Just outside of Melbourne, the Dandenongs rise skywards in a flurry of picturesque forests and ancient narratives. Here, you’ll find the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary that sits amongst the stunning scenery and is open for visitors to experience the local wildlife.
While on-site, you can get up close and personal with some of the country’s best-loved creatures, including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, wombats, dingoes, and around 200 different bird species.
The sanctuary is dedicated to Australia’s native species, and you can learn all about the feeding, breeding, and living habits of their iconic animals.
When you leave the sanctuary and head back into the welcoming arms of the Dandenongs, you’ll be greeted by towering mountain ash gums, which are the tallest flowering plants in the world, and charming mountain villages that echo sentiments from yesteryear.
Keep your eyes peeled for brightly-coloured cockatoos that circle high in the treetops while you sip on a traditional Australian billy tea and soak up the fresh mountain air – don’t forget to try a chocolate and coconut lamington cake with a spread of savoury Vegemite for the ultimate Australian experience.
The Puffing Billy Tour
As well as the wildlife sanctuary, quaint villages, and sprawling scenery, the Dandenongs are home to the popular Puffing Billy Steam Train, which is still open for service and takes passengers through the lush forest undergrowth and through the pretty scenery of the mountains and their surroundings.
The train itself has been chugging away for more than a century, but it still maintains its original charm as it runs on a dedicated mountain track from Belgrave to Menzies Creek. Whilst travelling through the landscape, you’ll head back in time through the ancient rainforest, spotting colourful wildlife and fascinating plant life as you go.
Along the way, Puffing Billy takes you through the magical Sherbrooke Forest and over the whimsical Trestle Bridge. As you near Menzies Creek, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking views of Port Phillip Bay as it glistens in the distance.
The Dandenongs provide the perfect place to experience everything that the countryside outside of Melbourne has to offer. Just a short drive away from the bustling city, you’re greeted by soaring mountains peppered with cute villages that hark back centuries, and a stunning selection of native wildlife that basks in the ancient forests.
When you hop aboard the Puffing Billy Steam Train, you get to experience all of this and more as you chug beneath impressively tall trees and weave along the picturesque mountain track.