Got a car full of kids and need to get them out of the house?
The Dandenong Ranges are an ideal location for a road trip family adventure. Whether it’s a great day out, a weekend away or enjoying the school holiday break, you’ll find plenty of activities with kid-friendly restaurants and cafes and family accommodation to make it enjoyable for everyone.
Leave Melbourne in the morning and make your way to Healesville Sanctuary where you can spend the morning interacting with more than 200 species of Australian animals in their natural surroundings. There’s also educational and interactive shows the kids will love, keeper talks, parrot feeding and close-up encounters with koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, dingos and a range of other wildlife. Close-up encounters allow families to truly experience what it’s like to look after these native animals and the purchase of these special encounters also support the sanctuary in continuing their conservation and rehabilitation work. They’re educational, memorable and most of all, fun for everyone.
Following your morning at the Sanctuary, grab lunch at the Sanctuary Harvest Café, a kid-friendly spot serving a menu that the entire family will enjoy, but one that also uses locally sourced fresh produce.
Make an afternoon pit stop at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, not just for the sweets but to give the kids a glimpse into the sweet world of chocolate making. Throughout the year, there’s also 45-minute Junior Chocolatier Classes held in a special, kids-only area. The classes can be booked online in advance and include a lesson on how to make chocolate from one of the chocolateries very own chocolatiers. They also get a personalised badge, chef’s hat and apron, graduation certificate and take-home treats too.
Following your chocolate experience, let the kids loose to burn some energy in the ample outdoor area before you’re back in the car for your journey home.
Travel Time: From Melbourne, this one-day adventure will take about 2.5 hours of drive time round-trip.
Make a weekend of it:
If you’ve got an extra day to spare, book in a session at Trees Adventure in Belgrave. As Victoria’s first eco-adventure park, kids (big and small) can climb, fly and hang from the trees in a safe and fun environment. Two action-filled ropes courses await with more than 80 treetop activities including wobbly rope bridges, taunt tight ropes and 15 flying foxes. Courses take roughly two hours to complete and, depending on your willingness to challenge yourself, there’s various levels to choose from, each colour-coded so climbers can easily follow along.
Make sure all participating family members have a booking, are wearing closed toed shoes and come with a sense of adventure. Arrive 30 minutes prior to your booking for some basic training and to get the most out of your time allotment.
Continue experiencing a bird’s eye view at SkyHigh Mount Dandenong and take in some spectacular views of Melbourne from 630 meters up, the highest natural viewing point in the Victoria. Refuel at the family-friendly on-site bistro then spend the afternoon getting lost in their hedge maze, searching for hidden sculptures. Kids can also get their passport stamped as they make their way through the maze to become a maze master. Here you’ll also find lush gardens for a picnic if you’d prefer and imagination-inspiring attractions such as ‘Percy the Possum’s House’, the Giant’s Chair and the Wishing Tree.
During the school holiday season, a range of activities and ‘Children’s Festival’ program is available with a range of activities including music, petting zoos, mini golf, the list goes on. Check the website for upcoming events and activities.
Travel time: Adding these exciting activities to your weekend will have you on the road for roughly 3.5 hours for the entire round trip.