An unexpected oasis in Melbourne’s south-east, Lysterfield Lake was built as water storage for the Mornington Peninsula back in the 1930s. It was decommissioned in 1985 and in 1986 it was fortunately opened to the public, who have embraced Lysterfield Park as one of their city’s favourite outdoor playgrounds.

There’s something for everyone at Lysterfield Park – the mountain bike trails draw the most visitors but there’s also hiking trails, picnic and barbecue facilities, a playground, and the lake itself which allows swimming and non-motorised boating. It’s a haven for bird watching and wildlife spotting too, with about 140 different species of birds recorded, as well as regular sightings of eastern grey kangaroos, black wallabies, koalas, and echidnas. The roos and wallabies are the most common wildlife sightings but make sure you don’t visit on a busy day if you’re hoping for your own encounter. If you’re into spotting or photographing birds, Lysterfield Park also has a bird hide with views over the lake (at the northern end of the picnic ground).

The bushland surrounding the lake is a mix of remnant native vegetation and plantations of River Red Gum, Southern Mahogany, Spotted Gum, Swamp Gum, Blue Gum, Forest Red Gum, Long-leaved Box and Sugar Gum. Needless to say, this all makes for some incredibly interesting scenery (and company) regardless of whether you intend to enjoy the park with a hike, a ride or a picnic under the Spotted Gums.

Walking Tracks

Lysterfield Lake Circuit Walk

Lysterfield Lake & Lysterfield Park: The ultimate guide to swimming, boating, walking & riding the lake

Despite most of this trail being shared with mountain bikers, it’s still a very attractive walk. Set off from the carpark to the dam wall for some spectacular views across the lake, before a brief climb up onto Casuarina Track. After the climb, make sure you turn off onto the Acacia Nature Walk which makes a nicer alternative for part of the circuit. The trail here is closed to mountain bikes and winds its way through some much more interesting vegetation. About half way along, there’s a track down to a small jetty which makes a great spot to stop for lunch looking over the lake. From here you can continue the circuit on Lake Track, returning to the carpark. If it’s a hot day, this might be the ideal time for a swim at one of the two swimming beaches.

The Lake Circuit Trail is suitable for prams, but you’ll have to skip the Acacia Nature Walk section.

Need to know

Length: 6 km
Time: 1.5 hrs
Grade: Easy / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: Once inside the park gates, park as close to the lake as you can, then walk down to the lake and head left to start the walk over the dam wall. The walk can be completed in the opposite direction but I like the brief hill climb at the end of the dam wall to get the heart pumping early in the walk.
Map: See this route highlighted on a Parks Victoria park note map.

Granite Peak Trail

Pillar Point - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia
Image courtesy of Rexness (on Flickr)
Granite Peak Trail starts along the same route as the Lysterfield Lake Circuit Walk, but the well-signed trail veers off to the left once you’re on Casuarina Track. This section follows an old granite quarry tramline up to Trig Point – the highest point in the park – for 360-degree views across Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, all the way to the CBD. Returning from Trig Point to the carpark via the same route will make this a just over 13-kilometre return walk. Alternatively, use your map to make find an alternative route to the circuit trail and extend the walk even further.

Need to know

Length: 13.2 km
Time: 4 hrs
Grade: Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style Return
Access: Once inside the park gates, park as close to the lake as you can, then walk down to the lake and head left to start the walk over the dam wall.

Lysterfield Park Mountain Bike Trails

Lysterfield Park mountain biking

Image courtesy of R. Reeve (on Flickr)

One of Melbourne’s favourite places for mountain biking, Lysterfield Park features nearly 24 kilometres of trails for all abilities, from the easy lake circuit trail (shared with walkers) to the black graded trails – one of which is the State Mountain Bike Course they used for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. There are tight single tracks, high-speed descents, timber boardwalks and rocky, technical sections. There’s even a skills park at the base of the dam wall.

All blue graded trails are single direction. Make sure you stick to the designated trails, as Parks Victoria has been cracking down on unauthorised use of trails by mountain bikes. Lysterfield District Trail Riders have a good map of Lysterfield Park’s mountain bike trails.

Swimming and other water activities at Lysterfield Lake

On hot days, swimming at Lysterfield Lake is incredibly popular. Two designated bays are sectioned off for swimmers, where the water depth increases gradually. You can bring your lilos and other inflatables, but all hard watercraft are banned in the swimming bays for safety reasons. On warm weekends and holidays, you’ll need to get in early if you want to find a good spot to set yourself up for the day. There are grassy areas surrounding the beaches, which make a nice spot for a picnic, but no glass is permitted. Since the lake isn’t patrolled by lifeguards, ensure children are supervised. There have been drownings at the lake, so stick to the designated safe swimming areas.

Sailing, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking and canoeing are all popular at the lake and a boat ramp is provided for access. No powered boating is permitted and this includes remote-controlled model boats. Aside from the swimming areas, you’ll need to stay away from the northern and southern ends of the lake. These are marked with a line of buoys to protect shallow waterbird habitat. Sailing boats can be monohull and up to 5 metres, or multi-hull up to 4.3 metres. There’s also a sailing club here – for more info see the Lysterfield Sailing Club website. Whichever water activity you choose, keep your belongings safe in a dry bag.

Sea Kayaking Australia will soon be offering Kayak hire at Lysterfield Lake, including a safety briefing and a one-hour paddling session. The cost will be $60 for a single sit-on-top kayak or $80 for a double. They’ll throw in a dry bag and a life jacket. See their website for further information..

Kayaking Lysterfield Lake

Lysterfield Lake Park Maps

There are no commercially produced topographic maps of Lysterfield Park, but Parks Victoria does have a good Lysterfield Lake Park map available (well, good by Parks Victoria standards). Lysterfield District Trail Riders has a good map of Lysterfield Park’s mountain bike trails.

What are the Lysterfield Lake Park Opening Hours?

Lysterfield Park is open to pedestrians and cyclists 24 hours a day, but the main carpark gates are only open between sunrise and sunset. If you return from a walk after sunset don’t stress, as you can exit the carpark after hours (there are one-way spikes). There’s also a 24-hour carpark on Logan Park Road, not far from the main carpark gates.

Can I bring my dog to Lysterfield Lake?

No, dogs are prohibited within the park. During our visit we saw someone with a dog being confronted by a ranger and threatened with a large fine. There are plenty of other options for short nature walks in Victoria with your dog, though.

Are there fish in Lysterfield Lake and can I go fishing?

Authorities stocked the lake with brown trout in the 1980s and with both Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout in 1995. However, Parks Victoria’s regulations do not permit recreational fishing at the lake. This is also well policed by Parks Victoria rangers. I’ve heard that fishing tuition by authorised groups may be permitted from the jetties on the western shoreline but this would need to be arranged through Parks Victoria.

Lysterfield Lake

How much does it cost to get into Lysterfield Lake Park?

Entry and parking at Lysterfield Lake are completely free.

Where is Lysterfield Lake Park?

The address of Lysterfield Park is Cnr Horswood Road and Logan Park Rd, Narre Warren North, 3804, Victoria.

Lysterfield Lake Cafe

The Trailmix Café at Lysterfield Park was closed in 2016. TripAdvisor reviews from the preceding years suggest that it wasn’t up to scratch as far as service goes, so this is no great surprise. The latest information I can find is that Parks Victoria was seeking expressions of interest to take over the running of the café in late 2016 but they don’t seem to have published any updates since then

Have you been to Lysterfield Park? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.

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