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The Best National Parks Near Melbourne to Explore on Your Next Road Trip


Melbourne is well known for its awesome café and restaurant scene, great beaches, gardens, shopping and more. But many visitors, and even locals, don’t realise that Melbourne’s vibrant city centre is also within a stone’s throw of some pretty incredible national parks. Many of Melbourne’s national parks also provide camping for motorhomes and campers. That makes them a great place to set up camp for a Melbourne holiday.

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Everything you need to know about the national parks near Melbourne

In this helpful guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best Melbourne national parks to add to your travel itinerary. But first …

Melbourne weather

Unlike some regions of Australia, Melbourne experiences four distinct seasons in a year. And that’s good news for the local national parks because it keeps them lovely and lush.

You can generally expect temperatures of around:

Summer: 14-25°C

Autumn: 10-20°C

Winter: 6-14°C

Spring: 9-20°C

It’s best to check the Melbourne weather forecast before you visit a national park so that you can pack appropriately. It’s also worth checking the park information website for updates on heavy rain or bushfires.

Where to stay when exploring national parks near Melbourne

Whether you prefer staying in a holiday park resort, a simple campground, or freedom camping, there are plenty of options in and near Melbourne. Most of Victoria’s national parks permit camping. And with so many great parks to choose from, the hardest part is deciding which one to head to first!

If you’re keen to set up camp somewhere that offers a little luxury, you may like to check in at the BIG4 Melbourne Holiday Park. This holiday park offers a solar-heated swimming pool, adventure playground, outdoor spa, TV and games room, and more. It’s nice and handy to many of Melbourne’s tourist attractions too.

How to stay safe when visiting national parks

Before you pack up the campervan and head off to your chosen national park, take some time to make sure you and your family will be safe and comfortable.

Understand the rules around fire safety

Not all national parks allow campfires. Campfires can cause dangerous bushfires which can easily get out of control, so it’s important to understand campfire safety rules. Be sure to check the park’s signage or check the rules online before you light a fire.

Your Britz campervan hire comes with a fire extinguisher on board. If you’ve checked that it’s okay to light a campfire, take the time to become familiar with how to use it, just in case. Keep a full bucket of water (at least 10 litres) next to the fire so that you can fully extinguish it once you’re finished.

Follow water safety guidelines

Many of the national parks near Melbourne have rivers, lakes, and swimming holes. And in summer, these waterways offer a great place to have fun and cool off. But before anyone hits the water, take the time to ensure they’re familiar with the water safety rules. Some tips include:

  • Don’t swim alone
  • Only swim where permitted
  • Never swim near waterfalls
  • Don’t jump off piers, jetties, or rocks
  • Always wear a lifejacket when boating

Respect the wildlife

Australia is home to a diverse range of unique wildlife. If you’re visiting or camping in national parks, chances are you’ll get to meet some of them. A few points to note about caring for our wildlife:

  • Our national parks are refuges for wildlife. Please respect their home. Take all waste and rubbish with you. Don’t leave food scraps that they may eat as this could be unsafe for them.
  • If you find an injured animal in a national park, please contact the right people who can help.
  • Dogs and other domestic pets are not permitted in Victoria’s national parks.
  • Follow paths so that you avoid disturbing fragile ecosystems that may be home to wildlife.
  • Don’t pick flowers or remove logs and fauna – these are food sources and homes for bees, insects, and other creatures.

Be sure to choose the right campervan

Spending time in a campervan that is too small, too large, or just not quite what you need can take the shine off your Melbourne holiday. You’ll be driving, sleeping, eating, and using the bathroom in your campervan (if fitted), so it pays to do a bit of research on which one is right for you.

An important consideration when choosing a campervan is whether you’ll need a four-wheel drive. It’s worth noting that there are restrictions around where 2WD campervans can be driven. 2WD campervans can only be driven on sealed / bitumen roads. The only exception is well-maintained access roads of less than 12 kilometres to recognised campgrounds and major tourist attractions.

For helpful tips on how to choose the right campervan for your Australian road trip, check out our handy guide.

The best national parks near Melbourne

Ready to explore Melbourne’s national parks? Here are our top picks:

Churchill National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 40 minutes

One of the closest national parks to Melbourne, Churchill National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife. You won’t have to look far to spot eastern grey kangaroos and swamp wallabies. You might also spy reptiles basking in the sun, migratory Japanese snipe and swift parrots, pelicans, powerful owls, and more. For panoramic 360-degree views of the park, head up to Trig Point Lookout.

