cheaper version to the fine dining option. The Parker Street Project offers 3 course meals for a more reasonable price. It is now open though!
The Spirit of Punjab Indian restaurant – good Indian food, comfortable chairs. No pictures sorry. Very good value and nice and spicy!
The Views restaurant – rubbish – don’t bother- overly confident reviews on Google. NO atmosphere. Despite the food looking good here, the taste – meh! Overpriced too.
Rock, Paper Scissors brewery – Good cafe bistro meals.
Sen Vietnamese restaurant connected to Darcy’s restaurant and accommodation. Nothing to write home about. Not great, not awful. Good service and generous portions. Well priced food and alcohol. Not photo worthy we’re afraid.
Halls Gap Hotel Bistro – Good pub grub and good prices to match. Lovely roaring real log fires.
The old bakery Dunkeld – supposedly the best sourdough in the country!
Well, that’s it for our blog on some of the amazing walks you can do in the are near Halls Gap. Known as the northern Grampians, it is an area of outstanding natural beauty. There’s something for everyone here. Drawing visitors from around the world, we do hope we have inspired you to come down, lace up those boots and see some countryside just 3 hours drive from Victoria’s capital city, Melbourne.
Next time we’ll take on the South, East and West Grampians! It’s bye for now from The Grampians. Christina and Jason.
An easy walk that everyone will love! There’s lots to see and explore along the river. Lerderberg Grahams Dam Walk is just 3kms long and can be completed in under an hour. A quickie, but a goodie! Remote enough to escape the city with a lovely river and rock escarpment. This walk is uplifting and good for the soul.
Set near Melbourne’s’ orchard growing area of Bacchus Marsh, Lerderberg State Park has something for every hiker. There’s easy strolls, challenging and 3 day walks. All this variety just 1 hour and 10 minutes away from Melbourne. If you’re coming from the satellite city of Geelong, Lerderberg State Park is just 5 minutes longer, at 1 hour and 15 minutes driving time.
Check back later when we have completed the East Walk and Cowans Track Loop Walk, complete with European wasps and snakes! For now, we’ll stick to a child friendly walk.
What is there to see and Do on the Grahams Dam Lerderberg Park walk?
There is a river, which you will cross twice via some giant stepping stones. Hill top scenery overlooks the shimmering river and beautiful native forest, while traversing a sometimes rocky path.
The rocks in the area for keen geologists are composed of tillite, unformed glacial sediments from the Permian era. That’s really old! In addition to the tillite is glacial outwash sandstone and conglomerate. In essence you’re walking on millions of years old land!
The “bush” contains many plants native to Victoria. The yellow wattle is particularly beautiful. For a flora of Victoria guide, click here.
Where is the Grahams Dam walk?
The Grahams Dam walk is within the Lerderberg State Park. It is accessed by the flat picnic area called Mackenzie Flat Picnic area. You can’t miss the signs!
How long will the Grahams Dam walk take?
Under an hour’s return journey. Obviously, if you stop off for a swim and exploration at the shallow river bed, then longer.
Top Tips for the Grahams Dam walk
When to go: To see the river flowing and cross over the man made stepping stones, Winter and Spring are the best times to go. Otherwise it will be dry in Summer and Autumn.
Car Parks: You park at Mackenzies Flat Picnic Area car park.
There are picnic benches here and a big lawn area too.
Dog friendly: The park is dog friendly, but, unfortunately, this particular walk prohibits your canine friend. Sorry.
Provisions: If you’re planning on a swim in warm weather then a towel will be handy. You don’t really need water as the walk is under an hour, so, you can leave liquids in the car.
Sun protection: Take the usual precautions for the season and your skin type. Check the UV index on your phone.
Shoes: Hiking shoes are not necessary. You will get sand in your shoes, so if you choose to wear sandals, plan in advance. There are parts that you need to go steeply downhill, so shoes with grip are recommended. However, you can get by with running shoes like we did. We don’t recommend flip flops or thongs.
Mobile phone reception is very good to excellent.
Remember to check back soon, when we have completed other walks in the Lerderberg State Park.
Don’t forget if you have done this walk, we would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment in the section below.
Want a mildly challenging hike with spectacular coastal scenery, varied terrain, Australian native wildlife and plants?
Well, get those shoes on and let’s go walking on this amazing hike, just under 2 hours from Melbourne. Make it a day trip or take it easy and complete the walk over a weekend in regional Victoria.
What is there to see and Do on the George Bass Coastal Walk
There are spectacular views of the ocean and countryside on the George Bass coastal walk. There’s beach, hills, gravel paths, swathes of grassland and classic Australian “bush” foliage. Spring (September to November in Australia , Melbourne region) is a fabulous time to go and see the coast beard heath in flower. The blue tongue lizard and over 300 bird species are just some of the creatures you’ll see on your walk.
All of the walk is open and exposed to the elements. You’ll get sand in your shoes, stumble over rocks and walk on compacted gravel. In some parts you’ll feel like you’re walking through a scene of the film Gladiator. You know the part where Russell Crowe drags his hand along the grass!
Where is the George Bass coastal walk?
The George Bass coastal walk is a mere 1.5 hours drive (in good traffic) from the city of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, Australia. It is about 120 kilometres from Flinders Street Station in the city centre. So you can do this walk on a day trip!
How long will the George Bass coastal walk take?
This depends on your fitness levels and how much you like taking photographs. Average times say about 2 hours. We’re good walkers and we took 2 hours 50 minutes because we were faffing with cameras and someone called J along the route! If you’re doing this as part of your fitness routine, you’ll definitely do this in about 2 hours. If you’re not fit, then allow up to 4 hours each way. Let us know in the comments section, how long it takes you!
Top Tips for the George Bass coastal walk
When to go: As long as it’s dry, any season is good to go. Being a coastal walk it is almost always windy. Don’t bring your favourite floppy hat unless it’s really tight fitting. If you’re prepared to hold onto it constantly, by all means bring it. They do look good on all those photos we have to admit!
Difficulty of hiking trail: Mostly easy to moderate. It’s 7 – 8kms one way. The hiking trails offer something for everyone. Even young children can do most of the walk. There is meadow land, compacted gravel and sand on this walk. There are some short steep hills and it is close to cliff edges. Make sure you keep your children or dog away from the edges, especially on a very windy day.
Car Parks: You walk from one car park in Punchbowl Road, San Remo to the other one in Kilcunda. Or vice versa. There’s no charge to park in either car park. To access the one in Punchbowl Road you just turn on to the compacted gravel road. Be careful it is a two way road and narrow. The car park at Kilcunda is just off the fore shore.
Dog friendly: Keep your canine on a lead. The park allows dogs but to protect the sensitive native fauna and flora, they ask you to make sure your dog is kept under control.
Provisions: We recommend that you take half a litre of water per person, per hour, that you intend to walk, on a hot day.You might want some fruit and muesli bars for a walking lunch. There’s no cafe along the way for a half way break! There are also no bins so take your rubbish with you. Don’t bother with an umbrella, it will get broken. If there’s a chance of inclement weather, you’re better of wearing a waterproof jacket with a hood.
