It’s little known, easy to drive to, absolutely stunning and kid friendly… I’m letting you in on my all-time favourite picnic and swimming hole in Melbourne.
Finding a spot for day walks can be a little tricky when you have young ones who dislike long drives. One of my favourite pockets of Victoria, just outside of Melbourne, is the little known Lerderderg State Park. Only 45 minutes from the west of Melbourne, Lerderderg is the perfect day trip for young families in the west. I really love this peaceful spot.
Last Saturday, we decided, given that it was my birthday, to head to the state park for lunch, swim and a walk. Earlier that week, Bubba West had been lucky enough to be asked to trial the new Mitsubishi Mirage sedan* (Read on for our review). Everything aligned perfectly – day trip, my birthday and a new car to
do the driving in! So, we headed off to Eden’s house to pick up the car. She reluctantly handed over the keys, having enjoyed zipping around town in the new car all week.
Prior to heading off, we swung by Nami Sushi in Footscray for a platter to take on our picnic. We were road tripping, but we were going to do it in style!
Travelling to Lerderderg is a breeze, as once you turn off Geelong Road, all you need to do is follow Ballarat Road the entire way there. We thought ahead, and aligned the car trip with my son’s nap. He slept peacefully the entire way, cuddling his toy train. We made fantastic time even with the minor detour to Bacchus Marsh for ice-creams. Incidentally, the IGA at Bacchus Marsh has the largest gluten-free section I have ever seen. I got a little overexcited and bought a huge slab of gluten-free brownie for our picnic. It was superb, but it melted in our backpacks on our walk. Sticky!
Once you head out of Bacchus Marsh and towards Lerderderg (about a 10-minute drive), you will pass beautiful and scenic wineries. Keep your eyes peeled, as we have often spotted kangaroos.
Lerderderg State Park is a 14,250-hectare park located between Bacchus Marsh and Blackwood. The most striking feature of this area is the 300-metre-deep gorge. There are ample places to camp, picnic spots and swimming holes. The walks available cater for all fitness levels. The best time to visit is in early summer/spring, as late in the summer the river slows and the swimming holes dry up due to lack of rain.
We stopped at Mackenzie’s Flat first for a snack. Adjacent to the carpark, this is a popular picnic ground right on the Lerderderg River. Here, you will find toilets, tables, gas BBQs and a good spot for swimming. When the river is high, bring an inflatable kids’ boat, car tire tube or floaty and drift along the river. While it’s a great spot,it can get busy, so make sure you check out the other fantastic and more peaceful spots.
We headed out on the walk to Graham’s Dam. This walk is perfect for young families. It is an easy one-hour return and there are plenty of river rocks to skip over, refreshing water views, wildflowers and ample bird life. If you have toddlers or young babies, make sure that you bring a carrier for them, as the path, while easy to walk, is not appropriate for prams. The walk is superb and it is easy to feel like you are miles away from any civilization. I cannot think of a better way to introduce children to the Australian bush.
Tucked away under the impressive rust coloured gorge wall, Graham’s Dam is the perfect swimming hole. We set up on the rocky beach and soaked up the sun. My 15-month-old had so much fun paddling in the water, throwing pebbles into the river, spotting birds and exploring the water’s edge. Older kids will have fun swimming and jumping off the rocks at the deep end of the dam (this is a popular spot for local kids).
Being the geology geek that I am, I enjoyed spotting the different rock layers in the gorge wall, collecting beautiful rose-and clear-coloured quartz, and sifting through the pebbles on the shore for interesting colours and shaped specimens.
On your walk back, make sure that you listen out for the Banjo frog. You cannot miss it’s distinctive sound – it sounds exactly like someone strumming and plucking strings. It echoes through the gorge and is one thing that makes Lerderderg special.
It was a beautiful day and the perfect beginning to a new year for me. Our son, having played and splashed all day, was exhausted and drifted off to sleep on the way home. Bonus!
A BIG thank you to Mitsubishi for providing the car. We loved the huge 450-litre boot (three times bigger than that of our current car), the ample room, the neat cup holders, thoughtful spots for map books, bag hangars and easy driving.
The Mirage Sedan is the perfect all-rounder for families and comes into its own on long stretches. I loved the simple dashboard (why is it dashboards are over-designed these days?); everything is ergonomically placed, making it easy to switch and adjust settings where needed. Considering the features, we were are also very impressed with the price point ($15,990 to $19,485 ).
The first thing we noticed when getting into it, is that the car had plenty of legroom for passengers, even when my son’s car seat was installed. I was pleased to see, among the other three anchor points available, that the car also had isofix anchors, which have now been approved in Australia and are the safest ways to secure baby seats to the car frame. Pulling out and parking was a easy as pie with the large side mirrors and power steering. Given its impressive safety features, ease of driving and ample space I would definitely reccomend checking this car out if you are in the market for a new family car.
THE MIRAGE SEDAN IS DESIGNED FOR FAMILIES LOOKING FOR AFFORDABILITY AND VALUE FOR MONEY WITHOUT COMPROMISING ON STANDARD FEATURES, LATEST TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY AND SPACE. FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THE MIRAGE SEDAN SHOWROOM HERE!
*From time to time, we get asked to review products and services. When this happens, we will let you know. All our reviews are our honest opinions. You may notice that we have largely positive reviews on our website. There is a reason for this; we like to showcase products and services we genuinely enjoy – why bother writing or reading about something that is second rate?