I’ve lived in Melbourne’s east for a big chunk of my life and The Dandenongs are right on my doorstep. It’s always been on my list to do a bit of bushwalking in The Dandenongs but I’ve never proactively set the time aside to actually do it. There have been times when I’ve trekked up the infamous 1,000 Steps in Ferntree Gully for exercise, though I’ve always wanted to embark on an actual bushwalk where I could get closer to nature and breathe in bucket-loads of fresh, hilly air.
Friends of mine invited me to Grant’s Picnic Ground recently, and I immediately said yes. I was told that the moderate walk would take around an hour and a half or two at a slow pace, so it proved to be the perfect opportunity to tick something off my list.
Grant’s is located in leafy Kallista and provides many walking tracks through its lush grounds that make up Sherbrooke Forest. There are gravel paths to meander, towering ferns to admire, gullies to navigate and stunning mountain ash trees to gaze over. Despite the wintery time of year, the weather was kind enough for the rain to hold off. The cool air nipped at our cheeks and the clean air engulfing our nostrils made us feel invigorated and alive.
Historically, the Wurundjeri people would use these surrounds as a temporary, seasonal home where an abundance of fresh water, flora and fauna could be found. European settlers in the 19th century used these grounds for harvesting timber. Nowadays, hikers and picnickers flock here to bushwalk, picnic and get away from it all. There’s bird-spotting for the enthusiasts and it’s almost always guaranteed that visitors will spot beautiful rosellas, kookaburras and cockatoos.
We decided to embark on the Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk in the hope of seeing some lyrebirds; gorgeous, flightless birds that are generally shy and allusive. We were out of luck on our wander but it was still lovely to admire the abundant cockatoos and kookaburras, fluorescent mosses growing on tree trunks and branches spiralling up towards the forest canopy.
Grant’s Picnic Ground is located at 70 Monbulk Road Kallista Victoria 3791. Head to Parks Victoria’s website for more information on the walking trails available and degrees of difficulty. Bathroom, picnic and café facilities are also available on the grounds.