Sun protection: There’s hardly any shade on this walk. Don’t get caught out with the harsh Australian sun. Wear sunscreen and a hat. You might not feel like you’re getting burned, but sun burn is never a good look!
Shoes: Hiking shoes are not necessary. You will get sand in your shoes, so if you choose to wear sandals, plan in advance. There are parts that you need to go steeply downhill, so shoes with grip are recommended. However, you can get by with running shoes like we did. We don’t recommend flip flops or thongs.
Mobile phone reception is patchy on the George Bass coastal walk. Sometimes you get a signal, sometimes you don’t!
Flooding: There are some areas close to the beach walk section which can become waterlogged and ‘pools’ may be deeper than they seem.
Let’s get started along the stunning George Bass coastal walk! We started from the Punchbowl Road car park, in San Remo.
So, we leave the car in the Punchbowl Road car park. If we walk quickly enough we can be back in 5 hours! Doesn’t sound too hard!
We’re in high spirits as we trek along, with the beautiful blue ocean to our right and lush greenery on the left. The sweeping views are starting already and the blood is flowing.
You’re 45 minutes into the walk and you see signs for Half Moon Bay. So far the walking has been pretty easy on gently sloping grass paths.
In order to get down to the bay, there’s going to be a moderately steep descent. At the 1 hour 15 minutes point, the terrain changes to sand.
You have to back track the same way you came to leave Half Moon Bay. You cannot continue to skirt along the coast line. Keep walking and your next sandy beach awaits.
At times, after Half Moon Bay the route can get confusing. But continue to read and “she’ll be right”, see our Australian slang guide to understand what we mean! Our best advice is to keep the shore line in sight.
Along this part of the George Bass coastal walk there are some really cool ‘water holes’ or mini swimming pools. So as not to confuse things, Australians have named this part of the walk, you guessed it, Sandy Waterhole.
Remember, it’s not safe to swim in the ocean here. The rip tides are very dangerous and there are no life savers patrolling any part of this area.
Keep calm and carry on! The aptly named beach walk section is coming up next. After all the greenery of the rolling hills and dramatic cliff faces, comes the light yellow sand.
After the Beach Walk section, there’s more grassy path which leads you to a sign of colonial human impact on the landscape.
If you’re interested in reading more about the mine sites of Victoria, click here.
Just when you think the walk hasn’t been varied enough you see this on the approach to the Kilcunda foreshore and the end of the George Bass coastal walk. There’s this sight to behold. Crashing waves!
At Kilcunda, we congratulate ourselves and wonder do we have the energy to walk the return journey?
Looking back over the view, we give it some serious consideration.
But we decide against it. That’s for the next time!
Don’t forget if you have done this walk, we would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment in the section below.
Tasmania is famous for the Tasmanian devil, jaw dropping scenery and fantastic food.
The Tasmanian devil is a rather ugly looking marsupial. Unfortunately, it is now becoming rarer and rarer to see a Tasmanian Devil in the wild. Your best bet is to visit a conservation project.
Apart from the Tasmanian Devil, Tasmania is famous for food. The culinary delights of Tasmania stem from the fresh produce grown in pristine surroundings. It’s easy to find restaurants and cafes in stunning locations too. Tasmania is a foodie paradise.
Main land Australians and Tasmanians rate the cheese, salmon and beef in particular. There is a particular island that is even further than Tasmania, called King Island, where our favourite blue cheese is from. Fortunately, we don’t have to travel to Tasmania to get Roaring Forties cheese, it is widely available in all supermarkets and markets.
Tasmania is also famous for its rugged beauty. It has marvelous mountains and hills with lush green valleys and lakes. Think of trekking through pristine bushlands and ancient forests.
Crystal clear, freezing water and curved bays also fight for your attention. Spectacular views are waiting for you!
Where is Tasmania? Is it part of Australia?
Tasmania is part of Australia. There is a running joke that Tasmanians have two heads. We can confirm that they have one head. Tasmania is a separate state, not a separate country!
Best time to go to Tasmania
Tasmanian climate and weather
Tasmania has a temperate climate. It experiences 4 seasons. Tasmania’s weather is the opposite of northern Europe and northern America and Canada. When it’s Summer in Tasmania, it’s Winter in the northern hemisphere. When it’s Autumn in Tasmania, it’s Spring in the northern hemisphere. Tasmania is after all, ‘down under’ too.
Australians who live on the mainland, often joke that Tasmania is a separate country. The winters are milder than on the main land and the summers cooler. It rains a lot in Tasmania, which makes for lush green vegetation. The air is also much cleaner!
Right let’s get onto our unmissable 5 things to do in Tasmania list.
1 Trek the amazing Cradle Mountain Area
The walking tracks of Cradle Mountain are unmissable in our opinion. There’s something so peaceful and calming when you are surrounded by nature’s beauty. The shores of the lake are perfectly framed by the rugged hills. If you only trek one place in Tasmania, Cradle Mountain has to be on your list of 5 things you must do!
The walking paths are a mixture of boardwalks and off road trails.
Along some of the boardwalks you will see the cutest of marsupials, the wombat!
There are other walks to do in the Cradle Mountain area such as climbing the peak! But if you only do one, we recommend the Dove Lake Circuit.
2 Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay
Coming in at number 2, is trekking Freycinet National Park. You can cheat and go on a cruise from Coles Bay especially if you have come from Cradle Mountain! Or, you will have to do the hike to get that view. It’s a mere 5kms from Coles Bay!
For more information in general about the Freycinet area and a clearer map, click here.
3 Learn about life as a convict
Modern ‘white’ Australians are the descendants of convicts, soldiers and their families sent to Australia from England. There aren’t actually many people who can trace their ancestry back to the ‘First Fleet’ of convicts. It might be seen as a badge of honour nowadays if you could!
We went to two penal areas to see first hand the consequences of stealing food 200 years ago. Due to prison overpopulation in England it landed you on the other side of the world. The first ‘penal colony’ we went to is Sarah Island.
Sarah Island is all overgrown now with only ruins remaining.
Their package includes a rainforest walk and a boat cruise with lunch. Can’t say no to a bit of history, scenic views, a nature walk and food!
Another great place to soak up the atmosphere of life as a prisoner or soldier is Port Arthur. Port Arthur has a somewhat sobering more modern tragedy too. In 1996 a lone gun man went on a rampage and killed 35 people. An additional 23 people were wounded. After this terrible incident, gun laws were changed and now thankfully, it is extremely difficult for civilians to get any sort of fire arm. The National firearms Agreement has made Australia a safer place.
Port Arthur is now an open air museum. It has many fascinating and well preserved buildings. You can get a real taste of how harsh convict life was here.
People often forget that prisoners and guards lived side by side. In addition to this, food had to be grown and animals farmed for food. Today the grounds where apple orchards grow, the produce is used in the 1830 Restaurant and Bar.
