There are so many great family-friendly hikes around Melbourne. The Greater Melbourne area offers a lot of walking opportunities and the chance to disappear from the urban world for a short time. The kids will be super excited about their outdoor adventure.
Most of these hikes are close to Melbourne, but for those an hour or so away, here are some ideas for keeping kids entertained in the car.
Here are seven of the best family-friendly hikes west of Melbourne.
1. Newport Lakes
Newport Lakes is a small slice of wilderness in the midst of urban Newport, and only about a five-minute drive from the Westgate Bridge.
The park is small enough that you won’t ever feel lost there but big enough that the urban world retreats as soon as you enter the park. Most people are surprised to find that such a wilderness area exists so close to Melbourne.
Venture around the paths that criss-cross the park and if you feel brave enough, cross the lake on the large stepping stones. The tracks are gravel and dirt and not suitable for a pram. So either take a backpack carrier for the really little ones or let the older kids run loose. You could do a walk of around 2km or join a few tracks and do a circuit of 4km or more.
There’s also an excellent picnic ground at the carpark off Mason Street with sheltered picnic tables, BBQs, a wide grassy area and a great kids’ playground. It’s a great place to relax after your walk and for the kids to play.
2. Brimbank Park
Nestled in Keilor and along the Maribyrnong River, Brimbank Park is another gem of a park that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of bush when you’re just a stone’s throw from urban streets.
The paths are sealed and suitable for a pram. However, there are two steep hills, on either side of the park, making a loop walk difficult with a pram. In fact, the hills are so steep and a few hundred metres in length so for safety, I’d avoid the hills with a pram.
There are plenty of facilities, including three separate picnic areas at each of the car parks with toilets, BBQs, covered picnic tables, plus it has a café should you want a coffee fix or a snack.
3. Serendip Sanctuary
This place is one of the west’s best kept secrets and a great place for a family adventure. In Lara, not far from Geelong, kids can get up close with wildlife and birds at Serendip Sanctuary. There are emus, wallabies, kangaroos, owls and a multitude of other birds you can watch from bird hides. It’s like a small native animal zoo.
The paths are gravel but there are many double gates to go through (to prevent the animals from escaping) so it’s not really pram friendly.
There are plenty of activities for the kids to do, from comparing their jumping prowess against a kangaroo to discovering life in a pond.
There are picnic tables and toilets near the carpark at the main entrance.
4. Werribee Gorge
Just north of Bacchus Marsh (a quaint but fast-growing country town worth a visit itself) lies the Werribee Gorge.
The Werribee Gorge Circuit walk from Meikles Picnic Ground is perfect for the older kids who want a bit more of a challenge while hiking. Take your little one in a backpack carrier. It’s definitely not pram-friendly. There might be some hairy moments while navigating the rocky section along the river and use the bolted on wire for stability.
For a younger family, you could try the Short Circuit Walk which is a lot easier and a lot less hairier!
Again, there are plenty of picnic tables and toilets at the Meikles Picnic Ground.
5. Long Forest
Near Melton and about 50km from Melbourne is a little-known slice of wilderness called Long Forest. There are four short walking tracks, from 1.5km return to 4km return, so you’re sure to find one to suit your family. For those with kids ready to tackle longer distances, you can join tracks to make a longer circuit walk. It’s really worth the trip out there.
There are picnic tables but no toilet facilities that we could find. Think of it as an opportunity to teach kids how to answer nature’s call in nature.
6. You Yangs
The You Yangs Regional Park is in Little River, not too far from Geelong. There are so many great walks you do in this park with a family, however, it’s not pram-friendly.
The East-West Walk is great fun and ideal for the adventurous child who likes to rock scramble. There are great views and all kinds of terrain to navigate around this walk.
The East-West Walk is a 4.5km circuit walk that starts at the Flinders Peak car park. There are BBQs, picnic tables and pit toilets. If the kids aren’t exhausted after that walk, tackle the 450 steps to the peak. It’s a 3.2km return walk and well worth the effort for the amazing views across Port Phillip.
Big Rock is an easier, flatter 3km return walk from the Park Office car park near the main entrance. You could tackle that one with a pram.
7. Cherry Lake
For a something more urban, Cherry Lake in Altona provides a contrast of industrial against parkland. One half of the lake has an industrial skyline, while the other half is sheltered by reeds and trees.
There is a sealed path around the lake, suitable for a pram. It is an easy 3.5km walk, not really what I’d describe as a hike. There’s a great playground, though not really suitable for toddlers. There are BBQs and picnic facilities and a lot of ducks and swans. There’s zero chance of getting lost.