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Roaming Around Melbourne Part II

Updated on July 8, 2021
Jaspals profile image

Lawyer, Consultant & Politician: Expert in Overseas Education & Immigration Matters, Traveller & Blog writer

If you are planning a tour for two or three days, you can add Grampians National park and Ballarat, and Sovereign hills as both destinations fall on the same route if you are going from Melbourne. Situated at 235 km west of Melbourne, Grampians National park is an oasis of diversity, having an 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. The 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 the region's natural beauty. A wide range of recreational activities like bushwalking, rock climbing, horse riding, fishing, and bird watching can make your trip memorable.

Some where in Ararat
Some where in Ararat | Source

Ararat: A Beautiful Town

If driving from Melbourne, head towards the gold mining town of Ballarat through the Western Freeway; Ararat is the next important destination on the way. It is an 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 discovering gold, this place turned into a boomtown that continued till the beginning of the 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. If you in your own vehicle, you can stop for a while and taste different wines.

Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park | Source

Halls Gap

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 the 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 attracts tourists. Halls Gap is also home to Aboriginal Cultural Centre. In the picturesque township of Halls Gap, there are so many restaurants catering to fine dining. You can also enjoy the use of the Halls Gap swimming pool in the summer months.

Night View of Sky High. Glittering Lights of Melbourne city are visible on one side.
Night View of Sky High. Glittering Lights of Melbourne city are visible on one side.

Dandenong Ranges

Like the Grampians region, another destination with abundant opportunities to be close to nature is the Dandenong ranges. Just at 35 km east of Melbourne, it can be your party time destination whenever you feel. Dandenong has an abundance of beautiful things where you can escape to breathtaking beauties. The scenic attractions of Dandenong are awesome, and you can't stop yourself praising it. Enjoying nature, exploring wildlife, and other outdoor activities like walking, hiking, cycling, golf, and camping can be your favourite things to do in Dandenong. Several locations throughout the ranges offer excellent views. Mt Dandenong provides you with a wonderful skyline from where you can see the whole of Melbourne city. Fairytale-like forest makes the whole region a perfect destination for a romantic weekend.

For nature lovers and outdoor adventures, this place is like heaven. As it is just at the doorstep of Melbourne, I use to go there very frequently. You can experience nature by cycling, walking, skiing, camping, golfing, ballooning, and other outdoor activities. You can also disappear in a mystical forest to breathe more fresh air, to see the beauty of birds, listen to the 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 a popular destination for weddings, Dandenong has many things to make you 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 by deep forests where you can sit and enjoy different cuisines with coffee or wine. After sunset, you can see Melbourne's skyline from the heights of Dandenong. The glittering lights of the city seem like stars and diamonds glowing from one horizon to another.

Giant Chair @ Sky High Mt Dandenong
Giant Chair @ Sky High Mt Dandenong
Puffing Billy Train
Puffing Billy Train
Train passing on Monbulk creek Trestle Bridge near Belgrave
Train passing on Monbulk creek Trestle Bridge near Belgrave

Puffing Billy Train

Dandenong ranges are full of wonders and excitement. 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 Christmas Day from Belgrave to Lakeside and Gembrook. Throughout the whole track, the train passes through scenic forests 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.

The trestle bridge is a famous point on this track. Its timber bridge having 15 spans, 91.4 m in length and 12.8 m in height. It offers a thrilling feel when the train passes on this bridge.

Lakeside (Emerald Lake) is a usual stoppage of the train to fill the locomotive water tanks. This place is wonderful to spend few hours in the surrounding 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 the early days, this train was used to transport vegetables, fruits, and other farming goods.

Route map of Train from Belgrave to Lakeside and Gembrook
Route map of Train from Belgrave to Lakeside and Gembrook
Bhawana near Puffing Billy Steam Engine
Bhawana near Puffing Billy Steam Engine

Phillip Island

Mt Buller, Phillip Island, Yarra Valley wineries, and Great ocean road are a few more important destinations you can’t miss visiting.

Phillip Island, situated approximately 130 km southeast of Melbourne, is a major tourist destination, attracting surfers to its beaches. Phillip Island is known for its coastal scenery, best surfing conditions, and world-famous penguin parade. It’s the world’s largest colony of little penguins. Thousands of little penguins emerge from the sea with sunset, march across the beach to their dune burrows.

The day I visited this place with my friend, it was drizzling and very cold. 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 were making those moments really memorable. As we did not have an umbrella, we were covering our self with our long jackets. Suddenly few little penguins appeared from the sea, and in few moments, there was a full parade of thousands of penguins. It was really amazing to see them moving towards their natural shelters.

As a whole, the surrounds of Melbourne have an abundance of things to see and to do. I am in love with this city. I wish to be there soon. Not once but again and again.

Philip Island
Philip Island

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Jaspal Singh


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