If the pandemic has been good for one thing, it’s encouraging us all to get out and explore our own backyards.
From bush to beach, across town and wetlands, the northern Bellarine has no shortage of places to explore on foot, with something for all ages and fitness levels.
The Bellarine Coastal Trail is the main walking connection between Portarlington, Indented Head and St Leonards. The trail links up with Ramblers Walk in Portarlington and Edwards Point Willdlife Reserve, creating a network of trails across the northern Bellarine Peninsula.
Within the coastal trail are several easy and accessible walking tracks. So, let’s go exploring! Here are some of our favourite walks on the Bellarine.
1. Portarlington to St Leonards
It’s about 15 km from Portarlington to St Leonards, but don’t let the distance put you off. As you meander on the Bellarine Coastal Trail along the edge of Port Phillip Bay, taking in stunning views and points of interest along the way, the kilometres will fly by! Stop at either Indented Head or St Leonards for coffee or lunch before returning. The path is wide and mostly flat, making it perfect for pushing prams, walking dogs or nattering with a friend.
2. Edwards Point Walk, Swan Bay
For a sense of remoteness and connection to nature, this is one of our favourites. Start at the Beach Road car park and wander along the level path through rare coastal woodlands, salt marshes and across lagoons. Along the way, look out for native flora and fauna. You might even spot an endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.
Once you reach the beach, stop for a rest and take in those views. You can return the same way or via the beach back to Beach Rd if the tide is out. This is an easy walk but parts are narrow, muddy and can be flooded at times. It’s about 3km each way but allow plenty of time – you will get sidetracked gazing at the scenery or watching the birdlife.
See more at: https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/432
3. Ramblers Walk, Portarlington
This is a very easy child and pet friendly walk along a quiet flat gravel path with great views to the bay and You Yangs. The walk is approx 1.3 km each way and runs in between Ramblers Rd and the water’s edge, taking in coastal vegetation, lagoons and abundant bird-life, as well backyards of homes and cottages.
There’s plenty of parking at Point Richards carpark (end of Point Richards Rd) and if walking with young children, enjoy a stop off at the Rotary Children’s Park where there’s a playground, barbecues and picnic tables.
See more at: https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/288
4. Portarlington Historic and Hilly Walk
Looking for something more physically challenging that takes in Portarlington’s attractions? There are many choices for walking around the town taking in historic sites such as the Portarlington Pier, the old mill or the streetscape.
Here’s one to try: it’s short but hilly, so you’ll get a good workout as well as learning more about Portarlington’s history. Start in Newcombe St outside the Ol’ Duke Hotel and walk up Harding St, past the heritage-listed RSL building and the small memorial garden. Across Fenwick St, you’ll find heritage listed St Patrick’s Hall (1942). Continue up to Smythe St to the Arlington Rise development, a great spot to to catch your breath and enjoy the views before heading back down again.
See more at: https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/286
5. Point Richards Flora and Fauna Reserve trails
Accessed off Point Richards Rd, the 62-ha reserve has a network of trails designed to showcase its unique natural and ecological features. In fact, it’s one of the largest areas of native bushland and ephemeral wetlands on the Bellarine Peninsula.
The bushland area consists of low, flat grasses and features indigenous wattle, manna gums and banksia. It provides habitat and shade for 55 bird species and six frog species.
There are several walks within the reserve ranging from 1.2 km to 2.6 km. It’s best to plan ahead and choose your path, or you can stay in there for hours.
See more information and a map at: bellarinebayside.com.au/coastal-management/natural-environment