Spectacular creations of Mother Nature are all over the world, and there really is nothing better than witnessing them with your own eyes. Whether it be a glorious rainforest, beautifully picturesque lakes, or the many species of animal, reptile and insect which inhibit the land and ocean, it is always a special experience to come face-to-face with such natural beauty.
The Wildlife and Steam Train tour provided by Leadbeater Eco Tours is full of such opportunities. Melbourne CBD may be an iconic location which boasts a buzzing atmosphere, but you need only drive for around 40 minutes to be in the midst of tranquil and utterly beautiful Australian countryside and natural landscapes.
We were picked up directly from our accommodation in Southbank. Clear details of the itinerary had been provided beforehand and being collected at such a convenient location was a great start to the day. Wayne, our tour guide, was immediately welcoming and friendly, chatting about our previous experiences whilst in Melbourne and also discussing the exciting plans for the day ahead.
Wayne spoke with a lot of enthusiasm about his passion for Australian nature and wildlife, and his aim to provide tours that ‘don’t cost the earth’ through Leadbeater Eco Tours, so people, just like me, can witness first-hand the true beauty before us but also become more aware of the dangers facing the natural landscapes and animals who inhibit these areas, such as bushfires and logging.
Our first stop, Dandenong Ranges National Park, was a pure creation of Mother Nature and we were able to immerse ourselves in the tranquil atmosphere. It really was a treat for the senses – with the stunning visions of vast Mountain Ash trees, the sounds of bird song and gently moving streams close by, the smell of the lush greenery which surrounded us, and the feel of the cool air as we strol
The park is protected, and boasts an incredible display of Mountain Ash trees, which can live for up to 500 years, and grow up to a metre in just one year, resulting in a very impressive tall-standing giant. This is just one of the reasons this species of tree is known as the ‘King of the Eucalyptus’. The volcanic soil provides the ideal location for these trees to grow and thrive.
Much wildlife inhibits the vast area of rainforest, including crimson rosellas, kookaburras and the lyrebird. We could often hear the many unique sounds of the animals and birds, and even got to capture some bird species on camera. This guided walk was the ideal way to take in the impressively lush surroundings, whilst gaining awareness of the dangers that face similar rainforest landscapes throughout Victoria and Australia, highlighting how action should be encouraged to limit or stop the negative affects which result from natural disasters and human action.
Our next stop may not be a creation of Mother Nature but it certainly is a creation resulting from Australian history and native pride. Puffing Billy is an iconic 100-year-old steam train which runs from Belgrave to Gembrook through the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. It has become a unique tourist attraction after being built in the ea
After such an enjoyable morning we had certainly worked up quite an appetite, so it was perfect timing to be able to enjoy a lovely picnic lunch by the water at Lakeside railway station. Following this, we headed towards Healesville Sanctuary, which specialises in caring for and breeding native Australian animals, with a focus on protecting those who are endangered.
The vast park is home to many species, including the koala, dingo, Tasmanian devil, kangaroo, wallaby, platypus, alongside many reptiles, such as snakes, and birds, such as emus, eagles, parrots and lyrebirds.
It was fantastic to see this action being taken by the park to help such wonderful and treasured native Australian wildlife survive and thrive, in li
Further highlights of the visit to the sanctuary include getting up close to koalas and dingoes, witnessing a Lyrebird and feeding kangaroos (at an extra cost, which was definitely worthwhile). We also saw a snake being fed its lunch!
Overall, this was a very enjoyable day and an experience I will treasure. Not only was it great from a personal perspective, it was also special to witness the beautiful nature surrounding us, and learn about how it benefits us all and various species of wildlife, whist becoming more aware of the dangers that are posed to it, alongside the action being taken to tackle existing threats.
A fantastic day I would recommend to anyone – backpackers, groups of friends and families. Get out there and enjoy the wonderful nature, landscapes and famous landmarks which exist on our planet and are there for us to experience and admire.