At Outbound, we value quality family time, and as Melbourne emerges from lockdown, we strongly encourage you to step out and spend time with your family, exploring the great outdoors. 

As the most locked-down city in the world, many of us have been spending way too much time inside. We want to remind you about the many great sights and attractions Melbourne has for families. So we’re sharing our top 10 places to visit and activities in Metro Melbourne.  

1. Cycling the Dandenong to Caulfield Rail Trail
Distance: 17km one way

One of the rest stops around Dandenong to Caulfield Rail Trail

For families with active kids (aged 6 - 16), and access to bikes. This is a fantastic trip that can be done within 4 hours or spread over lunch or dinner for a complete day trip. The return track starts at Noble Park and heads all the way to Monash University in Caulfield, which is a total of 17kms (one way) of easy riding. Ride along a beautifully paved bike path that has recently been created along the railway track. It’s been elevated as part of the Victorian level crossing removals. Along the track there are many playgrounds, sporting areas like basketball and table tennis (BYO equipment) to keep the family occupied while you take a break. There are many food options along the way as you ride through many stations and shopping strips. Get takeaways and enjoy your picnic at the local parks and playground areas along this trail. 

For more information, Click HERE

2. Cycling Patterson River to Brighton
Distance: 31.5km one way

Family bike ride day rest stop at Blackrock

This is a great weekend trip and is perfect for families with a little more riding experience. The track goes through farm areas, bayside trails, and a few steeper climbs. Start at Patterson River Car Park then follow the bike path and shared walking path all the way to Brighton North Road Carpark. This is definitely a full day trip with many food options giving you ideal opportunities to stop for lunch. If you start at 9 am, you can ride all the way to Mordialloc Pier for a lunch and ice cream stop. Continue your ride and enjoy some breaks at Beaumaris or Blackrock. If you can hold out on lunch till you get to Black rock, you have to try the Fish and chips at Cerberus Beach House. Continue riding at your own pace towards Brighton or start heading back for a return trip. On the way back, you can also stop for an early dinner at Mordialloc before returning to Patterson River starting point. 

You can adapt and change your trip to suit the distance your family is comfortable with.  There are plenty of stops and rest points along the way so make sure you pack enough water and snacks for those impromptu stops and let the kids explore and have fun.

For route map click HERE

3. Cycling the Mount Evelyn to Warburton Rail Trail
Distance: 63.5km one way

Enjoying the day on Mount Evelyn to Warburton Rail Trail

Before you think this blog is all about cycling...we promise this is the last cycling activity in our top 10 :). Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is one of the most popular bike trails in the Melbourne Bike network. It’s one of the most picturesque trails at the end of the Yarra Ranges and it takes you through farmlands, beautiful small towns and along the Yarra River. Start at Mount Evelyn Trail Cafe and stop at Seville Carriage Cafe (closed on Mondays and Wednesdays) for a picnic lunch before making your way towards Warburton. At 63.5kms (one way) with over 400m of elevation, this is not a ride for the faint-hearted, but you can always shorten the journey by making stops at Woori Yallock or Wandin, if you like. Shuttling is also an option if you have a few families riding together.

For GPS Route Map, Click HERE

4. Fishing in Brighton 

Good job kids on the garfish catch.

There sure are plenty of places to take the family out for a fishing trip, but we’ve found Brighton North Road Jetty area a great place with good spots. You can fish on the boat ramp or on the rock wall which stretches from North Road all the way up to Ormond. It’s also a nice, safe place for the kids to sit or explore around the bike and walking track. There are lots of areas for picnics as well as a fantastic playground at the end of North Road. This is an ideal evening or morning activity as most fish are active and biting around sunrise and sunset. We recommend the fish and chips from Captain & Co Fish Bar or you can always pack a picnic and have it where you've planted yourself for a great fishing session. (Just make sure you’re very careful when walking along the rock walls as it can be slippery with lots of gaps within the rocks). 

5. Fishing in Mornington Peninsula

Fishing at Mount Martha on sunset

Port Phillip Bay is such an amazing waterway that’s also protected. Due to the Victorian Government buyback scheme from all commercial fishing operators, the bay is now well-stocked with an array of fish from snapper, whiting, flatheads, squid and leather jacket just to name a few. Take the family out on any pier from Frankston to Sorrento and you’ll have a great time. The ideal bait to use would be squid, pilchard, pippies, and remember, fresh is best :). So key points are to fish at sunrise or sunset, incoming tide and low wind are best. Lastly, the paternoster rig works very well in most conditions. Get out there and try your luck. Getting out and fishing is always great....catching a fish is just the bonus. Take the time to chit chat and ponder about life with your kids and spouse in between bites. Note, that regulations apply for fishing, you'll need a licence and size land catch limits. (Kids under 18 or seniors over 70 do not need a fishing licence).

