Neil Fahey walks us through the Dandenong Ranges
Lori and I got hitched 10 days ago. The wedding was a full weekend adventure at Licola Wilderness Village, on the edge of Victoria’s Alpine National Park. There was hiking, a giant swing, flying fox, high ropes course and leap of faith, not to mention live music, delicious food, and way too much booze.
Our real honeymoon isn’t until the end of March, so (as I mentioned in my ‘glamping’ post) we couldn’t bear the thought of heading straight back to reality after such an epic wedding adventure.
With the help of online booking portal, Glamping Hub, we decided on a luxury cottage in the Dandenongs. It was only for one night but, while we’d have liked more time, that still left us almost a day and a half to explore. Let’s just call it a mini-moon.
“Do you drink at all?”
Lori and I flash each other a grin, and both wait for the other to respond.
“Ahhhh, we’ve been known to have a drink,” Lori answers sheepishly.
“I’ll be back soon with a bottle of bubbles and a breakfast voucher for the morning,” Jonathan says, chuckling to himself.
Jonathan is the manager of the cottage. He’s just finished showing us around and he’s been a more attentive host than any I’ve ever stayed with.
The moment he clicks the door closed, Lori and I jump up and down like excited children.
The cottage is split level. There’s a modern kitchen and cosy lounge room downstairs (the wood heater almost made me sad it was summer), a bathroom with a huge spa near the entry, and a huge bedroom with king sized bed and vaulted ceilings upstairs. Both the bottom and top levels have balconies surrounded by lush rainforest vegetation. Not to mention it’s a short walk from the main street of Olinda.
It’s the most impeccably designed accommodation I’ve ever stayed in, and these two tired newlyweds couldn’t have hoped for a more luxurious place to reminisce about their incredible wedding adventure.
Sunset at SkyHigh Mount Dandenong
As hard as it is to leave our accommodation, we decide it would be a shame not to watch the sun set on our first full day as husband and wife, so we drag ourselves down the road to SkyHigh Mount Dandenong.
We arrive with the sunset show well underway. You can see most of Melbourne from SkyHigh’s lookout, and I point out as many places as I can to Lori, cuddling up as the air gets crisp and the sky changes from blue to purple, pink and orange. I’ve forgotten to bring my camera but Lori comments that it’s far more romantic this way, and I have to agree.
I look down at the forest below and fill Lori in on the time a goanna scared the crap out of me when I was hiking a trail just below SkyHigh.
“There’s a track that joins SkyHigh up with that hike,” I add.
Lori looks at me with exhausted eyes and it’s clear that it was a good thing I didn’t make the suggestion earlier.
With the best of the sunset over, we consider having a drink at SkyHigh’s restaurant and bistro but remember the spa and the bubbles we’ve got chilling in the fridge, and decide it’s a far more enticing option. When you’ve got accommodation like that, you want to appreciate every minute there.
Need to know: SkyHigh is at 26 Observatory Rd, Mount Dandenong. It’s open every day (Fri 9-10:30 / Sat 8-11 / Sun 8-10) and entry is $6 per car. Seeskyhighmtdandenong.com.au for more info. If you’re up for a hike before you watch the sunset, check out the Camellia Loop (which can be joined to SkyHigh via Zig Zag Track – see Parks Victoria’s map). Alternativily, you could arrive a bit earlier and have a stroll around SkyHigh’s English gardens.
Geocaching the abandoned Olinda Golf Course
We’re sad to check out of our cottage in the morning, but feeling lucky that we’ve got most of the day to explore.
Lori’s urge to find geocaches is strong, so we decide to start the day with a series around an abandoned golf course just down the road. There aren’t many forest trails in the Dandenongs that I haven’t already hiked, so it’s awesome to discover somewhere I haven’t seen before (even if it isn’t really ‘forest).
Olinda Golf Course was built in 1952 and was in operation on and off until late 2012. It’s a 9-hole course, originally established as a strategic fire break to protect the township of Olinda, and once home to club competitions, but now lays bare, used mainly dog-walkers. You couldn’t find a more perfect spot for geocachers.
A clubhouse still stands near the entry. It doesn’t look too dilapidated but long grass grows from its gutters and it certainly hasn’t seen a pair of golf shoes in quite some time.
We stroll around the course for an hour and a half. Everything is covered with dandelions and the greens are unrecognisable except for their shape. Even the bunkers are thick with long grass. As we search for the caches we imagine the place busy with golfers and marvel at the views across the Yarra Valley and Silvan Reservoir. I’m no golfer but this must have been a fun place for a round.
With most of the caches located and logs signed, we decide to head back up the hill to the car.
I’m starting to see why they say golf is such good exercise.
Need to know: Olinda Golf Course is on Olinda-Monbulk Rd, not far from the main street of Olinda. The geocaches we hnte:
As we set off from Sherbrooke Picnic Ground, we startle a lyrebird that’s foraging in the scrub near the start of the trail to Sherbrooke Falls.
“Wow,” Lori exclaims. “That’s only the second time I’ve ever seen a lyrebird.
The return walk to the falls is only around two kilometres, so it wasn’t hard to drag Lori along for this one. It never hurts when nature provides a bit of extra incentive, though.
We make our way slowly along the forest trail, constantly stopping to soak up the silence that’s pierced only by bird calls, and the incredible Mountain Ash trees that seem to rise impossibly high from the thick ferny rainforest scrub below. A smattering of sun, sifted through the tall rainforest vegetation, bathes us in a warmth that we’re glad of on such a mild summer day.
It’s not long before we reach the falls. I’m surprised at how little they’re flowing, considering it was only a few days ago we were stressed that our wedding would be rained out. Despite that, they still look like something out of a fairytale, trickling over mossy rocks into the fern gully below.
Running out of time to get back to reality, we retrace our steps to the car, satisfied that our mini-moon was everything we’d wanted and more.
Other ideas for your active honeymoon in the Dandeongs
- We only got to check out one waterfall on this visit, but our usual favourite is the walk to Olinda Falls.
- Take on the famous 1000 Steps.
- Those looking for a longer walk might prefer to take on the Ferntree Gully Circuit,which includes the 1000 steps
We were guests of Glamping Hub on our stay in the Dandenongs. As is always the case, this has no influence over the opinions I present on Bushwalking Blog.
Have you used Glamping Hub to book a glamping getaway? Know any other good spots for an adventurous honeymoon? If you have any comments, stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.