Australia's century-old steam train is still running on its original mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook in the scenic Dandenong Ranges, just 40 km east of Melbourne.
Even though kids would really enjoy this alot, we thoroughly enjoyed our ride on the Puffing Billy. We stopped off at Lakeside for a while, again this is a great place for the kids, but also enjoyable for the child at heart.
This Park incorporates valuable remnant native forest and eucalypt plantations. It is also a wildlife refuge which has attracted numerous bird species.
Some of the park's tracks are for walkers only while others are also open to cyclists.
Swimming is permitted only from the beach in the lakeside area and non-powered boating is permitted in certain delineated areas.
A great park for couples or families alike, with plenty to do for the kids. Apparently the waterslides are not functioning any more, which is a shame. Have a go on the water pedal bikes!!
I would vote the Dandenong Mountains as one of the best spots to visit on a trip to Melbourne.
Just 40 mins to an hour drive from Melbourne, and you will first come to Belgrave, where you can hop on the puffing billy stream train. http://www.puffingbilly.com.au/
From here, take the Mount Dandenong scenic route through the magnificent rainforest, with some of the tallest trees I think I have ever seen. Follow the road toward Olinda, and stop to ask the locals where the cafe is that you can feed the wild birds - rosalla's, cockatoos and gallahs, a real treat!
Spend a relaxing day browsing through the antique and art shops, followed by a Devonshire cream tea and cake in one of the many tea shops in the quaint villages along the way .If you make your way up to the Sky view point you will experience panoramic views of Melbourne's eastern suburbs, and Melbourne's CBD skyline.
Back on the tourist road, and dont miss the amazing aboriginal sculptures at the William Ricketts Sanctuary.
If you are looking for some local market produce, dont miss out on the Saturday morning markets in Olinda, 7:30am - noon. I've made some fantastic stews from the turnips and leeks bought from that market!
My last morning on my 1st trip to Melbourne was spent here, in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Me & my mates were eager to hit the outdoors and after pouring through the pages of the Lonely Planet, decided on the trails here, just off One Tree Hill.
The Victoria Parks's website claims: "One Tree Hill is a forest picnic site serviced by a flat sealed car parking area. The area is free of major obstacles. The toilets include a designated accessible facility, but it does not meet current access standards. The approach is no longer rough and has a small step."
There were many trails. Me & my mates did a quick drop by at the ranger station, grabbed a map and we were off into the woods on a Fri morning when everyone else was still stuck behind a desk elsewhere.
It was a cool and bright late Autumn morning. I remembered temperature was about 11C. Lovely walk through the woods. The air was crisp, the light was playful, dancing among the tall gum trees and we caught sight of our very first wild Kookaburra. "Kookaburra sits on a old gum tree..." and me & my mates broke into laughter.
The silence was broken by a stocky hirsute bloke huffing & puffing from behind us in nothing but short shorts. I remembered a shellshocked us enquiring if he was cold and he jogged past us with a smile and bade us G'day! Brrr.....
On the way back, we ran into a colony of white cockatoos debating with each other from the trees. Me & my mate just stood still for quite some time and absorbed this all in!
It was amazing how you can find solace so close to noisy Melbourne!
This would have to be Australia's most famous tourist train. If you're a train buff this will be at the top of your list anyway but, if you're not, do the trip.
It's a wonderful way to spend half a day with the engines huffing and puffing their way along the 24 kms of line from Belgrave to Gembrook and return.
The headquarters is at Belgrave and en route you can see extensive views of Port Phillip Bay, the Steam Museum, timber trestle bridges, the lower slopes of the Dandenongs and Emerald Lake.
You have the option to get off and pick up a later train should you wish to check out the museum or have a picnic at places such as Lakeside.
The whole thing is run by Puffing Billy Preservation Society and the Emerald Tourist Railway Board, volunteer organizations that even you can join.
It's a narrow gauge line 762mm (2'6") that operated commercially between 1900 and 1953. It was reopened as far as Menzies Creek in 1962, Emerald in 1965, Lakeside in 1975 and Gembrook in 1998.
It can be hired out for functions (such as dining on a night train) or, for the kids, they can have a day out with "Thomas" and the "Fat Controller".
I can smell the smoke now! Gotta go.
No trip to Melbourne is complete unless you have seen the Dandenongs. This remnant of bushland is food for the soul, this area once the home of the world's tallest tree. That is, until they chopped it down for wood in the late 19th century.
The magnificent array of eucalypts can't help but inspire and refresh the mind. There's a loop road that you can do (allow 2 hours for photos, more if you plan to eat (recommended activity) and it has tourist information centres at either end where you can pick up maps and brochures on various attractions. That's Upper Fern Tree Gully or Belgrave.
This particular shot was taken adjacent to Josie Bysouth Reserve at Cockatoo.
