Grants Picnic Ground, Dandenongs, Australia

Grants Picnic Ground is located in the Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

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Grants Picnic Ground is known for its picnic grounds, bush walks, and bird feeding (due to cease February 2020).

Grants on Sherbrooke is a locally-owned and run tearooms and souvenir shop located in the grounds. You can purchase tokens here to access the bird feeding area.

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The fenced bird feeding area is the only spot currently in the Dandenong Ranges were hand feeding native birds is permitted. Bird feeding at Grants Picnic Ground is due to be discontinued in February 2020.

In the past there was the opportunity to feed colourful lorikeets and king parrots. The sulphur-crested cockatoo has in recent years pushed the smaller birds out.

 

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Nearby is the Margaret Lester Forest Walk. This short 500 metre, 15 minute loop track has been designed with a hardsurfaced track to allow those with prams or limited mobility enjoy the forest.

The sealed track was constructed in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons. It was first of its kind in Victoria. Margaret Lester was a paraplegic and architecture graduate advised in its design.

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There is also the Hardy Gully Nature Walk (700 m | 45 min loop) and the Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk (7.1 km | 2 hour loop), which both start from the Picnic Grounds.

Facilities wise there are several picnic tables and electric BBQs dotted around the reserve, including a covered pavilion with four picnic tables.

Grants Picnic Ground and Grants on Sherbrooke are located at 70 Monbulk Road, Kallist, Victoria.

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Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, Victoria, Australia

Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is a mountain and ski resort in Victoria, Australia.

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The Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is situated between Lake Mountain and Echo Flat, and is provides access to the Yarra Ranges National Park. The mountain is 1,433 metres (4,701 feet) high.

This ski resort is approximately 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Melbourne. As it is the closest snow resort from Melbourne it is a popular day trip for snow play, particularly for families.

There are many activities to partake at the resort including tobogganing, cross country skiing, shoeshoeing, children’s snowboarding lessons, a flying fox, tube run and laser tag. In the warmer months mountain biking and bushwalks / boardwalks are popular.

I tried snowshoeing. It was $35 to hire poles, boots and snowshoes.

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There is a bistro onsite open 9am-4pm, which serves a variety of hot takeaway style foods, such as pizza, fish n chips, chicken; as well as sandwiches, wraps, salads and baked goods. It gets very crowded, and its designed like a food hall, so not the best atmosphere to relax.

Interestingly there is not actually a lake. It is named after George Lake, who was the Surveyor-General of the area.

Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is at 1071 Lake Mountain Road, Marysville, Victoria. Check out the website for their carpark entry prices.

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Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve

Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve is located at the head of the Rangitoto Channel in the Hauraki Gulf.

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Fort Takapuna, was built between 1886 and 1889 as a military defence fort. It was designed by Major Tudor Boddam, a Royal Artillery Officer.

The fort originally housed two 6 inch disappearing guns and two quick firing Nordenfelt guns.

In 1926-27 the fort was converted into a storage for naval ammunition. The guns were removed and the gunpits roofed over to allow for extra storage. It was used for storage until 1936 when the new Naval Armament Depot was built at Kauri Point.

The brick building was were the soldiers lived. When it was first built there was a deep ditch around it. It has since been filled in and only the small part in front of the barracks remains.

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Behind the barracks there was a series of underground tunnels and magazines.

The three concrete shelters were built in 1942 during the Second World War. These were designed to protect the gun crews. The guns originally came from HMS New Zealand (a First World War battlecruiser). By 1941 there were six guns mounted here, for at this battery, known as Left Battery and two at Right Battery, which has since been demolished.

Two of the guns were sent to Tonga, two were given to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and the other two were scrapped.

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An Anti-Submarine Fixed Defence Station was also built to house the electronic equipment used to detect enemy ships approaching. The building was altered following the war with its bay window removed.

Fort Takapuna is located on Vauxhall Road, next to Narrow Neck Beach.

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Maungawhau (Mt Eden), Auckland

Maungawhau (Mt Eden) is a dormant volcano in Auckland city.

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Its Māori language name Maungawhau means ‘mountain of the whau tree’. William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand, named the mountain and surrounding suburb after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland. 

The summit is 196 metres (643 feet) above sea level making it Auckland’s highest volcanic cone.

On a clear day the summit will provide views of the surrounding suburbs, Waitakere Ranges, the Sky Tower, Harbour Bridge and Rangitoto Island.

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Its Māori language name Maungawhau means ‘mountain of the whau tree’. William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand named the mountain and surrounding suburb after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.

The crater is 50 metres (160 feet) deep. The crater’s Māori name is Te Ipu Kai a Mataaho, which means Food Bowl of Mataaho. Mataaho was a deity that lived in the crater. The crater is sacred (tapu) so please be respectful and do not attempt to enter it.

In pre-European times Māori used the site as a pā (fortified settlement). You can still see remnants of the food storage pits.

Vehicle traffic to the summit is not permitted, except for people with limited mobility. It takes about 10 minutes to walk up from the carpark or bus stop. The climb is quite steep.

There is pedestrian access to the summit from Clive Road, Glenfell Place, Batger Road, Hillside Crescent, Rautangi Road and Owens Road.

The Mt Eden Road and Tahaki Drive entrances are open from 7am-8.30pm in summer and 7am to 7pm in winter. There is a lower carpark off Puhi Huia Road.

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Grand Millennium Auckland

Earlier this year I stayed at the Grand Millennium Auckland for a weekend.

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The hotel was built in 1989 as the Pan Pacific. It has changed its name many times over the years. I stayed here previously when it was the Rendezvous.

I booked a club room, which gives you exclusive access to the club lounge located on the 12th floor. The club rooms have the same the same features and decor as the standard rooms – the only difference is that the club rooms are located on a higher floor (my room was on the 11th floor).

The club lounge serves pre-dinner evening drinks and canapés between 5pm and 7pm. There is nothing spectacular spectacular about the food – there are a couple of hot and cold options, and the traditional cheese and cracker platter with dried fruits, sun-dried tomatoes and olives. The service is friendly and attentive.

Each night I had several non-alcoholic drinks (Pepsi, 7Up, orange juice, hot chocolate) and several plates of canapés and mini desserts. So there was no need to actually buy dinner.

They also serve breakfast in the Club Room – continental and A la Carte (preordering a breakfast dish the night before). Alternatively you can have the buffet breakfast in the Brassiere restaurant, which I did each morning.

Grand Millennium Auckland is located 71 Mayoral Drive (Cnr Mayoral Dr and Vincent St).

Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park

Mirror Lake is a small lake located on the Tenaya Creek in the Yosemite National Park.

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Mirror Lake is in the Tenaya Canyon between North Dome and Half Dome. It is not actually a lake but a seasonal pool of water. It will have its highest level of water in the spring and summer months when snowmelt flows from the Tenaya Creek.

The Mirror Lake Trail is a 3.2 kilometre (2 mile) roundtrip to the lake and back. To complete a full loop around the lake is 8 kilometres (5 miles).

It provides view of the base of the Half Dome, which is reflected in the pool of water.

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