Inside the buildings, you can see recreated cells, the governor’s house and many artefacts which have been preserved. Many people love trying on the chains and manacles (the keys are provided!). Port Arthur is a top tourist destination and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Mona stands for the Museum of Old and New Art. Even if you don’t like art galleries you’ll like this one! It is so unique. We’ve never been anywhere like it. There are some confronting exhibitions, so, best to check beforehand, especially if you have children! Most people who have been to Mona have positive reviews. The exhibitions constantly change and are fascinating. It’s a really weird mix of aesthetic art. You’ll be using immersive technologies in some of the exhibitions and there’s never a dull moment. Often in the warmer months, there is free music on the extensive grounds.
Mona is definitely a conversation starter. You’ll either love it or hate it. Be warned that a lot of the museum is underground. Also many of the exhibitions are in confined spaces, with low lighting or strobe lighting! There’s no middle ground. The owner, David Walsh, wants his museum to stand out and it will certainly stay in your mind.
Don’t listen to us, go and see for yourself!
5 Salamanca Markets Hobart
You must time your visit to include a trip to the famous Salamanca Market in Hobart. The market opens on a Saturday at 8.30 am and closes at 3pm. Don’t miss it. It is a foodies’ and craft paradise. Many stalls sell leather goods and you can even buy shoes. The market starts outside Parliament Square and ends outside the art gallery.
A whole street is cordoned off and it’s pedestrians only. You can slowly wander from stall to stall, tasting and touching various goods. If you’re after new clothes or shoes that don’t come from a chain, head on down. There’s also jewellery and souvenirs to browse through. Hand made natural health and beauty products which are vegan friendly can also be bought at the Salamanca market.
Getting to Tasmania
Good news, there’s only 2 options! You will be flying or coming by sea. There’s no bridge you can drive from the Australian mainland from! For us, even though our Melbourne base is only a 2 minute drive to the ferry port, it is sometimes cheaper to fly and then hire a car.
Getting around Tasmania
Your best option is to hire a car, or bring your car on the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ ferry from Melbourne. Public transport is not great outside the cities of Hobart, Launceston and Devonport. There are some limitations on narrow paths for camper vans and larger vehicles, such as mobile homes.
How long do I need?
You’ll probably want at least 10 days to cover the Only1invillage essential top 5 list. If you’re a hiker, you can easily spend 3-5 days in Cradle Mountain alone.
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne was established in 1846.
A haven of green foliage and exotic plants in the middle of a fast paced city. The Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne is free and a delight for young and old.
Taking a stroll in nature and then spreading out a picnic blanket, overlooking a lake is our idea of a great way to relax. Doing this in the heart of a city with over 4 and a half million inhabitants is still possible in the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne.
Spread over 89 acres the landscaped gardens are a must see attraction when visiting Melbourne. 1 million people visit the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne every year. Are you one of them?
The Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne are, you’ve guessed it, in Melbourne! They are a short walk from the CBD (central business district).
You can get here by tram, on foot, by bicycle or by car and taxi. Since we have a base in Melbourne, we always cycle or walk if we’re feeling energetic. If we have a picnic planned and need to bring food and drinks, we take the car and park just outside the gardens.
Parking is not free (except on Sundays), but the gardens themselves are. Melbourne has a parking system that must be read very carefully. Often there are time restrictions, such as a 2 hour maximum period. The closer you are to an attraction, the shorter time period you get to park. So, if you want to spend about 4 -5 hours in the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne, you will need to park further away from the entrance gates. There’s nothing worse than worrying about a parking fine!
The botanic gardens are of historical, scientific, social and architectural significance to the state of Victoria and Melbourne, in particular. There is an elm tree that has been growing since 1846. See if you can find it.
It’s just like going to Venice when you see the lake in the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne. OK, we’re just joking, but you can go for a gondola ride! OK, OK, it’s a boat, not a gondola. The lake is a central point and you can admire the views from outside seating areas or from the restaurant. Often you’ll see ducks, swans and other birds swimming and sometimes chilling on the edges, doing some people watching!
In the warmer months, you will often see a wedding ceremony near the lake.
The Rain Forest walk
This is a really cool walk that makes you think you’ve gone back in time to the Jurassic era! The rain forest walk is completely enclosed like a true rain forest. The trees are really tall and it has a humid feel to it, all year round. Ancient ferns are the main plants at ground level. A walkway has been introduced for easy access and for those with mobility issues.
If it all gets too much, you can now relax in a swinging seat. You’ll have to fight for it however, children seem to like it a lot!!!
The Herb Garden
You can easily miss this little pocket of delights if you don’t look for the signs. There are many types of herbs that you can rub gently and inhale. Our favourites are the pineapple and chocolate mint varieties. They really do smell of mint and pineapple and chocolate and mint. Don’t try and take a sample to grow yourself, there are huge fines for those caught stealing! Children will find the herb garden particularly fascinating. It is actually very educational for everyone as the little placards tell you the scientific names and uses of each herb. The herb garden is one of our favourite areas when we visit the botanical gardens.
Our top tip – If you love taking bee shots, like we do, the herb garden is the place where most of them hang out.
You will find rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint, chives, lemon verbena and much more. A couple of benches have been strategically placed to take in all the aromas!
A place for big kids as well as small kids. When you go through these gates after the sign, a wonderful, interactive world awaits. It’s a space for children to discover and explore the wonderful world of plants, including vegetables. There’s a water fountain that sprays upwards (perfect for hot days), various trails, possums hiding in the roof and a vegetable garden to explore. Many educational school trips spend part of an excursion in this area. Therefore, avoid going on a Monday or a Tuesday, during Victorian school term times.
When you’re feeling cold in Winter, pop into the glasshouse for a reminder of warmer climates! The glasshouse is small and you can go through it in 5 minutes. We particularly like the pitcher plants and the orchids. Whilst nothing like the amazing orchid gardens in Singapore, you get to see native Australian orchids and some plants from all over the world.
Guilfoyle’s volcano is the most recent addition to the Melbourne botanical gardens. Guilfoyle was a director of the botanic gardens in 1873. Originally created as a water reservoir it was dormant for 60 years before recent restoration.
At the ‘top’ of the volcano there is one information board we love standing in front of.
All things prickly and drought resistant live here. We’re not just talking about that man in the photo below!
Melbourne had a terrible drought in the last decade. Keen gardeners are encouraged to grow water saving plants such as cacti and succulents. Unsurprisingly, the cacti gardens came out of the drought unscathed.
Restaurants and Facilities
The gardens are used for concerts, plays, and movies under the stars! To find out what is going on at the gardens click here
There are plenty of toilets dotted around the gardens. They are well maintained. The biggest and best ones are just behind the building in the picture below.
There are two main places to grab a bite to eat. The more informal cafe Jardin Tan, focuses on the paddock (farm) to plate philosophy. You can get coffee here and ice cream as well as a full meal. The cuisine is from the Indo China area (modern Vietnam). Drool over crunchy coleslaw with prawns or get that authentic bahn-mi you miss from Vietnam.
