I hope you all had an enjoyable and rejuvenating festive season!
People in Australia typically (but not always) bring in the new year by having one too many beverages with family and/or friends either at someone’s house, a bar, nightclub, a camping ground or at a festival even. If that is your jam, good! You do you! I am a fan of doing me though (umm.. haha). Whilst I am a fan of occasionally having one too many beverages, I only like to do so when I am really in the mood for it. During the New Years period (especially when I am in my home country), I prefer to spend some time alone and with my family and to be more contemplative rather than celebratory. We celebrate the New Year to celebrate entering another year on this Earth, right? Celebrating life? I want to celebrate my life EVERY DAY by doing more than just existing every single day. I want to do things that I am passionate about, the things that make me feel alive. So, that is what I intend to do this year. Essentially and in short, I want to fill my life with more enriching experiences. I want to see more of my backyard- Victoria, Australia. I want to spend quality time with important people in my life. I want to try new restaurants. I want to become an experienced hiker. I could go on forever but you get my point. So, I set my intentions for the year early and I brought in the New Year by doing a hike on New Years Eve and on New Years Day in Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges.
Sherbrooke Forest is very close to where I currently live and I am very surprised/somewhat mad at myself for never visiting the area before. If you live in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne (especially in the Outer Eastern Suburbs like myself) I urge you to go and have a wander. There are trails to suit all levels of experience from an easy, 30 minute walk on the Margaret Lester Forest Walk to hours long with varying degrees of difficulty on the multiple trails across East and West Sherbrooke Forest. Unfortunately, the Western part of Sherbrooke Forest was closed off due to a recent storm damage so I wasn’t able to visit that part of the Forest. I will be returning though to see it and I look forward to it because it is such a beautiful area!
From the moment you get onto Monbulk Road, you will smell the fresh forest air and be enamoured by the very green sights of a road lined with a variety of ferns and other Australian native trees. The forest scents, sounds and sights had me feeling instantly rejuvenated and relaxed. After you find your parking spot at Grant’s Picnic ground you can either stay on that side of the road for the Eastern part of the forest or carefully cross Monbulk Road for the Western part of the Forest. On New Years Eve, I did the Margaret Lester Forest walk on the East side of the forest and a short part of Coles Ridge Track.
On New Years Day, I freestyled it. I walked for about 3 hours on a combination of the Lyrebird Walk, Bleakly Track, Lipscombe Break, Welch Track, Paddy Track and Coles Ridge Track. For both these walks I used a book as a vague guide, ‘Day Walks Around Melbourne’ by Glenn Tempest. I found this hike to be incredibly challenging, especially as a beginner haha. I walked up and down many steep hills and my legs are aching right now as I write this. I found it to be very rewarding though, especially as I got deep into the forest when I could hear no other people or cars and had the opportunity to enjoy the serenity and beauty of the forest alone.
Lyrebird Walk is named rightly so, I spotted a female lyrebird (not quickly enough to take a photo, though). I also spotted many Rosellas and orange coloured Butterflies. I came back at dusk with a friend on New Years Day also (I really liked it that much!!) and walked along Margaret Lester Forest Walk and we spotted a wallaby!
I definitely recommend visiting Sherbrooke Forest and I am sure my enthusiasm for this place is demonstrated by the amount of times I’ve visited it across 2 days! There is something for everyone whether they are after a relaxed short stroll or a more challenging hike. If you tread quietly you may be treated to some wildlife and if not, you will be treated to the many beautiful sights, sounds and smells the forest has to offer. I recommend visiting early in the morning as it can get quite busy with busloads of tourists rolling in the afternoon, however, I only found the actual picnic ground to be crowded and as I got deeper into my hikes I very rarely encountered people. The tracks can also be slippery in some parts when it rains, so it best to visit when the ground is likely to be dry, on or after a sunny day etc. There is also a cafe and there are public toilets separate from the cafe at Grant’s Picnic Ground.
Please stay tuned for part 2, where I will check out the Western part of the Forest. You can get more information on the tracks from the Parks Victoria website. I just noticed they provide updates on track closures which is really handy and I would recommend checking that out before you head to the grounds (especially if you have your heart set on a particular track like I did on day 2). I also recommend the book ‘Day Walks around Melbourne’ by Glenn Tempest, it has a lot of handy information on a variety of walking tracks around Melbourne.
Now, go have a wander!