Short walks on and around the Great South West Walk


Portland Area


Deans Heath Walk

A beautiful and diverse area of remnant bushland. An ideal walk for late afternoon.

An easy loop walk of 3.5 km, taking up to 2 hours at a leisurely walking pace.

  • The Walk; Starts at the car park near Baxter House about 5 km south of Portland on Thistle Road. Access is via Madiera Packet Road.
  • Diverse plant communities; Wetlands and sedgelands, open heath, and enchanting She-oak forest.
  • Lookout; Near the Bald Hill Reservoir, with views across heathland to Portland in the distance.
  • Wildlife; Many birds, if you are lucky you may see an Olive Whistler, Rufous Bristlebird or Southern Emu-wren

Smelter Nature Walk

Magnificent coastal scenery, diverse heathland communities, and beautiful spring wildflowers. Suitable for disables access.

An easy walk of about 4 km taking up to 2 hours return.

  • The walk;  starts from the gates to the Cape Grant Quarry about 8 km south of Portland at the end of Quarry Road. Alternatively, start at the other end of the walk at the Point Danger carpark. This section of the Great South West Walk hugs the coastline. Retrace your steps when reaching the carpark at the other end of the walk.
  • Coastal scenery; Fantastic views into Grant Bay and out to Lawrence Rocks
  • Heathland wildflowers; springtime is when the heathland is a mass of colour. Lookout for some of the beautiful and delicate native orchids, Helmeted Spider and Greenhood orchids.


A feature of this walk is the variety of plant communities sculptured by the harsh coastal conditions on Cape Grant.

  • The walk; this easy, 2 hour loop walk starts at the carpark at the Quarry Gate south of Portland past the aluminium smelter. By taking the short cut behind Crayfish Bay you halve the walk. Start by crossing the bitumen road, leading to the quarry,and entering the track behind the vehicle barrier. A sign includes a map of Sam’s Loop. Head west, following the green markers, along the Swale Track. If you opt for the short cut follow the sign that reads “Return to Quarry Gate”. Otherwise continue to follow the Swale Track to its western end, where it leads to a flight of steps and meets the Great South West Walk on the cliff top. Turn left and follow the Great South West Walk back to your starting point. Note that on Sam’s Walk there are two access points to the Deans Heath Walk.


Cape Nelson Area


Enchanted Forest Walk

A great walk for the kids through a magical forest, actually it’s an old landslide but the fairies don’t know that.

  • The walk; starts at the Enchanted Forest Car Park which is beside the Scenic Drive about 2 km past the Yellow Rock Car Park. The track descends quickly and intersects the Great South West Walk before a set of steps rakes you into the magical filtered light of the Enchanted Forest. After about 2 km of enchantment the track climbs up again to the cliff top. Retract your steps back through the Enchanted Forest.
  • Moonah Forest. The dominant tree species in the Enchanted Forest is Moonah. With water and shelter the trees have grown much bigger than those on the  cliff top.
  • Vines of Bower Spinach decorate the limestone boulders. Sedges grow where water trickles from the cliff face.
  • The Enchanted Forest contains a variety of Great South West Walk engineering. Volunteers have built steps, stairways. bridges, ramps and lookouts to help you navigate your way through the giant limestone boulders without damaging the magic of the forest

Cape Nelson Loop Walk

This 8 km walk incorporates parts of the Great South West Walk, Lighthouse Walk and Seacliff Nature Walk.

  • The walk; start at the Cape nelson lighthouse carpark, turn left and follow the green trail markers. This walk will take you around the tip of Cape Nelson and then along the majestic east coast. You leave the east coast, and the Great South West Walk and head inland through the Cape Nelson State Park, which was formed to protect the rare native vegetation including the Soap Mallee. You pass through the picnic ground then cross the Lighthouse Road onto the Seacliff Nature Walk. This heads to the equally majestic west coast of Cape Nelson and back to the Lighthouse.
  • The Seacliff Nature Walk was constructed in 1979 by students, staff and parents of Portland High School and was the fore runner to the much longer Great South West Walk.
  • Wildlife; Echidnas are very common along the track and the holes that they dig looking for ants and grubs.

