Cape Nelson State Park


Cape Nelson State Park

Cape Nelson State Park is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Country of the Gunditjmara Peoples. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Gunditjmara Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country.

Cape Nelson State Park is a fascinating and picturesque place steeped in a rich human history that spans thousands of years, making this park archaeologically, ecologically and geologically significant.

A number of walks run through the park, including the Sea Cliff Nature Walk, which showcases the flora and fauna of Cape Nelson, and the Lighthouse Walk through coastal heathland and lookouts, perfect for whale watching during the migration seasons. 

Encounter rare and unique coastal ecosystems as you explore the park, including soap mallee, heath and wet heath. The soap mallee (eucalyptus diversifolia) community is extremely rare and the southernmost location of this species. Apart from the soap mallee, Cape Nelson contains several other rare or vulnerable plant species: drooping velvet bush, coast ground-berry, mountain daisy, and bog sedge. Visit during springtime to see the native wildflowers. 

The fast-moving rufous bristlebird also thrives in the coastal habitat of the park which is vital to its survival. Often seen darting across walking tracks and roads it is often mistaken for the introduced European blackbird. Although not easily seen, black wallabies, bandicoots and beautiful firetail finches also live in this park.

Part of the 250km Great South West Walk passes through the park, and is an epic journey through spectacular scenery. The 15-day walk also passes Point Danger where Victoria's only mainland Gannet breeding colony is located. The walk features 14 campsites, only available to book for registered hikers.

Day walkers can combine parts of the Sea Cliff Nature Walk, Great South West Walk and Lighthouse Walk into a loop walk of 8km (Grade 3, 4 hours). 

Wander the grounds of the heritage-listed Cape Nelson Lighthouse or book a tour. Visitors can stop in at Isabella’s Cafe, and can even arrange a stay in one of the cottages.  

Things To Do

View of a rocky coastline from the top of a lighthouse.

Cape Nelson Lighthouse

Be sure to visit this heritage-listed lighthouse which is open daily with free access to the grounds. Lighthouse tours are available by arrangement.
A group of four hikers walk along the beach at Discovery Bay as part of the Great South West Walk

Great South West Walk

Walk the diverse landscapes of Lower Glenelg National Park, Discovery Bay Coastal Park, Cobboboonee National Park and Cape Nelson State Park. Starting from Portland, the walk travels through majestic tall forests, meanders alongside the World Heritage Glenelg River, remote ocean beaches, past ancient lakes and culminates along rugged ocean clifftops.
A tall white lighthouse on a rocky coastline.

Lighthouse Walk

6km, 2 hours circuit This relatively easy 6 km walk, is a full loop taking you through coastal heathland, Soap Mallee and several coastal lookouts.
A man and woman hike on a rocky coastline covered with short green shrubbery and blue ocean wave-break in the distance.

Sea Cliff Nature Walk

3km, 1.5 hours circuit An excellent introduction to the plants and wildlife of Cape Nelson, especially during spring wildflower season.
An aerial view of a rocky coastline with deep blue water.

Norman Wade scenic drive

This scenic route takes in several sea-cliff lookouts and is popular for both driving and cyclists. Stop along the way at the the picnic area, a tranquil setting close to several walks. Tables and toilets available.



Tours and adventure experiences in parks

One of the best ways you can get into nature is with a Licensed Tour Operator.

There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready and waiting to help you experience and connect with Victoria’s spectacular parks and waterways.

Discover more than 60 different types of nature-based experiences including hiking, mountain biking, boating, four-wheel driving, indigenous culture tours, birdwatching, surfing, diving and so much more. 

Licensed Tour Operators know all the best places to go and will plan and prepare your visit to ensure you are safe and can enjoy your nature-based adventure to the fullest.

Find a Licensed Tour Operator

How to get there

Cape Nelson State Park

Travel from Portland on the Cape Nelson Road for 11km. The park is 377km south-west of Melbourne, and 562km south-east of Adelaide.

Need to know

Cape Nelson State Park

By using our site you accept that we use and share cookies and similar technologies with certain approved third parties. These tools enable us to improve your website experience and to provide content and ads tailored to your interests. By continuing to use our site you consent to this. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.