Keen to trade WiFi with time offline for your teen? Victoria’s National Parks, reserves and wild spaces have just as much real-life content to capture the attention of teenagers, no matter their interest.
Being outside in nature tops up their feelings of mindfulness and energy, and feeling a sense of awe in awesome places helps us all feel more positive.
Mum of two and wife to a Victorian National Parks ranger, Andrea Rowe is an expert on National Parks around Australia. Their family has done a “Big Lap“, focusing on national parks experiences right around Australia.
With two teens at home in Gippsland, here are Andrea’s top 22 Victorian national park experiences for teenagers.
There has never been a better time to enjoy all that nature has to offer. Help your teen get a dose of the good stuff in these stunning natural destinations in Victoria’s national parks.
Walk on the wild side in Victoria’s national parks
Coastal wilderness wander – Wilsons Promontory National Park
Check in at mainland Australia’s southernmost tip. Wilsons Promontory National Park is home to jaw dropping scenery, picture perfect walking trails and wildlife. Try and snap a nature selfie with one of the park’s resident wombats.
1000 steps – Dandenong Ranges National Park
Strap your Fitbit on and set your pace – this iconic trail in the Dandenong Ranges gives you a small taste of the exhaustion Aussie soldiers felt on Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Trail in World War II.
Waterfall wonders – Great Otway National Park
One of the wettest places in the state makes for lush mossy rainforests and pumping waterfalls. (After dark the Melba Gully Day Visitor area is home to the cutest little glow worms too).
River runs and strolls – Yarra Bend Park
Whichever way you roll, ride, walk, run or paddle – there’s winding paths and waterways to help fill your lungs with loads of fresh air in Melbourne’s largest bushland park.
Rock it – Organ Pipes National Park
Check out how ancient lava flows can style up the outdoors. Touch volcanic history, stare up at towering molten lava columns and stroll along tessellated pavements in Melbourne’s closest national park.
Big bould(er) selfies – Baw Baw National Park
Dose up on fern gullies, pose next to bulging boulders and re-charge with alpine scenery on the Mushroom Rocks walk. Winter snowball throwing is optional!
High altitude hiking – Mt Buffalo National Park
Hike to the parks’ highest point at The Horn or stroll along the Gorge Lookout for heart stopping glimpses of the valley below.
Where teenagers can binge on views
Rise above it all – Arthurs Seat State Park
Set a cracking pace on walking and bike paths with summit views across Port Phillip Bay and towards Melbourne.
Windy wandering – Flinders Blowhole Walking Track, Mornington Peninsula
Wander wild ocean cliffs whipped by wild surf. All that salt water and fresh ocean air feels good for the soul.
Reboot your forest data – Dandenong Ranges National Park
Pull out the ear pods and tune into nature along fern-fringed forest walks with trickling waterfalls and singing lyrebirds. If this park were a spotify tune, it’d be on repeat play.
Pretty in Pink – Murray Sunset National Park
No need for Instagram filters at this the Pink Lakes. The mix of red algae and lake salt bed’s deliver brilliant shades of pink to pose in front of.
Sea and sand – Gippsland Lakes NP
Boating’s the best way to check out the remote sand dunes of the 90 Mile Beach and into the cutest little inlets. Dolphins and pelicans keep a careful watch as you cast a fishing line, or peel back the paper on your fish and chips.
Culture and history check in
Connect with Aboriginal culture – Grampians National Park
Immerse yourself in the world’s oldest living culture amongst the rugged cliffs, rock art walking trails and awesome waterfalls of The Grampians. Listen for the stories of the Gariwerd Aboriginal culture through the eyes of Traditional Owners at The Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre.
Strike it rich – Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park
Gold fever lured many here in the 1850s, and today its tracks lure history fossickers. This is the coolest place to get up close to old mining relics as nature slowly reclaims them. If you stumble across any gold nuggets, the road trip treats are on you!
Historic hut hunting – Alpine National Park
The stuff of mountain movie legends. Let your boots do the walking amongst alpine trails to deserted high country historic cattlemen huts. Horse-riding experiences can take it up another high altitude history notch.
Selfie spotlight – Cape Schanck Lighthouse
Pinch it, hand-stand it, push it – strike pose in front of Cape Schanck Lightstation. Keep an eye out for sea for commuting marine life – it’s perfect for whale spotting during migration time.
National parks for adrenalin loving teens
Adventure peaks – Alpine National Park
Take on the views and the challenges of walking across the iconic Razorback trail, or wander high plains tracks and soak in endless views.
Go with the flow – Murray River Reserve
Canoe or kayak down the Mighty Murray, under old trestle bridges and past red gum forests where koalas snooze.
Up cycle – Kinglake National Park
Get on your bike for the thrills and spills of downhill mountain biking with a view at Bowden Spur Mountain Bike Area in Kinglake National Park.
Read more: Top 10 Gippsland things to do
Emu photo bombing – Tower Hill Game Reserve
The wildlife’s not camera shy here – emus, koalas and kangaroos check you out at on every trail through this dormant volcano
Rockpool rambling – Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary
You’ll be amazed how many mini beasts live in rockpools – peer into ocean pools, or snorkel and dive nearby.
Whale watching – Warrnambool
Wild winds and ocean swells off Warrnambool bring Southern Right whales into its waters to calve. Viewing platforms offer front row seats for whale spotting.
Victoria has powered up the outdoor destinations. Add them to your teen’s outdoor playlist and hit the that refresh button. All that’s left for you to do is pack the survival kit of road trip snacks.
Most of Victoria’s national parks, reserves and historic places are now open for day-use activities. Camping, overnight activities and BBQ facilities are closed and some walking tracks are singular direction to maintain physical distancing. Restrictions at time of publication request that physical distancing of 1.5 metres between people and maximum of 10 people is observed at all times to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is a rapidly changing situation. For a full list of open and accessible spaces visit https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/ and https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/get-into-nature/safety-in-nature/covid-19-update