Forget expensive gym memberships – shows that being active or exercising in the great outdoors is not just a whole lot cheaper, but it’s also much better for you. Heading outside for your workout – or even a leisurely walk – not only has great physical benefits, but did you know it can also give you a mood boost, lower your stress levels and make you feel more revitalised and energetic? In fact, just five minutes of activity outside in the presence of nature can have an immediate (and lasting) effect on your mental health. And if you are exercising near some water, this effect is even greater.
Still not convinced? The same researchers also found that people who head outside to get active not only enjoy it more, but are more likely to say they will do the activity again. And other has found that regular two-hour forest walks can significantly boost your immune system, meaning you’re able to fight off viruses, bacteria and other invaders.
So: fitter, happier and healthier – all from being active outside.
While taking a walk around your neighbourhood, riding a bike ride through a local park or working in your garden (if you are lucky enough to have one) are great ways to get active outside, we are lucky enough to live in Victoria – a state that boasts some of the most diverse landscapes in Australia (if not the world). Let's think bigger and better and take full advantage of everything Victoria has to offer.
From Alpine regions to the spectacular surf coast, expansive waterways to cool rainforests, the Mediterranean-like Mornington Peninsula to rock formations to rival the Top End – it’s all in our backyard.
Here are our best picks to get you off the couch and outdoors this weekend.
Victoria’s breathtaking High Country occupies around 5,000 square kilometres in the state’s north east. Visit mountain villages such as for heritage attractions and scenic walks, or go horse riding through the stunning scenery of . The dog-friendly alpine village of Dinner plays hosts to high-altitude tennis amongst the snowgums in summer and pooch play in the snow during winter. Head to the alpine — Hotham, Falls Creek, Mt Buller and Mt Stirling — for downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboarding and even more action in the snow.
Our top picks
Cycle: Ride your mountain bike along the 24km (return) from Mount Hotham to Dinner Plain.
Hike: Take the hard to the summit of Victoria’s tallest mountain, Mount Bogong, or try some of the easier walks around the Bogong High Plains.
Play: From tobogganing to snowball fights to a purpose-built snow play park, there’s nothing quite like playing in the for kids and kids at heart alike.
Discover more outdoor activities in the High
Victoria’s ancient lush rainforests are the perfect place to enjoy walks, especially the rainforests along the Victorian coastline and inland around . The wet eucalyptus forest at Goongerah, Errinundra National , preserves the largest remaining stand of cool temperate rainforest in Victoria. Also in Gippsland, Mitchell River National offers up rainforest gullies, and canoeing and rafting in remote river gorges. At Melba , along the Great Ocean Road at Lavers Hill, you can experience one of the state’s wettest, and indeed lushest, places.
Photo: Mark Watson / Tourism Victoria
Our top picks
Challenge: March your way up the steep, 1000 step-climb of the Kokoda in the Dandenong Ranges and experience a tiny sense of the exhaustion felt by the Australian soldiers following the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in World War II.
Cave: Discover an underground wonderland beneath the Gippsland rainforest at , where a network of limestone caves almost 400 million years old are waiting to be explored.
Play: Grab a bird’s-eye of the magnificent Ottway rainforest from the world’s longest and tallest elevated walk or, for the more adventurous, the adrenaline-packed zipline tour.
Discover more outdoor activities in our
Swimming, water sports, fishing and basking in the sunshine are just some of the activities synonymous with Victoria’s waterways. Add houseboats and water sports to the mix and you can do it all along the Murray River, which meanders some 2700km from the state’s north east across to South Australia. Elsewhere, Lakes boasts Australia's largest inland network of waterways with plenty of biking, fishing and walking activities. And we can’t ignore the enormous Port Phillip on Melbourne’s doorstep, with so many opportunities for bayside swimming and promenade walking.
Our top picks
Ride: Follow the old light tramway – now a 65km mountain bike trail – through the Colquhoun forest from Bairnsdale to Lakes Entrance, or just ride one of the sections.
Walk: The Entrance to the Lakes takes you around the edge of the lake then through bushland to historic Flagstaff Hill, where you can head back to Lakes Entrance along Ninety Mile Beach.
Paddle: Hire a and spend a leisurely day paddling past the giant river gums, pulling in to a secluded clearing for a picnic lunch.
Play: The Murray River is a golf-lover’s dream with dozens of along the river from Albury to Mildura, including the Cohuna Golf Course, where a young Stuart Appleby practiced.
Discover more outdoor activities on our
Although Victoria’s ‘official’ surf coast is along the Great Ocean , it can’t possibly steal the glory from the rest of the state. There are just too many good beaches. South Gippsland offers up gorgeous Venus , and Wilsons . Central Gippsland has the almighty Ninety Mile , and East Gippsland has the secluded beaches of Croajingolong National . However, if surfing is your thing, you absolutely must visit Bells Beach at , home of the internationally acclaimed surf event – Rip Curl Pro.
Our top picks
Surf: Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you can’t visit the surf coast without going surfing. Beginners can join a group or have a private lesson at beaches all along the surf coast.
Dive: Grab a snorkel and a mask, or a scuba kit, and head underwater at Marengo to see spectacular marine life visit the 20m high kelp forests.
Walk: The Surf Coast connects the town of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet – walk the whole 44 km, or a small section.
Discover more outdoor activities along the surf
The Grampians National , between Horsham and Stawell, is Victoria’s rock climbing and abseiling capital. Not limited to the hardcore though, you can check out the unusual rock formations, such as the Fortress and The Balconies, as well as some of the finest Aboriginal rock in the country. At You Yang Regional , in greater Geelong, you can walk over Big Rock for stunning views and ancient Aboriginal wells, or ride along the 50kms of mountain bike trails. And of course, most people already have the legendary rock formations along The Great Ocean on their bucket list.
Our top picks
Culture: Join Aboriginal guides on tours to ancient rock art in the Grampians and experience the secrets of the natural world.
Hike: Not for the faint-hearted (or time-poor), the 104 km Great Ocean is a great way to dedicate a couple of days to experiencing nature at its most spectacular.
Climb: Join the thousands of climbers from all over the world who have climbed and the spectacular Grampian rock formations.
Discover more outdoor activities in the Grampians
A bit over an hour from Melbourne, the Mornington delivers 260km of calm shores for water frolicking, kite surfing, kayaking, sailing and parasailing, as well as spectacular, but dangerous, open-sea surf beaches. It is home to some extraordinary marine life and is one of only four biosphere reserves in Victoria. With its clusters of seaside villages, relaxed outdoor lifestyle and Mediterranean climate, it is also a great place to linger and sample local, seasonal produce.
Our top picks
Kayak: Discover the rich marine life of Port Philip Bay, including curious seals and dolphins, as you leisurely kayak along the .
Swim: The calm and shallow waters of the swim on both sides of the Peninsula offer something for beach lovers of all ages and abilities, from paddling to beach strolls, snorkelling to beach cricket, and ocean swimming to beach fishing.
Kids: From hedge mazes to adventure gardens to strawberry picking, there are some great ways to keep the kids and entertained.
Where are your favourite places to get active in Victoria? Drop us a line or send an Instagram pic @betterhealthgov