Getting to Know: Dandenong Ranges

MELBOURNE has been on an events high this year, but if you’re looking to get back to nature and a bit of quiet beauty, the Dandenong Ranges is on the city’s doorstep with stunning views and various conferencing options to hand.

On a pre-tour for AIME this year, BEN stopped off at CountryPlace in Kalorama which is in actuality 40 minutes drive from Melbourne’s CBD but feels like a world away when it comes to the peace and quiet of the surrounding countryside. While the stairs inside the main reception were a little worn, the sweeping views out over the Silvan Dam and down the Yarra Valley certainly weren’t. The venue, with 62 rooms and five main conferencing rooms with capacity for up to 120 delegates, also features outdoor team building facilities such as rope courses, tennis courts and, if you’d like to make use of the wide expanse of lawn and wooden deck, BBQ facilities for a little conference cook up.

One of the highlights of the Dandenongs has to be the Puffing Billy Railway, which started operations in 1900. The beautifully preserved steam train offers first class wine and dine options in four heritage dining carriages, seating up to 22 people each, with excellent service provided, and, of course, fantastic views of the bush as you puff your way along the track. Trains depart from Belgrave, one hour east of Melbourne, and can be hired as special charters or are available through wholesale tour programs.

For more beautiful views, SkyHigh Mount Dandenong offers a function centre for up to 250 people with floor to ceiling windows and beautifully kept gardens. If you’re keen for more team building activities, there’s even a SkyHigh Maze, or you can just gaze out from the gardens and take in Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip Bay and the You Yangs.