Are you still pondering what to do this upcoming summer? We’re here to tell you why Victoria’s mountain peaks – those alpine landscapes, escarpments and grassy high plains across our state– should be top of your list, even once the snow has melted.
No matter what you enjoy doing, whether it’s taking in peaceful scenery or getting your heart pumping, there’s somewhere within a few hours’ drive from Melbourne for you to explore.
To help you pick, we chatted to a few of our Licensed Tour Operators. As experts in delivering a range of thrilling activities across our state, who better to share their favourite mountain adventures!
1. Engage in a world of adventure
While the rest of the state might be vegging out, enjoying sunbathing and bevvies by the beach, you could be experiencing the thrill of adventure in quieter parts of the state.
Michael Beecham from Gippsland Outdoor Therapy & Youth Adventures, loves Baw Baw National Park for its adventure offerings “It’s one of our favourite parks to take young people” he says, “whether we’re canoeing, bushwalking, camping or 4WDing — Baw Baw National Park has it all!”
Here’s a few more great places in the mountains to feel the speed and work up a sweat:
- White water rafting down the Mitta Mitta River in Alpine National Park.
- Four-wheel driving in the Howqua Hills or along the Wonangatta Icon Drive.
- Hiking the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing.
One of the best ways to enjoy adventure activities in nature is with a Licensed Tour Operator. They do all the hard work for you by planning and preparing your visit so you can enjoy your nature-based adventures to the fullest. They know the best places to go, the best ways to get there and they make sure you’re well prepared.
2. Be breath taken by spectacular sunrises and sunsets
There’s nothing quite like the sight of a stunning sunrise or sunset viewed from high above to reset your perspective and take you away from the daily grind.
Mountain-high sunrises are best experienced by early birds after a night camping under the stars, while sunsets can be easily caught on a daytrip spent picnicking and hiking towards a lookout point.
For sunrises and sunsets, Madeline Townsend of Alpine Photography Events finds herself returning to the Victorian Alpine Region. “There are stunning sunrises and sunsets to capture on my camera in both summer and winter. The way the light hits the layers of mountains and the diversity of natural flora and fauna means that every day is a different day.”
Looking for more ideas? Plan your day trip, hike or camping trip around a sunrise or sunset at one of these locations:
- Boroka Lookout or Reed Lookout, Grampians National Park
- Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell National Park
- Flinders Peak Lookout, You Yangs Regional Park
- Mount Macedon Cross, Macedon Regional Park
- The Horn, Mount Buffalo National Park
Barriers might seem like a drag, but there is a reason they are there. They stop you walking onto unstable or unsafe surfaces and damaging sensitive cultural and environmental sites. Consider, too, that it’s bigger than you – you might leave the trail without negative consequences (this time), but when others see you or the trails you create, they think it is okay too.
3. Enjoy sweeping, uninterrupted views from lookouts
If the timing doesn’t work and a sunrise or sunset viewing is not an option, heading to the mountains merely to catch the magnificent views from the top is well worth it.
“We have so many favourite places to visit all over Victoria,” says Chris Wright from Trail Bus, “but Mount Buangor State Park and the Beeripmo Walk have such beautiful views from its granite outcrops, diverse landscapes and we always see an abundance of amazing wildlife.”
Our parks have many lookout points designed specifically for visitors to take in stunning, sweeping views of parklands down below and heavenly stretches of sky in front. More options include:
- Mount Donna Buang, Yarra Ranges National Park
- Powers Lookout, Powers Lookout Scenic Reserve
- The summit, Arthurs Seat State Park
- Mount William, Grampians National Park
- Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park
Remember, staying behind barriers is #biggerthanyou. Don’t try taking a selfie that ends up taking your life. It’s just not worth it.
4. Experience the brand-new Grampians Peaks Trail
If you’re a keen hiker and looking for your next adventure challenge, the new Grampians Peaks Trail is an amazing attraction to discover.
Set across a variety of terrain, this challenging, Grade 4 160km-long, 13-day/12-night hiking experience is not for the faint-hearted! But there are also shorter sections available, so why not plan your next day walk, overnight hike or multi-day hike along the Grampians Peaks Trail.
According to Adrian Manikas of Grampians Peaks Walking Company “walking anywhere in Gariwerd is a special experience.” His favourite spot? “A sunrise from the summit of Gar (Mt Difficult) is particularly spectacular. It’s remote, wild, peaceful and serene.”
Overall, the Grampians Peaks Trail is a challenging walking track with remote areas. It is important that all hikers are experienced, prepared and have a good fitness level if attempting sections of the trail. Be sure to choose a Grampians Peaks Trail journey that matches your ability.
5. Take in the scenery on horseback
Horse riding through specific Victorian alpine regions is a special experience if you own your own horse.
Bruce McCormack, of McCormack’s Mountain Valley Trail Rides, agrees, “My favourite activity would have to be taking our guests on the magical horse ride over the Summit of Mt Stirling. The 360-degree views are just magical and it doesn’t matter that if it’s your first time or 100th the experience is the same every time.”
If you’re after a longer experience, you can secure special camping spots where you can bring your horse too! Camping with a horse in Howqua Hills and Alpine National Park is only permitted during the summer months so now is the perfect time to secure a spot. Horse Yards must be booked in advance.
Whether you’re camping with a horse or not, don’t forget to follow camping etiquette to ensure the safety and comfort of all campers. Our rangers have shared their camping tips to ensure you have the best experience this summer.
Keeping safe when heading to the mountains
Venturing inland during the warmer months has its own safety risks. Before you plan your trip:
- Check forecast weather conditions, fire restrictions and warnings, and adapt your plans accordingly- high winds, flash flooding and storms have impacted many of our sites heading into summer.
- Some parks and sites close on days when dangerous weather conditions are forecast– including high winds and elevated fire danger.
- The wetter, cooler, start to summer means that Forest Fire Management Victoria is doing planned burning to reduce bushfire risk in some parts of the state- find out if planned burning is happening near your destination.
- Download the VicEmergency app and set up watch zones for the areas you are planning to visit
- Check the park page on the Parks Victoria website before you leave home for any changed conditions or closures in the park.
- Plan when you will leave if weather conditions change or a bushfire starts while on your trip. Don’t expect a ranger or emergency services to tell you when to leave a park in an fire or other emergency.
- Remember wildlife is just that- wild! Snakes are active this time of year and mosquitoes are loving all the standing water the wet weather has provided.
Our final tip? “Book with a Licensed Tour Operator!” says Jean-Francois Rupp from Alpine Nature Experience “They work hard to preserve the parks while making sure you have the best possible time.”
There are over 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready to help you discover our magnificent parks and waterways. Find one today and start exploring!