Where do you find a real country atmosphere so close to the city? In the northern suburbs! With its rolling hills, plenty of parks and open space, picturesque villages and Melbourne’s friendliest people … the northern suburbs have plenty to offer families. There was a time when the land where townships and suburbs in the north were dotted with market gardens, orchards and dairy farms.
Times have changed and the district is developing rapidly, but there’s still an exciting blend of both worlds; one where you have open spaces and nature to explore and another that offers culture, food, shopping and all the other amenities we love to surround us. Coopers Settlement in Bundoora Park has a fully recreated village from the turn of the 20th century and also a petting farm that the littlies will love. Latrobe Golf Park is sure to challenge and entertain the kids and parents! Nearby Watermarc in Greensborough has an enormous indoor aquatic centre with some of the best waterslides in Australia.
Funfields is Melbourne’s premier theme park, offering a great mix of exciting thrill rides, tobogganing, go-karting (suitable for juniors too) and a fantastic aqua park with their brand new offering, “The Kraken” – a four lane hi-speed water slide. It is a 40 min drive from the CBD on the Ring Road and has ample space & facilities for picnicking and BBQing- A great day out!
On the other side of the Plenty River lies the Shire of Nillumbik (www.visitnillumbik.com.au) which encompasses most of the area known locally as The Diamond Valley. There are heritage trails to discover, an environmental community farm to explore, miniature railway to ride, adventure playground to play in and a variety of community events, festivals and many colourful community markets.
Whether you and your family enjoy walking or cycling, Nillumbik has got you covered. The Aqueduct trails joins the Research Trail to form a 10.2km trail loop around Research and Eltham North. There are playgrounds, picnic and BBQ facilities located along the trail. Or you can explore the Gawa Wurundjeri Resource Trail, which is a self guided, 340m loop walking trail. Markers explain how the Wurundjeri clan lived near the creek and used the land to obtain bush foods, medicines, implements, shelter and clothes. The trail introduces visitors to the indigenous flora and fauna, including manna gums, Lomandra (used to weave baskets) and wombat burrows.
At Edendale Community Environment Farm you can say hello to our guinea pigs and farm animals, including sheep and goats, enjoy the child-friendly spiral garden or wander through the sustainably-grown vegetable gardens and fruit orchard to get ideas on what you can do in your own garden. You can play in the large sandpit under the shade of the trees or choose from a range of self-guided children’s activities like our clipboard activities which will take you around the farm to learn a little on this journey. You can also bring a picnic and enjoy the open lawn spaces or undercover shelters. The Diamond Valley Railway is one of the world’s best Miniature Railways. Enjoy a 12-15 minute ride around the 2 kilometre line that passes over numerous bridges and through tunnels.
The Eltham North Adventure Playground caters to children of all ages and abilities. The playground is very close to Edendale, just a few minutes along the bike path and across the bridge. There is good parking, toilets, swings and the Liberty Swing. There are also plenty of spots for BBQs (onsite) and picnics, flying fox, water play areas and a new cubby section. A large shed structure provides shelter to most of the play equipment for year round play.
The trip through the Diamond Valley takes in the quaint villages of Hurstbridge, Panton Hill and St Andrews on the way up into the Kinglake Ranges. The Ranges have waterfalls, ample picnicking spots and kilometres of walking trails. There are wineries, fruit picking opportunities as well as parks, playgrounds and plenty of cafes.
Nillumbik is also home to range of events that run throughout the year. From open farm days, to a Pet Expo to the Hurstbridge Wattle Festival and more.