Episode 32: Dandenongs
This week on Postcards, the team explore the picturesque Dandenong Ranges and discover the quaint little villages that lie hidden amongst the hills. Brodie Harper travels to Emerald where she takes a tour of 'The Little White House' – a cottage perfect for couples, and 'The General Food Store' which serves up delicious brunch and lunch dishes. Glen Moriarty takes a scenic drive through the Dandenongs and admires the view from the SkyHigh lookout, before stopping by Red Gum Gallery in Olinda and taking a well-earned rest at the stylish Gallery B&B. Lauren Phillips weaves her way through landscaped gardens in Sherbrooke and stumbles across two charming heritage listed properties – Edna Walling Cottage and Mawarra Manor. She also makes a pit stop at Folly Farm near Olinda where she wanders through 10 acres of private garden and checks out the onsite cosy cottage for two. Finally, Rebecca Judd discovers the picturesque town of Sassafras where she visits Café de Beaumarchais, an eatery that adds a touch of Paris to the village with its chandelier lighting and delicate desserts. She also stops by the recently opened Blackwood Sassafras, an elegant self-contained villa that is fit out with every luxury imaginable – from heated towel rails to fluffy bathrobes.
The Little White House and The General Food Store and Puffing Billy
Located in the quaint hills of the Dandenong Ranges, The Little White House is a couples retreat less than an hour from the city. Situated in Emerald, the one bedroom cottage exudes contemporary luxury and traditional elegance with its high ceilings and white walls. The deluxe double bath is the main feature of the generously sized ensuite and there's a fully equipped kitchen to cook up a delicious breakfast.
Or if cooking on holidays isn't your style then why not treat yourself to a meal at the nearby General Food Store in Emerald. The General Food Store opened in July last year and is a breath of fresh air for foodies in the hills who demand good coffee and quality café food. Although it may be small in size, the menu really packs a punch with favourites like the Arabesque, which comes with poached eggs, grilled halloumi, house made beetroot relish, hazelnut dukkah and spinach on sourdough. Another one of their hits is the Sultan's Swing – it's a traditional lamb shoulder and prune tagine, served with a simple salad of fennel, pomegranate seeds and mint.
One of the most popular things to do when visiting the Dandenongs is taking a ride on Victoria's most famous stream rain, the Puffing Billy. It stops off at Emerald Lake Park, which is another great attraction in the region. Emerald Lake Park is a beautiful spot to take a stroll, have a picnic or even hire one of their paddle boats!
The Little White House
53 Ferres Road, Emerald
The General Food Store
377 Belgrave Gembrook Road, Emerald
Ph 03 5968 3580
1 Old Monbulk Road, Belgrave
ph 03 9757 0700
Emerald Lake Park
Emerald Lake Road, Emerald
SkyHigh, Red Gum Gallery and The Gallery B&B – Olinda
The drive from Melbourne to Mount Dandenong takes just under an hour and is a much loved touring route for those who enjoy nothing more than a leisurely cruise. SkyHigh Mount Dandenong sits at the very top of the mountain and is one of the area's most popular tourist attractions. It comprises a viewing deck, a restaurant and bistro, a function space and surrounding gardens. The SkyHigh deck sits at 633 metres above sea level and the panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay that can be seen from it are simply spectacular. There is a giant chair and maze for the kids in the surrounding gardens, as well as barbecues and picnic areas. SkyHigh is also home to one of the state's most stunning function spaces that can be transformed into the ideal wedding venue and downstairs the SkyHigh bistro and restaurant offers casual dining where there's always something special on the menu.
As you drive back down the mountain you'll pass through the town of Olinda, which has some great places to grab a bite to eat and some beautiful local antique stores such as 'Mangana', where you'll find a huge range of interesting treasures on sale. Just a few doors down is Red Gum Gallery which showcases the work of local artists with its wonderful range of paintings, red gum sculptures, pottery, glass and jewellery. With works from nearly 40 different artists on display, you might just find the perfect gift for that special someone.
