End of the line: the bustling burb of Belgrave

Puffing Billy. Photo: iStock.

Puffing Billy. Photo: iStock.

This is the third entry in End of the Line, a new series that looks at fun things to do at the end of Melbourne’s various train lines. Don’t miss the earlier entries, a guide to the manifold delights of Sunbury and all the reasons why you should visit Williamstown.

Belgrave is only about 40km from Melbourne, but it seems like another world. The suburb sits quietly between Ferntree Gully and Emerald as a lush destination for visitors looking for a breath of fresh air.

Known for its beautiful green landscape and old-world charm, Belgrave is certainly a place where anyone could spend hours taking in the serenity and the charisma of the town and its many attractions. Forests and gardens are plentiful, and with wildlife around every corner as well, Belgrave is certainly buzzing with activity.

Puffing Billy

You can’t talk about the Belgrave without mentioning the world-famous Puffing Billy steam train. Running across the  Dandenong Ranges, the traditional steam trains are certainly a sight to be seen. Return or one-way tickets can be purchased, and you can hop off and on at most stations along the way to explore the area or perhaps have a picnic for lunch.

The trains are always a hit with the kids, who love waving from the cars and on selected weekends Thomas the Tank Engine trips are also run. There is also a Puffing Billy Railway Museum where visitors can get a look at how the railway was built and restored for some background history as well.

Cameo Cinema

If you’re after a cinema experience that’s different to the traditional inner-city multiplex, the independent Cameo Cinema is for you. Offering the latest blockbusters, independent arthouse films and fun events such as Q&As, there’s always lots going on here. In summer, they also hold an outdoor cinema experience under the stars.

You can bring a picnic or bean bags, and deck chairs can be hired from the cinema to complete your cinematic adventure. You can get craft beers and gourmet ice creams to accompany your movie, and the cinema is only a short walk from Belgrave Station as well.

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1000 Steps/Dandenong Ranges National Park

This one’s for the fitness fanatics, those who like a stunning view with their workout or just those looking for some amazing landscapes to get lost in. The Dandenong Ranges have some of the best hiking and walking trails Melbourne has to offer including the famous 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Walk, a favourite of those trying to improve their fitness.

The steps can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on your fitness levels, but it’s no race. Bring a bottle of water and take in the scenery as you ascend to the top. There are many other trails to tackle, or you could have a barbecue at the bottom and take in the peace and quiet.

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Trees Adventure

Not far from Puffing Billy you’ll find the Trees Adventure High Ropes Park, a place not for the faint hearted with their range of tree-top rope courses and flying foxes.

The venue is full of amazing tall trees and rare plant selections, and boasts 12 flying foxes and up to 60 aerial challenges for all ages and from beginner to immediate. You’ll get some training before you take to the skies, so you don’t need to worry too much; prices are around $40, but vary depending on age.

Where to eat

Head to the Laughing Owl Cafe for a spot as tranquil as its surroundings. With a vegan and vegetarian menu, you can keep up your fitspo after trekking the 1000 steps, or fill up on some tasty waffles that will also look great on your Instagram.

If you’re looking for something lively, you can visit Sooki Lounge for meals, cocktails, trivia nights, as well as live music and DJs.

For dining on another level there’s the SkyHigh Mt Dandenong Restaurant, located among the leafy surrounds of Mt Dandenong and with a menu of pasta, steaks and parmigiana to refuel after a day of hiking. The Sunday roast lunch and afternoon tea are also very popular.

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