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Natural highs in the Dandenongs

09:00 AEST Thu Nov 18 2010
For more than a century the Dandenong Ranges, an hour from Melbourne, have been a retreat from the bustle of the city. A visit there usually means a peaceful time in leafy surrounds, browsing through antique stores and tucking in to a Devonshire tea.

Those things are still there to be enjoyed, but Dermott Brereton wanted to let you know that if you are in the Belgrave area and have a competitive nature, there is something new that you will love.

Trees Adventure

Trees Adventure in Glen Harrow Gardens spans eight hectares of forest and features rare trees, including a 150-year-old Algerian oak, which is used as the home tree.

Glen Harrow's owners have restored historic cottages into self-contained Victorian-style accommodation. The enormous grounds were in need of extensive work and were leased to Trees Adventure. Dead trees, weeds and overgrowth were cleaned up and the gardens are back to their original glory.

Developed by a former military person, the course uses the same skills the military uses in training exercises, but higher in the trees. Balance, strength and self-control come in to play and it's suitable for adults and children.

French rock climber Nic Dansin led the team of riggers who created the course. He describes it as a museum of trees and you jump from one space to another. A local arborist was very involved in ensuring the environment was preserved.

Adventurers move between platforms ranging between 2m and 12m high, and for those not comfortable with heights, there are easy courses for those who still want to join in the fun.

For children there's Butterfly Attack and Eat Your Weeties. There are mid-air challenges to negotiate, you can crawl through barrels, wobble on monkey bridges, jump on an "aerial skateboard" and the Tarzan line presents a great balance test. Double Dare is an intermediate course with a huge two-stage flying fox and a swing bridge with lots of missing planks.

The advanced course is for real thrill seekers. Suck it Up starts at the home tree and goes into a huge net traverse. Ou La La, the black diamond course, opens with a 10m climb up an indented wooden pole. It's capped off with The Kingmaker, a 100m-long flying fox. This one can only be undertaken at the discretion of staff.

Everyone is fitted with a harness with lanyards, karabiners, pulley, gloves and helmet, and undergoes a training session.

Glen Harrow Historic Gardens and B&B

After all that flying and climbing, you may fancy spending a night in the Dandenongs — and you don't have to go far.

Glen Harrow has five cottages in beautiful gardens and forest, each one private and secluded and with wide verandahs. They offer old-world charm and modern comforts. There are two-person spa baths, towels and fluffy robes, log fires, air-conditioning and gas heating and a movie library. Breakfasts are lavish!

Guests can enjoy wandering on forest walks, through towering fern gullies, mountain ash and giant Californian redwood. Paths lead to the village where there are restaurants and a tavern.

Puffing Billy Railway Station

It just wouldn't be a visit to the Dandenongs without a ride on the century-old steam train. It still runs on its original mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook and is a delightful family outing.

Location

The Dandenong Ranges, an hour from Melbourne.

Cost

Trees Adventure is $16 for children aged five to nine, $25 for 10 to 15, $32 for adults and $95 for a family of two adults and two children for two hours. There are varying height, weight and age restrictions.

Glen Harrow B&B costs $230 a night from Sunday to Thursday and $790 for four nights. Fridays and Mondays are $290 a night and Saturday $320.

Puffing Billy from Belgrave to Gembrook costs $33 for adults and $17 for children one-way, $52 and $26 return and $105 for a family return.

Virgin Blue has one-way flights to Melbourne from:

  • Adelaide $79
  • Hobart $85
  • Sydney $90
  • Canberra $99
  • Brisbane $129
  • Darwin $179
  • Perth $249

There are limited seats, which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at November 18, 2010, and are subject to change.

Prices correct at November 18, 2010.

For further information

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789
www.virginblue.com.au

Trees Adventure
Glen Harrow Gardens
Old Monbulk Road
Belgrave 3160
Ph: (03) 9752 5354
www.treesadventure.com.au
contact@treesadventure.com

Glen Harrow Gardens B&B
Old Monbulk Road
Belgrave 3160
Ph: (03) 9754 3232
Fax: (03) 9754 3111
www.glenharrow.com.au
stay@glenharrow.com.au

Puffing Billy Railway
1 Old Monbulk Road
Belgrave 3160
Ph: (03) 9757 0700
www.puffingbilly.com.au
info@pbr.org.au

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