Puffing Billy is located in the Dandenong Ranges just over an hour from the city and runs between Belgrave and Emerald Daily. It is an old steam train that has been lovingly restored to its former glory and excites big and little kids alike with the thrill of riding on an old time steam train. There are several options to ride. One is that you can ride in the standard carriages hanging your legs out the side of the train as you wind through the bush. The other is a first class ticket which includes a 3 course lunch and coffee. It is an enclosed carriage with full service and a reasonable drinks list.
So? What’s you’re fancy? Acting like a kid with your legs hanging out the train or travelling in style? Both are very fun and it is a worthwhile day trip out of the city.
Prices for the lunch start at $60 on weekends for adults
Prices for a standard ticket are $32.50 for an adult return ticket.
Although it is not that far to drive, it feels as if you are very far from the city. We visited the Dandenongs as part of a city tour. The forests are quite something to see, and there are many different birds, which one can actually feed if you want to.
We had Aussie billy tea, crackers with vegemite and lamingtons for tea break. The tour did feel a bit rushed. We could only spend about 20 min looking around, and less than 5 minutes at the lookout. But it was still worth the effort! As one leave Melbourne Central you get a better idea of the size of this city.
We went by public transportation. Buy a train ticket for two zones, and take the Belgrade Line, which leaves from the city loop. From the last station, Belgrade, walk up the ramp, turn left, and down another ramp to bus 694. This goes uphill and passes Grants Picnic Ground on the right side of the bus. Get off when you see it, and walk back from the bus stop. This is where you feed the rosellas and cockatoos. Bring sunflower seeds! We had millet, which they can't eat. There is also a pleasant teahouse at Grants Picnic Ground, and two easy walking tracks through the eucalyptus forest. To go to Sherwood Picnic Ground from Belgrave Station, take the same bus 694, past Grants Picnic Ground, past Tindale Gardens. It takes only 8 min. or so from the station. It is hard to find because you do not see any signs saying Sherbrooke Picnic Ground, but get off when you see Poets Lane on the right. The locals on the bus helped us find it, when we asked for O'Donohue Track, which is one of the trails there. The Picnic Ground is on the left side of the bus. There are several trails in here, and you can actually walk back to the station. Be sure to have bus schedules with you, as it doesn't run often.
Our friend drove us up to the Dandenongs (about 1 hour from Melbourne) and we were so lucky to be able to see all tall trees and gorgeous little villages along the way. Some were so English some so German etc. A truly wonderful place that you could spend a lot of time exploring or simply drop by for afternoon tea. We were there on a Saturday afternoon and it was so busy. Some of the quaint tea shops looked like they were ready to burst due to the amount of people within. Lots and lots of shops to stop at but we struggled to find a petrol station so don't head up that way nearing empty.
We stopped for afternoon tea where Puffing Billy, a famous tourist train, was ready to head off. It was quite an okay cafe but nothing as special as some of the others in the area. That said we had a nice plate of scones each as we watched the train get ready to depart.
I will definitely be allowing a day during my next Melbourne trip to explore this area further.
The Dandenong Ranges are definately worth seeing if you've got a spare few hours in Melbourne. They reminded me very much of the Mt Lofty ranges in Adelaide, the summit (or one of them) even has three radio masts adding to the impression. Being much further away from the city though, the city center is difficult to make out through the haze.
Mt Dandenong is a good spot to watch sunsets.
Galleries, antiques, tulip farm, nurseries, gardens, tea houses, crafts, bed & breakfasts, dining and scenic views over Melbourne.
The Cuckoo restaurant in the photo is a favourite for German cuisine and live entertainment.
If you can, hire a car and go for a drive through the Dandenongs. It is a beautiful area not too far from Melbourne. It is just under an hour from the city, but it is well worth the effort to see the amazing scenery.
If you love the forest, the environment and wildlife then this is the place to see it. Why not take a picnic and sit in one of the many parks in the area and enjoy the afternoon. There are also a few bush walking tracks around if you would like to give one a go. This will give you even more of a chance to see some of the local wildlife.
Yarra Valley and The Dandenongs
Just an hour's drive from Melbourne lies a valley of lush hills producing some of the finest Australian wines. Chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and shiraz are the Yarra Valley's award-winning wines.Explore wineries which offer you the the pleasure of wine-tasting and also cellar sales.
In the Dandenong Ranges, one hours drive to the east of Melbourne, board the Puffing Billy Steam Railway and enjoy the open sided train as it winds through the spectacular forests and ferns of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. At the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road browse through the many antique shops, cafes, teahouses, craft stores and historical attractions.
This is a lovely mountain range within just 1 hour drive of Melbourne - there are a lot of wonderful picnic grounds, nature hikes and there is also an abundance of native animal and bird life.