Less than an hour from the urban trappings of Melbourne is the Dandenong Ranges, where you and your loved ones can enjoy popular attractions like the Puffing Billy train ride through the fern glades and native forest, Kallista Market, Tesselaar Tulip Farm and stand upon the upper reaches of the Dandenong Ranges at SkyHigh.
One of the main leisure stops for locals and visitors to the area, SkyHigh Mount Dandenong was an iconic and popular attraction in the 1970s to 1980s. This tourist attraction was named "Mount Dandenong Observatory" then. Unfortunately it suffered a period of disregard in the early 1990s that led to its complete shutdown in 1997.
Through a new lease provided by Parks Victoria in 2004, the site was re-opened with AUD4 million spent by owner John Connellan on upgrading the entire site. The results were improved viewing platforms, magnificent gardens and walks, a maze, car-park facilities, disabled access, barbecues and picnic areas, a family bistro and a gift shop to better serve the estimated 650,000 visitors that visit SkyHigh Mount Dandenong every year. Apart from the AUD5 vehicle entry fee, most of the facilities are free to view and use.
Binoculars on the viewing terrace will allow you to see Melbourne and its urban fringes in better detail, with views to Geelong on a clear day. An excellent time for romantic dates is when night falls. The heavens transform into a ceiling of glittering diamonds that smile upon the mountains and city lights of Melbourne in the distance.
2) The English Garden
SkyHigh Mount Dandenong offer an immaculate garden of its own for fans of the National Rhododendron Garden in the Dandenongs. The English Garden features Australian Blackwood trees overlooking lawns, flowering shrubs, pebbled creek, reflective ponds and a sanctuary for local birds. You can expect to see over 6,000 plants including Azaleas, various Rhododendron species, Coral Bark Maples with golden foliage, various Hosta species, Rannunculas and Banksias as you take a stroll around the garden.
3) Entertainment and Fun for the Family
SkyHigh Mount Dandenong provides several attractions to entertain the family and provide hours of fun for the kids, especially during the school holidays.
The lawns overlooking the stunning vista provide an ideal spot for family picnics and barbeques with tables and cooking stations.
With the Percy Possum's House and the Giant's Chair as a backdrop, you can create various party themes that excite and ignite the imagination of the kids.
Add in the World Fountain with its 2 ton spinning globe on water and you have 3 novelty fixtures offering unique photo opportunities for the family. Don't be surprised if the Kookaburras join in the photo fun and the meal.
The best source of cheap family fun is the SkyHigh Maze designed by owner John Connellan containing garden squares around fountains, sculptures and a trompe l'oeil. Payment for the maze is in the bistro with prices at AUD6 for adults and AUD4 for children under 12 years and pensioners. Family tickets are available at AUD16 for 2 adults and 2 children.
When taking the maze adventure, you will receive a passport with four squares on it to symbolise each checkpoint in the maze. A machine will stamp your passport at each checkpoint. On the other side of the passport is a Maze Master certificate, which will be signed and stamped once you finish the maze adventure. You can also stand on the viewing platform to see the whole maze from above after complete the maze adventure. The maze is open from 12pm to 4.30pm on weekdays and till 5pm on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and school holidays. Apart from attracting tourists, the SkyHigh Maze provides a great day out for families. It is reasonably priced and simple yet fun enough with the passports and stamps especially for young kids.
If you're looking for a place for a romantic date or to pop the big question, SkyHigh Mount Dandenong is definitely one of Melbourne's 'special occasion' venues. The landscape garden provides the setting for quiet walks and the romantic sunsets bring couples together.
To celebrate that special day with your loved one, a function centre offers a private viewing deck to enjoy one of the most stunning views and sunset over the Dandenongs with catering available onsite. The immaculately kept gardens provide the ideal backdrop for wedding photos with its beautiful gazebo, flowers, hedges and brush fencing.
The interior with large viewing windows and open fire place are ideal for winter visits while the alfresco dining allows you to enjoy the mountain breeze over a glass of wine or beer. Or simply grab a coffee or tea and sit outdoor while the kids play by the World Fountain.
Whatever you decide to do, SkyHigh Mount Dandenong provides an excellent setting for family occasions and romantic interludes. You can take in the views, stroll through the gardens, have fun in the maze or simply relax over a meal at the bistro.