Situated near the mouth of the Glenelg River, and 5km from the South Australian Border, Nelson is a popular holiday destination. 

Located in the far southwestern corner of Victoria, Nelson is a hidden gem and a gateway to adventure in this stunning corner of the state. Enjoy a leisurely trip down the Glenelg River, explore one of the region’s beautiful national parks, a tranquil stroll on the beach, and so much more! The Glenelg River offers prospective anglers a chance to catch a variety of fish, including the sought after Mulloway. The mouth river opens up just south of town and creates an exceptional habitat for shorebirds and other wildlife. In the opposite direction, the Great Southwest Walk follows the Glenelg River to the North and East. Amongst the forest, you may find Gang-Gang Cockatoo, Bennett’s Wallabies, and a plethora of other iconic Australian animals.

Nelson was named and surveyed by Lindsay Clarke in 1852. He names the town in honour of Lt. James Grant and his vessel ‘The Lady Nelson’. Major Mitchell names the Glenelg River after the then Colonial Secretary in the House of Commons.


Explore the River

Forgot to pack your Kayak or Canoe? No worries! Nelson Canoe & Kayak Hire have you covered. Explore the tranquil waters of the lower Glenelg River, while only hearing wildlife and the gentle splash of your paddles on the water with expert guidance from their staff. Nelson Canoe Hire have over 70 canoes and kayaks available for half-day, daily or multi-day hire. Check out the canoe adventures page for more information about multi-day camping trips! Their two-person canoes and one-or-two-person kayaks are ideal go anywhere watercraft, getting you around with a minimum of fuss, quietly taking you in close to the abundant bird, fish and animal life in and around the river. Paddle alongside 50 metre limestone cliffs, catch a fish, or paddle down to the estuary – there are so many excellent opportunities to take in all the Glenelg River has to offer.


If paddling isn’t your style, not to worry! Glenelg River Cruises offer a guided trip up the Glenelg River via 1 hour 45 minute (or longer) cruises. Come aboard, relax and enjoy a cruise on the Glenelg River, set in the majestic Lower Glenelg National Park. Cruise aboard the top deck of the Nelson Explorer or inside the cosy cabin of the Nelson Endeavour, departing from Old Bridge Road on the coastal township of Nelson in Victoria. Nelson River Cruises offer a range of cruises to suit all occasions including a leisurely 3.5 hour return cruise to the Princess Margaret Rose Caves. Vessels are also available for functions and private charter, and can be catered for day or night.

Explore the Forest

Further upstream, you will encounter Lower Glenelg National Park – The Glenelg River has carved a spectacular limestone gorge through the heart of Lower Glenelg National Park. Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the landscape. Camp riverside and go fishing, paddle the Glenelg River Canoe Trail, follow the Great South West Walk or visit the spectacular Princess Margaret Rose Cave.

Escape the stresses of modern life with riverside camping along the banks of the Glenelg River. Go fishing, canoeing and kayaking in this spectacular river gorge surrounded by peaceful forest and join a tour of the Princess Margaret Rose Cave.

Discover the unique beauty found within the lower reaches of the Glenelg River – from jagged limestone cliffs to riverside gum trees harbouring koalas. See the area on foot by tackling the Great South West Walk. Set out on a day, overnight or multi-day journey. Western and Eastern Kangaroo, Bennett’s Wallaby, Platypus, Echidna, Common Wombats, Gang-Gang Cockatoo, and an endangered subspecies of Red-Tail Black Cockatoo can all be found within the park.

If you don’t have time to canoe or walk the river, a drive along its course is also pretty spectacular. There are picnic areas to stop and take it all in. Visit the Parks Victoria website for additional information or to book a campsite!

Explore the Beach

Following the River the opposite direction quickly takes you to a breathtaking coastline. Just south of Nelson are several walks and day-use areas, including walks around Oxbow Lake, Glenelg Estuary, and sections of the Great Southwest Walk that follow Discovery Bay Coastal Park to the East. The Glenelg Estuary and Oxbow Lake is a birding hotspot and an ideal location to find some of those less-common shorebirds and a large variety of inland birds that call the Nelson area home. Undoubtedly, you will have the opportunity to see Eastern Gray Kangaroo and a small possibility of Western Gray Kangaroo as you walk or drive into the park, especially in the first few hours after sunrise.

Suggested Walks

Lower Glenelg National Park
The Gorge Walk – 10km, 3.5hrs
Sapling Creek Walk – 4.5km, 1.5hrs
Moleside to Wild Dog Bend – 7.5km 3hrs

Discovery Bay Coastal Park
Livingstone Island Walk – 3km, 1.5hrs
Lake Monibenong Loop Walk – 15km, 4.5hrs

Great South West Walk
Short walks on and around Great South West Walk
Great South West Walk Maps – 250km

Further details are available from the Visitor Information Centre


Accommodation at Nelson is varied, with camping and caravan sites, cabins, historic hotel, motel, guest house, bed and breakfasts, holiday houses for rent and a group/conference centre.

The most up-to-date information can be found at the Nelson Visitor Information Centre.

About The Author


Corey is a gentleman who works for the Portland Visitor Information Centre. With this role he has learnt a lot about Portland and can give a great insight on where to go and what to see with limited time.

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.