Lord Howe Island
By John Game, on flickr
Melbourne is a hard place not to love, but anyone visiting would be missing out if they didn’t get out of town to explore at least a couple of Victoria’s wild places.
If your stay is short or if you’re just not keen to hire a car to explore, there are so many day tours that can satisfy that urge for adventure. Not only do guided tours provide your transport, equipment and a knowledgeable guide, but they also give you the opportunity to explore with other like-minded travellers.
When some people think day tours, they imagine sitting on a massive coach with heaps of people on board, seeing a place through the window. It doesn’t have to be that way. Choose an outdoor experience to really get amongst it with a much smaller group.
Side note: If you’re looking for hotels in Melbourne, there are heaps of options. Being Melbourne locals, we don’t need accommodation here often, but I’ve stayed at a few AccorHotels (Novotel was a great one) and can highly recommend them.
Whether you’re looking to see some wildlife, indulge in your chosen outdoor pursuit, or just get away from the city, there’s an outdoorsy day tour for everyone. Here are what I reckon are a few of the best ones.
White water kayaking on the Yarra River
Not too far from Melbourne’s bustling centre, the famous Yarra River winds its way through a leafy outer suburb called Warrandyte. Here the river is much cleaner and more inviting than it is by the time it reaches the CBD. It’s the perfect place to launch a kayak for a paddle.
This half-day tour allows visitors to paddle a range of grade 2 (medium difficulty) rapids in two-person inflatable kayaks. You and a partner will work together to navigate low ledges and drops, easy eddies and gradual bends. It’s a great intro to paddling if you’ve never done it before or for those more experienced, a relaxing afternoon exploring Melbourne’s most famous river valley.
In the warmer months, you’ll finish your paddle with a refreshing swim. Paddling can be hard work in the hot summer sun, so this gives you something to look forward to. The brilliant guides will make even the most amateur kayaker feel completely comfortable, teaching you how to navigate without making you feel stupid. We did this tour as part of a full-day caving and kayaking adventure but I recommend just doing the kayaking (or the caving if that’s more up your alley) because packing both into one day was exhausting.
The tour can be booked online through Viator Travel. It runs every weekend throughout the year and every day from the end of December through to the end of February.
12 Apostles & Port Campbell Day Tour with Hike & Seek
Image courtesy of Hike & Seek
Everyone wants to see the Great Ocean Road, but it’s hard to find a tour that can do it any kind of justice in a single day.
If any tour operator comes close to achieving this, it has to be Hike & Seek. Designed to feel more like a road trip with friends than a typical tour, group sizes are kept to 8 and guides are experts at making things feel intimate.
The best part? You’ll hike a section of the famous Great Ocean Walk, from Princetown to the 12 Apostles. It’s 8 kilometres of the most spectacular coastline that Victoria has to offer. At the end of your hike, you’ll stop for lunch in Port Campbell where you can have a beach swim if it’s warm enough. The afternoon is spent walking the short trails around London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge.
The 12 Apostles & Port Campbell Day Tour with Hike & Seek can be booked online through their website. They’ll provide ethically sourced coffee and vegan-friendly food.
Ride the world-class mountain bike trails at You Yangs Regional Park
Image courtesy of Mountain Bike Tours Australia
The gorgeous You Yangs is a small mountain range 45 minutes west of Melbourne, home to some great hiking trails but more well known for its world class mountain bike trails. It’s the perfect place to spend a day checking out the Australian bush with a good chance of spotting koalas, kangaroos, kookaburras, and if you’re lucky, even echidnas.
Your tour guides will provide you with a good quality mountain bike (with front suspension and hydraulic disc brakes) and will take you on a safety run through with pointers on how to safely tackle the terrain, before sending you on your way.
Well set up for all levels, they’ll make sure you have a good time whether you’re a beginner or a mountain biking enthusiast. You Yangs Regional Park’s Kurrajong trails are easy single trails that zig-zag through remnant eucalypt forest, but the Stockyard trails are more challenging and include an exciting descent into an old quarry. Beginners will have the option to take on the Stockyard trails after lunch, while the more hardcore can skip straight to this trickier section.
Tours can be booked online through Viator Travel. A delicious lunch is included which is not only a great way to break up the days riding but also makes for prime wildlife spotting time.
Have you done any of these outdoorsy day-tours? Got a different one to recommend? Let us know by commenting below.
Exploring the Great Ocean Road?
You won’t see the best sights from your car. Get the definitive guidebook, featuring the 25 best walks in the area with detailed instructions and maps.