A little bit of sea, a little bit of forest – all in a good weeks walks

Labour Day Bank Holiday Weekend in Australia is like any other country – if at reach one goes to the seaside.  I woke up on the Labour Day Monday a little worse for wear and knackered so had planned to spend most of the morning being productive and not so productive in the library. I wanted to see if I could manage to stream an episode of Once Upon A Time and then after go for a stroll/nap at the beach. Day sorted. However, being a government holidaymy plans of semi-productivity were quickly dashed when I realised the library would be closed. Obviously beach was the next priority. Abi was up for a walk so I said I would meet her in St.Kilda and jumped on the next tram. She had texted that she was up for a long walk, which to my not completely awake brain translated to chill walk in flip flops, thai pants and long sleeved shirt as it had been a bit chilly that morning. To Abi, as I discovered on arrival, it meant a proper walk along the seaside boardwalk in running gear. Oops! It was also much warmer than expected. However, I took it in stride, readjusting my clothing as much as possible and hoping my flip flops were up for the task. They only lasted about 15 minutes before I decided walking barefoot was the more suitable option.  Sea air is a marvellous thing though and with the sun in my face and the smell of salt air all around the cobwebs fell away and I was soon gabbing and taking in the scenery. It was a brilliant blue sky day without a cloud in the sky and everyone was in a great mood – out for a walk, run, bike, swim, rollerblade along the boardwalk and its neighbouring beaches. Taking full advantage of the Indian Summer. The boardwalk begins in St. Kilda and snakes it’s way around the coastline although I am not sure how far it goes. We walked for a little under two hours and ended up in Middle Brighton but that did  include a stop at an off-leash zone which was possibly the happiest most chilled out beach I have ever visited. Everyone, owners included, bounded in and around the water playing and chatting with each other. It felt like we had walked into another world, one where the dogs were the rulers. Once we made it back to St. Kilda dinner was on order and although we had a few bumpy starts the evening ended on a high note as we got crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle wedges from Tommy Tuckers on Acland Street. Next time I will have to try their fish & chips as they looked amazing!

Later on in the week, it was time to try the opposite direction and get in some hillside forest air at the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Thursday was forecasted to be a rainy day but I was hoping they would be wrong, thankfully they were. The day began a little soggy but turned out to be the perfect weather for an uphill climb and ramble around the national park. Getting up a little earlier than normal Hector and I met Abi at Flinders Street Station and grabbed the 8:30 train to Belgrave descending at Upper Fern Tree Gully.  I am not sure if I was fully awake though until my heart started pumping when we began to climb. Earlier at breakfast I had completely lost Hector in the dining room and he was sitting right in front of me! The morning air, small rain shower and misty mountains woke me up though and I was ready for the adventure.


As always coffee was first on the agenda when we arrived at Upper Fern Tree Gully so we left the station and made a bee line to the first charming cafe we found, the Brewed Cafe. And charming it was; complete with a rich wood interior which lent to the feeling that we were miles away from the city. Our initial plan was to get take-away but as soon as our eyes landed on the caramel slices it was decided we should sit in and share one. It was a good decision. Extremely sweet it melted in your mouth and was perfect for sharing and a good energy boost for the walk up the hill.

Originally we were going to do the 1000 Steps but it is closed for construction until the end of March so we did the alternate route, Lyrebird Loop, which also has a side set of steps so that one could decide if you wished, to do a stair master work out or an 80 degree upwards treadmill session. It also has little work out areas midway and at the top. Good place to have a breather or do push-ups. Your choice. We went all the way to the top of the trail veering left which takes you to One Tree Hill where they have war memorials and a picnic ground. The trial either then snakes back down the hill or you can go off on any of the other shoot offs. We took the Outlook Trail which once you crossed over the top of the hill coming down the other side you had a stunning view of Melbourne city in the distance. It appeared like it was growing upwards out of the ground. To me it resembled the Emerald City in the distance and we were following the yellow brick road. It is a beautiful and massive national park and there is loads more to discover! The Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley hold loads of walking trails and little villages worth visiting and the best thing is that if you don’t have a car a lot of it is accessible by public transport!

We got a wee bit turned around at the end having walked much farther than intended an landing ourselves in Fern Tree Gully instead of upper but we got to a train station all the same and caught the next train home. Exhausted, hungry but most importantly refreshed after our outing of the city and ready for another yummy homemade dinner!


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