We love where we live. We’re in Melbourne’s outer east, nestled at the foot of the Dandenongs, and bordering the Yarra Valley. It’s not unusual for us to head out for a day trip on a weekend or a long weekend, to explore what’s around us. And let’s face it. We’re a one wage family at the moment, so we don’t have money to splash around. Turns out, our little corner of Australia is perfectly located for all sorts of day trips. So come and take a look at three of our favourite, family friendly spots to picnic.
Winter or summer, we love heading down to Dromana. It’s a 50 minute drive, give or take, from home, so it’s perfect for a day trip. Located south of Melbourne, it’s on the Mornington Peninsula. The beaches are smooth and great for kids, and finding a park is never too much of a problem – except maybe mid summer on weekends! We’ve done day trips and long weekend trips to Dromana and always enjoyed them. I think it was the first place the kids had their taste of the beach.
There are loads of places that you can grab lunch or snacks – cafe’s, fish ‘n chip takeaways, restaurants. But it’s perfect for a picnic, with tables along the foreshore, grassed areas with play equipment and public facilities. And there are several good places for coffee. Because even when we’re not spending a lot, we can usually find coin for the good stuff 🙂
Collingwood Children’s Farm
Now you may have heard of the Children’s Farm, and with good reason. It’s a real farm, 5km from the city of Melbourne. It’s located in a gorgeous spot along the Yarra River, and is open to everyone – school groups, individuals, families and more. They host regular Farmer’s Markets and you can even have kids’ parties there! It’s a gorgeous spot, and whenever we go, it feels kind of surreal that it’s so close to such a major city. This one does have a fee – $18 or $10 conc for a family. But if you take your own snacks its a special treat. Our little ones go up close with chickens and horses and guinea pigs, and ran freely amongst the space. It is a lovely spot to visit. Although I think Peppa Pig has confused them a little – they found real pigs to be whole lot more intimidating!!
Warburton and Mt Donna Buang
I love heading further out into the Yarra Valley and the surrouding mountains. I was raised out this way and I know whenever I drive out through Wandin and beyond it feels very much like home. Mt Donna Buang is about 15-20 minutes further up from Warburton, a 45 minute drive from our home. Recently we took an impromptu trip to Mt Donna Buang and thrilled the kids with snow! It’s perfect for those not able to go to the snow and stay. Not too far from Melbourne means you can do a day trip. When we went, Queen’s birthday weekend, it was busy with lots of snow. There is usually tobogganing as well. And because it’s so close to Warburton, it’s perfect to take a picnic with you! Once you’ve been up and seen the snow, travel back down to Warburton and make use of the many picnic tables. I love Warburton. The way they’ve set out the public facilities is great. Along the river there are tables and access to bbq’s and toilets. Our kids loved the river! There are many ducks who are pretty comfortable near people, and very vocal. There is also a fabulous path along the river, where the kids were able to climb and scramble over big rocks, find almost hidden paths and swing on ropes left on the trees by previous kids. It was lovely.
So these are some of our favourite places to picnic around Melbourne’s east. Where are yours? Check out the #ShareAustralia tag for more inspiration from Australia’s bloggers!
Victoria had a long weekend recently, so we took advantage and headed up the mountain for a picnic lunch. We live a stones throw from Mount Dandenong, and it is such a beautiful place to live. We decided to head to the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, in Sassafras. I have never been there before, which is amazing, given I grew up in the area!
So we drove up the mountain, winding our way past the huge line of cars and people who had decided to visit the Dandenong Ranges National Park and, I’m assuming, the 1000 steps Kokoda Memorial Trail. Yep, you heard right, the 1000 steps. Have you been there? It is a three km 1.5 hour return walk, that was created in the early 1900’s and was adopted by Victoria Veterans of the Kokoda campaign (WW2). Apparently, the walk is very similar to the first 100 metres of the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. People were parked for miles up the road!
We kept going though, and found ourselves at the lovely Alfred Nicholas Gardens. They’re amazing, and we didn’t even get to see the majority of them. Because, you know, small children. We took a picnic and a pram, but the next time we go, I would not take the pram and I would pack the picnic in a back pack. The paths are great, and if you need a pram, they are definitely suitable, but it would have been easier without I think. Unfortunately they were draining the lake for maintenance when we visited, but there was still a lot to see. Ms 3 insisted we would find fairies, and took along her wings to help the search.
The paths lead down to the lake, and to a boat house, and to a fabulous large space, where the kids just wanted to run and run. They found a ‘fairy’ tree, they were amazed by the size of the trees and it was just so wonderfully quiet and peaceful. Just gorgeous.
If you’re in Melbourne, and haven’t been, I recommend making the drive up the mountain. Especially now, as we head into Autumn. The colours are always amazing this time of year, and I think we’ll be taking another trip soon. Plus, all that walking tuckered out the little ones!
Do you like to take breaks in your own backyard? Tell me about it!