Lighthouse Walk

An easy loop walk of 6 km taking up to 3 hours

  • The walk; start from the main picnic area and head south west to the lighthouse. The track then joins the Great South West Walk for about 1.5 km along limestone cliffs before turning inland to return to the carpark. Follow the blue markers. Take care near the cliffs.
  • Cape Nelson Lighthouse, built of basalt in 1884. Tours are available
  • Woodland and heath, a rich diverse community featuring Soap Mallee which occurs nowhere else in Victoria.

Sea Cliff Nature Walk

Limestone cliffs and rugged ocean scenery. Cape Nelson State Park is 11 km south west of Portland via Cape Nelson Road. An easy loop walk taking about 1.5 to 2 hours

  • The walk; Start from the carpark near the junction of Cape Nelson Road and Scenic Drive. The track heads west joining the Great South West Walk at the coast. Head north for about 300 metres before joining the return track to the carpark. Take care near the cliffs.
  • Soap Mallee, a small tree that occurs nowhere else in Victoria, yet is fairly common along the coast in South Australia.
  • Limestone Cliffs, made of compact shell fragments laid down many thousands of years ago. In more recent times the sea exposed this limestone. which overlays dark volcanic basalt.
  • Ocean Birds, Nankeen Kestrels and Peregine Falcons fly near the cliffs and Gannets ride the wave and wind currents out to sea.


Cape Bridgewater


Cape Bridgewater Car Shuttles

With a few friends and a bit of planning you can enjoy all that Cape Bridgewater has to offer.

  • Walks around Cape Bridgewater are best enjoyed using a car shuttle. Cars can be left at car parks at Bridgewater Beach, The Blowholes, Amos Road and The Bridgewater Lakes. Take the other car to the start of your walk and you can walk a distance that suits your group. Walks on Cape Bridgewater have many cliff top sections and children should be supervised. The climb to the top of Stony Hill from Bridgewater Beach is quite steep and time should be taken to rest and admire the excellent views.


  •     Bridgewater Lakes to Whites Beach   3 km
  •     Whites Beach to Blowholes   5 km
  •     Blowholes to Bridgewater Bay  8 km


  • Cape Bridgewater was once a volcanic island and is now a mere remnant of its former self. Over time sand dunes formed and hardened into limestone, to make the present fascinating landscape.


  • During summer watch for the spouts of Blue Whales from the cape lookouts.White’s Beach is part of the Discovery Bay Marine National Park and is an excellent site to view marine life in the rock pools at low tide.Watch Australian Fur Seals frolic inthe surf from the Seal Viewing Platform.

Sad History

  • In a gully at White’s Beach is a monument to the wreck of the Marie. The Marie was wrecked in 1851 with the loss of all on board.

Freshwater Springs Walk

An easy walk of 4 km taking up to 2 hours return

  • The walk starts at the Blowholes carpark, and heads north along the Great South West Walk, to a series of viewing platforms. The last platform is above the freshwater springs. Retrace your steps and return to the car park.


  • Mats of white flowering Correa alba cover the ground near the freshwater lookout
  • A harsh eroded landscape produced by sea wind buffeting and natural erosion. Isolated herbaceous plants are all that grow here. Erosion control programs are carried out by the Friends of The Great South West Walk and students from Wesley College who have an outdoor education campus beside the Bridgewater Lakes.

The Blowholes

  • Waves erode holes in the cliffs volcanic rock to eventually form blowholes. With a good swell sea spray can sprout high into the air.