6. Picnic at Doongalla Picnic Reserve

Picnic at Doongalla Picnic Ground

This is a beautiful area for a picnic, that we discovered while taking my son mountain biking in the Montrose area. It’s a short drive to Fern Forest in the Dandenong Ranges. You’ll find yourself surrounded by large Mountain Ash trees. It's very shaded and picturesque with a lot of space to roam and play. Bring a picnic to share, then take a walk around all the trails that you’ll find. The hike up to Burkes Lookout (2.4kms hike) is well worth the effort. An all round fantastic day out for the family.

For more information, click HERE

7. Hiking in Lysterfield Granite Peak Track

Granite Peak Summit view

For those families who love hiking, this is one of our favourite destinations. Approximately 2 hour's hike, starting at the Northern end of Lysterfield State Park. Here is the GPS marker to park your car. Take Wellington North Break Track and join onto Granite Track until you reach the top of Granite Peak Summit rock outcrops. It’s a bit of hard work but you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of Lysterfield, Rowville and Ferntree Gully farmlands. Stop at the Granite Peak for a well-earned lunch. Alternatively, we highly recommend a picnic dinner watching the sun set (if the weather is right). In our experience here, we were rewarded with a glorious sunset and a full moon rising as well. On your return, proceed back to the trailhead via the return track of Granite Peak Track or you can take the longer way down making it a loop on the Dragon Track in the dark. This takes the hike to a whole new level of excitement as you hear and observe nocturnal wildlife around you. (Pro tip: Bring a head torch for each of your family members if you intend to do a night hike). Allow 3 to 4 hours for this walk.

8. Hiking in Flinders (Tea Tree Walk)

Stunning coastal cliffs of Cairns Bay

Want to feel like you’re hiking through the Scottish Highlands without the flight time and airfares? Pack your day pack and take a drive down to the Tea Tree Creek Walk and Cairns Bay. You’ll have the ultimate family adventure with a great bushwalk towards Cairns Bay, where you can go explore till your hearts are content. There are many rock pools to explore and some rock scrambling for those with an adventurous heart and mind. Bring a big lunch as you may like to take your time exploring Cairns Bay. Take a walk (approximately 4.5 kms one way) to Flinders Blowhole, along the coastal walking track that goes through some private property (with permission granted). Perfect trip for a beautiful spring or summer day. Don't forget to slip slop slap as the area is quite exposed to the weather and coastal breeze.

9. Mountain Biking Lysterfield Lake

Mountain biking in Lysterfield Park

Mountain biking is becoming a very popular leisure activity over lockdown. So if you’re one of the families who have gotten into mountain biking, a day trip to Lysterfield Lake is a great way to hone your skills and enjoy some great family times. Ride around the lake or take the more adventurous trails with the bountiful Green, Blue and Black trails available to you.

Lake Circuit Trail (Green Run of 6.3kms) is a good one for entry-level riders. Entire Blue Trail, starting from Lower Buckle and finishing at Snipe is definitely one for those with a strong heart, looking for a thrill and challenge. For advanced riders, our favourite black run would be Aneurysm and State MTB Course or Commonwealth Games Circuit. 

You’ll get mobile reception at most of these trails. Just make sure you bring enough water and snacks as well as an appropriate repair kit as it will take you awhile to get back to your car if you walk. Do take some time to visit Montague Orchard (you may like to bring a change of clothes as it’s a little bit fancy) for a nice meal and don't forget to try their apples!

For more information on Mountain biking at Lysterfield Lake, click HERE

10. Nature Walks in Warrandyte State Park

Family hike in Warrandyte State Park

Warrandyte State Park was our destination of choice during lockdown and travel restrictions. We loved getting out for a short walk and exploring the many trails along the Yarra River. Here are some of our favourite spots that are great for the family. Enjoy some fantastic on and off-track walks while taking in the flora, fauna and indigenous history of the area:

  1. Currawong Bush Park
  2. Pound Bend Reserve
  3. Jumping Creek Reserve
  4. Wittons Reserve
  5. Mount Lofty Park

These are not ranked in any particular order, so feel free to explore whichever activity or destination your family gravitates to first. Get outbound as the weather is warming up and longer daylight hours have also kicked in. 

Enjoy time outside with your family as our beautiful city opens up. Connecting with one another and with nature is so important for our physical and mental health, but remember to maintain your distance and practise the standard Covid safe guidelines at the same time. 

With many other places within Metro Melbourne to explore, and as restrictions ease in Victoria, we’ll be sharing more outbound activities and destinations with you in future posts.  

Stay tuned, and stay safe!

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