With all the riding I’m doing training for the Around the Bay ride next weekend, I haven’t had much time to spare for other outdoorsy stuff.
My training rides generally take at least half a day, leaving me too tired to do much for the other half and leaving the rest of the weekend for chores.
But the last couple of weekends my fiancé and I have managed to do a couple of short, half day trips to explore some places not normally on our radar – the National Rhododendron Garden near Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges and Werribee Park, west of Melbourne, on the way to Geelong.
Both places exceeded our expectations and are now on our list for future picnics with friends.
The rhododendrons were flowering when we were at the Rhododendron Gardens on a showery and windy day. But the dull light of overcast skies were unable to dim the bright colours of the thousands of flowers in bloom. Who knew there were so many kinds of rhododendron? Plus a wide wide wide range of other flowers.
The garden’s paths took us down into native forest where we saw a lyre bird scratching amongst the undergrowth. On the way back up we passed a large, flat grassy area that’d be perfect for picnicking and kicking the footy on. There were also great views across a valley to nearby ranges I couldn’t identify.
Werribee Park was another pleasant discovery. As well as being home to Werribee Mansion, which was built in the 1800s by wealthy Scottish pastoralists the Chirnsides, it’s also home to the Victoria State Rose Garden.
We picnicked in the rose garden but the mansion’s grounds also have plenty of places to throw down a rug in the shade of a towering tree.
While the grounds and gardens are free, it costs $8.50 for adults to go into the mansion. But it’s totally worth it. The mansion has been beautifully restored and gives an amazing insight into what life was like for the wealthy in Australia’s colonial days.
So, just in time for the warmer months, we’ve discovered two great places to picnic with friends. And kick the footy.