sherbrooke forest bridge walk

Best Walks and Hikes for a Melbourne Day Out

Get A Dose of Nature and Recharge

As much as I love Melbourne (and I do love Melbourne!) I need some Zen just occasionally. I need to be a kid again and discover paths through the forest, streams, and waterfalls and just sit, sometimes, beside a lake watching the red, yellow, and orange foliage reflections in the water. It empties my head and makes me forget about my phone. You can’t do that in a city but you can do that all around Melbourne where raw, unspoiled natural beauty is always only ever an hour or two away by car, bus, or train. Here are the best walks and hikes for a Melbourne day out in the Yarra Ranges and Dandenong Ranges!

Get Lost in a Forest

Inside the Dandenong Ranges National Park is Sherbrooke Forest. The Sherbrooke Falls Walk leads away from the O’Donohue Picnic Ground. It is an easy and relaxing walk and arrives at some small waterfalls. Unless it has been raining heavily, the falls are really just the Sherbrooke Creek running over rocks and fallen trees, but scenic nonetheless. Being among the ferns and mountain ash trees (including shield trees) is a great experience.

Sherbrooke Creek, Sherbrooke Forest walk

Sherbrooke Falls Walk

  • Distance 2.4 km
  • Time 1hr recommended (but only 30 minutes at a moderate pace)
  • Grade: Easy to Moderate (bordering on Easy)

From Grant’s Picnic Ground in the Sherbrooke Forest there are a further three walks available:

Margaret Lester Forest Walk

This short walk has been paved and evenly graded for mobility-impaired nature walkers. Guides and specially designed wheelchairs are available.

  • Distance: 300m
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Grade: Easy
Shield_tree_sherbrooke_forest

This walk takes you through cool temperate rainforest gulleys with soaring eucalyptus trees. It has signs along the way pointing out the significance of the temperate climate rainforest.

  • Distance: 700m
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Grade: Easy-Moderate

Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk

This walk begins and ends at the Grant’s Picnic Ground and is long enough to have you dreaming about towering trees that night! Like the other walking trails, it can be a little slippery after rain. The walk follows five different tracks (Lyrebird, Neumann, Paddy, Welch, and Coles Ridge) but the paths are wide, signposted, and simple to follow without any fear of losing your way. Messmate stringybark and mountain ash trees dominate this walk.

  • Distance: 7.1 km
  • Time: 2 hour loop
  • Grade: Medium-Difficult

Walk, Picnic and Paddleboat at Emerald Lake Park

Emerald_Lake_Park_bridge

My favourite place in the whole of the Dandenongs and Yarra Ranges is Emerald Lake Park! It’s where I go to think, to walk and to hike. It’s how I get close to nature in the most convenient way possible! This wonderful park is 52 hectares in size and encloses the Treganowan and Nobelius lakes. Here are just some of the things that make the Park one of the best walks and hikes for a Melbourne day out:

  • 10 km (6.2 miles) of walking trails of different grades of difficulty
  • Two lakes with adjoining picnic grounds
  • Two children’s playgrounds
  • Fishing for rainbow trout
  • Paddleboating on Lake Treganowan
  • Puffing Billy Railway Station
Puffing_Billy_Station_Emerald_Park

There’s much more to do at Emerald Lake Park including a range of seasonal events including music. But this is a post about the best walks and hikes for a Melbourne day out! Here are the seven walks you can take, preferably as the foliage is changing colour. Look out for kookaburras on your walks:

Link Track

  • Distance: 250m (0.15 miles)
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Grade: Moderate-Difficult (short, steep)

Lake Nobelius Loop Track

  • Distance: 1.2 km (0.7 miles) (loop)
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Grade: Easy

Pine Track

  • [Distance: 1 km (0.6 miles)
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Grade: Easy-Moderate

Wishing Well Track

  • Distance: 700m (0.4 miles)
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Grade: Easy-Moderate

Fern Gully Track

  • Distance: 700m (0.4 miles)
  • ime: 15 minutes
  • Grade: Difficult (steep in sections)
Emerald_Park_walks

Nobelius Track

  • Distance: 1.4 km (0.9 miles)
  • Time: 20 minutes
  •  Grade: Moderate (one steep section)

Emerald-Cockatoo Multi-use Trail (part)

  • Distance: 1 km (0.6 miles) (within the Park)
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Grade: Easy-Moderate

Hike The 1000 Steps

For a complete guide to the 1000 Steps Walk in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, see my post: 1000 Steps Dandenong Walk

view up 1000 steps walk dandenongs

Silly me, I thought this would be fun! My partner had been for a 9 km run that morning. He bounded up the 1000 steps of this memorial to the Australian soldiers for fought in Papua New Guinea and built the Kokoda trail. “Leave me,” I gasped heroically. Off he strode. Eventually, he came back to find me. Then he bounded back up the steps again. He could have done it all day.

We passed couples setting out to run up the stairs and I met some lovely women as we sucked in lungfuls of air at way stations. “It’s not far now,” they would wheeze at me in encouragement as I slurped on my water bottle.

My advice: don’t try and keep up with your partner if he/she is super cardio fit and you’re not! Just enjoy the walk, take it slow and arrive at the summit feeling calm (and only mildly out of breath!)