Pho (pronounced ‘fur’) something more substantial, how does Flinders Island lamb shoulder, pickled vegetables, firecracker sauce and steamed buns sound? Er, hello, book us a spot online now!
If you happen to enter through Gate A of the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne, you will be closer to the Terrace. This is the place for clotted cream scones and high tea. You have to book well in advance for high tea. Also touted as Melbourne’s best kept secret for wedding and corporate events.
Breakfast is served from 9 to 11.30 am. We don’t have any breakfast pictures, sorry, we’re not up that early!!! Lunch is from 11.30 to 3 pm.
At certain times of the year, there is an electric mini bus for people with mobility issues. You can catch it just after the Herbarium. We hope you visit these magnificent gardens and love them as much as we do!
Magnificent Magnetic Island and all its attractions
You’ll be blown away by the many attractions of Magnetic Island. No pun intended! This is possibly Australia’s best kept secret for a tropical island. Easy to get to and offering a vast amount of natural beauty, we tell you what to see, when and where to go, on this stunning gem, Down Under.
Magnetic Island is located in North Eastern Australia. The closest big city is Townsville. It is a jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef. A clear favourite destination for Australians who live in the city of Townsville. Magnetic Island lures in international and local Aussies by the hundreds of thousands. Known as ‘Maggie’ to the locals in Australian Slang – once you go, you’ll want to go back for more!
Magnetic Island belongs traditionally to the Wulgurukaba people. In is called Yunbenun.
Is it really magnetic?
Well, the story goes that Captain Cook observed some ‘magnetic effect’ on his compass as he was sailing by. Scientists can’t agree if it has any more magnetic pull than any other island in Australia. What is clear, though, is that Magnetic Island has many attractions! You won’t be repelled or repulsed!
Things to do on Magnetic Island
Walking and Hiking on Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island is just full of beautiful walks and hiking trails. If you love hiking and getting rewarded with great views, you’re in luck. There are over many secluded bays and hills to discover. The natural scenery is just breathtaking. This is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful island. So, lace up those shoes and let’s get going!
The walks and trails on Magnetic Island range from seriously easy to fantastically difficult. There is no drinking water available, except at The Forts Walk, so you must carry all your supplies. Don’t get caught out! Remember to always tell someone where you’re going if you set out on a long hike.
Most walks you can do in hiking sandals or running shoes. You don’t really need hiking boots. Thongs or flip flops are not recommended as there is lots of uneven ground and rocks to stub your toes on. Also lots of the paths turn sandy, and it’s annoying getting sand and small stones under your feet. However, you can manage most walks wearing thongs or flip flops, if you don’t have any other shoes.
The walking tracks and hikes on Magnetic Island, offer splendid views. In addition, you’ll see native wildlife and the Australian Bush. Below we sort the walks into easy and moderate. Depending on your level of fitness you may find the moderate walks difficult.
There is also a paper version of this map, which has more up to date walks and a bit more information on what you’ll see, along the way. We refer to use the paper map and we did every single walk on it! You can pick up a copy of this map at the ferry terminal.
Easy Walks on Magnetic Island
Picnic Bay to WestPoint- 16kms return (5hrs)
This really is an easy walk on flat sealed road. This is labelled as walk number W3 on the paper map.
The road is not really picture worthy. It’s a black road with some trees and grass on either side. There’s no path, so when you hear the occasional car coming, move aside!
But, the beach is very beautiful, if isolated. We had a bit of an accident and dropped the phone on the way. We were not able to fix the phone to get our own shot of the beach.
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon- 200ms return (15mins) – official time according to somebody.
Labelled as W9 on the paper map above. We are glad to report it is easy and it only takes 15 minutes.
This is an easy one to miss! It is not very well signed at all. We went down the wrong road and it took us 40 minutes to realise we were going nowhere! Here is the correct way to go. As you walk along the road to Horseshoe Bay, go past the Koala Bay Village. Before you see this road sign,
Then you need to look out for two large rocks!
We turn left at Henry Lawson Street and walk until it becomes a sand path. Don’t do this, it’s the wrong way to the Lagoon Walk, off Horseshoe Bay Road!
On the boarwalk get your camera out for blue butterflies, blue kookaburras and a crocodile.
Depending on the season, the lagoon can look a bit dry.
Hawkings Point Track – 1.2kms return (1hr)
Labelled as walk number W2 on the paper map. This isn’t that easy if you’re not that mobile or agile as it starts with steep steps. Yes, it’s a short walk, but, it’s all up hill. When you get to the top of a huge granite boulder, you’re finished. The views are spectacular. You’ll be looking over Picnic Bay, Rocky Bay, Nelly Bay, Geoffrey Bay and even back towards Townsville!
Start the walk at the end of a residential street called Picnic Street in Picnic Bay.
We always seem to be walking when it’s hot and sunny! Magnetic Island has over 320 days of sunshine, so a cloudy day would be strange!
When you get back down, take a walk along the Picnic Bay Jetty you can see from the top of Hawkings Point Track.
Gabul Way – Nelly Bay to Arcadia 1.5kms return (0.5hour)
We are glad to report that this is an easy walk as advertised. It is a little misleading however as the walk starts after Geoffrey Bay, not Arcadia. This is the easier way to do it. There is an elevated walkway which runs alongside the busy road. It is flat if you start at Geoffrey Bay and gently rises as you progress. After you see a spectacular house on the corner on your left, it’s road only. Time to turn back.
Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay and Radical Bay- 3.2kms return (1.5hrs)
This walk is labelled W8 on the paper map and W7 on the electronic version. It is definitely labelled incorrectly. If you don’t carry water, don’t stop to take photos and don’t trip on rocks, then, sure, you can do this walk in 1.5 hours! We walked first to Balding and then Radical as suggested. It isn’t going to take you 1.5 hours, unless you’re a top mountain runner! Also you’ll want to cool off at the nudist beach at Balding Bay!
After a quick swim in the cold water, we feel refreshed to continue on to Radical Bay. You go back up the same steep steps and go past the ‘nude beach’ rock again.
The sand isn’t quite as yellow at Radical Bay, more a yellow/brown. There are also larger stones. Like most natural Australian beaches, there is little shade. If you’re going to make a day of Radical or Balding Bay, we recommend you bring a beach tent or umbrella. The water is cold and refreshing. As you can see in the picture, Radical Bay is quiet.
Unnamed walk – 1km – 30 mins
This walk doesn’t have a name. It starts at Picnic Bay. It is above the walk named W2 on the paper map. It’s a quick, steep walk with you guessed it, superb views over Rocky Bay.
Forts Walk- 4kms return (1.5hrs)
If you don’t stop to read the interesting placards and you never take a photo, you can do this walk in the advertised time. This is THE place to spot the koalas! We saw 9 on our walk and are happy to report, as far as reincarnation goes, we’re coming back as koalas. The cute fur balls sleep for over 20 hours a day! Now that’s a goal to aspire to! Just kidding, we would never travel far, if we slept that long.
