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Nature on your Doorstep: A Guide to the Best Local Trails & Reserves

Nature on your Doorstep: A Guide to the Best Local Trails & Reserves

From wetlands and coastal woodlands to suburban nature reserves, the Greater Geelong region boasts world-class natural areas to explore. Whether it’s a scenic walk, family picnic or weekend thrill ride you’re after, there’s something for you. Keep reading to find out about some of our favourite outdoor escapes!

Barwon River Loop

A 12.7km trail, the Barwon River loop winds along Geelong’s outer suburbs, starting in Belmont. With toilet facilities along the way, and various places to stop and get coffee, the loop is a great option for both a short walk and coffee with a friend or a long morning run. Set amongst spectacular scenery, and spotted with grand Victorian villas and industrial heritage factories, the trail offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature whilst being exposed to Geelong’s rich history.

Barwon Valley Fun Park can be found on the southern side of the river, the perfect location for a family excursion. With a host of facilities including BBQs, picnic benches, fitness equipment, a basketball court and a playground, there is something for the whole family to enjoy.

Visit the link here to view a map of the trail.

Buckley Falls Walk 

Just off the Barwon River Loop, the Buckley Falls Walk is an easy 2.82km return trail. With plentiful birdlife and spots along the way to rest, it is a great option for those in need of a leisurely Sunday stroll. The lookout’s picturesque views of Bunyip Pool and the Old Paper Mill provides the perfect mid-walk stop, and the close proximity to the river offers the opportunity for some childlike fun rock-hopping and exploring.

Lake Connewarre Wildlife Reserve 

Located on the Bellarine Peninsula, approximately 8km south-east of Geelong, Lake Connewarre Wildlife Reserve is one of the state’s most notable wetland areas and among the largest estuaries in Victoria. Home to over 140 bird species and featuring a variety of swamps, marshes, lakes and river areas, the reserve is rich with unique flora and fauna.

There are various walking tracks throughout the reserve, with Taits Point Day Visitor Area a particular favourite. This beautiful spot has a designated picnic area and lookout featuring panoramic views of the water. There is even a small boat ramp suitable for canoeing and kayaking for the more adventurous among us.

For further information visit the Parks Victoria website.

Waurn Ponds Creek Trail 

Waurn Ponds Creek emerges from the slopes of Mt Moriac and travels eastward 20km through Geelong until joining the Barwon river around Belmont Common. A 14.3km out and back trail, the winding track passes through abundant parkland and nature. A relatively flat path, it is perfect for walking riding or running. There are various reserves along the way, including Brearley Park, a large open space reserved where dogs can roam off lead.

At the turning point of the trail you will find the picturesque Cobbin Farm chapel and surrounding gardens, a great spot to stop for a bite, or simply to take it all in. An unexpected escape in the heart of the suburbs, this trail is an easy go-to for a quick taste of nature.

Visit the link here to view a map of the trail.

Great Otways Ranges National Park 

The Great Otways Ranges National Park stretches from the world-famous Great Ocean Road up into the Otways hinterland. From windswept coastlines to breathtaking waterfalls among tall mountain forests, the park has everything.

Set in hills, the Otway Forest Park is particularly popular for trail walking and mountain biking. Riders of all skill levels are catered for, with over 60km of formed tracks. The 12km loop between the West Barwon Reservoir and Forrest Township is great for beginners and ends near the quant Forrest General Store. Stocked with great locally-made foodstuffs and fresh pies, sandwiches and sweet treats, it is a lovely place to drop in for a hard-earned reward.

Fern-laden valleys are home to a plethora of picture-perfect waterfalls including Erskine, Sheoak, Tripley, Hopetoun and Kalimna Falls. Each can be explored on foot. Erskine Falls is the shortest of the trails, a 1km journey up stairs to spectacular rewarding views. A longer option is the Canyon and Phantom falls trail, a 9.5km journey estimated at 3 hours. This path winds through the Canyon, passing through multiple waterfalls including Henderson and Phantom falls.

Another favourite is the Lake Elizabeth Loop. Created by a huge landslide in 1952, the lake you see today is a dammed portion of the East Barwon River. With old trees jutting out of the water, and a colony of shy platypus, the spot is popular with canoers as well as walkers.

Visit the Otways Walks and Waterfalls guide here.

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