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Best Coastal National Parks in Victoria

The coast of Victoria is bursting with natural abundance, lined with numerous national parks dedicated to preserving its ecological beauty. The Great Ocean Walk follows some of Victoria’s most spectacular scenery from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles. This epic 104-kilometre trail passes through two of Victoria’s coastal national parks – the Great Otway National Park and the Port Campbell National Park.

The team at Walk 91 know this trail like the back of our hand and we specialise in self-guided Great Ocean Walk tours. However, there are plenty more coastal parks in Victoria to explore. In this guide, we break down the best coastal national parks in Victoria for surfing, camping, hiking, and more. If you want to find out more about our Great Ocean Walk tours, feel free to contact us.

Great Otway National Park

The first 50 kilometres of the Great Ocean Walk journeys through the Great Otway National Park. Spanning over 250,000 acres, this park covers an incredible diversity of terrain, including dense forests and rugged coastline. While Great Otway is, of course, popular for hiking, it’s also a prime surfing destination. Apollo Bay and Johanna Bay offer up some of the best waves along the Great Ocean Walk!

In the hinterland, you’ll encounter enchanting eucalypts and waterfalls. Head to the Otway Ranges to find colossal California Redwoods, or even zipline through the tree tops at the Otway Fly — one of the best things to do in the Otways.

Among the woodlands of the Forrest section of the Otways, you’ll enjoy excellent conditions for horse riding and mountain bike riding. There are plenty of camping spots in the Great Otway National Park, and if you want to see the glow worms of Melba Gully it’s a good idea to stay the night!

If you want to experience the Great Otways without doing the entire Great Ocean Walk, you can join our popular Great Ocean Walk 3 Day Hiking The Cape Tour, journeying from Apollo Bay to Castle Cove.

Port Campbell National Park

Port Campbell National Park is home to the Twelve Apostles, making it one of the most scenic and famed parks in Australia. It also marks the end of the Great Ocean Walk – seeing these magnificent rock stacks will only heighten your sense of accomplishment.

While called the Twelve Apostles, there are in fact only seven of these formations. There were once nine, but two of the rock stacks have collapsed, brought down by the same waves that eroded them over thousands of years

You can walk down to a section of beach in Port Campbell using Gibson’s Steps. If the tide is low, you’ll be able to see one of the rock stacks rising impressively out of the ocean, even more enormous at eye level. Just be prepared to walk the 89 steps back up! Other natural attractions include the Loch Ard Gorge and the Grotto, a beautiful rock formation.

You can experience this section of the Great Ocean Walk as part of our 12 Apostles Great Ocean Walk 3-Day Tour, which starts in Aire River.

Wilsons Promontory National Park

Located at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, Wilsons Promontory National Park offers an expansive coastline surrounded by rugged hills. You can summit Mount Oberson for panoramic views of the peninsula and the Tidal River. On Norman Beach, you can enjoy a dip in the sea or go snorkelling. Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park is the largest marine national park in Victoria and it is rich in fish species and corals.

Wilsons Prom is popular for overnight hiking, with circuits in both the southern and northern sections of the reserve. The campsites of the southern circuit offer some basic facilities such as compost toilets, while the northern circuit has no facilities at all. Whichever you choose, doing a multi-day hike in the Wilsons Prom offers a true immersion in the wilderness.

Croajingolong National Park

As one of the most diverse regions in Australia, Croajingolong National Park is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Lakes, eucalypt forests, white sandy beaches – you can find it all in Croajingolong. Across this varied terrain is an abundance of fauna and flora. You may expect to encounter any one of its 1,000 native plant species, 52 mammal species, and 306 bird species.

Experience the breathtaking natural wealth by going canoeing or boating on the waterways or take up four-wheel driving through the landscape. There are plenty of walking paths that cross dunes, heathlands, and beaches, but the pinnacle is the Wilderness Coast Walk. It will take you 7 days to cross 100 kilometres from Croajingolong National Park to Nadgee Nature Reserve.

Mornington Peninsula National Park

Mornington Peninsula National Park is a hub of coastal activities. This reserve is just 100 kilometres south of Melbourne, calling to all beachgoers looking for an adventure. The waves of Gunnamatta Beach beckon surfers, while Flinders Beach and Sorrento Back Beach shore up spectacular rock pools.
Inland, you can explore Greens Bush along a number of walking paths. You may even spot the odd kangaroo! For a full experience of the park, you can go on the two-day Coastal Walk which traverses cliff tops and dunes across 26 kilometres of trail.

French Island National Park

Across the water from Mornington Peninsula, you’ll find French Island National Park. This isle is a haven for wildlife and is home to the most significant population of koalas in Victoria. It’s also rich in flora; over 580 indigenous plant species can be found here, including orchids that are endemic to French Island.

This national park is only accessible by ferry and makes for an excellent day trip, with plenty of walking and cycling routes available among mangroves and woodlands. For a proper getaway from the city, you can camp on the island. Please note, however, that only basic facilities are available.

The Lakes National Park

Surrounded by Lake Reeve and Lake Victoria, the Lakes National Park is a tranquil reserve ideal for walking, picnicking, and camping. Go swimming in the lakes or sail to Rotamah Island, which can only be accessed by boat.

Among the heath and woodlands of the park, you’re bound to meet some wildlife. Echidnas, kangaroos, wombats, and koalas all roam the area. The Lakes are especially important for waterbirds and over 190 species have been recorded here, making this a hotspot for birdwatchers.

There’s no place like Victoria when it comes to coastal beauty. With its diverse national parks, you’re all set to find your next destination for the adventure of a lifetime. And if you’re still planning your Great Ocean Walk adventure, the Walk 91 team is happy to help. Whether you want to embark on the full Self-Guided Great Ocean Walk 7 Day Trip or arrange for a custom Great Ocean Walk package, you can contact us to find out more.

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