WINTER WEEKEND // Dandenong Ranges, Australia

It seems be getting increasingly harder to find day trips from Melbourne, as Chris and I are slowly working our way through all the closest locations. I think this day trip ended up being a very last minute decision, and I can’t believe we hadn’t been here earlier! The Dandenong Ranges are only an hour away from the city, and have so much to offer! I honestly thought there was nothing but houses and the 1000 Steps there, but we were so wrong.

Despite the sunny 15 degrees we were treated to whilst walking to our local coffee shop (or selection of, I should say, we are blessed in North Melbourne) in the city, we were treated to a much crisper 10 degrees in the ranges. Our first stop was the Kalorama Lookout, which boasted views of the reservoir below and the surrounding hills.

A few minutes further down the road was Olinda Falls. We had come ill prepared for not only the freezing cold weather, but the amount of mud on the walking tracks! You can be I was gripping the rails on the way down to the lower falls.

After checking out the upper falls, we followed a side track for a couple of kilometres before popping back out onto the main road. As we were already covered in mud (not to mention walking through mud makes for a very slow pace) we wondered back along the road to our car.

Our lack of research led to me deciding we should pull over at every place of interest we passed. William Ricketts Sanctuary was one such place. It turned out to be a bit of a gem!

The Sanctuary was essentially the outdoor gallery of the late William Ricketts. A well known sculptor, he had purchased the block of forest and set about incorporating sculptures into the natural environment. His artwork largely drew from local indigenous culture, as well as some references to religion. It was fascinating walking along the paths and noticing little paths off to the side covered with his work, rocks with sculptures attached to the side, and little statues hidden away in the undergrowth.

Our last stop, due to beginning to question if we would survive the cold, was the National Rhododendron Gardens. Neither Chris or I had ever heard of the place, but we arrived to find it bustling with other sightseers. This magnificent garden was far bigger than I anticipated. I can only imagine what it must look like in spring: we are already planning a picnic lunch for when that time comes around!

There were still many more locations we could have explored in the areas. The small townships were also packed with tourists and families for the weekend, so we will definitely be back in the warmer months.

Any suggestions for day trips (preferably under 2 hours drive) from Melbourne CBD? Our list is running thin!

– Reanna



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