Whether you’re looking to have a dip at the local beach or waterhole, or just looking for a quiet spot to enjoy the natural surrounds, check out our top 10 places to enjoy Melbourne by the water.
Is there a more recognisable Melbourne beach than Brighton Beach [Brighton Beach, Victoria Street, Brighton]? Dotted along its coastline are more than 80 historic and colourful bathing boxes, that have become Melbourne icons and some seriously pricey real estate. Each of the bathing boxes is painted in a bright, fun design so picking out your favourite might prove more challenging than you first think. Take a stroll along the water’s edge or ride along the palm tree-lined bike paths. With beautiful gardens and open lawns, it won’t matter if you’re spending a day or just going for an evening stroll to the pier, everyone will enjoy their time by the bay.
Top Tip: Catch one of the best views of Melbourne’s city skyline from the gardens at Green Point.
Image credit: facebook.com/Humansinmelb
The section of the Yarra that flows through the leafy township of Warrandyte is just a minute’s walk from the bespoke shops and cafes of the area. Grab a coffee and wander down to the banks of the Yarra River in Warrandyte [Pound Bend Road, Warrandyte] — a local favourite come summertime. Let the picturesque walking trails that hug the riverbank lead you to hidden sanctuaries where you can enjoy a picnic, a book or just some quiet time with a view of one of the cleanest stretches of the Yarra. Take a dip at one of many popular waterholes in the area such as Laughing Waters, Jumping Creek Reserve, Pound Bend or the Island. Take your blow-up lilo and some sunscreen and float down the river at your own leisure.
Has your dog been pacing at the front door, itching to be taken out for a walk? Ruffey Lake Park [99 Victoria Street, Doncaster East] is a perfect spot to go and let the dog stretch its legs, and for you to get yours moving too. With its mixture of on- and off-lead areas, enjoy the picturesque park with man’s best friend. If it’s the kids that are under your feet, take them down to one of the three playgrounds surrounding the lake, that feature swings, slides, flying foxes, sand play, bridges and a majestic tower to climb. Another highlight of Ruffey Lake Park is its extensive network of wetlands and boardwalks which offer impressive views of the lake and surrounding neighbourhoods.
The ideal spot to drop a line and (hopefully) catch a fish, Yan Yean Reservoir [Recreation Rd, Yan Yean] is home to Melbourne oldest dam wall. There are plenty of walking trails through the reserve that are perfect for walking the dog or, having a wander along the dam wall and enjoying the panoramic views of the park and reservoir. You can even bring the family along and have lunch in the picnic area while the kid’s imaginations run wild in the playground. To put it simply, Yan Yean is a great spot to relax with family and friends, kick a footy or have a game of family cricket, surrounded by wetlands and abundant birdlife.
There‘s nothing quite like walking along the beach on a warm evening, running your toes through the sand, and unwinding while simply enjoying your surroundings. Williamstown Beach [Between Thompson Street and Bayview Street] offers bay views through to the city and is surrounded by some trendy cafes and restaurants so it’s an ideal place to get some beach time in while enjoying a bite to eat. It’s also a great spot to take your nearest and dearest or that friend that you have been meaning to catch up with over the last few months.
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from the city you’ll find a picnic spot that’s so tranquil, you’ll think you’re much further from the big smoke. Escape the hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature on one of the many walking trails at Yarra Bend Park [Yarra Bend Road, Fairfield]. Pass babbling brooks and native wildlife on Dights Falls Loop Trail, dotted with viewing platforms and lookouts that are ideal for bird watching and gazing at waterfalls. Feeling inspired to get into the garden? Pop into the Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Co-operative found inside the park, a community-run nursery specialising in producing and educating school groups and the general public about the environment and native Australian plants.
If you’re from Melbourne’s west, make Cherry Lake [Millers Road, Altona] in Altona a part of your new daily routine. With great walking tracks and park facilities, it’s an ideal spot to take the family and friends for an Aussie barbecue. With a 2.3-kilometre walking circuit and a bike riding trail, it’s a great spot to take the kids the kids their dose of outdoor fun. Get in your daily exercise and walk past interesting and natural salt marsh habitats and wild bird life; you might even spot the odd geese or two.
A wild and untouched natural landscape, Werribee Gorge [Myers Road, Pentland Hills] consistently attracts passionate bushwalkers and adrenaline-seeking rock climbers, to its awe-inspiring natural gorge. Werribee Gorge has a wide range of bushwalking walking tracks ranging in difficulty, from medium to hard. Take the River Walk which is just over an hour return and make your way along the river to find secluded waterholes. Or, if you’re up for a challenge, take the Circuit Walk or Falcons Lookout walking tracks and scale up to the ridge of the gorge. Here you’ll find incredible panoramic views across the gorge as well as the neighbouring farmland.
Blackburn Lake Sanctuary [Central Road, Blackburn] is a hidden suburban sanctuary, buzzing with an abundance of wildlife and community spirit. As one of the last remaining natural waterways in the area, locals continue to work together to maintain the ecosystem that is vital to this local environment. Its visitor centre plays host to various community programs, right on the doorstep of the lake. Here, the focus is on environmental and sustainability education for local schools and community groups.
Frankston Beach [Long Island Drive, Frankston] is an oasis of colourful beach boxes and bright personalities, located just under an hour from the city. Set yourself up for a day at the beach, and enjoy the day paddling about in shallow, crystal clear water. Frankston beach is also a great spot for families — the kids can build sandcastles with their bucket and spades or play beach cricket on the sandbanks. In this suburb you’ll also find Sand Sculpting Australia, so be sure to keep an eye out for their next big creation.