Alfred Nicholas Gardens, Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia
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Parks & gardens touring route

Leg 1: Melbourne to Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges
56 km/35 miles, about 1 hour

One of Victoria's great drives is through the Dandenong Ranges, where huge mountain ash trees tower over lush fern-filled gullies. Walk along quiet forest tracks and you may see the elusive lyrebird, famous for its mimicry and the male's courting performance which includes spreading his tail like a dancer's fan.

In spring, the National Rhododendron Gardens are filled with the colour of 27,000 rhododendrons and azaleas. Enjoy a picnic by the lake with a backdrop of distant mountains that form part of the Alpine National Park.

Once a private estate, the Alfred Nicholas Gardens boast a mix of native and exotic trees, including maples, rhododendrons, liquid ambers and mountain ash. Watch out for king parrots and red rosellas, listen for the call of the kookaburra and wander down to the lake.

Wander through the tranquil William Ricketts Sanctuary to see 100 mystical sculptures of people and wildlife hidden amongst ferns and trees.

Book a suite in the green and peace of Amarant Retreat, an accredited eco lodge surrounded by forests filled with abundant wildlife.

Highlights

Echidina magic moment

Healesville Sanctuary

Watch for waking koalas and peek at a joey in a kangaroo's pouch, meet keepers or observe vets in the animal hospital, all in an Aussie bush setting.

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Puffing Billy Steam Railway

All aboard for a ride on Australia's oldest steam railway, through thick forests and lush fern gullies, or travel first class for olden-times romance.

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Alfred Nicholas Gardens

Alfred Nicholas Gardens

The many linking paths through this garden take you beneath a canopy of awesome Mountain Ash Trees. Walk through shady trees down to the picturesque...

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National Rhododendron Gardens

National Rhododendron Gardens

The National Rhododendron Gardens are host to brilliantly coloured blooms of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, cherries and daffodils. Seasonal...

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William Ricketts Sanctuary

William Ricketts Sanctuary

Find mystical clay sculptures of Aboriginal figures hiding in the tranquil ferny glades of the William Ricketts Sanctuary in the Dandenong Ranges.

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