Being in a forest is a treat for the senses but did you know it’s also good for your health? 

Since the early 1980s, doctors in Japan have been recommending Shinrin-Yoku which translates as ‘forest bathing’ or ‘forest therapy’- the act of immersing oneself in nature using all of one’s senses - for its restorative effects on physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Forest Therapy is an evidence-based preventative health practice that has become an established part of the Japanese healthcare system and is being adopted worldwide. Research has demonstrated that this nature immersion can lower stress and anxiety levels, reduce blood pressure, improve confidence and mood, as well as support the immune system, improve sleeping patterns and aid recovery time from physical injuries.

Top tips for getting the most out of your Forest Therapy experience:

  • Disconnect from everyday distractions, turn your phone off or to silent and focus on being fully present in the moment and place.
  • Leave behind expectations and set an intention to connect to nature with all of your senses.
  • Start by becoming aware of the place you are in, how your body feels whilst standing in the forest. Take some deep relaxing breaths and tune into your senses. Closing your eyes can help in allowing you to hear the sounds of the forest and its inhabitants, feel the elements and smell the scents of what is around you.
  • Walk very slowly noticing motion and stillness in the forest. Don’t rush. If you start to feel distracted, gently bring your focus back to your surrounds.
  • Take 10-20 minutes to sit still (the longer the better) to become aware of what is around you. The longer you sit, the more you will begin to notice the natural world from the tiny flowers at your feet, birds moving from tree to tree, the rustling of small animals in the bush.
  • Connect to the forest by exploring trees, stones, flowers and other beings of the forest you feel drawn to.
  • Enjoy the experience as your own and quietly acknowledge all that it has given you.
  • Go with a guide. There are certified Forest Therapy practitioners providing services in Parks Victoria managed parks. You can find registered operators on our website here (filter by ‘Forest Therapy’).

Forest Therapy trails

There are many trails within the Parks Victoria estate which are suitable for experiencing Forest Therapy. Here are some ideas:
The reflected forest in Sanitarium Lake at Macedon Regional Park.

Sanatorium Lake Trail, Macedon Regional Park

Starting at Days Picnic Ground, this approximately 3km trail will take you along a circuit through beautiful forest and past the picturesque historic Sanatorium Lake.
Sherbrooke Falls in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Hardy Gully Walk, Dandenong Ranges National Park

Leading off from Grants Picnic Area and meandering through the beautiful Sherbrooke Forest, the accessible Hardy Gully Walk is perfect for Forest Therapy. Visit early in the morning or late afternoon to increase your chances of spotting Superb Lyrebirds foraging for grubs in the cool temperate rainforest.
The green ferns and mountain ash that line the roads of the black spur.

Cambarville Circuit Walk, Yarra Ranges National Park

Wander through Alpine Ash and Myrtle Beech forest to discover Cora Lynn and Cumberland Falls hidden in a deep fern-laden gully. Take in the views over the Cumberland Valley from Sovereign View.
Three friends follow the track alongside the Cumberland River near Lorne in the Great Otway National Park.

Great Otway National Park

There are many parts of the park that are suitable for Forest Therapy. Visit Maits Rest to discover gorgeous fern gullies or the giant beech trees – some of which are up to 300 years old and walk among the towering Californian Redwoods hidden in the Otway Ranges. Explore the Lake Elizabeth Loop Walk and its forested hinterland.
A walking path next to ferns in the Tarra Bulga National Park

Tarra Valley Rainforest Walk, Tarra-Bulga National Park

Meander through a rainforest gully and across trickling mountain streams to Cyathea Falls. The ancient Myrtle Beech along the trail creates a protective canopy above a delicate understorey of tree ferns, lichens and moss.
Hikers walking away from the camera surrounded by trees, shrubs and wildflowers

Brisbane Ranges National Park

The Anakie Gorge Walk is a great place for Forest Therapy, especially in Spring when wildflowers are abundant.
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