As enticing as the shops are, we’ve hired a car and are heading to the Dandenong Ranges. Once through the suburbs we enter the eucalyptus forest, towering above us long straight trunks soar to the sky, protected by the canopy tree ferns flourish below. It is beautiful. We stop just shy of the village of Kallista at Grants Picnic Ground. Here 20-30 enthusiastic cockatoos and multi-coloured rosella birds greet us, looking to us to feed them, it isn’t long before one settles on Cea’s shoulder! It sits quite happily there for some time until we move on to walk one of the three loop tracks on offer.
Keen for more we stop five minutes further on and walk to the Sherbrooke Falls. A lack of rain means they aren’t as spectacular as their potential but the easy stroll amongst 80 year old eucalypts, 60-100 metres high, with the birds-song keeping us company, makes for a very pleasant 45 minutes.
Coffee calls and we’re drawn to the village of Sassafras, not only for the name but its institutional ‘Miss Marple’s Tea Rooms’. The service is outstanding and the homemade scones are light and fluffy, accompanied by raspberry jam and cream they hit the spot.
We meander through quaint shops including the exquisite Geppetto’s Workshop. With thousands of puppets hanging from the roof alone, we’re told there’s not an electronic toy in site – bliss.
From here it’s recommended we visit the Mt Dandenong Lookout, not only are the views superb back to Melbourne but the English and Secret Gardens are a delight, as is The Giant’s Chair, I feel like Alice in Wonderland perched up there. There’s even a maze on offer.
The Yarra Valley calls – well, it’s just over the hill…it would be rude not to. Within 45 minutes we find ourselves relaxing having a glass of something cold at Mandalla Vineyard. Looking out on the vines with a gentle breeze keeping us cool, it’s the perfect spot for a late lunch.
We drive the 50 kilometres back, we hit commuter traffic so when we cross over Lygon Street we all immediately agree drinks and tapas is a great idea. This famous street is buzzing and it’s only7pm. Harleys zoom up and down which never ceases to get my husband’s attention. The Syrah hits the spot.
It’s back to the hotel to watch Federer beat Murray in a forth set that sees one game last over 19 minutes! We’re off to the tennis tomorrow – what a great holiday this is!