Post by Zoe Amber Preston.
The chilly months are upon us, but that’s no reason to stop immersing yourself in nature and exploring the great outdoors! Throughout my life, I have discovered so many beautiful little places in the Hills that have taken my breath away. We all dream of travelling to faraway lands to find beauty, but little did we know that beautiful, tiny treasures are scattered all around us!
At least once a month, I promise myself I will discover a new place. Whether I decide to walk through Sherbrooke Forest next to my house, or catch the bus out to somewhere I’ve never been to, sometimes I walk (or drive) down an unknown path. Discovering new places always fills me with strong curiosity and wonder for the world, whether I’m surrounded by mountains, walking through a field of grass or standing under waterfalls, nature always has a way of fascinating me.
Here are a few of my favourite places to visit…
Olinda Falls – Falls Road, Olinda
Just a small (and windy) drive from the National Rhododendron Gardens, Olinda Falls is a perfect place to be refreshed on a hot, sunny day. Situated in the middle of the ever-so-green Sherbrooke forest, the falls are found at the bottom of a vibrant forest track. At first glance, the falls are a perfect place to dip your feet in and cool yourself down, but there is a rocky track leading up the side of the waterfall. If you’re like me, you’ll instantly be pulled towards the little track with a natural urge of curiosity, and after following a while you will find yourself surrounded by thick, green trees with a towering waterfall above your head! The water that splashes onto you from the huge waterfall releases powerful, refreshing energies that recharge your entire body after all the exploring, perfect for when you need to hike up to the top of the hill to get back to the car!
Kirth Kiln National Park – Soldiers Road, Gembrook
Just a short drive from Gembrook, Kirth Kiln is situated in the centre of a beautiful, vibrant forest with a peaceful, flowing river to cool your feet in! The mysterious walking tracks and little waterfalls are enough to capture anyone’s curiosity! Walking down the natural paths immersed in tall trees and vibrant flowers, you will pass huge rocks and dozens of species of plants whilst listening to the rushing sound of the water running between the rocks. The National Park is a historic landmark as well, due to the iconic kiln that was used during the Second World War. The kiln and various forestry huts found in the national park are iconic parts of Australian history. Not only is this place full of fascinating antiquity, it’s full of gorgeous natural beauty as well!
The Puffing Billy Trestle Bridge – Belgrave-Gembrook Road, Selby
Just around the corner from Belgrave, this beautiful valley is home to a vast field of grass and a peaceful, flowing river, whilst the old, curving Trestle Bridge runs overhead. The iconic sound of Puffing Billy radiates through the valley a couple of times a day, creating the perfect opportunity to take some unique shots of the train itself! Whilst Puffing Billy sails above the valley, the sound of peaceful, rushing water fills your ears, drawing your natural curiosity towards the river and filling you with the urge to go for a little dip! This vibrant little dell is secluded off the man road, and a wonderful place to sit down and have a picnic, whilst dipping your feet in the little river and soaking up the sun.
R.J Hamer Arboretum – Chalet Road, Olinda
R.J Hamer Arboretum will forever be one of my favourite locations in the hills. Not only is there a big, beautiful grassy field surrounded by tall trees, you also get to see a glorious view of the vast, blue mountains that will take your breath away! Home to over 150 species of native and exotic trees, the whole park filled with vibrant colour and interesting plants that will intrigue you right down to the last blade of grass. Whether you want to gaze at the scenic view across the Yarra Valley from the gorgeous arboretum, relax on the vast field of grass, have a barbeque with your loved ones or take a peaceful stroll along the walking tracks, R.J Hamer Arboretum is the perfect place for a day of adventure!
Eyre Road Lookout – Eyre Road, Mount Dandenong
My last destination involves a little bit of a hike, but the view will blow you away. Right next door to the Mt Dandenong transmission towers, the beautiful view of the suburbs below already peeps through the trees as you park your car. After a short hike down a steep, dirty hill, the beauty of Mount Dandenong awaits your very eyes as you are immersed in a stunning 180 degree view of Melbourne. Looking outside into the distance, Melbourne city sits on the horizon whilst green paddocks and little buildings are scattered in miniature form. What sounds better than sitting on the paragliding ramp with a couple of friends and watching the world go by from high above? Though amazing as this place sounds, hiking down there at midnight is a magical, uplifting experience. Imagine spending the night surrounded in quietness whilst watching thousands of lights from the world below twinkle in all the colours of the rainbow? Whilst there, take your time to explore the various walking tracks and immerse yourself in the beauty of mother nature. Not only is this lookout beautiful at all times of the day, it’s the ideal location to watch the sun set after a busy day!
These are only some of the hidden treasures in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. Of course, there are many beautiful places around every corner, filled with adventure and wonder to inspire the soul! All you have to do is be a little spontaneous and go searching for them.