Start the walk at the Forts car park. The one bus stops here. It’s quite a difficult walk not in distance, but in gradient. There are lots of steps too.
It is labelled as ‘moderate’ on the paper map and number W6. In our opinion, if you’re not fit, you’ll find this walk difficult. You can do this walk in 1.5 hours if you are fit and don’t stop. Otherwise, it’s more like 2 or 2.5 hours.
The walk starts on a flat path.
Keep going and keep your eyes peeled for the koalas.
When you can tear yourself away from the koala spotting, continue on your history lesson about Magnetic Island’s involvement in WWII.
When you get to the top of the ruins of the Forts complex, this is where the fabulous views start. Persevere to the top. The stunning views at the top are worth it.
Of course there’s also the ruins of buildings and the giant gun emplacement to see. There are no gun remains and there is an interesting story about where all the ammunition went after WWII.
Congratulations you have reached the top of the nerve centre of one of the forts! Stop to take in the fabulous views. Bring a few snacks and scramble up the rocks behind this picture to take a well deserved break. The way back to the car park will seem easier as it’s all downhill! Tick off walk number W6 on the paper map.
Nelly Bay to Arcadia- 5kms one way (1.5hrs) Grade moderate
This is walk number W4 on the paper map. It’s pretty steep in places. It starts with a steep hill climb and it keeps going.
This is the most deserted walk we did. We only saw 5 other people on this walk. You start this walk by going down Mandalay Avenue, a street with houses on it. It’s on the corner of the Scallywags Cafe. When you get to the end of the road you see the sign for the walk to Arcadia. You cannot do it in the advertised time unless you run – non-stop – all the way.
After an hour and half, we reach the half way point. We stop to catch our breath and admire the view. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water. There’s no where to fill up your water bottle on this walk.
There’s a few hopeful signs along the way as you sweat through. Thankfully now the path to Arcadia is down hill!
It takes a total of 3 hours for Only1invillage to complete this walk. Pfft to the 1.5 hours, who wrote that?
Tracks to Florence, Arthur and Radical Bays from the Forts car park
Arthur Bay-2km return (30mins) This is doable in 30 mins. Very steep non gravel road. Can get slippery if wet.
Florence Bay-3.6km return (1hr) This walk continue on from the walk above on the same unpaved road with massive pot holes.
Radical Bay-6km return (2hrs) This is accurate time. It starts downhill. Be prepared for the return up the steep road.
Searchlight Tower-3.7km return (1hr) You can do this walk in 1 hour.
Horseshoe Bay via Radical Bay-7.5km one way (2hrs) This is a realistic time for most people to walk one way.
Swimming, snorkelling and diving
The water is cold around Magnetic Island. It is definitely refreshing! It can be quite wavy at some of the beaches. The calmest beaches for swimming and ones with Surf Life Savers on patrol are Horseshoe Bay and Arcadia.
The clearest snorkelling spots are Arthur Bay, Florence Bay and the marked trail in front of the Base Backpackers. Geoffrey Bay is unbelievably murky and bordering on dangerous. You can barely see your own hand. At low tide, it is extremely difficult to get out past the sharp coral at Geoffrey Bay. We can’t comment on the snorkelling clarity in the Northern bays as these are only accessible by boat. If you’ve been to Maud, Norris or Joyce Bay, get in touch!
Native Australian wildlife and Flora
Magnetic Island is famous for its koalas! See the biggest group of koalas in the wild here! Boasting over 800 koalas in the wild, Magnetic Island is the place to see these cuddly fur balls. You can get really close to them and they don’t wake up! We saw 9 in one walk!
Magnetic Island Rock Wallabies – Feed the tame wallabies! These cute little relatives of kangaroos are best fed in Geoffrey Bay. You should not actually feed them, but, if you must, they like carrots and paw paw.
If you must feed them, please consult this list.
Endangered Curlews – These rather plain birds have the most interesting call. They sound like they’re screaming and whining, it can be quite off putting. Some people call it haunting. We call it downright weird!
Marine Life around Magnetic Island
The marine life, if you can see it, is not bad! It’s the murkiness of the water that you have to contend with. We don’t rate Magnetic Island as a top snorkel or dive destination. You are better off going to the Great Barrier Reef. However, for some free snorkelling, Florence Bay and Nelly Bay (the trail near Base Backpackers) are reasonable. The coral is a bit grey in colour and there are a few colourful fish to spot.
Some parts of Arthur Bay have some coloured staghorn coral. On the day we visit, there are a few bright fish around.
Magnetic Island Beaches
There are over 23 Magnetic Island beaches and bays to visit. Some are very easy to access, just off the main road. Other beaches are an hour’s hike on rugged paths. All Magnetic Island beaches are picturesque and rugged. Many of them are curved. The sand is generally a little course, although some have fine sand. Below we have photos of nine of the most popular Magnetic Island beaches.
Sand quality – rough yellow brown coarse sand. Water – not clear, but warm enough.
Alma Bay Beach in Arcadia
Picnic Bay Beach
This is the end of the line for the one bus. Or it can be the beginning of the line. All ferries used to drop passengers off here. This is the beach you can see from Hawkings Point Lookout.
Arthur Bay Beach
Florence Bay Beach
Located in between Gowrie Bay and Arthur Bay. Florence Bay is another beautiful curved beach on Magnetic Island for you to discover. This is a marine national park area. No fishing allowed. This is a good spot to go snorkelling, with some colourful reef. The water clarity is good.
Cockle Bay Beach
A very small beach that is often wet. There is a shipwreck to swim out to but is quite difficult to locate.
Nelly Bay doesn’t have a beach since it is the ferry terminal bay. Nelly Bay is more of a harbour. But, to the right of Nelly Bay is a huge strip of beach where turtles have been spotted.
When is the best time to Visit Magnetic Island?
Magnetic Island Weather
Magnetic Island has a dry tropical climate! With 320 days of sunshine per year, it seems it is always a good time to go to Maggie. As with all tropical places, Magnetic Island has a wet and a dry season. The biggest factor to consider for the best time to go to Magnetic Island is the jellyfish season.
As Australia is blessed with at least 60 deadly and toxic animals, you don’t want to be the tourist making the headlines! Stingers, or jellyfish, like to take a nibble on humans between November and April. Magnetic Island is not a great Christmas destination! The best time time to visit Magnetic Island is April to October. It is cooler but not much wetter, since it doesn’t rain much.
There are hardly any mosquitoes on Magnetic Island! C is always the first to get bitten by a mosquito, they just love her blood! On Maggie Island though, the biting is far less severe than other tropical places, we have visited.
How to get to Magnetic Island?
The Magnetic island ferry is the only way to get to Magnetic Island!
If you’re driving, you need to take a different ferry.
Inside the ferry, it’s nice and spacious. There are comfortable and clean seats in an air conditioned space inside.
The Sea Link Magnetic Island Ferry even runs on Christmas Day! It’s a smooth easy 20 minute cruise on a very comfortable catamaran. You can even bring your mountain bike! There are at least 12 crossings a day from Townsville and vice versa. Book online for a $4 discount.
