Where to Explore in the Mornington Peninsula: Beaches and Animal Cuddles

Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Uuuuurrrrggggg...I had been doing SO well trying to avoid the nasty cold/flu/sinus bug that has been travelling around Melbourne like crazy. All my clients and colleagues had seemed to succumb to this beast while I sat on the sidelines guzzling zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin C like I was freaking Pac-man munching down on those dots. Alas, I finally became a victim of this virus. 

One of the biggest positives about this virus (minus the downtime to actually rest and MAYBE get some writing done) is that I've managed to avoid getting stuck with a massive migraine! If you've never had a migraine, count yourself lucky. Usually, when I'm sick, I get hit with one. It's just the way the cookie crumbles. 

Before getting sick, I was able to go on one little adventure that turned into a rather exciting day! Initially, I merely wanted to go to Rye Back Beach to try and find the Dragon's Head. Now, this is not a well-known site in Melbourne so I knew it wouldn't be the easiest of ventures. We did find the Dragon eventually! The only problem....the tide was up too high to get a good shot of it. Oh well...What we ended up stumbling upon entirely made up for it!

First, we decided to skip the easy path with stairs leading to the beach and take the trail less travelled...
After our bushwalk
Caution: unstable cliffside 
After making it through to unchartered territory (let's be real, people have gone this way before. I'm not Lewis & Clark), we were greeted with an awesome view of the ocean and coastline...
Trying not to fall over the side
We were even able to get a view of the Dragon's Head from up on top of the cliffside! I've managed to capture a relatively decent picture of the Dragon's Head from another trip to this beach. Be sure to check out my Instagram to see the difference! 
Zoomed in, "high quality" iPhone photo here...
We thought we'd give seeing the Dragon's Head from the beach another go but unfortunately, the weather quickly turned on us, and the tide was way too high to make it out to snap a good picture...

Clearly, we pissed off King Triton...
Fear not! Whilst on our dragon hunt, we got the brilliant idea to go to the koala sanctuary on Phillip Island to hold and cuddle some Koalas. I realise that Phillip Island is NOT that close to Rye. 

Related Post: The Great Sights of Melbourne

By some miracle, about 20 minutes into our drive, we stumbled upon Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park. Hooray for cuddly animals with a shorter drive time! *Sad footnote: it is ILLEGAL to hold a koala in the state of Victoria! If you're hoping to do so, try South Australia or Queensland.*
Scary Mr Emu is NOT impressed by this law
The sanctuary is very affordable and adding on the koala cuddle time was cheaper than a ticket to the Melbourne Zoo. We went during a holiday weekend, and there weren't very many people there. One of the staff members also said that they were "super busy" that day...there were all of 40 people there. So if you like animals but a smaller crowd, this is the place for you! Our first stop of the day was to see the dingos...

Can I take one home, please?
We had to be at the koala encounter at 2:30, so to take up some time, we saw the rest of the animals and then went to feed the wallabies and kangaroos. Keep in mind, the sanctuary is quite small. If you're taking the kiddos there or if you're going with your friends, try to make your animal encounters around the same time. Spreading them hours apart will leave you questioning why you did so. 

Mandatory Kangaroo Selfie
"Nom nom nom."
We finally got to "cuddle" the koala. My bucket list was halfway crossed off since I did not get to hold the koala. But they're so freaking cute and soft to pet, I'll forgive the state of Victoria for its unnecessarily dumb restrictive law.

My new friend Bluegum!
We finished off the day by going back to the wallaby's and kangaroo's to get rid of the rest of our feed. The great thing about the Moonlit Sanctuary is that it's tucked away down the Mornington Peninsula. Unlike the Melbourne Zoo or Healesville, it's normally super quite. This gives you optimal animal interactions. 

Related Post: 5 Overrated Sights in Melbourne

I must say it turned out to be quite a fun, relaxing, lovely day! Lying in bed, writing about these adventures, trying to recover from the mutant bug only makes me want to get out and explore some more! 

