Tarra-Bulga National Park

I had wanted to visit Tarra-Bulga National Park for some time. I mean, after seeing photos of the Corrigan Suspension Bridge, who wouldn’t want to visit? But the national park in South Gippsland definitely impressed me more than I expected. 

While there’s really only a few short walks to do in Tarra-Bulga National Park, they take you deep into the enchanting rainforest of the Strzelecki Ranges making you feel a world away. It’s some of the densest rainforest I’ve explored in Victoria, and while it has similarities to the Yarra Ranges National Park or the Otways, it feels much more ageless and otherworldly.

So, if I have convinced you to take a day trip out to Tarra-Bulga National Park from Melbourne, then keep reading on for all the walks to do and information you’ll need for a visit.

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Why Go to Tarra-Bulga National Park

I touched on this a bit in the introduction, but there’s more to know. It really does have a feeling that you’re somewhere very special in Tarra-Bulga National Park. The rainforest is moody, dense, and cool, and it feels a world away from anywhere nearby.

The Gunaikurnai people are the Traditional Owners of the area, and they jointly manage the park with Parks Victoria. Bulga means “mountain” and Tarra was named after Charlie Tarra, Count Strzelecki’s Aboriginal guide, who took the Polish explorer through the area in 1840. Originally, Bulga and Tarra were two separate parks, until 1986 when they were joined and enlarged to cover more of the area.

Tarra-Bulga National Park is very accessible for a lot of people. The walks are relatively short and well-constructed, so almost all ages and abilities can experience the beauty of the rainforest. The next time you’re trying to come up with a day trip or weekend idea from Melbourne, I highly recommend Tarra-Bulga National Park.

Tarra-Bulga National Park pin

How to Get There

Melbourne to Tarra-Bulga National Park: 190 km or 2.5 hour drive via M1 to Morwell and Traralgon and then follow Traralgon Creek Road to Balook

This is the easiest way to reach Tarra-Bulga National Park from the city and is the most recommended. 

However, there is an alternative route up from Yarram to the south. This is the direction I came from and then I left via Traralgon in the north. The Tarra Valley Road from Yarram is incredibly skinny and windy, but really one of the prettiest drives I’ve ever done. If you’re driving anything bigger than my van though, I probably wouldn’t recommend it!

Tarra Valley Road
Tarra Valley Road

Where to Stay

There’s no camping within the national park, so your best bet is to pick one of the two caravan parks just on the boundary. These are:

Tarra Valley Retreat | This is where I stayed and it was well worth spending the night there. Although outside the national park, it feels very much within the rainforest and is a beautiful spot to stay. I stayed on one of their campsites, but they also have cabins available. Check prices here.

Best Friend Holiday Retreat | A similar set up just down the road, this caravan park has camping sites and cabins for a range of different prices. Check availability here.

Otherwise, you could also stay a bit further back at one of the nearby towns, here are some suggestions:

Newborough (45 mins from Tarra-Bulga to the north): Brigadoon Cottages

Morwell (40 minutes from Tarra-Bulga to the north): Morewell Motel

Yarram (40 mins from Tarra-Bulga to the south): Yarram Cottage

Alberton West (45 minutes from Tarra-Bulga to the south): Bush Retreat Tiny Home

Tarra Valley Retreat
Tarra Valley Retreat

What You Need to Know About Visiting Tarra-Bulga National Park

  • Most walks begin from the Visitor Centre. This has a large carpark, toilets, picnic tables and a visitor centre which is open occasionally (it’s run by volunteers).
  • The main attraction is the Corrigan Suspension Bridge. This can be seen via a couple of different trails, either out and back or joined together as a loop, more info below.
  • Leeches are endemic throughout the whole national park, and it’s likely you’ll get at least one or more if it’s damp and been raining. Carry salt for easy removal or they’ll just fall off themselves.
  • There’s not much phone signal in the park, for either Telstra or Optus, so don’t rely on being able to communicate.
  • It rains often in the national park, even if it’s not necessarily forecasted in Traralgon or Yarram. It seems to have its own climate, so always pack a rain jacket for a visit.
  • You may be lucky enough to spot a lyrebird, but they’re super quick and it’ll likely be gone in a dash. Otherwise, you might also see wallabies, wombats, possums, black cockatoos, kookaburras and rosellas.
  • Leave No Trace and Respect the Outdoors, this national park is a precious rainforest, one of only a few such spots in Victoria left.

Read next: What to Pack for Day Hike

Tarra Valley
Tarra Valley Rainforest Walk

Waterfalls to See and Walks to Do in Tarra-Bulga National Park

The walks in Tarra-Bulga National Park are relatively short and achievable for most people. There also aren’t too many trails and they’re all centred around the same area, so you can easily visit all of them within a day. As I stayed at Tarra Valley Retreat after driving up from Yarram, I split the walks over two days. 

Tarra Falls
Tarra Falls

Tarra Falls

  • Distance: 100m
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Start: Small car park on side of Tarra Valley Road

Not much of a walk, but I still think it’s worth the stop: Tarra Falls. This spot has a wide waterfall tumbling down a smooth rockface in the forest. From the side of the road, you can take the stairs just down to a viewing platform. 

While the view isn’t great, I actually quite liked the spot and think it’s still worth stopping.

Cyathea Falls
Cyathea Falls

Tarra Valley Rainforest Walk to Cyathea Falls

  • Distance: 1.4km return
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Start: Tarra Valley Picnic Area 

This walk felt like I was entering into a fantasy land where fairies and elves would pop out of the ferns. Starting from the picnic area on Tarra Valley Road, you’ll pass under the Tarra Valley archway as you descend deep into the rainforest.

