If you’re wondering about the silence, it’s because we took a trip down under… One of the things I really miss about Australia is the great outdoors. You don’t have to go far to be immersed in greenery – something we sorely lack back home.
I’m not sure about the validity of this information but I keep hearing that looking at the colour green is good for the eyes. Apparently, it’s better if the green comes from nature. Don’t quote me on this, though. I found a lot of references online but nothing that was linked solidly to science. There’s no denying that being outdoors is good so that’s where we headed – to Sherbrooke Forest out in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s not Redwood National Park (one of the places on my must visit list) but it’s a forest reserve so it will have to do.
There are quite a few things to see and do in this area:
- Dandenong Ranges National Park: easy bushwalks start from Ferntree Gully, accessible by train or by car via the Burwood Highway.
- National Rhododendron Gardens: Beautiful gardens including over 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, and giant eucalypts tower over colourful flower beds – The Georgian Road, Olinda) – the flowers were going out of bloom so there wasn’t much point visiting.
- The Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens: Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke
- The William Ricketts Sanctuary: Mt Dandenong tourist Road, Mt Dandenong
Mt Dandenong Lookout
- Lake Emerald: Ideal for water activities
- Olinda: Spend a relaxing afternoon browsing through the many art, antique and handicraft galleries and sampling a famous Dandenong Ranges Devonshire cream tea.
- Puffing Billy: Australia’s oldest steam railway, through thick forests, fern-filled gullies and past gorgeous villages with poetic names like Belgrave, Gembrook and Emerald. – since we’d already been to Puffing Billy twice before, we decided it wasn’t worth a third trip. Aristotle’s train craze is rapidly being replaced with dinosaurs, dragons and undersea creatures and Hercules was never particularly interested in trains anyway.
We ended up at the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens for some easy walking paths to suit my homebody – Aristotle – and grandma who isn’t particularly outdoorsy either. The lake was only 1km away but Aristotle was spent by the time we got there so I had to carry him back. My nature boy – Hercules – was in pure heaven. He kept singing the “going outside” song from Signing Time and I had to keep reigning him in so he wouldn’t get too far ahead of us. There were lots of trails we could have explored if only we’d brought a pushchair for Aristotle. As we were heading back, Hercules would stop every so often because he wanted to “see the tree”.
The lake is a lovely place for a picnic. There is also a gazebo located about halfway to the lake which makes for a good pitstop if the kids need to take a break for snacks and a drink.
The last time I was at Sherbrooke Forest was when I was on a geography excursion for school. I remembered seeing a large buttress tree with enormous roots that I wanted to show Aristotle. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything like it so grandpa ended up talking to him about the ferns, the moss, the evergreens and the deciduous trees that were dropping their leaves.
All in all, it was a pleasant excursion that posed a few difficulties because of my two children with such opposing natures.
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