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Published May 30th 2017
Be transported to a magical kingdom
Standing in the filtered light of midday, you could be excused for imagining you had been teleported to California, rather than being just an hour from Melbourne's Eastern suburbs. Towering above you are trees as high as 55 metres, giant trees, not native to these lands and planted in a grid formation.
Nestled amongst the Australian bush outside Warburton, Redwood Forest is a strange and enchanting sight. The trees date back to the 1930 when they were planted by the Board of Works. Further plantings took place in the 1960s. The trees were all planted in a grid and were intended to control weeds which had grown out of control following the clearing of the native vegetation. However, they were later used by the Board of Works to study forest hydrology – the relationship between types of vegetation and water yield. This was especially important with regards to water catchment areas.
The research may have stopped, but the forest remains and provides a small but interesting place to visit. If you walk through the forest from the access road on Cement Creek Road you can reach the Cement Creek itself – a short stroll. Picnics can be enjoyed either within the forest itself or on cleared land around the outside of the forest. There are however, no facilities aside from a small gravel car park.
Our children aged 4-12 enjoyed running through the forest, looking at the trees and sticks and imagining who (or what!) had created the giant 'nests' which dotted the forest on the day we visited. In the context of popular children's literature such as Star Wars, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and so on, such a fantastical place offers many possibilities.
If you are keen to visit another place whilst in the Warburton area, another family friendly option is the Rainforest Gallery on the Mount Donna Buang Road. The Rainforest Gallery is a 350 metre raised platform which takes you 15 metres above the ground. This provides excellent perspective on the 300-400 year old Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech trees. It is a cool and mossy environment and a great way to teach children about the native forest environment. It is especially interesting to compare and contrast it with the vegetation found further down the valley and near the town of Warburton.
The walkway is accessible from the car park off the Mount Donna Buang Road where toilets can also be located. This is suitable for children under supervision as there are hand rails. There are steps in sections, however the main viewing platform is flat and could be accessed easily with a pram or wheelchair.
After visiting the Redwood Forest and Rainforest Gallery our group was ready for a break, so we drove back into Warburton. Whilst the adults enjoyed a take away coffee from one of the many cafes in the town, the children delighted in walking beside the Yarra River and looking at the ducks and other birds on the banks of the river. A short (and a slightly longer) circular walk can be enjoyed here, crossing over the river at various points on a series of bridges. It is an easy walk but extremely pleasant beside the cool creek.
Warburton is a beautiful town, nestled at the foot of Mount Donna Buang and on a lovely sunny day provides excellent views of the surrounding Yarra Valley. There are many places to eat and drink in the town, some providing views of the river. Being at the end of the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail, there are plenty of accommodation options and a stay in Warburton is recommended in order to make the most of the area – including the many wineries of the Yarra Valley.