Seal Colony Walk

A 5 km walk of medium difficulty taking 2 to 2.5 hours return. Steep in places – a reasonable level of fitness required

The Walk

Starts at the car park 100 metres up the road past the Brigdewater Bay Cafe. The track decends to the shore and up a steep hill, leading to a viewing platform above the seal colony, a viewing platform into the seal cave, a viewing platform on the tip of Cape Bridgewater. Retrace your steps to return to the car park.


  • Going about their lives on the rocky platforms and in a sea cave directly below the viewing platform.


The cliff near the seal viewing platform is made of layers of    volcanic tuff and ash. It was once the inside of a volcano’s crater, before half of it collapsed into the sea.


  • Nankeen Kestrels and Peregine Falcons nest in the cliffs below Stony Hill, and the rare Rufous Bristlebird has been seen in the cliff vegetation.

Trewalla Camp Loop Walk

Explore secret coves and hidden caves on a walk along spectacular Bridgewater Bay.

  • This walk is not possible if there is a very high tide or big sea running. The beach section is not part of the Great South West Walk and is not marked. The walk starts from an unmarked car park, a road gravel dump site, which is opposite the lagoons just before you get to Shelly Beach. A small track links the gravel site with the Great South West Walk at the top of the hill. Cross the Great South West Walk,  and descend steeply to the beach down a steep sand dune track. Once on the beach, head east along a series of small secluded rocky coves. The steep cliffs are made of layers of dune limestone eroded into weird and wonderful patterns. Hidden under the last of these cliffs are spectacular sea caves and from there you walk along the beach towards the east for about 1 km. A post at the top of the beach marks where the Great South West Walk crosses up through the sand dunes and through the thick coastal vegetation to Trewalla Camp. The camp is a great spot for lunch or a picnic and there is a lookout with views across to Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson. Make sure you follow the Great South West Walk red walk loop arrows out of the camp as it is easy to get confused with the maintenance track. Following the Great South West Walk will lead you to the cliff tops above the secret coves that you explored earlier. The track is very close to the cliff edge so protective fences have been erected to protect you. Finally the track winds through dune vegetation and back to the gravel site track to return to your car,
  • On the beach; Pairs of hooded plovers run along the sand in front of you. To protect their nest sites walk close to the water line. A lot of plastic rubbish is washed up onto the beach. It is a rewarding exercise to take time to think where it all came from. In the spring and summer Blue Bottle jelly fish wash up after storms. A type of Portuguese man-o-warm each one is not a single individual but a colony of individuals called zoolds.

Cobboboonee State Forest


Tim’s Loop Walk

A picturesque stroll across bridges that span the head waters of the Surry River.

  • This walk incorporates Hodgett’s Grove, Ralph’s Bridge, Tim’s Bridge and links with a section of the Great South West Walk. This easy to medium grade walk is 4.3 km long and should take about 1 1/2 hours. From the large information board near the entrance to Surry River Picnic Ground follow the green track markers down into the river valley. The track meanders through a section of the Cobbobboonee State Forest. This walk is named after Tim Hodgetts who was a popular Forest Supervisor with the former Forest Commission in the area. The track follows and crosses the Surry River and small tributaries. Part way into the walk there is a short cut back to the Picnic Ground.
  • Look for freshwater eels and galaxias ( minnows)  in the pools of the Surry River.
  • In Spring and Summer look for migrating Pink Robins and Rufous Fantails in the fern gully.
  • Bird Orchids are common beside the track near Ralph’s Bridge in late spring.
  • Blackwood Wattle and Woolly Tea Tree are common in the moist river valley.
  • Fishbone water ferns mark the highest level of the winter floods and were the indicator used to find a level for the bridge decks. Above the ferns grow Messmate eucalypts which don’t like wet feet.

Jackass Fern Gully Walk

A grove of tree ferns, beside the Fitzroy River, is one of the most western in Australia.