What we love about the ferry to Magnetic Island – It’s easy to find the terminal. There are frequent trips across the water. The journey only takes twenty minutes. It’s a clean, modern ferry service. You’ll have free wi-fi onboard and at the ferry terminals, both in Townsville and Magnetic Island. A bus connects you at both terminals to all the major places of interest.
Top tip for tourists and Australians – buy the Entertainment book for Townsville. This gives you 25 per cent off the return ticket price for 4 adults. Also there are vouchers for 4 places to eat on Magnetic Island. In the Townsville section, there are over 100 discount vouchers for places like Reef HQ and the museum. Many dining establishments ranging from cafes to restaurants also honour the vouchers. You can even get an e copy of the Entertainment Book.
Getting around Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island car hire
You can hire a sedan, four by four or a special ‘topless’ car. Going topless is optional!
Many of the roads are un-passable off the bus route, so you may not need to hire a car. If you do want to get to the bays, we recommend a 4 by 4 as some of the pot holes are quite deep!
The bus – Route 250 by Sunbus
There’s only 1 bus that goes to all the major bays on Magnetic Island. The bus is crowded at times and there’s no space for luggage. Actually, one bus had a luggage crate, but otherwise, the bus driver will tell you to put your cases on the back steps of the bus. It only has regular seats. All seats face forwards in pairs. Click here for the one and only bus timetable.
You’ll never get lost on the bus, because it only goes 2 ways – to and from Picnic Bay to Horseshoe Bay. The only thing that may confuse people is at Arcadia Beach there is only one bus stop for both directions. At Arcadia Beach you will see on the bus timetable that the bus is labelled HB or PBJ. HB stands for Horseshoe Bay as the destination and PBJ for Picnic Bay (Jetty). The bus does a U turn to pick u up if it is coming from Horseshoe Bay!
You still stick you arm out at the bus stop to get the driver to stop. You can buy your single, one day or weekly ticket when you get on the bus. The bus runs every hour only, so make sure you get to the bus stop in advance. You don’t want to miss it.
Taxis and Uber
We spotted only 2 taxis! A shuttle bus type taxi that can seat 10 people and a Toyota Corolla.
Uber is operating apparently, but we could never get a car! There is a business opportunity in the making!
Where to stay on Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island accommodation
There is a wide range of accommodation on Magnetic Island. Serviced apartments, houses and hotel rooms. There are some bed and breakfast places, a few backpackers and airbnb to choose from. A lot of hotel rooms are privately owned in the GrandMercure Apartments in Nelly Bay. You will find many of these rooms advertised on Airbnb.
Magnetic Island is not a cheap destination. You don’t get bargain prices except at hostels like the Bungalow Bay Koala Village, in Horseshoe Bay. This is a YHA hostel. Prices for a dorm bed start at around 30 AUD. They also have private A frame bungalows, some with their own bathroom. The best thing about staying here is that you will see koalas every day! Non guests can pay to have ‘breakfast with the koalas’.
Clusters of places to stay are Horseshoe Bay, Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay and Arcadia. There are a few Airbnb options in West Point, a ‘remote’ part on the western side of Magnetic Island.
If you are travelling in a big group and need a whole house, at short notice, local estate agents will have a list of available properties. It’s still a good idea to book in advance though!!
The food on Magnetic Island
Unfortunately it’s quantity over quality on Magnetic Island. Portions are generous, but taste is not like you would find in the big city restaurants. There is one exception, the pub in Horseshoe Bay, which serves up a really decent braised beef cheeks and mash.
Noodies Mexican – Horseshoe Bay
Sandis on the Beach at Horseshoe Bay. Yes, we ate mostly at Horseshoe Bay, The seafood platter was OK, not great value at 80AUD. A restaurant serving Modern Australian fare. That means seafood dishes, pasta and steak.
Barefoot Art Food Wine at Horseshoe Bay was recommended by locals. The starters are impressive. The mains, unfortunately lacked taste. Great garden and balcony though, for scenic dining. Friendly service too.
Scallywags – Nelly Bay
Another recommendation that we do not recommend. Great friendly service but, sorry, the food was awful. The beefburgers were like frozen cheap patties that you might feed your dog. Maybe the breakfast is good, but, we went for dinner. It really is a case of quantity over quality. The burger is huge, but, the taste, yuk. They do have BYO (bring your own) and a bicycle you can use to go and get the booze from the supermarket, down the road.
Picnic Bay Hotel
This pub, hotel and bar is an all in one Australian classic. Recently refurbished with great views over Picnic Bay. They serve classic pub fare at good prices and an unbelievable special which we couldn’t bypass.
Naturally, being a pub, it’s open every day of the week! They also have a very large aquarium where you can find Nemo and Dory together! After a long day’s walking, it is a great pit stop and the bus stop is just outside too.
Learn 24 Australian Slang Words and phrases in our essential Survival Guide
You have finally landed in the land Down Under. You’re in Australia. Everyone speaks English, well sort of! You’re not alone if you don’t understand everyday spoken Australian slang. Fear not, we have put together a guide we think you’ll find useful.
Australians have a special kind of English, that takes some getting used to. Here Only1invillage helps you navigate the confusing speak of ‘Straya’. Australian slang is confusing at first, but, persevere and you will understand these humans. Take the quiz and see how well you score, Australians and visitors alike. Let your inner geek shine. You know you want to get all the answers right!
C is a born and bred Londoner. She thought ‘Staryian’ would be a breeze. After all, it’s just English with a different accent right? WRONG! It’s taken her a few years to understand the lingo. That’s the first word in our Australian slang quiz.
Only1inVillage Australian Slang guide starts here mate
1 – What does ‘lingo’ mean?
(A) a type of exotic fruit, a cross between a lemon and a mango
(B) a language
(C) a line that can move on its own
2 – How you going? What is the Australian slang speaker asking you?
(A) How are you?
(B) What type of transport are you using to get there?
(C) When are you leaving?
Answer : (A)
3 – Who, what or where is a ‘servo’?
(A) A waiter or waitress
(B) You say this when you want someone to bring you drinks
(C) A service station where you can buy fuel and possibly go to the toilet
How are you doing so far? Got them all correct? Here’s more!
4 – Someone says to you ‘She’ll be right’ Do they mean?
(A) Women are always right and know the answers
(B) She’ll be here soon
(C) Everything will be OK
5 – What, who or where is a ‘bogan’?
(A) Something green or yellow that you shouldn’t pick from your nose
(B) An uncouth or uncultured person
(C) A shortened word for toboggan?
6 – You’re in a moving vehicle on a road and someone says ‘Chuck a U-ey’ Do they mean?
(A) Make a U turn
(B) Throw up immediately
(C) Throw a horse shoe that you just happen to have with you
7 – Who, what or where is ‘a bloody ripper’?
(A) A person who tears things and produces blood while doing so
(B) An angry person
(C) Something amazing or awesome
8 – You’re in a pub and you hear ‘it’s your shout’ Does this mean?
