It’s easy to believe that we need to venture across seas or hop on an aeroplane to be able to explore magical places and feel like we’re well travelled. But we are incredibly lucky here in Melbourne that we have so much of mother nature’s beauty right on our doorstep. This year we have set out to take our young children (aged 2 and 3) on adventures closer to home and make the most of what Melbourne’s surrounds have to offer.

Our first stop – Redwood Forest in East Warburton. Let me start by saying the sign posting is non-existent, so you do need to map your trip before you leave and keep an eye out for the turn off from the main road – “Cement Creek Road” is REALLY easy to miss! We actually saw the turn off, and pulled into it, but decided it couldn’t be the right road as there were no signs to the Redwoods. So we continued back along the main road, lost phone reception and thankfully decided to turn back and cluelessly venture down Cement Creek Road (is it even a real adventure if you don’t get lost at least once?!) Drive along the unsealed road for a few minutes and you should come across parked cars along a fence line – unless you’re the first person to arrive…in which case, keep an eye out for a gate (which is the access point) with some super high trees behind! Again, we were expecting to see some Parks Victoria signage to say where we were, but there was none – it really is a hidden gem!!

Once you’re inside, there is no mistaking where you are. It is completely spectacular and you feel like you’re in another world (or, for the kids, in a fairytale!) It’s also such a diverse landscape – one minute, you are in a forest, surrounded by Californian Redwood trees that reach up to 55m high (and still growing!), and the next minute you are surrounded by lush green ferns and scenery that feels like you have been transported to somewhere in New Zealand. We had no idea when we arrived, but there is also a little river which has a walking track alongside it. Given we had no phone reception and had no idea where the walking trails led, we didn’t venture too far along the track but it was really beautiful and we stopped along the river for a picnic lunch.

Our kids had the best time exploring, getting dirty, having snacks, climbing on fallen tree trunks, eating a picnic lunch by the river, playing hide and seek and having more snacks. If your kids are anything like ours, you should basically just fill your entire backpack with snacks.

A few important things to note when you are travelling with young kids –

– There are no toilets, taps, bins or other facilities – make sure you stop off in Warburton when you are driving through if you need a toilet break or to top up snacks/water. Bring a bag to take your rubbish home with you!

– It’s not pram friendly – we had a carrier in our bag in case our youngest gave up walking, but thankfully we didn’t need it. It’s not a huge area though, so even if you have a toddler that does give up the will to walk – you don’t have too far to carry them!

– We had no phone/data reception from the turn off at the main road – so make sure you have mapped your route before you set out!

– If you plan to spend some time by the river, bring bug spray.

– We visited in summer and there had not been any rain recently, but when it’s wet, I imagine it would get VERY muddy.

– Even if it’s warm when you leave Melbourne, pack some cool weather clothes as the temperature dropped once we got there.

– This place is a photographers DREAM, so take your camera !!

By Jess Worrall. Melbourne lifestyle family and newborn photographer, wife and Footscray mama to two littlies.

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