  • The walk starts at the Jackass Picnic Ground and is an easy to medium grade walk of 6 km that should take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. To start, walk back out of the entry track for 200 metres then turn left following the green track markers, walking up the hill to Mt. Van Dyke. Now follow the markers down to join the Great South West Walk before crossing the Fitzroy River Bridge, constructed by Great South West Walk volunteers and community groups. After crossing the bridge the track leads to the Fitzroy walkers camp. Turn left at the camp and follow the track back towards the river and onto the T&W Road. Follow the road back to the picnic ground. Make sure you take the short walk down to the lookout to see tree ferns in the river valley.
  • Soft Tree Ferns grow in the moist valley beside the Fitzroy River. Other ferns include fishbone ferns and maidenhair ferns.
  • In the moist river valley grow Blackwood Wattles, and Hazel Pomadreeis, which provide shade for the tree ferns.
  • Yellow Robins perch on the upright trunks of trees and survey the ground for small insects and grubs.

Heathland Nature Walk

In spring a profusion of wildflowers will excite the bush naturalist

  • This short 2 km, loop walk can be combined with a picnic at Surry Ridge picnic Ground or a longer walk along the Great South West Walk. Park beside Cobboboonee Road, adjacent to the Great South West Walk 3 km from T&W intersection. Across the road walk east through the open eucalypt forest. The track soon heads south and joins the Great South West Walk before looping around west then north, back to the start
  • In areas of poor soil where the bigger trees struggle, the heath land is a mass of wildflowers in spring.
  • Look for dainty native orchids growing beside the track. Green hoods and Helmet Orchids in winter and Caladenias and Wax Lips in spring.Bird hearing is often a lot easier to do than bird watching. Find a quiet spot and you will soon hear and see the Scrub Wrens, Fairy Wrens, Yellow Robins, Tree Creepers and Pardalotes..
  • In summer the cicadas call loudly, drumming from the tree tops. Look for the discarded skin cases of their nymphs clinging to the tree trunks.

Mount Richmond National Park

An extinct volcano with ocean views, tall forests, open heathland, dense wetlands, spring wildflowers and abundant wildlife.

Mount Richmond National Park claims 450 species of plants throughout its diverse habitats and is an important area for the Southern Potoroo. The park is 23 km from Portland via the main Portland – Nelson Road, turning of at Stephens Road. All four walks start at the main picnic area on the summit.

West Walk

A loop walk of medium difficulty taking about 1.5 hours

  • The walk; Starts from the western end of the main picnic area with the Great South West Walk and leads down the north-wets slope of Mount Richmond through woodland and heathland. The track may be wet in places in winter and spring. For a short section the walk diverts east, away from the Great South West Walk track and climbs up to Summit Road. Return to the picnic area along Summit Road for about 1 km. Watch for vehicles along this section. Alternatively for those keen to test their stamina, return via Noels Walk on the eastern side of Summit Road.
  • Scenic Views; Discovery Bay to the north-west and Mount Kincaid ( an extinct volcano like Mount Richmond) to the north.
  • Open heathland; pruned and stunted by the strong salt-laden winds. Many colourful flowering plants grow here.
  • Wildflowers; Correas, heaths, bush peas.wattles and native orchids such as Helmet orchids, Greenhorns and Sun orchids.

Noels Walk

A loop walk of medium difficulty taking about 1.5 hours. Seasonal – a summer walk only

  • The walk;  heads north from the main picnic area, leaving the lookout tower to your left, and descends the north-eastern side of the hill. Turn left onto Telegraph Road for a few hundred metres before climbing back up towards the Summit Road. The track is very wet in places in winter and spring and should only be walked in summer. Return to the picnic area via Summit Road for about 1 km. Watch for vehicles along this section. Alternatively for those keen to test their stamina, return via West Walk on the eastern side of Summit Road.
  • Tall forest; Stringybark and Manna Gum with Grass-tree understorey in the upper sections
  • Open forest; Swamp Gum and impenetrable wetland thickets in low lying areas.
  • Wildlife; Bush birds such as Crimson Rosella. Gang-gang Cockatoo, Australian Raven, Honeyeaters, Thornbills, Wattlebirds, Robins, Finches and Tree-creepers

