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The great outdoors has proven its benefits to our wellbeing. The benefits of gulping down fresh air and venturing outside our comfort zones are endless. Yet actually leaving the urban rat race and taking time out can seem a little overwhelming. Not in the Dandenong Ranges, it isn’t. With its mix of quaint shopping villages, varied level hikes and an array of hidden delights, the Dandenong Ranges truly has something to please everyone.
Melbourne is a city jam packed with sites but when you need to unwind, where do you go? The Dandenong Ranges, of course. These are some of the best ways to spend a weekend in the Dandenongs.
Ride the Puffin Billy steam train through a winding rail line through the forests, fern gullies and farmlands, from Belgrave to Gembrook and get a real feel of what the Dandenong Ranges has to offer. Built in the 1900s to open up remote areas, the rail line is the easiest and most majestic way to take in as many of the sites without breaking a sweat.
Giant Mountain Ash Trees, a picturesque lake and a quaint boathouse all connected by long winding paths. Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens is the most pleasant place to take a stroll and decompress from your travels. Just remember to take a second to admire the seasonal highlights as you walk.
Hunt for half hidden sculptures through the thick fern trees of this almost mystical destination. A tranquil place for quiet reflection and contemplation. William Ricketts Sanctuary created truly remarkable art work. The shade from the super tall trees makes this the perfect place to cool down on a hot summer’s day.
The 1000 Steps / Kokoda Memorial walk is one of the most renowned tourist spots. Parking can be a major problem here, but don’t let that put you off. The feeling of camaraderie on the ascent of the 1000-step climb and the accomplishment when you reach the top is second to none. Check out the plaques on the way up for details on the exhaustion experienced by the Australian soldiers walking the Kokoda trail in Papua New Guinea, if for no other reason than an excuse to stop and take a break.
There’s a small charge for the Sky High car park but the spectacular views and trails you gain access to are well worth it. The never ending skyline is best experienced at sunset, sipping on a glass of wine over a romantic dinner or a cup of tea on a relaxing afternoon. The grounds play host to more than just a bistro, however. Take the opportunity to check out the hedge maze, loved by kids and adults alike and the stunning English gardens lined with magnificent flowers and artistic sculptures.
Miss Marple’s Tea Room is one of the main tourist attractions in The Dandenongs, giving you a little taste of a popular English custom. Famous for their traditional Devonshire Tea served with tasty jam and lashings of thick cream, these guys don’t disappoint. Be warned. This place is so popular that there is a 30 minute waiting time more often than not!
By Nicola Keane
Nicola Keane, a wellbeing and lifestyle blogger from the UK. Currently residing in Melbourne, Australia, Nicola prides herself on helping ordinary people reach extraordinary potential with her witty, common sense approach to balance and essentialism. Follow her on Instagram @thenicolakeane or blog http://www.nicolakeane.com for a quick injection of inspiration.