In Travel

VIC Weekender: 48 Hours In Dandenong Ranges

While the Yarra Valley has long been the destination of choice for short getaways, its lesser-known sibling, the Dandenong Ranges, is coming of age. The region now has an equally appealing selection of gourmet treats, luxury stays and indulgent experiences to offer city escapees.

If you want to make the most out of a weekend in this gorgeous – and tasty – little pocket of Victoria, here’s exactly how to spend it.

Friday

5pm: Check-in to Sage Hotel Ringwood

The Sage Hotel Ringwood has only been open a year, but is already a popular pick. Image: Sage Hotel Ringwood / supplied

The Sage Hotel has only been open a year, but is already becoming a popular pick for a stay in the area. It’s located just 40 minutes from the Melbourne CBD, right at the gateway to the Dandenong Ranges, on top of the Eastland shopping precinct in the area’s Eastern Suburbs.

8pm: Have dinner at Partake

The hotel’s in-house restaurant Partake focuses on simple and local food. Image: Sage Hotel Ringwood / supplied

Plenty of oversized murals painted by renowned street artist Mike Eleven just outside the hotel will have you feeling like you’re in Melbourne’s art-filled alleys. Explore them before heading back to the Sage for dinner at in-house restaurant Partake.

Here the food philosophy is simple and local. from the meat to the cheeses, and teas to chocolates, the menu showcases the best of the Dandenong Ranges and nearby Yarra Valley.

After dinner, head to High and Dry for local wines, spirits and craft beers.

Saturday

9am: Breakfast at Burnham Beeches The Piggery Café 

Piggery-Cafe-Burnham-Beeches Dandenong Ranges

The Piggery Cafe can be found inside the Burnham Beeches Homestead. Image: The Piggery Cafe 

You’ll want to get to The Piggery Café right when it opens at 9am because the little café is considered quite the ‘hot to trot’ spot in town.

Celebrity chef Shannon Bennett gives the menu culinary clout. Sophisticated and sustainable comfort food are all on the line-up. Think free-range pork and eggs, vegetables sourced from the estate garden and great coffee to boot.

The restaurant is housed inside a converted piggery and stable at the Burnham Beeches Homestead, which recently housed the famed RONE exhibition. Though newly-opened, it’s set to become a regional dining and luxury accommodation hotspot over the next few years.

11am: Get lost in William Ricketts Sanctuary 

William Ricketts Sanctuary is hidden along the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road. Image: Visit Dandenong Ranges

Put on your hiking shoes and don’t forget your camera as you wander through William Ricketts Sanctuary.

The grounds are hidden along the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, and are dotted with 90 sculptures carved into rocks and trees depicting the aboriginal people interacting with the forest setting. Walk along a beautiful and tranquil walk, taking them all in.

The sanctuary’s namesake, artist William Ricketts, spent much of his time living with the Aboriginal communities in Central Australia and the themes in his artwork reflect his philosophies on how humans connect with nature and the earth.

1:30pm: Hit the food and wine trail

six-acres-wines-dandenong-ranges

Six Acres Wines specialises in cool climate reds so is worth visiting in autumn or winter. Image: Six Acres Wines / Facebook

Spend your afternoon tasting your way around the farm gates and cellar doors, and meeting the makers, growers and providores. Depending on the season, you’ll find everything from you-pick fruit farms to catch and cook-your-own trout farms

Both family-owned Six Acre Wines and Sir Paz Estate’s cellar doors specialise in cool climate reds so are worth visiting in autumn or winter in particular.

As you wander your way around the quaint villages of the region such as Sassafras and Olinda, drop into local delis to stock up on locally made cheeses, jams, chutneys and gourmet goods. Of note is The Deli Platter in Olinda.

Vintage shops, boutiques, bookstores and art galleries are also worth exploring here.

5:30pm: Watch a SkyHigh Sunset 

SkyHigh is 630m above ground, and the highest natural viewpoint it all of Victoria. Image: Visit Dandenong Ranges

Sunset in winter is around 5:30pm so head to the lookout at SkyHigh then. At 630m above ground, it’s the highest natural viewpoint in all of Victoria, and offers incredible views of Melbourne’s skyline across to Port Philip Bay and beyond.

7pm: Check-in to a local B&B

Arcadia-Cottages-Dandenong-Ranges

The Dandenong Ranges offers more boutique accommodation than anywhere else in Victoria. Image: Arcadia Cottages / Facebook

The Dandenong Ranges offers more options for boutique accommodation that you’ll likely find anywhere else in Victoria.

Here you’ll find everything from luxury lodges to rustic cottages where you can curl up in front of a cosy fireplace with a glass of your newly-purchased red and indulge in your gourmet finds.

Sunday

10am: Breakfast at Prosperina Bakehouse

Prosperina Bakehouses has delicious bread and breakfast treats. Image: Visit Dandenong Ranges

Prosperina Bakehouse is located on the main strip in Sassafras. Here you can feast on delicious bread, pastries, and breakfast treats paired with your morning coffee. It’s a warm and beautiful space where the freshly baked goods are made from local ingredients. After breakfast, explore the weekend markets and quirky boutiques in the town of Sassafras.

1pm: Pamper yourself at Nourish

On the way home, stop by the suburb of Olinda to spend the afternoon pampering yourself with a massages or spa treatment at Nourish Day Spa. While of course you can enjoy your blissful time alone, the spa specialises in couple’s massages.

3:30pm: Head home

After your pampering session, return back to Melbourne well rested – and well fed.

The writer travelled to Dandenong Ranges as a guest of Visit Dandenong Ranges.

(Lead image: Arcadia Cottages – Dandenong Ranges / Facebook)

Published 15 April, 2019