Here’s 8 natural wonders near Melbourne that you should be on your must-visit list during your stay in the city.
From lush rainforests to spectacular rainforests, there’s no shortage of natural wonders near Melbourne. Best of all there are many ways to discover them – and they can all be done on our day tours from the city. Take a day trip to relax in natural thermal springs, stroll along pristine beaches, or see the natural spectacle that is the Penguin Parade.
Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
The 12 Apostles are famous limestone stacks along Australia’s southern coastline on the Great Ocean Road. A highlight of any visit to the famous Great Ocean Road, these rock formations need to be seen to be believed. They seemingly rise out of the Southern Ocean – some up to 45 metres tall. In reality, they were once part of the coastal cliffs. The wind and waves that this part of Australia is known for carved the cliffs into caves, then arches, and eventually battered them down to just tall columns.
The lookout is particularly spectacular at sunset, when the colours of the rocks change with the fading light and many different hues spread across the sky.
Loch Ard Gorge on the Great Ocean Road
Stepping foot into Loch Ard Gorge, it’s hard not to be in awe of the surrounding cliffs and secluded beach. But when you hear the tale of the Loch Ard Disaster, it adds a whole new layer of meaning to your visit.
The Loch Ard was a ship that set sail from the UK in 1878. After three months at sea the ship had reached Bass Strait and a now infamous stretch of the coast referred to as the Shipwreck Coast. After trouble navigating the rough waters, the Loch Ard wrecked on rocks adjacent to what is now called Mutton Bird Island. Of the 54 people on board the Loch Ard, only two survived the shipwreck.
These days the gorge is an incredible place to visit. The secluded beach is surrounded by high rock walls with caves and waves rolling in to the sand.
The Dandenong Ranges are home to Melbourne’s iconic steam train Puffing Billy. Ask any Melburnian about Puffing Billy and they’ll no doubt have a tale of riding the century-old steam train as a child. Climb aboard at Belgrave Station for a scenic journey through Melbourne’s magnificent Dandenong Ranges. Lush green rainforest and rolling hills await you in this beautiful area, just a short drive from the city.
The best way to enjoy the area is on a memorable journey aboard Puffing Billy through Sherbrooke Forest.
Phillip Island Penguins
Phillip Island is home to the worlds largest colony of Little Penguins. At Summerland Beach every evening after sunset, thousands of Little Penguins emerge from the ocean. you can watch as they waddle across the beach to their burrows in the sand dunes.
Just under a 2 hour trip from Melbourne, the Penguin Parade provides facilities for visitors to watch this natural spectacle without disturbing the Little Penguins or their natural environment. These amazing birds live on the land, but hunt for their food at sea. When they are hungry, they leave their burrows in the cover of darkness to head into the ocean. After one or multiple days at sea, with full bellies, they return to land. To avoid predators, they will wait for the sun to set before leaving the ocean and waddling across the sand.
This is a highlight of any visit to Phillip Island – standing on the boardwalks watching in wonder as the Little Penguins waddle home.
Squeaky Beach at Wilsons Promontory
Wilsons Promontory has many great beaches, the most popular of which is Squeaky Beach. The famous white sand is rounded grains of quartz – that actually do make a squeaking sound when you walk.
From the Squeaky Beach car park you can wander across and stream and through coastal scrub, to reach the beach. At either end of the beach there are boulders and rocky headlands.At the northern end there are large granite boulders with a maze of passages to explore in between. There is also a trail which takes you to the campground and kiosk at Tidal River. Keep an eye out for wallabies along this trail. They are generally quite shy and spooked easily, but it is not uncommon to see them in this area.
Squeaky Beach is a must-visit location at Wilsons Promontory, to take in the turquoise water, panoramic views, and walk across the sand to hear it squeak beneath your feet.
Hot Springs at Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is known as the playground of Melbourne’s rich and famous. It boasts idyllic beaches, historic seaside towns and incredible ocean views from many different lookout points. It is also home to the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs. This is the ultimate place to relax and rejuvenate during a trip to Melbourne.
In particular, Peninsula Hot Springs is the ultimate winter destination in Melbourne. When you step out of the cold and down into the hot mineral water pools – you’ll understand exactly why! Choose from more than 70 experiences including hot pools, reflexology walk, Turkish spa, massage showers and more.
The Nobbies and Seal Rocks at Phillip Island
The Nobbies are dome-shaped rock formations off the coast of Phillip Island. They provide an important home to the island’s Little Penguins. They can be viewed from the boardwalks at Point Grant and the Nobbies Visitor Centre. Viewing the Nobbies before sunset gives you fantastic views out to the Southern Ocean and across Western Port Bay.
Seal Rocks are flatter rocks further off the coast of Phillip Island. They are a home to Melbourne’s largest colony of Australian fur seals. They feed in the waters surrounding Phillip Island and can be found resting and sleeping on the rocks. At Point Grant there are binoculars along the boardwalk which can be used to spot the marine creatures out on Seal Rocks.
Otway Rainforest on the Great Ocean Road
There’s no better place to reconnect with nature than the Great Otway National Park.
Visit Maits Rest to Walk amongst tall eucalypt forests, and lush fern gullies in the Otway Rainforest. Discover rainforests and giant beech trees – some of which are up to 300 years old.
A drive along the Great Ocean Road lets you discover windswept coastlines and breathtaking waterfalls, alongside the rainforest. There are many different areas to view the rainforest. Each is a chance to breathe in the fresh air in an area rich in natural history.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator