Melbourne Day Trips
Sherbrooke Track, Dandenong Ranges National Park © Alpha
Dandenong Ranges National ParkThe famous lyre bird, which has the ability to mimic any other bird, is the most important inhabitant of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, just 25 miles (40km) from Melbourne via Burwood Highway or Canterbury Road. The park, covering 3,215 hectares, plays an important role in protecting the famous birds. Visitors enjoy walking, cycling and picnicking in the park at venues with enchanting names like Ferntree Gully, One Tree Hill or Sherbrooke Forest. The park is rich in wildlife and spectacular mountain ash forests and fern gullies are to be seen. The historic Puffing Billy steam train runs from Belgrave to Lakeside close to the park, and there are numerous craft shops, antique shops, gardens and restaurants in the area. Dandenong Ranges National Park allows visitors to escape from the bustle of Melbourne for a taste of the Australian wilderness just beyond the city.
Address: Monbulk Road; Website: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
Ballarat Town Hall © Ed Dunens
BallaratThis historic town of great elegance and charm is the gateway to the goldfields. The name is an Aboriginal word meaning 'resting place', which is well suited because a tranquil lake and botanical gardens are the focal point of the city. The main Avenue of Honour is lined with 4,000 trees as a memorial to citizens who served in World War I. The city is steeped in the history of the Gold Rush era. Visitors enjoy the Eureka Trail, a two-mile (3km) walk that retraces the route taken by the police and soldiers during the Australian rebellion of the Eureka stockade in 1854, and it is possible to undertake a self-guided Heritage Walk through the inner city's streets. Ballarat is also celebrated for its fresh produce, sold at farmer's markets which occur almost every weekend somewhere in the city.
Great Ocean Road © Judith Duk
Great Ocean RoadFrom Melbourne one of the most popular self-drive routes for tourists to follow is the circular Great Southern Touring Route, which includes spectacular scenery and takes in some of Victoria's most beautiful, scenic and cultural attractions. The first part of the route hugs the coastline going south along the Great Ocean Road, renowned for its coastal scenery, passing lush Otways rainforests and on to the magnificent limestone rock sculptures known as the Twelve Apostles in the Port Campbell National Park. Other attractions along the Great Ocean Road include the historic villages of Port Campbell, Queenscliff, Portland and Port Fairy, as well as resort towns and coastal cities such as Torquay, Apollo Bay, Geelong and Warrnambool.
The Balconies, Grampians National Park © Andrew Katsis
Grampians National ParkThe lofty summits and ridgelines of the Grampians region provide inspiring natural beauty in a park that is home to a variety of habitats, unique wildlife and more than one third of all the plant species found in Victoria. The park is particularly well known for its colourful displays of springtime wildflowers, which are at their best during October. There is an abundance of wildlife in the lowlands, including emus, kangaroos, possums, koalas, wallabies and more than 200 species of bird. The park also has some interesting Aboriginal art sites among its 167,000 hectares of woodland, heath, swamp, forest and sub-alpine zones. There are campsites and some wonderful overnight walking trails in the park, as well as some shorter walks for those just wanting a pleasant stroll.
Address: 277 Grampians Road, Halls Gap; Website: parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/grampians-national-park
Puffing Billy Railway © David Maciulaitis
Puffing Billy RailwayThe Puffing Billy Railway is Australia's Oldest Steam Railway. A century old, the train still follows its original mountain track in the scenic Dandenong Ranges, offering spectacular mountain views and winding through cool fern gullies between Belgrave, Emerald Lake and Gembrook. The whole trip takes two hours in each direction. Tickets can be bought before boarding the train, which departs several times a day, but bookings are essential for the special luncheon or dinner trips, which include a meal in the first class carriage. The train sometimes hosts other fun events, like comedy nights. Family tickets are available and kids will love the novelty of travelling by steam train!
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