We all know how great we feel when we have spent a few hours in the fresh air. It’s great for body, mind, and soul and the cooler weather shouldn’t deter you from exploring this weekend!
Research has shown significant positive benefits for our health and fitness. Taking a hike with the family or friends will not only develop strength and stamina, it provides the perfect opportunity to bond, deepening connection with others and nature. When we feel connected, we experience great well-being.
Not all trails are created equal. Some are little known paradises where you can easily sink into mindfulness practice, others are hustling like peak hour at the markets.. Keep reading as I share some little know MP walks for you to explore this weekend.
As a tour guide and avid hiker, I often see the most popular Mornington Peninsula trails heavily crowded. Think peak season at Bushrangers Bay or Pt Nepean on a summer’s day. People from all over Melbourne arrive in busloads, adorned with cameras each to return with the same images as the postcards provide.
These trails to me are most appreciated when the sun is rising and only few others wake to hike in the glow of morning light and stillness. The echoing of birdsong and the sleepy movement of the kangaroos from off the trails only a few steps ahead or the rustling of the echidna as he finds sanctuary in the underbrush of the tea trees along two bays trail.
The winter months are a great time to explore these popular destinations too if you are brave enough to weather the elements. I personally love hiking in the cooler temperatures as hiking can be quite strenuous and not too pleasant in 30+ c.
Frankston Nature Conservation Reserve
The reserve closed to the public for a number of years is a 98-hectare reserve centered on a 10-hectare body of water, offering sanctuary to many endangered species of Australian Wildlife. More than 100 indigenous mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, and aquatic species are recorded from the Urban Reserve.
Neighbouring properties line the perimeter of the reserve with many smaller trails running through the dense bushland centre for shorter walk options. Take a walk over the dam watch the blue-billed ducks play at the water’s edge.
No toilet facilities and no animals to be taken in for walks.
Entry to the park is via Jeremy way in Frankston South, off Lawson’s Ave.
Uncle shan leads our 3 nephews along the trails at Devilbend Nature Rresvior
Devilbend Nature Reservoir
Another Mornington Peninsula reserve that you may not have known existed so close to Mornington. Established for the protection of native flora and fauna, in recent years has reopened to the public for recreational. Whether you are up for an 11.5km hike to circumnavigate the water (add another 2.5km to wander around Bittern reservoir) or smaller hikes to the water’s edge and popular fishing spots, there are many ways to enjoy this reserve.
Non-motorized watercraft can be used on the water to fish or simply to gain a different perspective from the trails, pack the yak (kayak) or paddleboard, and explore the inlets.
Many of the smaller trails are pram friendly, allowing the smallest of minds to wander in the woods. Just be careful though as there are many fairy toads, the pretty little red ‘shrooms with little white dots. Your little one will want to touch them as they search for fairies and they are poisonous so best take a picture instead.
Enjoy a picnic or a bbq afterward and pack a footy as there is plenty of room to have a play.
BBQ facilities & toilets
170 Graydens Rd, Moorooduc – Entry is off dirt road section
Warringine Park & Bittern Coastal Wetlands Boardwalk
The coast wetlands trail from Western Port marina in Hastings to Jack’s Beach in Crib Point. The easy graded, the flat walk is 14km return. Smaller sections can be completed, returning over the same path. Warringine Park offers a wide variety of ecosystems, including mangroves, coastal wetlands, riparian vegetation, and healthy woodlands.
It is also home to over 100 different bird species, 13 species of reptiles, 12 species of fish, 22 species of mammals, and many invertebrates.
Winter is definitely the best time to visit with the mangroves and wetlands in their element, alive with migrated birdlife from the farthest reaches of the world.
If the walk is too much, jump on your bike for an easy ride and take in the view of French Island.
No toilets or animals
Enter via 40 Salmons Street, Hastings.
Warringine Park & Bittern Coastal Wetlands Boardwalk
There are a series of walking tracks that invite you to explore coastal woodlands, wetland areas, lagoons, and the formal gardens surrounding the Homestead or across the bridge to Somer’s beach for a barefoot beach walk.
Another mecca for migrating birdlife and if you look up, the resident pair of eagles can be seen soaring above as they watch nearby paddocks for small field mice or rodents.
Bird hides are dotted throughout the wetlands and narrow trails offer the more adventurous explorer a choice of four separate walking loops varying from 1km to 3.1kms that all commence from the car park.
A great place for a picnic year-round as the kids play and discover the old world charm of machinery at the farmhouse.
Spend an hour or spend half the day, there is always something new to explore here.
Toilet facilities – homestead closed due to current restrictions
Entry; 119 Lord Somers Rd, Somers.
A post-hike stretch with little hikers on the lawns of the Homestead at Coolart.
Greens Bush – lightwood creek
This is my favourite place to visit in the Wintery months. The tall tree canopy of the circuit walks (there are 2) shelters you from light rain as you walk in awe of the grass trees standing over 10 ft tall.
The ferny undergrowth smells like a rainforest and a conscious breath in, will allow you to taste the fresh air full of immune-boosting aroma, phytoncides. Starting the walk earlier in the day, you are likely to see eastern grey kangaroo’s as they sheepishly hop away from the approaching footsteps.
Honey gliders, koala’s, ringtail possums and sugar gliders along with a plethora of birdlife call this green wedge home. This is a perfect little known wilderness escape on the Mornington Peninsula; it's ideal for anchoring into mindfulness concepts and exploring the benefits of Nature therapy.
Start/Finish: Baldry's Rd Carpark, Main Ridge
Greens Bush trails
OT Dam- Arthurs Seat
The climb to Arthurs Seat from Dromana can be heavy with hikers if you don’t pick your time and or day to go. A great alternative when you are in the region is a beautiful circuit walk around OT Dam.
The dam is located in a deep gully surrounded by native bushland vegetation including Eucalyptus forests, a moderately difficult hike with one main offender – the hill track. The boardwalk around the dam offers picturesque views and a nearby clearing is a perfect place to take rest.
A direct walk in and out can be accessed via 527 Arthurs Seat Road Arthurs Seat or for a longer harder hike, access the trail from Boundary road car park and return for a coffee at Wombat café.
OT Dam looking across to boardwalk on the southern section of Dam.
If you are looking for some great little hikes to get the family outdoors, and who isn’t after months in isolation, then tick these off your weekend exploring list. These hikes all offer different options, whether its 1 hour or 3, you can decide where your adventure takes you!