(A) You have to shout now
(B) It’s your turn to buy all the drinks for your group
(C) You’re talking too loudly, speak more quietly
9 – You need to go to a ‘bottle-o’ What kind of place is this?
(A) A museum where you can see lots of bottles shaped like the letter O
(B) A shop that sells alcohol and soft drinks
(C) A therapist who will help you to un-bottle your emotions
10 – You’re deciding what to eat in Australia. A native suggests you go to ‘Maccas’ Where do you go?
(A) A Spanish themed restaurant where maracas are being played
(B) A small town west of Sydney
(C) The fast food restaurant McDonalds
11 – You heard an Australian English speaker say, ‘I gave him the bird’ Did this mean?
(A) I gave my mate a pet budgy (budgy – see question 12)
(B) I tried to be a match maker with a girl friend and a mate (mate- see question 13)
(C) I extended my middle (rude) finger in a gesture to show anger and annoyance
12 – You’re at an Australian beach, because Australia is blessed with lots of them. You hear someone say, great ‘budgy smugglers mate’ as a man walks by. You think to yourself,
(A) That man is a known criminal who illegally imports colourful birds to Australia
(B) The man is wearing tight swimming briefs that accentuate ‘the lump in the front’ in the shape of a cute bird that can be trained to mimic humans
13 – You hear the word ‘mate’ shouted at the airport, in the street, in cafes, on the beach, well everywhere you go! Are the Australian slang speakers telling you
(A) You’re a friend
(B) You should ‘go forth and multiply’ like animals on the Discovery Channel
(C) They are trying to say the word ‘might’ but can’t articulate it properly
14 – Your Australian slang speaking friend says, ‘Can you pick up some tinnies mate’? What do you do?
(A) Buy some beer packaged in aluminum cans
(B) Lift up some cans of food to show how strong you are
(C) Buy a random selection of tin cans
15 – A favourite one of C’s when discussing children’s behaviour. He or she ‘cracks the shits’ What is happening?
(A) A child is desperate to go to the toilet to do a number two
(B) A child is very angry or loses his or her temper
(C) A child is nervous
16 – You are invited to a barbie (see question 17) and the host says in Aussie slang, ‘Don’t forget to bring the snags’ You nod and take to the barbie,
(A) Some cigarettes, because you think snags are rhyming slang for fags, which is slang for cigarettes
(B) Some of your SNAGS (sensitive new age guys)
(C) Cylindrical shapes of processed meat, wrapped in a skin, commonly called sausages everywhere else in the world
17 – Someone asks you if you have a ‘barbie’ What do you possess?
(A) A plastic doll that has unrealistic female proportions and long blonde hair
(B) A barbecue
(C) A bar bell for keeping fit and strong
18 – ‘See you in the arvo, for the barbie and snags’ You nod and take your sausages to the barbecue,
(A) In the afternoon of your mate’s back garden
(B) You’re totally confused because you can’t go inside an avocado. You think you’re good at Australian slang and heard the word ‘avo’
19 – You are walking on a hot day and you hear ‘awesome thongs mate!’ Is the Australian slang speaker complimenting you on,
(A) Your great underwear choice, as you quickly think ‘Is my G-string showing?’
(B) That great kitchen utensil you use to grip and lift food instead of using your hands
(C) Your flip flops, a type of open toed sandal with no back strap, that you only wear when it’s hot. Australians even wear them in Winter. Yes, some parts of Australia have Winter!
20 – Someone gives you advice about going to a popular tourist attraction because ‘it’s in woop-woop’ What do they mean?
(A) It’s a place with an Aboriginal name
(B) It’s quite remote or far away
(C) You definitely should go because it will make you say ‘woop-woop’ because it’s so much fun
21 – The Australian slang term is ‘Did you get a root?’ What are they asking?
(A) Did you find a fast route home back to Bondi?
(B) Did you figure out the cause of the problem?
(C) Did you have sexual intercourse?
22 – Your mate asks if you can bring the esky to the barbie? What do you bring?
(A) A portable cooling box for your tinnies and snags
(B) Your pet dog which is a mongrel breed – half husky and half unknown
(C) A pair of skies
23 – Your Australian friend says, ‘Mate, it was chockers’ What do they mean?
(A) He or she just had an awesome hot chocolate down at the cafe as they’ve given up caffeine
(B) It was Chockers who did it, not me!
(C) It was really full or busy
24 – You are whinging (complaining) because you’re probably a POHM (a British person who is a Prisoner of her Majesty. But, actually, descendants of the First Fleet are the real prisoners’ descendants, but, never mind). Your Aussie mate calls you a ‘sook’. Are you?
(A) Sulking because things don’t always go your way
(B) Saying ‘I suck’ or I’m not good at that
(C) Being mistaken for a sock or is he/she asking you for a sock (preferably a pair)
Hopefully you are now confident to navigate the strange world of Strayian slang. Good onya mate! Ripper job for completing the quiz! Help y’self to a tinny, from the esky and grab a snag from the barbie. G’day, G’arvo and G’night from Only1invillage.
How did you go mate?
Did you answer mostly A, B or C?
What kind of person are you? (Disclaimer: these personality types are not based on scientific research)
Mostly A – Crafty Cricketer – When you’re not in the members only pavillion at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), you’re sipping rose at the Portsea Polo.
Mostly B – Beer Drinking Bogan – You love drinking VB (Victoria Bitter) beer, while driving around in your Holden V8. The window is always down even in Winter. Maccas is your restaurant of choice. You will however, never be seen dead wearing budgy smugglers at the beach.
Mostly C – Latte Loving Larrikin – You love your piccolo, never drink capuccino after dinner and know your sashimi from your sushi. You’re also not afraid to have a few beers with your quinoa! You’ll sometimes wear your thongs or sometimes go barefoot.
Now you have mastered Australian slang like an Aussie go forth and spread the word (s). Happy travels from Only1invillage!
Werribee Gorge is only 75 kms outside of Melbourne along the Western Freeway. It takes about 45 minutes to drive there. It’s a great Melbourne day trip which we love doing. City dwellers love Werribee Gorge as it’s a chance to do some ‘bushwalking’ and get some fresh air. If you’re basing yourself in Geelong, the drive is just over an hour. The nearest town is Bacchus Marsh, which is 8 kms away.
What is there to see at Werribee Gorge State Park?
There are spectacular views of the gorge and lookout points over the hills. There is good native vegetation featuring plants such as the white flowered Snowy Mint bush. Parts of the walk are open grassland and there’s even a mini beach! There are a variety of walks as well as some basic rock climbing available to everyone. There is also an abundance of native animals such as the black wallaby, snakes and wedge tailed eagles. Keep your eyes peeled as you go on this fantastic bush walk.
cenery constantly changes in Werribee Gorge State Park. Get out of the city and experience Melbourne’s mini ‘outback’.
When to go: As long as it’s dry, any season is good to go.
Difficulty of hiking trails: Easy to hard. The hiking trails offer something for everyone. Even young children can do some of the river walk as it’s pretty flat.
