Find Some Space Near Melbourne
The current coronavirus countermeasures mean that, for many of us, our usual family outing go-tos are no longer available. The Arts Centre Melbourne has shuttered for a month, the National Gallery of Victoria is closed and Museums Victoria has locked all their doors including Scienceworks.
And we are all practising “social distancing” which must be an odds-on bet to end up as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year this year. For now, the kids are still going to school but if they end up home, or come the weekend, the best bet might be getting back to nature for a bit.
Zoos Victoria sent out an email this week reminding people that being outside might just be the best remedy for a pretty chaotic time. We do need to keep our distance from each other, but that need not mean being in lockdown at home, unless you are just back from an overseas trip.
“Firstly, all three of our zoos are open, and as an outdoor venue with plenty of fresh air, space and sunshine, the risk of coronavirus remains very low,” Zoos Victoria said in a statement. “We know a lot of members are feeling anxious about coronavirus at the moment, so want you to know that our zoos are a place to escape and enjoy nature which can be a good way to help minimise any stress you are feeling at the moment.”
With that in mind, we look at some of the best places to grab some space and get some fresh air not too far from the big city.
Werribee Open Range Zoo
Under an hour south-west of Melbourne the Werribee Open Range Zoo even sounds like it has a lot of space. Designed, in parts, to mimic the African savannah you can wander the zoo trails and checkout out the big cats, giraffes or even some locals like the kangaroos and koalas. But Zoos Victoria also makes it clear that Healesville Sanctuary, with its focus on Australian fauna and flora, and the Melbourne Zoo are both staying open, for now.
“The Prom” has space to burn, thanks to the many walking tracks, both short and days long. You can really feel like you have The Prom to yourself sometimes like at Sunset on Squeaky Beach – except for the odd emu or wombat that might wander by. A great new addition to the area is the recent amphibious boat tours by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys that take you out along the coastline and to Skull Rock, a special place that fewer people have set foot on than the moon. But keep an eye on the website in case of cancellations as things are changing fast.
A new entrant to the sharing economy is Glamping Hub that launched in Victoria last year. The site offers some seriously remote stays where you won’t want for anything, from treehouses in the Dandenong Ranges to farmstays in east Gippsland. Head to the site to check out your options if you fancy a stay that is a bit out of the ordinary.
Hunker down in a cave
Feeling a bit like a warm hug from the earth itself is The Cave House at Mira Mira Fantasy Accommodation, just an hour out of Melbourne near Mount Baw Baw. This property has a handful of unusual stays from the Hobbit-meets-fairy whimsy of Tanglewood to a Japanese Zen cottage on the lake. Just look for the twisted metal dragon that serves as a front gate.
Take to the mountains
Trekking through the Victorian High Country you can feel like the only people in the world. Particularly if you are hiking the Bluff Spur Trail from Telephone Box Junction with guide, Romana Hoffman, from High Country Hiking Tours a new company set up to help novices (and pro hikers) explore the parts of the alpine region that roads can’t reach. There are family-friendly options on Mt Stirling or hikes over several days, all curated for you and how fit you are.
Commune with nature at Halls Gap
There really are a staggering amount of kangaroos at Halls Gap, the gateway to The Grampians. At sunset the wildlife gathers in such numbers on the local oval that they look like they are getting ready for a kangaroos-versus-emus footy match. You can also try local brews at Paper Scissors Rock Brew Co or have a family meal at the Kookaburra Hotel.
Other outdoor activities near Melbourne
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