Things to Do in The Hills for (almost) Free (Meme)

I don’t even know what a ‘meme’ is but having read Eglantine’s Cake most recent entry I decided to get in on the action. So, here are some things you can do in the Dandenongs.

1. I recently discovered the Burrinja Gallery at 351 Glenfern Road, Upwey (Melways Ref: 75 B12). They have gorgeous exhibitions of indigenous and contemporary art, you could catch a show in the performance space (though that would cost money), they have a lovely little cafe for food, coffee, wine, cake – whatever you would like and it’s very cheap. I haven’t taken my little one there with me but I would.

2. Puffing Billy – Australia’s century-old steam train is still running on its original mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook in the scenic Dandenong Ranges, just 40 km east of Melbourne. Now to be fair, you do have to pay to get on it, but we have just been to the station and had a good look at the train itself and have sometimes driven to it’s various stops to get out and watch it go over the picturesque old wooden bridge on the Emerald Gembrook Road.

3. Sassafrass – between Belgrave and Olinda is the township of Sassafrass. Here you can wander up and down the streets window shopping, you could peek into Geppetto’s Workshop – a wonderful toy store on the main drag. They happily let you play with their toys without having to buy anything. There is also the wonderful Oracle – a shop with more than its fair share of curiosities both New Age and staff based. Lovely for a little relaxing gazing around and they are very tolerant of kidlets. You can choose a lovely free ‘Oracle’ for the day from the hands of the lovely Angel in the front of the shop. If you are tired and in need of a sit down (they have high chairs) there is also Miss Marples , a well respected ‘Tea Rooms’ famous for their Devonshire cream teas. Bit pricey though.

4. Walks – that’s what the hills are famous for. Pack a picnic, catch a train up from Flinders Street in the city to Belgrave and walk to Sherbrooke Forest (which is just a shortish walk from the hight street, up Terry’s Avenue). There are many tracks to follow, you can choose one based on your physical fitness but rest assured that all of them are beautiful and peaceful and full of bird song. You could also get off the train in Ferntree Gully and do the 5km-return 100 Steps and Kokoda Memorial Walk. The walk was created in memory of the men who fought on the Kokoda Track in World War II. Tree ferns, misty gullies, moss and secret valleys – just glorious. For more information on walks go to Parks Victoria.

5. Camberwell Market – Ok, not in the hills by any stretch of the imagination but I love this place. Just browsing the stalls of brick ‘a’ brack is good fun, as is the clearly mental Elvis impersonator who cannot sing a note on key but dresses for the part. Definitely worth a look and there is plenty of hot food available for veggies and non veggies alike. Don’t go past the hot doughnut van, Yummy.

6. My house – all welcome. Coffee, Tea, Herbal Teas, Water and Juice all available and if you let me know you’re coming I’ll make us some soup.

There are of course numerous other amazing places to visit like a plethora of gorgeous gardens or the William Ricketts Sanctuary which I absolutely recommend anyone who comes all the way out here visit. It’s so beautiful and the aboriginal art is incredible. However, all the other things I can think of cost money.

I have included the rules below (as set out by Penni) for anyone else who might want to get in on the freebie action. Hope someone finds this information useful.

Here are the rules (because it wouldn’t be a meme without rules):
1. List (at least) five things to do for free in your city or town, not just well publicised touristy things, but things YOU might do too!
2. Write it with a visitor in mind.
3. Tag three people* – extra fun if they live somewhere you’d like to know better or you’re going to sometime soon.
4. If you’re anonymous/coy about where you live, choose another town or city that you know.