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Roaming Around Melbourne Part II
If you can plan tour for two or three days, you can add Grampians National park along with Ballarat and Sovereign hills as both destinations fall on same route if you are going from Melbourne. Situated at 235 km in the west of Melbourne, Grampians National park is oasis of diversity, having abundance of things to see and do including Aboriginal art sites, bushwalking, wine-tasting, native wildlife spotting, waterfalls and mountains. Other activities in the Grampians include cycling, rock climbing, and fishing. Grampians is also home to a multitude of Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus and abundant birdlife. There are so many stunning lookouts and free flowing waterfalls, all adding to natural beauty of region. Wide range of recreational activities like bushwalking, rock climbing horse riding, fishing and bird watching can make your trip memorable.
Ararat: A Beautiful Town
If driving from Melbourne, head towards the gold mining town of Ballarat through the Western Freeway, Ararat is next important destination on the way. It is attractive and old gold mining town. A Chinese discovered gold here in 1857 and very soon people shifted here and this town came into being. After discovery of gold this place turned into boomtown which continued till beginning of 20th century. Ararat is surrounded by several mountain ranges including Grampians National Park, Mount Langi Ghiran, Mount Cole, Mount Buangor, Ararat Hills Regional Park and the Pyrenees Ranges. This makes Ararat an ideal base for visiting these natural attractions. There are so many wineries in the surrounding of Ararat.
Another beautiful place near Ararat is Halls gap which provides an ideal base for exploring the region. It is popular for fine dining while you are in region. There are several motels, hotels and caravan parks in town providing accommodations if you are staying for few days in Grampians Park. Waterfalls are another attraction of this region. McKenzie Falls is one of the best waterfalls, which attract tourists. Halls Gap is also a home to Aboriginal Cultural Centre. In picturesque township of Halls Gap, there are so many restaurants catering fine dining. You can also enjoy the use of the Halls Gap swimming pool in the summer months.
Like Grampians region, another destination having abundance of opportunities to be close to nature is Dandenong ranges. Just at 35 km east of Melbourne, it can be your party time destination whenever you feel. Dandenong has abundance of beautiful things where you can escape to breathtaking beauties. Scenic attractions of dandenong are awesome and you can't stop yourself praising it. Enjoying nature, exploring wild life, and other outdoor activities like walking, hiking, cycling, golf and camping can be your favorite things to do in Dandenong. There are several locations throughout the ranges that offer excellent views Mt Dandenong provides you a wonderful skyline from where you can see whole Melbourne city. Fairytale like forest makes the whole region a perfect destination for romantic weekend.
For nature lovers and outdoor adventures, this place is like heaven. As it is just at doorstep of Melbourne, I use to go there very frequently. You can experience the nature by cycling, walking, skiing, camping, golfing, ballooning and other such outdoor activities. You can also disappear in mystical forest to breathe more fresh air, to see beauty of birds, listen sound of thundering waterfalls. This place is also known for its flair with food and atmospheric eating-places like tearooms and restaurants with stunning views. Being popular destination for weddings, Dandenong has a lot of things to make your being more romantic.
Sky High is a popular restaurant where you can arrange your romantic dates with your partner. This place is melbourne's unique 'special occasions' venue. You can enjoy your day at this wonderful place. There are beautifully landscaped gardens surrounded with deep forest where you can sit and enjoy different cuisines with coffee or wine. After sun set you can see melbourne's skyline from heights of dandenong. Glittering lights of city seems like stars and diamonds glowing from one horizon to other.
Puffing Billy Train
Dandenong ranges are full of wonders and excitements. The popular Puffing Billy Railway, a steam engine tourist railway, runs through the southern parts of the Dandenong. Just 40 km east of Melbourne, this wonderful steam train runs every day except Chrismas day from Belgrave to Lakeside and Gembrook. Throughout the whole track, train passes through scenic forest and breathtaking views.
Puffing Billy is now a major tourist attraction. You may plan your one day picnic trip to this place. Hanging your legs outside or wrapping arms over the window safety bars, you can feel fresh air on your face.
Trestle bridge is famous point on this track. It's timber bridge having 15 spans, 91.4 m length and 12.8 m height. It offers a thrilling feel when train passes on this bridge.
Lakeside (Emerald Lake) is usual pause of train to fill the locomotive water tanks. This place is wonderful to spend few hours in the surrounding of forest, a big pool with paddle boats, tracks for pleasant walks, and some cafes around.
The Puffing Billy Railway line has been in operation since 1900. In early days this train was used for transportation of vegetable, fruits and other farming goods.
Mt Buller, Phillip Island, Yarra Valley wineries and Great ocean road are few more important destinations that you can’t miss visiting them.Phillip Island is known for coastal scenery, best surfing conditions and world famous penguin parade. It’s world’s largest colony of little penguins. With every sunset thousands of little penguins emerge from the sea, march across the beach to their sand dune burrows. The day I visited this place with Bhawana, my sweet heart friend, it was drizzling and very cold. To organise visitors, fenced platforms are made, from where you can see moving penguins. I still feel the romance of waiting for little penguins. Thundering sea, darkness and drizzling was making those moments really memorable. As we were not having umbrella, we were just covering our self with our long jacket. Suddenly few little penguins appeared from sea and in few moments there was full parade of thousands of penguins. It was really amazing to see them moving towards their natural shelters.
As a whole, surrounds of Melbourne have abundance of things to see and to do. I am in love for this city. I wish to be there soon. Not once but again and again.