One of our favourite nature built playgrounds is the Dandenong Ranges, which part of Melbourne’s amazing backyard. In the Dandenong ranges there is much to do and see including lots of forest walks with waterfalls and views. On top of all the amazing nature there are suburbs that are scattered throughout the ranges are like little english villages with cute names like Olinda, Kallista and Sassafras! These villages contain lots of nice cafe’s and little shops that are worth a visit.
Our top three activities for a day in the ranges:
1. Puffing Billy - If you live in Melbourne then riding Puffing Billy is a right of passage. Situated at Belgrave the train takes you through the forest to Gembrook station although the stop at Emerald lake is the most popular place to get off and spend some time. The best thing about this old steam train is that you can sit out the side with your legs hanging out. I felt like a kid again.
2. Tree Adventures - another fun day activity for old and young kids alike. We did this for Phil’s birthday one year and it was an intense way to celebrate. After a safety briefing, we were up in the trees completing the courses which were graded from easy to hard. I completed the easy courses while Phil and the others worked their way up to the black course and had a ball. The only way back to solid ground is by flying fox.
Phillip Island two hours south of Melbourne has become my favourite island of Victoria. Not just because it is the only island in Victoria I have been too, but it has so much to see and do in such a small place. Phillip Island is renowned for having some of the best surf beaches in the state and the home town of Thor (Chris Hemsworth). See, I am full of useless info that everyone wants to know.
Phil and I have been here a few times together and recommend the following adventures on the island:
Woolamai Beach - a beautiful surf beach, which is epically long. When you arrive, go left towards the cliffs and explore the area. If it’s low tide (you can go high tide for an extra adventure like we did) you can continue to the stairs that lead you to the Cape Woolamai circuit. Make sure you watch out for snakes and those scary wallabies lingering on the walk. This track is about 8km all up and is a beautiful and relatively easy trail to complete. If you have more time, check out the old quarry remains on the north side of the walk.
The Pinnacles - along the Woolamai track you will be able to peer down and see the pinnacles. There is also a thin grassy track that will take you down there. Best option is to slide down the grassy track on your butt. Anyway, once you are down there you realise how big the pinnacles actually are. P.S it’s a great place for some steel wool action.
Forest Caves - Further west into the island, there is a stop you can make to see the forest caves. These are probably the best rock pool caves I have experienced in Australia. You can physically go inside the caves and explore around. Again, it’s probably best at low tide, so plan your adventure here. We had so much fun with friends here and spent a good couple of hours exploring.
One of my favourite places in the aussie state of Victoria is Wilsons Promontory. It is a beautiful untouched area with lots of wild native Australian animals to boot. I have blogged about one of our overnight hiking trips before, but we have visited a few times and still have more too see.
One weekend, we decided to head to Wilson's Prom for some impromptu camping with some travelling friends. We drove down one Saturday and found our campsite at Tidal River - the main campsite at the prom. Soon after a car load of others arrived and quickly set up camp.
We decided to walk along Squeaky Beach (where your feet squeak as you walk) and laid in the sun for a while before heading to Whiskey Bay to watch the sunset and have a few drinkies with all our new acquaintances. The beaches on the west side of the prom are beautiful and accessible by car (as opposed to the east side beaches where you can only get there by hiking). Whiskey Bay, and most of the Prom, is characterised by big boulders that are tainted red and look absolutely stunning as the sun goes down.
Sometimes we just randomly decide to go somewhere we have never gone. Although we normally have difficulty deciding where to go (‘Shall we go to …., or what about….’). There is always the chance that the place you choose to go sucks or is a little disappointing. Phil and I have had many conversations on a weekend morning suggesting ideas on where we should venture. So one weekend in late summer, we decided to rope an old friend who was new to Melbourne into coming with us. Thank god she did - she made this adventure much more fun!
Point Nepean is at the bottom of the Mornington Peninsula and is one of the oldest quaratine stations in Australia (whatever they are?) and has a big military history, which you are reminded about when big signs are all over the national park stating ‘WARNING: Unexploded Bombs in area’. Yeah, we decided to stick to the walking tracks this time.
A super easy and super fun day trip from Melbourne is the Mornington Peninsula. This little area has so many amazing things to do for everyone. We have headed down here many times as Phil’s grandparents live down there. So it’s a great spot for us to head to get some family time (i.e. food and hugs) and have some adventure time too.
The Mornington Peninsula is roughly an hour and half from Melbourne city – this of course depends where you live in Melbourne. There is so much to offer the adventurous, but also the foodie (hello!) and wine connoisseur.
Below I thought I would share our experiences of the beaches we have visited. There is more than the four I have written about, and I’m sure we will explore them at a later date – if you are keen to join let me know!
London Bridge, Portsea
We caught up with some travel friends here, on one of their last days in Melbourne. It was an utterly stunning Melbourne day (which we don’t get often). London Bridge is on the back beach of Portsea. Make sure you check out the Portsea Pier and the Portsea Hotel on your way past. Once at the carpark, there is a short walk to a viewing platform or head down to the beach and climb the rock formation.