We love being in Melbourne, but sometimes, it’s good to go for a drive and stretch our legs in the great outdoors. From ancient geological formations to lush forests, Victoria is full of captivating national parks that are rich in natural beauty and wildlife. And thankfully, there’s plenty of national parks to explore near Melbourne, so you can go on adventurous day trips or weekend getaways. We’ve narrowed our list to national parks that are roughly three hours or less from Melbourne CBD (sorry Grampians!) From majestic coastlines to snowy peaks, join us on a journey into the enchanting world of Victoria’s national parks.
1. Organ Pipes National Park
Head northwest of Melbourne and marvel at volcanic formations within Organ Pipes National Park. Take a steep walk down into a river valley, and see impressive basalt columns etched into a towering cliff face. These formations, which resemble organ pipes, were formed by cooling and cracking volcanic lava millions of years ago. After admiring the pipes, keep walking and check out Rosette Rock, an array of spiral-like basalt columns that resemble the spokes of a wheel. This national park is an easy 30 minute drive away from Melbourne CBD, and is great for walks and picnics. See more here.
📍Organ Pipes Rd, Keilor North VIC 3036
2. Dandenong Ranges National Park
Drive an hour away from Melbourne and lose yourself in lush forests at Dandenong Ranges National Park. Nestled within this picturesque area, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do, like the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, 1000 steps, Doongalla Homestead and more. Take a walk and admire waterfalls like Olinda Falls and Sherbrooke Falls, and keep an eye out for local wildlife like wallabies and echidnas. There’s plenty of picnic areas scattered throughout the park, so you can find a spot to graze and enjoy the tranquil scenery. You can drive to the park, but if you haven’t go a car, you can also hop on the Belgrave line, get off at Upper Ferntree Gully station, and walk the rest of the way to some parts of the national park. See more here.
📍School Rd, Tremont VIC 3786
3. Churchill National Park
Head to Melbourne’s southeast and discover plenty of native wildlife at Churchill National Park. This peaceful woodland area is home to a large population of Eastern grey kangaroos and Swamp wallabies. You’ll also find plenty of other animals, like echidnas, bats, frogs and snakes. This park also has over 150 species of birdlife, making it the perfect place to go birdwatching. Go for a stroll, or enjoy a nice picnic. Learn more here.
📍Churchill Park Drive, Rowville, VIC 3178
4. Kinglake National Park
Just over an hour’s drive away from Melbourne CBD lies Kinglake National Park. Located on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, this park is packed with walking and mountain bike trails. From the park, you can take in panoramic views of the city, Port Phillip Bay, the Yarra Valley and even the You Yangs. This park is home to 40 native mammal and 90 native bird species, so keep a look out for koalas, kangaroos, lyrebirds, rosellas and more. See the cascading Masons Falls, and stay overnight in The Gums camping area. Learn more here.
📍Masons Falls Rd, Kinglake West VIC 3757
5. Yarra Ranges National Park
Go on scenic drives, play in the snow and more at Yarra Ranges National Park. This vast park is located between Melbourne and the Victorian Alps. It includes the towns of Marysville, Healesville and Warburton, and has stunning spots like Mount Donna Buang, where you can see snow for free during winter. Travel along the iconic Black Spur Drive, and admire towering trees and valley views from Healesville to Narbethong. Or, go on foot, and walk through the Rainforest Gallery. Learn more here.
📍Lockwood Rd, Reefton VIC 3799
6. Mornington Peninsula National Park
Head south of Melbourne for about an hour and a half, and enjoy a beach escape at Mornington Peninsula National Park. Go surfing at the ocean beaches of Gunnamatta, Flinders, Portsea and Rye, or explore the rockpools at Sorrento Ocean Beach. If you’d rather stay dry, there’s plenty of walking tracks for you to explore. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the 26-km-long Two Bays Walking Trail, which takes you from Dromana to Cape Schanck. This national park also has heaps of picnic spots, and native wildlife like kangaroos. See more here.
📍Cape Schanck Rd, Cape Schanck VIC 3939
7. French Island National Park
Take a drive to Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula or Cowes in Phillip Island, and hop on a ferry to French Island. Get away from it all, and relax in the natural surrounds of French Island National Park. This idyllic destination is constantly shifting with the tides and seasons, with water shaping the shorelines, beaches, mangroves and wetlands. Within the woodlands and heathlands, you’ll find Victoria’s most significant koala population, as well as the critically endangered Eastern-barred bandicoot, and over 230 bird species. Go for a walk or explore the island on a bike. Explore the area by yourself, or take part in a guided experience with Naturaliste Tours. Cars aren’t permitted on French Island, unless you’re living on the island permanently. Take a day trip to the island, or stay overnight at Fairhaven Campground. Learn more here.
📍Takerton Rd, French Island VIC 3921
8. Great Otway National Park
This massive national park stretches west of Torquay to Princetown, and up towards Colac. This incredible space features plenty of lush rainforests and stunning coastlines. At Great Otway National Park, you’ll feel spoiled for choice with beaches, towering trees, dreamy waterfalls and dense fern gullies. Go on a treetop adventure and enjoy breathtaking views of the rainforest canopy. Embark on the 110-kilometre Great Ocean Walk, and watch the landscape unfold from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles. If that’s too extreme, there’s plenty of other, shorter walks for you to try. There’s so much to see and do, and you can get started here.
📍Great Ocean Road, Lorne, VIC 3232
9. Port Campbell National Park
Drive along the Great Ocean Road, and see plenty of stunning natural formations at Port Campbell National Park. There’s so many incredible sights to see, including London Bridge, the Grotto, Loch Ard Gorge and, of course, the Twelve Apostles. Go for walks along the coastline, and keep an eye out for wildlife like the adorable Little Penguins and migrating whales. See more here.
📍Great Ocean Rd, Port Campbell VIC 3269
10. Wilsons Promontory National Park
Discover the southernmost tip of mainland Australia at Wilsons Promontory National Park. Located around a three hours drive from Melbourne, The Prom stretches across 50,000 hectares, and is filled with coastal trails, lovely beaches and scenic views. Dip your toes in the water at places like Squeaky Beach and Norman Beach, climb to the summit of Mt Oberon, and see wildlife like wombats and seals. Embark on a cruise and explore the waters of the marine national park, taking in sights like Skull Rock. Stay overnight at a camping ground to maximise your adventure. See more here.
📍Wilsons Promontory National Park, VIC 3960