Ocean View Walk

An easy loop walk taking about 1 hour

  • The walk;  Start from the southern end of the main picnic area, and cross the Benwerrin Nature Walk and the South Boundary Track. Heading south-west the track gradually descends to a scenic lookout.After competing a large loop, the track returns to the South Boundary Track and the extension of Summit Road near the picnic area.
  • Wildlife; Koalas can be seen snoozing in the Manna Guns.
  • Scenic Lookout; views of Cape Bridgewater peninsular and the extensive sand dunes of Discovery Bay.
  • Potato Trial Plot; Located near the lookout the open grassy area was used to grow potatoes in the past. It is now grazed by Kangaroos and wallabies.

Benwerrin Nature Walk

An easy loop walk taking about 1 hour

  • The walk;  Start at the eastern end of the main picnic area. The track heads in an easterly direction before looping back to cross the Ocean View Walk and the extension of the Summit Road and eventually joining the West Walk.
  • Self-guided park notes of Benwerrin Nature Walk are available on Parks Victoria’s website.
  • Tall forest; Manna Gum, Brown Stringybark and Blackwood on the protected eastern side of the mountain.
  • Stunted woodland and heath; located on the western side of the mountain which is buffeted by strong salt-laden winds.
  • Tree hollows; Valuable shelter for possums, Sugar Gliders and birds such as the rare Powerful Owl

Discovery Bay Coastal Park


Lake Monibeong Loop Walk

The magnificent lake and ocean beach scenery of Discovery Bay. A 15 km loop walk of medium difficulty taking about 4 to 5 hours.

  • The walk;  Start from campsite No. 5 in the Monibeong camping area, at the end of the road Lake Monibeong Road branches south from the main Portland- Nelson Road about 16 km from Nelson. The walk passes the southern shore of the lake heading for Nobles Rocks. At the car park return along the beach, turning off at Cape Montesquieu to get back to Lake Monibeong.
  • An ideal spot to view water birds. The lake supports many native fish species such as Pigmy Perch, Galaxias and River Blackfish.
  • Nobles Rocks Middens. Shells such as Pipis, Whelks and Mussels accumulated on the rocks. They are the remains of meals eaten by Aboriginal people up to several thousand years ago. You may also see small pieces of flint, chipped away when hand tools were made.
  • Cape Montesquieu Headland. Made of layers of compacted sand. Built up over thousands of years. these layers also contain the remains of Calcified tree roots and “solution tubes” made by the percolating water.

Ocean Beach Viewing Platform

Expansive coastal views and fragile dunes an easy 400 metre stroll

  • The Walk;  Start at the car park about 3 km from Nelson along Beach Road. A track leads through the dunes to a viewing o=platform. From here, wander along the beach as far as you like. Warning – a strong undertow makes the beach unsuitable for swimming
  • Shipwreck Rock To the east of the lookout – it has claimed many small craft and fishing boats.
  • The Brig “Lady Nelson” Sailed past in December 1800 – it was the ship of Lieutenant James Grant, who made the first recorded sighting of Discovery Bay
  • Algal Blooms Looks like an oily substance and can sometimes be seen floating in the waves.
  • Ocean Treasures Washed up along the beach especially after high tide and stormy seas.

Livingstone’s Island Nature Walk

Scenic views of the Glenelg River Estuary and its birdlife. An ideal sunset walk. An east loop walk of about 2.5 km taking about 1.5  to 2 hours

  •  The walk;  Start at the western side of the carpark at the end of Beach Road about 3 km from Nelson overlooking the river mouth
  • Glenelg River  Estuary An ideal habitat fro waterbirds. The river was  originally explored by Major Mitchell in 1836. He named it after Lord Glenelg Secretary of State for the Colonies.
  • Saltmarsh Inundated only by very high tides and is very saline because of evaporation. Many species of plants, including the Beaded Glasswort grow here