As you might have guessed, this is more of a hike than a walk. Following a spring in a fern gully, you arrive at almost 800 steps that take you up 290 meters in 2.5 kilometers. The Walk recreates a section of the Kokoda Track and is lined with plaques to soldiers.

The walk is in astonishingly beautiful bushland but it is easily accessed from Melbourne (an 800 meter walk from Upper Ferntree Gully station) and is extremely popular on weekends.

1000 steps walk dandenongs

The 1000 Steps begin at the Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground, under the Kokoda Memorial Archway. It is only 38 km (23 miles) from central Melbourne.

Ready to recharge on a Melbourne Day Out? Get directions and further information below and hit the office on Monday morning feeling strangely calm…

How to Get to the Best Walks and Hikes for a Melbourne Day Out

Sherbrooke Forest

  • To drive to Sherbrooke Forest, Grant’s Picnic Ground, Monbulk, follow the M1 and Wellington Road to Napoleon Road in Rowville. Then take Glenfern Road to the Burwood Highway/C412 in Tecoma. Take the Monbulk Road/C404 to Coles Ridge Track and continue to Grant’s Picnic Ground.
  • Alternatively, take the M3 from Melbourne to Burwood Highway/State Route 26 in Wantirna. Take the State Route 26/Burwood Highway exit from the M3. Continue on the Burwood Highway to Grant’s Picnic Ground.
  • To get there by train, catch the train on the Belgrave line from Melbourne (Southern Cross Station) to Belgrave train station. From the station, it is a  walk to Grant’s Picnic Ground. Alternatively, catch the 663 Lilydale bus for two stops (five minutes) to the Kallista Community Centre and then walk for 400m (about six minutes).

Emerald Park

  • To drive to Emerald Lake Park from central Melbourne, take either the M3 (56 km) or M1 (66 km) freeways. Follow either the M1 or the M3 to Wellington Road then onto Emerald Lake Road in Emerald. Continue for 4 minutes or 1.8km to reach the park. Car parking costs $6 and is charged regardless of how long you stay at the park.
  • To get there by train, catch the train on the Belgrave line from Melbourne (Southern Cross Station) to Belgrave train station. Walk to the nearby Puffing Billy station and get the steam train to the Emerald Lake Park station.
  • To get there by train and bus, catch the train on the Belgrave line from Melbourne (Southern Cross Station) to Belgrave train station. At the station catch the Number 695 Belgrave to Gembrook bus and walk down Emerald Lake Road to the park.

1000 Steps Walk

  • To drive to the 1000 Steps Carpark, take either the M1 (39 km) or M3 freeway (42 km) from central Melbourne. Follow the M1 to Ferntree Gully Rd/State Route 22 in Glen Waverley. Take exit 11 from M1 and continue until you reach the car park in Tremont. Alternatively, follow the M3 to Burwood Hwy/State Route 26 in Wantirna. Take the State Route 26/Burwood Hwy exit from M3 and continue until you reach the car park in Tremont.
  • To get to there by train, take a train from the city to the Upper Ferntree Gully Train Station (about an hour from Flinders Street Station) and walk 1 km to the 1000 Steps Carpark and the beginning of the 1000 Steps Walk.

Links and Further Information

Sherbrooke Forest

  • Grants Picnic Ground, Sherbrooke Forest, 70 Monbulk Road, Kallista, VIC 3791
  • phone: 131 963
  • Download and print a Map of the Sherbrooke Forest including the Sherbrooke, O’Donohue, and Grants Picnic Areas here

Emerald Lake Park

  • Emerald Lake Park, Emerald Lake Rd, Emerald VIC 3782
  • phone: 1300 131 683
  • www.cardinai.vic.giv.au/elp/
  • Download and print a Map of the Emerald Lake Park Walking Trails here
  • Buy a fishing permit for the Lake here

1000 Steps Walk

  • 1000 Steps Carpark, Dandenong Ranges National Park, Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road, Ferny Creek, Victoria 3786
  • phone: 131 963
  • website here
  • Download and print a Map of the 1000 Steps Walk here
  • For 5 great reasons to visit the village of Gembrook in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, see my blog post here
  • Millionaire’s Walk is another fantastic walk close to Melbourne that showcases the beauty of the Mornington Peninsula but is an easy walk: Millionaire’s Walk: Portsea Mansions on Port Phillip Bay
  • The other part of Melbourne environs for great walks is the other side of Melbourne’s coastline: the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles. Get my Great Ocean Road Holiday Complete Planning Guide here. Where to Stay on your Great Ocean Road Holiday? See my Ultimate Guide to Great Ocean Road Accommodation here for where to stay on your trip, and check out these itineraries from one day to one week here: Great Ocean Road Itinerary.
  • For other wonderful destination information when you are planning your Australian holiday, see my Australia destinations page here
  • More detailed information on how to book transport, airfares, accommodation, and travel insurance is available on my Travel Resources page.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, share it with your friends now and pin it for later! I’d love to hear about your experience of walking and hiking around Melbourne, so leave me a comment!

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melbourne walks sherbrooke forest walk

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