Dandenong Ranges National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 45 minutes

Less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne, Dandenong Ranges National Park offers something for all ages. Head up the famous 1000 Steps, explore Olinda Falls, and take in unbeatable views across Melbourne. There are some excellent picnic spots in the park too, making it a great day trip for those staying in Melbourne. Our pick is the Sherbrooke Falls Walk and picnic area. Keep an eye out for lyrebirds as you walk through the forest.

Mornington Peninsula National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 1.5 hours

Get back to nature in Mornington Peninsula National Park. You’re sure to encounter all sorts of native wildlife including bandicoots, wallabies, and parrots. For a truly unforgettable experience, join a tour and swim with dolphins and seals in the bay. This park is also a favourite with surfers thanks to its excellent beaches including Gunnamatta, Flinders, Portsea and Rye ocean beaches.

Image Source: Visit Victoria Content Hub

Yarra Ranges National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 2 hours

Yarra Ranges National Park is home to the world's tallest flowering tree, the mountain ash. This mammoth tree towers over lush tree ferns and mossy myrtle beech. If you’re after endless incredible views, Yarra National Park is the place to find them. One of the best is Mount Donna Buang. From here you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of Westernport Bay and Port Phillip. You can also walk the Rainforest Gallery and see the mountain ash from a different perspective.

Port Campbell National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 3 hours

Port Campbell National Park stretches along the coastline of Victoria for about 30 km. The best way to see the park’s highlights is to take a scenic road trip along the Great Ocean Road. Plan stops at the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and London Bridge where you can often spot little penguins. You may also see whales along the coast, especially in Port Campbell township.

Image Source: Visit Victoria Content Hub

Grampians National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 3 hours

An Australian road trip to the Grampians National Park tops the destination wish list for many motorhome travellers. Spring is a great time to visit the park. You’ll be rewarded with colourful displays of spring wildflowers and mesmerizing waterfalls. The Grampians also attracts walkers from around the world. One of the popular drawcards is the Pinnacle walk and lookout which offers unbeatable views.

Image Source: Visit Victoria Content Hub

Twelve Apostles Marine National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 3 hours

Spanning 7500 hectares, the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park is the second largest marine national park in Victoria. Although it is well known for its amazing rock formations, the park offers even more incredible views under the water. Take a dive beneath the waves and you’re likely to spot Species such as magpie perch, blue-throated wrasse, Port Jackson sharks and southern rock lobsters.

Great Otway National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 3 hours

Stretching from Torquay to the Otways hinterland, the Great Otway National Park is a must-see Australian attraction. From mountain bike riding to beach surfing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here. Visit Maits Rest to see the giant beech trees – some of which are up to 300 years old. You can even spot glow worms if you walk through the mossy forest of Melba Gully after dark.

Image Source: Visit Victoria Content Hub

Mount Buffalo National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 4 hours

Mount Buffalo National Park is home to plants found nowhere else on Earth including the Buffalo Sallee Tree. For a great spot to set up camp, head to the shores of Lake Catini – an idyllic setting and perfect for swimming. Don’t be surprised if you see a few wombats plodding around the campsite! This park is also popular in winter with skiers and snowboarders who head to Cresta Valley and Dingo Dell for fun in the snow.

Wilsons Promontory National Park

Driving distance from Melbourne CBD: 4 hours

Located at the southernmost tip of Australia, Wilsons Promontory National Park is a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Go snorkelling at Norman Beach, camp at the family-friendly Tidal River Campground, and Scale the granite peaks of Mount Bishop for panoramic views.

Image Source: Visit Victoria Content Hub

Explore Melbourne’s national parks with Britz

There’s certainly plenty to see, do, and experience in Victoria’s national parks – and all without having to drive too far from the city.

And there really is no better way to see and do it all than to hire a Britz motorhome. Explore the rugged beauty, take in incredible sights, and meet our amazing wildlife, all while enjoying the comfort and freedom of a campervan.

At Britz, we have a wide range of motorhomes and campervans available for hire that are perfect for your next Australian road trip. Pick up your campervan from our handy Melbourne branch and get ready to hit the road!