Car Parks: There are 3 car parks off Myers road.
The first car park is directly off Myers road as you come off the Western Freeway. There is limited car parking in the first car park, so just keep heading down the unsealed road if it’s full.
The second car park is the Quarry picnic parking area. This is the second parking lot and can be reached down the same road just further along from the first car park. It has picnic tables, toilets and water taps and quite a lot more parking than the first car park.
The third car park is at the Meikles point picnic area. To reach this car park you have to go down a narrow-unsealed road which can be quite challenging if a car is coming the other way. It also has picnic tables, toilets and water taps.
Provisions: We recommend that you take half a litre of water per person, per hour, that you intend to walk as well as some emergency rations.
Sun protection: Don’t get caught out with the harsh Australian sun. Wear sunscreen and a hat. You might not feel like you’re getting burned, but sun burn is never a good look!
Shoes: Hiking shoes are the best choice for most of these walks, as part of the walks are quite difficult and rocky and can be slippery as well. However, you can get by with running shoes if you have to.
Mobile phone reception is limited and unavailable through parts of the walks in Werribee Gorge.
Flooding: The gorge is subject to flooding during heavy rainfall, so it’s best visited outside of heavy rainfall. The path can also be quite slippery when wet so, it’s even more important to have hiking boots, if walking when wet.
The map above has been republished with permission from parks Victoria. It’s the best map of the available walks. It can be found with additional information at the Werribee gorge state park sitehere
3 km return 1-1.5 hours easy/medium grade .Start at Meikles point car park. Follow the river along an old aqueduct until you get to a rock face with a rope to climb around. At this point you turn around and go back if you only want to do the river walk. The path is narrow and mostly flat. Look to your left and you will see the amazing layers in the rocks. Note, there is no sign to tell you this is the point to turn around. If you continue it will be along the circuit walk and will add 2-3 hours to your return time. There are some swimming opportunities along the way.
The River Walk in Werribee Gorge is mostly flat.
3km return 1.5-2 hours medium grade. Start at Ironbark point car park off Inguston road. Some up hill trekking for a magnificent view over the gorge. Keep an eye out for wedge tailed eagles and hawks. This is also the only area where rock climbing is allowed according to Parks Victoria.
4 km return 2-2.5 hours medium/hard grade. Start at Quarry picnic parking area and follow the circuit walk until you see the sign for Centenary Walk. The climb up to the top is steep and the path is rough in spots. You will be rewarded with wild flowers and amazing views of the gorge. There’s some open woodland and a creek to spot some frogs.
Short Circuit Walk
5 km return 2-2.5 hours medium grade. Start at any of the three car parks. This follows the eastern part of the walk heading down to Meikles car park via the river after the Eastern viewpoint. Some steep parts but doable for families.
Long Circuit Walk
10 km return 3.5-4.5 hours medium/hard grade. Start at any of the three car parks. Lots of different terrain to cover on this circuit. Steep hills, rocky flat paths, sand and grassy banks. This long walk provides the best opportunities for spotting the native black wallaby. The scenery is constantly changing. There are many information boards detailing the rock, river and beach formations.
Want to know what types of rock you’re looking at in Werribee Gorge? There are many information boards along the walks giving great geological explanations.
Our Walk at Werribee Gorge
We did the river walk and the long circuit walk which includes half of the short circuit walk. We got a bit lost, but, hopefully you won’t!
We parked at the un-named car park, which is the first one you get to, if you follow the brown road signs. Get there early, especially on the weekends. It is very popular with city folk looking to escape the big smog. Werribee Gorge State Park is also popular with the fitness crowd. It’s a great place to spot the latest Lycra trends.
To start the River Walk from the top car park with no name, walk down this unpaved road.
Head down the unpaved road towards the named, Meikles Point picnic area. Watch out for cars as this is a shared pathway. When you arrive, make a U turn and walk directly along the river. This flat part goes for about 20 minutes. The gradient begins to change and you are now slowly going uphill. The path becomes quite narrow and the river is now on your left.
After the flat River Walk path ends, you’re quite high up. You are now looking down on the river below and get a great view of the colourful rocks.
When you get to this point and the path narrows, it’s the end of the easy River Walk.
The narrow path should take about 25 minutes. When you reach the climbing ropes, you have two choices. You can turn around and go back to the picnic area or continue. If you only plan on doing the River Walk, then turn back. If you choose to carry on, some challenging hills, change of terrain and river ropes await.
The river rope section is quite a fun challenge. You can’t see round the corner and don’t know how long you’ll be rock scrambling. In reality it’s only 5 minutes, but if you weren’t expecting it, it can seem like an eternity. If you’re not confident near water, the rope section can also be quite scary. We scramble over, thankful we’ve been doing lunges at the gym and working on our biceps! We carry on, oblivious to the fact that we’re now on the Long Circuit Walk.
Lionhead Beach is a welcome pit stop. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the cool water.
Just after the ropes, you see Lionhead Beach. This is a good rest point and a chance to dip your toes in the refreshing water. The information board tells you reasons behind the name and some native trees to look out for. At this point, you are 2 hours away from the top, unnamed car park. You are now walking on sand and it’s relatively flat and open terrain. We see some other people and they tell us we’re in for some ‘goat trekking’. We laugh outwardly and inwardly groan because we only brought 600 mls of water each and it’s a hot day. So be prepared, unlike us!
Fellow hikers warn us of the ‘goat trekking’ part of the walk. Guess we found it!
The rugged beauty of the open landscape compensates for the sweat dripping into your eyes, as you trudge on. We pass ‘unstable cliff’ signs and trip over large rocks sticking out. Fellow hikers encourage you to keep going with words like, ‘almost there’ and ‘only another hour’. We keep going, telling ourselves this short walk that turned into a long walk is doing us good. We’re being spontaneous! In reality, it’s too late to turn back, so we might as well continue. We started at 10:00 am and intended to be eating lunch at 1pm!
Half an hour later, we are rewarded with a spectacular view. It takes our minds off the snacks we didn’t bring.
The Eastern Viewpoint is a spectacular pit stop. This is typical Australian bush landscape.
We take our time posing and congratulating ourselves on the rock edge at the Eastern Viewpoint. The beautiful views taking in the gorge and the open forest below is a sight to behold. We snap a few shots for Instagram and move on.
At the top of one of the hills, we see our car in the car park. Spurred on with visions of smashed avocado and sourdough, we pick up the pace. Three and a half hours later, we arrive back where we started. We promise ourselves we’ll do it all again next week!
Australian bush at its best! Native flora and fauna. Don’t miss out. Go and explore Werribee Gorge State Park, it’s an easy Melbourne day trip.
We hope we have inspired you to go to Werribee Gorge State Park and do some hiking. It’s an easy day trip from Melbourne or Geelong. For a taste of the Australian bush, you really can’t go wrong in Werribee Gorge. Have you been? What are your views on the various walks? Do you have any tips for fellow travellers? We would love to hear from you.