And until next time...
He's definitely not going to fit in my purse
Stay curious!

Where to Explore in the Dandenong Ranges

Friday, 12 June 2015
It clear that I prefer the ocean to anything else in life. There's something about being by the water that instantly clears my mind. And yet somehow Australia, you have mesmerised me with your forests and mountain ranges. One of my favourites (mainly because it's a 40-minute drive from my place) is the Dandenong Ranges. Within the Dandenong's there are heaps to see and do. It really is the perfect day trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city!

Dandenong Ranges National Park

The Dandenong's are located roughly 40km outside of Melbourne. Every time I travel up to the Ranges, I feel as though I'm travelling back in time. Seriously, it looks like something out of Jurassic Park. I secretly hope a kangaroo dinosaur will come stomping out of the trees, just barely missing my car, having me freaking lose my shit with excitement! Alas, dinos are extinct, and only roos pose a real threat. Anywho, within the National Park, there are 5 main sections: Sherbrooke Forest, Ferntree Gully, Olinda Forest, Mt Evelyn Forest, and Doongalla Forest. Each is filled with breathtaking scenery, wildlife, and even some waterfalls! Side note: I freaking love waterfalls! Any place with a waterfall is a winner in my book!

Trees Adventure

Ever wanted to feel like Tarzan? Trees Adventure is the place for you! I went during my holiday back in January of 2014 with a couple of friends. I have to say, it was pretty dang amazing. If you have a fear of heights, don't worry! You're strapped in pretty securely to the trees. After the first 5 minutes, the fear of falling goes away. The ropes course varies from beginner to expert with different obstacles and a few zip lines (or flying foxes as they're known as here). It's definitely harder than it looks. So let's "pretend" you've aggravated a herniated disc in your back from the roller coaster at Luna Park...maybe sit this one out.

1,000 Steps

I had a love/hate relationship with this hike. Midway up, I started to sound a bit like Donkey from Shrek. "I am the stair master! I am the master of the stairs!" The hike begins in Ferntree Gully, and throughout the hike, you get a glimpse into the Australian soldiers struggle during WWII. There isn't actually 1,000 steps, but lord does it feel like it! Listen to the signs posted in the car park...BRING WATER!!! Wear some shoes with a bit of grip. The steps often get slippery, especially on wetter days. Once at the top, let the feeling of accomplishment (or death) kick in and enjoy the success!

Sky High

Apparently, on a clear day, you can see the Melbourne skyline...I have not been lucky enough to see this site. I somehow hit Mt. Dandenong on the days where it's super overcast or close to rain. I've been told the views from here at night are absolutely breathtaking (I'll get up there around sunset one of these days)! Forgot to pack a lunch? Fear not! There is a restaurant up top the mountain. There's actually quite a bit to see atop Sky High. It's definitely a must see when visiting the Dandenong's.

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

I stumbled across the Alfred Nicholas Gardens by accident. I had been driving to Sherbrooke Forest when I saw the sign. Luckily I had enough time after hiking the Sherbrooke trail to explore the gardens. Boy was I impressed! I highly recommend seeing the gardens during autumn. You get the evergreen trees and plants mixed in the beauty of the trees changing colour. Absolutely breathtaking!

This is probably one of the strangest/coolest places I've visited. Within the Sanctuary there are beautiful sculptures of Aboriginal people. Some of the sculptures are so much part of their surroundings that one needs to keep a close eye out. I will admit, I was startled a few times when I saw a face in the forest (I'm also a bit of a baby).

Any time I need a break from the city, the Dandenong's are high up on my list of places to visit. From the storybook-like villages to the hikes, to the falls, the Dandenong's never disappoints. With it practically in my backyard, I'd be a fool to pass up on all it has to offer. 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

Want to know about other great sites in Melbourne? Click here to see what else Melbourne has to offer!

*Eventually I will do a more detailed post on each of these sites in the Dandenong's. It's simply too much information to cram into one post!*