Australia is famous for some of the most beautiful beaches in the world – but let’s face it: it is tempting to snuggle up in front of the TV as the cold weather kicks in. However, chilly winter days are perfect for enjoying the beautiful coastline and getting your cheeks rosy. And you don’t necessarily need to travel far.
This stunning coastal walk along Melbourne’s Bayside beaches takes you along secluded bays, white beaches, rugged cliffs and rock formations as well as a scenic coastal path – and easily becomes a whole days entertainment (with a bonus fish and chips pit stop half way through!). And only just over half an hour away from Melbourne CBD
If you don’t fancy fighting for a parking spot or battling the crowds for a space for your beach towel, then winter is a good time to appreciate the sandy beaches. Especially if you have a furry friend, as dogs are welcome to tag along during winter months.
My favourite coastal walk is a 5km round trip from Sandringham to Half Moon Bay and takes you first on to the beach, while on the way back you can take the path across the cliff tops offering stunning views over the bay and what almost resembles a bushland walk at points. Even if you have been to both beaches before, the walk is worth while due to the changing scenery between beaches, rugged cliffs and scenic views. We often take this walk as a family and our daughter and dog both love it (could it be the fish and chips?).
The walk starts at the Sandringham Yacht club, where there is a carpark right next to the beach. If you look south you can see the large expanse of white sand and the red cliffs of Half Moon Bay in the distance. This is where you are heading.
The large beach is perfect for running off some first energy or digging into the sand (if you have 4 legs) but soon the sand reduces and makes way for some rugged cliffs. Enjoy exploring the rock pools and listening to the waves while you walk the cliff path.
On the way you will find interesting sand formations and a rugged coastline. The route is normally fine to walk on but during heavy winds the path will get wet and slippery from the waves. There is also some easy climbing involved and at one point there is a drop from the cliffs to the sea - so this part of the walk won't be suitable for small kids. But there are multiple exit points from the beach up to the coastal path so you can easily swap between the beach and the path and do what is right for you.
The walk takes you further along until you are on the quiet beach next to Red Bluff. The distinctive red cliffs are fascinating and have been the inspiration for many local artist in the past. There are boards up on the coastal path with examples of these paintings along with some facts and history.
Here it is time to head up from the beach to the coastal path. It is possible to walk across the cliffs on Red Bluff which will take you to Half Moon Bay (and I have to admit I am guilty of braving this). However, the cliffs are unstable and certainly not suitable for small kids or elderly. In addition brown snakes have been spotted basking in the sunlight in summer so it is better to keep away.
Up on the coastal path you will have an amazing view of the Red Bluff cliffs, the beach below and a tiny Melbourne skyline in the distance.
From Red Bluff make your way down to Half Moon Bay. This beautiful sandy bay is a perfect picnic spot – or if you fancy a cup of hot chocolate or fish and chips the Cerberus Beach House restaurant has a chilled out beachfront cafe that will hit the spot. Enjoy a walk on the jetty, spot some pelicans and have a well deserved pit stop. And you may also want to come here in the evening as the sunsets are amazing.
On the way back I tend to choose the clifftop walk that will give you beautiful views over the bay while the path is mostly sheltered by bushes. Tiny birds chirp in the bushes and rainbow lorikeets can be seen on the path.
If you live in another part of Melbourne it might seem funny to go for a day out to another suburb – but this coastline walk has plenty to offer. And as an added bonus both Sandringham and the close by Black Rock have plenty of great cafes and shops to explore when you've had enough of fresh air.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Address: Jetty road, Sandringham (warning: the carpark is quite expensive if you don't have a Bayside parking sticker. You may want to park on Beach road and walk down to the beach)
For public transport take the Sandringham line train to Sandringham, then head for the beach. You can access the beach on numerous spots from the Beach Road (no need to start at the Sandringham Yacht Club)