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The Best National Parks in Victoria to Explore on Your Next Road Trip

From waterfalls and hikes, to historic sites and scenic drives, these are the best national parks in Victoria to explore.

Murray-Sunset National Park
Murray-Sunset National Park

Raging waterfalls, lush rainforests and spectacular pink lakes – Victoria is home to them all. Our precious national parks hold a bounty of natural riches, ready for you to explore at your leisure. Jump in the car for a weekend escape or set that out-of-office email and go on a soul-reviving road trip that’ll take you to the coast, the alps, and everywhere in between.

So, here are our picks of the best national parks in Victoria!

*With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, be sure to check the Victorian Government website for the latest information. Although you may not be able to get to your favourite national park for a date with nature, be sure to bookmark this article ready for your first post-iso road trip.

Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park

Also known as Australia’s southernmost point, ‘the Prom’ is one of Victoria’s favourite getaway spots. The landscape here is as varied as it is wonderful, full of granite mountains, sweeping beaches and dense native forests – meaning you can relax here one day and go on a high-intensity hike the next. The park comes alive in every season, from sun-soaked splashes at Norman Beach and Picnic Bay to cosy retreats in the cabins of Tidal River.

3 hours from Melbourne

Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park

Significant examples of Australian landscapes, flora and culture are all found in the Grampians. Indeed, the area is home to one of the biggest collections of Indigenous rock art in south-eastern Australia, and you can catch ancient paintings in shelters throughout the park. You’ll also see rugged sandstone peaks, breathtaking lookouts, colourful wildflowers and a profusion of native animals (including kangaroos, koalas, emus and wedge-tailed eagles) across 150 kilometres of walking tracks, plus rivers in which you can kayak and fish.

3 hours from Melbourne

Dandenong Ranges National Park
Dandenong Ranges National Park
Dandenong Ranges National Park

Despite being only an hour’s drive from the CBD, you’ll feel like you’re in another world as you amble through forests of towering trees, lush fern gullies and cascading waterfalls. Embark on one of the park’s many walking travails and see panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline in between spotting wallabies, echidnas and birdlife including crimson rosellas and superb lyrebirds. There are plenty of picturesque picnic spots in the forest as well, so make sure you pack a spread to enjoy among nature.

40 minutes from Melbourne

Murray-Sunset National Park
Murray-Sunset National Park
Murray-Sunset National Park

Pack the snacks and download the podcasts – located in the northwest corner of Victoria, Murray-Sunset National Park is well worth the five hour drive. One of the world’s last untouched semi-arid regions, it’s home to the famous Pink Lakes, so named for the hue they get from naturally produced algae in the water. Beyond this photogenic attraction, you can explore relics of the area’s salt mining history, go bushwalking, boating, wildlife spotting and camp under star-filled night skies. 

Six hours from Melbourne

Mount Buffalo National Park
Mount Buffalo National Park
Mount Buffalo National Park

Mount Buffalo has two distinct personalities, both equally striking. Half the year it’s covered in snow and is a well-loved ski and tobogganing destination, while the rest of the year it’s home to stunning walking tracks and campgrounds. Known as an ‘island in the sky’, Mount Buffalo is home to 550 species of native plants (many of which are found nowhere else on earth), plus sheer cliffs, waterfalls and idyllic views. Breathe in fresh mountain air, swim at Lake Catani and watch gorgeous sunsets at this must-visit alpine retreat.

Four hours from Melbourne

Alpine National Park

Alpine National Park -– Victoria’s largest – is an adventure lover’s fantasy.  Home to 10 of the state’s highest mountains, it sports diverse landscapes ranging from grassy plains and rugged bushland to lush river valleys and rolling hills. You can run wild in every sense of the word here, whether that’s flying down mountain bike trails, white-water rafting, delving into snow sports or exploring wildflower-covered landscapes on horseback. If you’re not afraid to break a sweat, you can climb the sharp incline of The Razorback to Mount Feathertop and catch breathtaking panoramas over the Great Dividing Range.

Four hours from Melbourne

Port Campbell National Park
Port Campbell National Park
Port Campbell National Park

Port Campbell is home to none other than the iconic Twelve Apostles, making it one of Victoria’s most-visited national parks. Situated on the Great Ocean Road, it’s home to dramatic sandstone cliffs and remarkable coastal formations that are characteristic to this part of Australia. Stop off at the Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge rock formation, The Grotto, and of course, the Apostles, which tower 45 metres above the ocean – pictures simply don’t do this grand sight justice. If you’re lucky you’ll see fairy penguins come out at dusk, or even spot whales out at sea.

Three hours from Melbourne

Great Otway National Park
Great Otway National Park
Great Otway National Park

This awe-inducing national park is a must see destination for anyone driving down the Great Ocean Road. Stretching from Torquay towards Princetown and up to Colac, it’s known for its rugged coastlines, cool temperate rainforests, stunning waterfalls and quiet beaches. Embark on one of the many coastal trails and keep an eye out for native wildlife including koalas, echidnas, possums and wallabies. It’s an activity haven too, with fishing, horse riding and surfing all on the cards.

Three hours from Melbourne

Tarra Bulga National Park
Tarra Bulga National Park
Tarra Bulga National Park

Surround yourself in an abundant rainforest wonderland at Tarra Bulga, where giant mountain ash trees, ancient myrtle beech trees and lush fern gullies abound. The famed suspension beach leads you right into the heart of the rainforest, which is abundant with native birdlife and waterfalls. A shady canopy will keep you cool as you wander around this majestic place, while picnic areas offer a place to rest and recharge.

Two and a half hours from Melbourne

Yarra Ranges National Park
Yarra Ranges National Park
Yarra Ranges National Park

The Yarra Ranges are a popular weekend destination, with plenty to see and do wherever your interest lies. Take in magical rainforest scenery, follow scenic bike trails or simply relax with a picnic under the tall trees and mountain ferns. Situated halfway between Melbourne and the alpine region, the Yarra Ranges covers a mountainous area of cool temperate forests. Shady gullies hug clear streams as they trickle into the Yarra River, while you can catch breathtaking views as far as Port Phillip Bay from the lookout at Mount Donna Buang.

Two and a half hours from Melbourne

Loved our pick of the best national parks in Victoria? We’ve got plenty more ideas for your next road trip – how about a girls’ weekend in the Mornington Peninsula or a romantic escape to Daylesford? If you like to sleep under the stars, you’ve got to try these gorgeous glamping sites that come with all the creature comforts.