Walking is one of life's simple pleasures, and a great way to exercise outside a gym. Swap mirror walls, air-conditioning, lycra and pumping music for the great outdoors, fresh air, who-cares clothes and birdsong, and you have a social activity suitable for all ages and every level of ability and fitness.
Victoria offers a jaw-dropping diversity of bushwalks through areas rich in natural wonders and colourful human history. Top Walks in Victoria, a fantastic new-release walking guide from Explore Australia, showcases the best walks in the state.
Experienced travel writer Melanie Ball has hiked every track in this book and there are walks for each part of the state, from the renowned Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse loop and salt lake circuits in the Mallee region, to the stunning Big Walk at Mount Buffalo and the Great Ocean Walk along the world-famous Great Ocean Road. Even city dwellers can easily find beautiful places nearby to stretch their legs, from the 1,000 Steps in the Dandenong Ranges National Park to the rocky hills of the Warrandyte Goldfields.
Most of the tracks in Top Walks in Victoria can be completed in a few hours, but there are some more difficult multi-day walks for those wanting more of a challenge. There's detailed trail information for each walk, as well as a map, photographs and beautiful illustrations of fauna and flora that you're likely to see along the track.
Whether you seek somewhere quiet to contemplate life and the universe, or long to gaze at sweeping mountain vistas; whether you want to get sand between your toes or waterfall spray in your face, Victoria has a track for you. And Top Walks in Victoria will take you there!
Melanie Ball's career as a travel writer fell off the back of an overland expedition truck between London and Johannesburg. Over thirty-odd years since then, her articles and images have been widely published across Australia, including in RACV's Royal Auto magazine. Her love of bushwalking well predates that big adventure, however, and she is still happiest when there's only a hiking boot between her and terra firma. Melanie has walked widely throughout Australia and in overseas regions from Tierra del Fuego to Ethiopia's Simien Mountains.
Top Walks in Victoria
Author: Melanie Ball
Question: Why did you want to write Top Walks in Victoria?
Melanie Ball: I love bushwalking and I love bushwawlking in Victoria and want to inspire others to explore the state on foot. I also wanted to show that hiking can be – and, I think, should be - much more than getting from A to B. Given Victoria's birds and wildflowers, why rush? I hope that my descriptive style of writing makes each walk an interesting read, provides the detail needed to tread the tracks and encourages first timers and families to have a go and others to go longer and more adventurous, whilst also stopping lots to smell the roses, so to speak.
Question: Do you have a favourite place to walk in Victoria?
Melanie Ball: Probably the High Country, with range-upon-range at my feet and big skies overhead but I also love walking along cliff lines with the ocean pounding the cliffs below.
Question: How long did you research and walk around before writing Top Walks in Victoria?
Melanie Ball: I had done most of the walks before beginning work on the book however I re-trod many trails with a GPS (to map them) and a digital recorder (for the detail I needed to write them up). In the process I rediscovered just how wonderful Victoria's walks are and found some new favourites. The research and writing process, plus the selection and submission of images, took about eight months all up.
Question: Can you tell us about one of the difficult multi-day walks featured?
Melanie Ball: My favourite is the 2-day (3 if you have a lay day) loop walk to Wilsons Promontory lighthouse which, if you overnight in one of the lighthouse cottages rather than camp, involves two big day walks of over 20km. This is a fabulous loop with a mix of coast, cliff, forest, heath, and granite boulders and each time I hike it – three times now – I fall more in love with The Prom.
Question: Why do you love exercising outside?
Melanie Ball: I have never been a gym person – or into lycra either! – and exercising outdoors gives me a sense of freedom I don't have under a roof. The birds, the flowers and fungi, the endless diversity of Australian trees, in particular the eucalypts with their different shapes and colours and textures, and the fresh air all add up to wonderful experiences. As well, I revel in how small I feel, insignificant even, when I'm in the bush, breathing sea air or leaving footprints in desert sand.
Interview by Brooke Hunter