If you're loving life on the mountain and you're not ready to leave after just one day, there are some great places to stay overnight. Gallery B&B in Olinda offers some of the best accommodation you'll find in the Dandenong Ranges. Gallery B&B is one of the mountain's newest additions and has been designed and built with sustainability, luxury and privacy in mind. Nestled on 1 ½ acres of gardens and surrounded by farmland, this former art gallery is now a spacious, self-contained cottage for two that is equipped with a queen sized bed, double spa bath, modern kitchen, a gas log fire and a private veranda with an outdoor setting. The kitchen is stocked with everything you need to cook a delicious breakfast including local free-range bacon and eggs, gourmet cereals, organic muesli, organic yoghurt, juice, freshly ground coffee and array of specialist teas, not to mention the owners' home-made jams! This stylish, romantic retreat has everything you need!
SkyHigh Mount Dandenong
26 Observatory Road, Mount Dandenong
Ph 03 9751 0443
Red Gum Gallery
Shop 3, 47 – 53 Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda
Ph 03 9751 2546
The Gallery B&B
112 Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda
Ph 03 9751 1580
Edna Walling Cottage and Folly Farm
Deep in the villages of the Dandenong Ranges lie hidden pockets of horticultural history. Many of these secret gardens are heritage listed and some were designed by one of Australia's leading landscape designers, Edna Walling. Several properties with Edna Walling gardens provide self-contained accommodation, such as The Grove, where you'll find two heritage listed houses. Just metres from Sherbrooke Forest is Edna Walling Cottage. It contains a lounge, kitchen and bathroom downstairs with a queen sized bedroom upstairs in the dormer roof. Mawarra Manor is The Grove's other heritage listed house. It was built in 1932 but has been updated along the way to include a European kitchen and enough room for up to six guests. There's a beautiful lounge room overlooking the gardens and an enormous indoor avocado shaped heated pool, sauna and gymnasium.
You can also see Edna's trademark dry stone walls and pathways in the garden at Folly Farm near Olinda, which was designed and planted in the 1930s and is now classified by the National Trust. The cottage at Folly Farm was planned as a packing office for the farm's blueberry crop, but at some point during construction the vision shifted from functional to fabulous. It's now a cosy retreat for two and the guest book tells of many romantic evenings, two of which involved marriage proposals. The spacious cottage is wheelchair accessible and has been built in the same fashion as the property's 1912 farm house, with polished timber floors, high ceilings and a four-poster bed. It has been decorated with a hint of French provincial inspiration, and its pantry comes stocked with home baked bread, farm fresh eggs and local bacon for breakfast.
Edna Walling Cottage and Mawarra Manor
6 Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke
Ph 03 9755 1273
192 Falls Road, Olinda
Ph 03 9751 2544
Blackwood Sassafras, Cafe de Beaumarchais
One of the must visit places in the Dandenongs is Sassafras and these days there is a new and very stylish place that you can stay at which is located just off its main street. The recently opened Blackwood Sassafras located on the corner of Mt Dandenong Tourist Drive and Woodlands Avenue is a stylish abode that has been decorated in the pared back French Country tradition. Understated elegance is the order of the day for this one bedroom, self-contained villa that features every luxury imaginable from heated towel rails and underfloor heating to fluffy bathrobes. A continental breakfast and mini bar is available or a cooked breakfast delivery can also be organised. A kitchenette along with a comfortable lounge and dining space completes the picture. Even though this place is a cosy hideaway there's also free Wi-Fi and Foxtel for those who don't like to venture too far away from their city lifestyle.
There are plenty of coffee pit stop options along the popular Sassafras shopping strip such as the very classic Miss Marple's Tearoom, the Black Kettle Café which make their own crumpets and Ripe – one of the more popular cafes that sells produce as well. But it's Café de Beaumarchais that adds a slice of Paris to the village with its chandelier lighting and delicate desserts.
The Blackwood Sassafras
Woodlands Avenue, Sassafras
Ph 03 9751 2464
Cafe de Beaumarchais
Corner Woodlands Avenue and Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras
Ph 03 9755 1100
Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival
Get active this spring and register yourself for the 2013 Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival which is happening again this year on Sunday 13 October.
Where: Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs
When: Sunday 13 October, 2013
MAArvelous Millinery Cocktail Event
Spring Racing is upon us, so now is the time to buy your ticket for the 'MAArvelous Millinery' event to meet 27 of the country's most talented milliners and see their fabulous creations!
Where: The Leopard Lodge, Melbourne Zoo
When: Thursday 3 October, 2013
Tesselaar Tulip Festival
This year's Tesselaar Tulip Festival is now in full swing, so take the family along to experience this iconic Victorian event, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year!
When: Until 8 October, 2013