Victoria, Australia’s smallest mainland state, similar in size to the United Kingdom or half of California, is blessed with more diverse bushwalks than any other state or territory. And that’s not just a deliberate inflammation of Victoria’s traditional rivalry with neighboring New South Wales, and between their capitals, by a life-long Victorian. Bushwalking Victoria is hard to beat.
Wedged into Australia’s southeast corner, Victoria has 1900km of coastline, the western reach of which is called the Shipwreck Coast. Between that rugged shore and the Murray River, which marks the NSW border (to the north) and meets the sea in South Australia, are assorted landscapes in which you can lose yourself on foot – figuratively only, please – for hours or days.
Victoria’s top-shelf hiking destinations are the Grampians, razor-tooth ranges rising from the volcanic western plains; Wilsons Promontory, affectionately called “The Prom”; and the High Country. But bushwalking opportunities begin, rather than end, with this trio.
Wait for the snow to melt, then climb Victoria’s tallest peak, Mt Bogong, and spend a night camped among snow gums. Or hike from Mt Hotham to Falls Creek, neighbouring ski resorts, traversing wildflower-embroidered alpine moors beneath expansive sky.
Now cross Victoria and embark on a short pedestrian adventure for all ages to the top of Hollow Mountain in the north of the Grampians. While you’re out that way, delve into Victoria’s volcanic history on a loop around a crater lake and through a collapsed lava tunnel at Mt Eccles, in the far southwest.
The most scenic route from there back to Melbourne, the state capital, is the Great Ocean Road, where you could tread the length of the Great Ocean Walk or sample it on a stunning day hike from Aire River to Johanna Beach.
Victoria’s colourful and extraordinarily rich gold mining history is writ large across its heart, a scenic drive north of the coast. During the 19th century gold rushes, miners made long journeys on foot – few could afford a cart – between the goldfields at Ballarat, Castlemaine and Bendigo. Experience a little of this time walking the multi-day Goldfields Track, remembering to check the odd rock for the precious metal that has driven humans to deeds great and base for millennia.
Driving almost as far from Melbourne as you can without leaving the state lands you in the semi-arid northwest Mallee region. An easy loop walk in Hattah-Kulkyne National Park introduces you to the fascinating but unforgiving domain of river red gums and the mound-building Mallee fowl.
And there’s no better way to finish a bushwalking tour of Victoria than treading the standalone Cathedral Range, an easier drive northeast of Melbourne. Mountain walking doesn’t get more thrilling than Razorback Ridge.
Want more? Explore the whole state on foot with my book Top Walks in Victoria, which describes and maps 67 hikes long and short.
Check out my other state-by-state itineraries which include lots of specific walks:
For a general introduction to bushwalking Down Under, please see my ‘Bushwalking in Australia: everything you need to know.’