It’s incredible how dark and damp it is almost immediately, as you walk past ancient Myrtle Beech trees and layers upon layers of ferns. Once you get to Cyathea Falls, take a second to just admire the location. It really is pure magic.

You just need to return the same way.

View of the Corrigan Suspension Bridge
View of the Corrigan Suspension Bridge

Corrigan Suspension Bridge

  • Distance: 2.6km loop
  • Time: 45 minutes 
  • Start: Visitor Centre

There are a few ways to reach the Corrigan Suspension Bridge, depending on how long you want to walk for. Of course, I recommend opting for the full loop because it’s not long and it allows you to spend more time in the rainforest.

The loop has you starting from the Visitor Centre and following the signs pointing to the bridge. You’ll first follow the Lyrebird Ridge Track, before soon turning left onto Ash Track. This takes you through the forest and then down into the denser rainforest.

You’ll come to a T-intersection, turn right to get to the bridge. The track heads down, with a side lookout platform that is worth checking out (a nice view of the bridge from above), and then leads to the start of the bridge.

Walk across the Corrigan Suspension Bridge to the other side of the fern valley. Then you’ll see that you have two options. Turning left is a shorter option taking you back to the carpark via Bulga Picnic Area, but I recommend the trail heading up to your right.

This is called Scenic Track and it loops back around through a beautiful part of the rainforest, crossing over Bulga Picnic Area Road, and then heading back to the Visitor Centre via the Link Track. This is all 2.6km in total.

Shorter options include: 

  • Visitor Centre to Corrigan Suspension Bridge via Lyrebird Ridge Track and Ash Track returning the same way: 2.4km
  • Bulga Picnic Area to Corrigan Suspension Bridge via Fern Gully Nature Walk: 750m
Tarra-Bulga National Park walks

Forest Track and Lyrebird Ridge Track

  • Distance: 4.5km loop
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Start: Visitor Centre

This is one of the longer options in the park and takes you south of the Visitor Centre. Follow the Lyrebird Ridge Track first and then turn right onto the Forest Track. This trail heads down and around through the forest filled with mountain ash trees and a beautiful rainforest gully. 

It comes out onto the Old Yarram-Balook Road, which you can then take to return to the Visitor Centre. This loop has some steeper sections than the other shorter walks, but is still not overly difficult.

Walking track in Tarra-Bulga National Park

Grand Strzelecki Track

  • Distance: Around 100km
  • Time: 3-4 days

If you’re really keen to get off the beaten track in the area, then you can head off on the Grand Strzelecki Track. This multi-day hike connects Tarra-Bulga National Park and Morwell National Park taking hikers through dense rainforest, farmland, managed forests and logging areas, and bushfire affected areas.

The track is actually broken down into three loops, which can be done individually in 1-2 days or in a complete circuit over 3-4 days. You can also just complete the “Park to Park” section which will take 2 days, connecting the two national parks. There’s no camping within the national parks, but you can plan around the caravan parks and other accommodation.

Find more information at the official track website here.

What to Pack for a Weekend in Tarra-Bulga National Park

  • Head torch: As soon as the sun sets, you’ll be needing a good quality headlamp to help you find your way around the campground. This Black Diamond one is USB rechargeable too.
  • Camp chair: Kick back and relax at the end of the day with a comfortable and lightweight camping chair. This Helinox camp chair is a high quality option that packs away easily.
  • Gas cooker: Cooking up quality meals while camping makes the experience so much more enjoyable. I recommend a JetBoil stove which is super portable and boils water rapidly for easy cooking.
  • Portable solar panel: If you’re camping at an unpowered site, a small portable panel can come in handy when trying to charge your phone off the grid. This BioLite Panel is easily packable and powerful enough to charge your devices.
  • Sleeping bag: A good sleeping bag is essential to keep you warm, dry and comfortable while camping out. Sea to Summit make some incredible down options, with the Spark III being a staple for many different adventures.
  • Day pack: For exploring beyond camp and heading off on day hikes, a good sized day pack will help you carry all your hiking essentials. Osprey Tempest is the classic day pack I take on all my adventures.
  • Water bottle: To save plastic bottles ending up in landfill, I always carry a LifeStraw Water Bottle with me so you can refill it from anywhere and be confident that the water will be safe.
  • Quick drying towel: From beach swims to freshwater swimming holes, carrying a quick drying towel is a handy addition to any camping trip. Sea to Summit make great lightweight and quick drying towels of all sizes.
  • Exploring Tarra-Bulga National Park

    Things to Do Nearby

    If you’re looking for some places to visit nearby, then I’ve got some suggestions for you:

    • Noojee: For a similar vibe, Noojee is 124km away to the northwest and is part of another beautiful forest that stretches all the way to the Yarra Ranges National Park. There are some short walks and waterfalls to see, as well as a free campground. Read my weekend guide to Noojee.
    • Wilsons Promontory National Park: If you want to head to the coast, then about 110km southwest of the park is Wilsons Prom. This popular coastal park is one of the most beautiful places in Victoria, with a variety of stunning beaches, steep hikes, surf spots, and wildlife encounters. Read my complete guide to Wilsons Prom.
    • George Bass Coastal Walk: Looking for more walks to do? Then the George Bass Coastal Walk lies 150km southwest of Tarra-Bulga. This popular 8km one way trail links San Remo and Kilcunda on the Bass Coast. It’s a stunning walk with rugged coastal views in both directions. Read my quick guide to the George Bass Coastal Walk.

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