Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Camping at Neds Gully – Cathedral Ranges State Park

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I’ve been camping here for over 30 years and not much has changed. Parks Vic (or whatever their name is these days) do a great job of servicing the park by doing tree checks, grading the roads, vegetation management, tree hazard checks, managing the toilets and facilities. The rest is up to you. If you want to camp somewhere that has everything done for you, this is not the place. Rangers have more important things to do than change the toilet paper rolls so be prepared for a beautiful simple camping experience. (more…)

Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Canterbury Vintage – Canterbury

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Is it sacrilege to use an old Kombi is the front desk in a shop? At first it made me cringe but then I realised after talking with the owner Chris that this probably would’ve rusted in a paddock so they did their best to restore is knowing it would never be roadworthy.

Located on Canterbury Road opposite the amazing Maling Road, this is a new hot spot for vintage, retro and funky items. It is a must visit.


Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

All Sorts Opportunity Shop – Boronia

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Hidden away near the corner of Boronia Road and Dorset Road, this little Op Shop is jam-packed with goodies and treats and like a good Op Shop – you’ll have to troll through and find it.

Profits go to COM which is a non-profit organisation that is ‘seeing lives transformed’ in the nation of India.

The best way to enter is from the rear entrance in the Mall although you can enter via the Dorset Road entrance.


Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Salvos Op Shop – Geelong

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Now I try not to review these larger chain Op Shops because they are often trashy and over priced but a dear Op Shopping friend said this was a must visit and I wasn’t disappointed.

This store has been styled by the Salvos team and they’ve done a superb job of making it easy to walk through, know where things are and have an easy Op Shopping experience.


Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Camping at Cooks Mill – Cathedral Ranges State Park

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Satin Bower Bird home

I’ve been camping here for over 30 years and not much has changed. Parks Vic (or whatever their name is these days) do a great job of servicing the park by doing tree checks, grading the roads, vegetation management, tree hazard checks, managing the toilets and facilities. The rest is up to you. If you want to camp somewhere that has everything done for you, this is not the place. Rangers have more important things to do than change the toilet paper rolls so be prepared for a beautiful simple camping experience.

There are a number of campsites in the Cooks Mills area much of which is shady amongst tall beautiful Peppermint, Blackwood and Red Stringybark gums with the sound of the Little River bubbling in the background.

The splendid, high-peaked ridge of the Cathedral Range offers spectacular walks and rock climbing routes to suit all levels of fitness and ability. The Cathedral Range is recovering from the extensive damage caused by the 2009 Black Saturday fires when 92% of the park was burnt. There is a pleasant old sawmill clearing (partially vegetated) sheltered in a forested valley near the bubbling Little River. This 3577 hectare park offers you a range of activities from relaxed camping by a clear mountain stream to an exciting climb to its high exposed peaks.Camping feeCaravan accessNo dogs/petsNo rubbish disposalPicnic areaRangerSpecial campsite

Black Spur

The camping area is located off the Little River Road just before it crosses the river. Access with a 2wd is fine, albeit a little bumpy on the road in. From Melbourne head east through Healesville and through the mountainous Black Spur. Once you have left the Maroondah Highway and have driven north of Buxton, you will see the signposted turn off to the Ranges. Upon making another right turn into Little River Road you will need to drive on a dirt road to reach the camp areas.

Advance bookings and payment are required. Individual sites cannot be reserved; please select your campsite(s) within the campground on arrival. For bookings go here or call Parks Victoria 13 1963. One campsite costs $27.50 as at the time of posting. When you book one site, please note that it is unpowered and the site accommodates a maximum of six guests. Individual sites are not reserved; please select your campsite(s) within the campground on arrival.  30 days prior 50% cancellation fee. Less than 30 days prior 100% cancellation fee. No Transfers.

Walking trails nearby


Pit toilets are available in a few different places in the campground. Don’t rely on there being toilet paper so please bring your own. Don’t toss your rubbish into the toilets.


There are picnic tables a shelter that are available for use by campers. The Friends Nature Trail (proudly can say I was part of the initial group that put this together) is an easy route through manna gum forest and takes about an hour to do the loop walk. The St Bernards Track to Jawbone carpark is a little more strenuous (can say that a group of students made this track back in the 90’s on one of our programs).


Note that the fireplaces do not include a cooking plate so you’ll need to bring your own. Plus, you’ll need to bring your own firewood as it’s prohibited to take wood from the park but wood can be purchased from the nearby towns of Taggerty and Buxton. Use a portable gas stove or similar for cooking.

  • Light fires only in the fireplaces provided or use a portable camping stove instead
  • Ensure fires are never left unattended and are completely out before you leave
  • During summer and autumn Total Fire Bans are common – this means no open fires can be lit
  • For information on Total Fire Bans call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667

    Little River


Recommend you bring your own water in although you can take water directly from The Little River. I would recommend treating it if this is the case. One of the local rangers, Rhyll recommends bringing in your own water as there is still ash from the bushfires washing into the waterways. Plus the never-ending logging trucks that are well placed upstream probably have some diesel run-off. In other words – treat or filter your water if taking from The Little River.


Carry in, carry out. There is no rubbish collection within the park and there are no rubbish bins so you’ll need to take it home


There are 30 campsites available. Some are suitable for camper trailers, campervans, a small caravan or recreational vehicle as well as tents. During peak season, this campsite gets a lot of visitors. Be mindful of how far you spread yourselves out over your campsite. Do not camp under tree limbs. Note: bring your own wood, as firewood cannot be collected anywhere in the park. Also note that the fireplace here doesn’t have a cooking plate.


Not allowed


I could say prolific but that’s only when I need a goods night sleep. During the day you’ll hear if not see lyrebirds. They’ll often imitate chainsaws from the loggers. kookaburras, cockatoos, galahs and even the protected peregrine falcon. At night, the wombats come out along with the possums. Beware that the possums will rummage through your food tubs unless you seal them up properly. Kangaroos and wallabies tend to come out at dusk and dawn but you will often surprise them on walking trails. The every so interesting Satin Bower Bird have nests here and well worth hunting them out. Please do not disturb them. Take photos only.

Phone Network

Dodgy at the best of times. It’s intermittent and can drop out quickly.

Extra info

No known swimming spots here. No fishing allowed. No horseriding. No canoeing or kayaking.

Vehicle-based campingWood fireplaceNow it’s your turn. What are your experiences like of camping at Cooks Mill? Share and leave a comment below.

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Lake Mountain Alpine Resort in Summer

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Lake Mountain is known for its excellent cross country ski trails during the winter months but it has more to offer than just snow and tobogganing when the weather warms up. Only two hours from Melbourne, it’s a hit with skiers but these days has become more popular with bushwalkers and mountain bike riders. With over 30 kms of trails, that weave their way amongst the snowgums, the stunning heathland, the wild flowers and natural beauty of an alpine environment – there is something for everyone.

Helicopter Flat looking south

I’ve worked at this mountain as a professional ski guide and as a recreational skier since 1989 and I knew it inside out. But after the 2009 fires, I couldn’t visit Marysville let alone the mountain for some years. Fortunately, I made my way up to the mountain more recently and was pleasantly surprised by the infrastructure and regrowth that has happened in nine years.

Let’s set the record straight – there is no lake at Lake Mountain. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to put tourists on the right track on that one. Lake Mountain was named after George Lake, who was the Surveyor-General of the area including the mountain.

What was previously one building a storage sheds for groomers is now multiple large buildings for Ski Patrol, Ski School, Ski Hire, Cafe, Toilets and more. It’s an excellent set up and well overdue.

Despite being a little disoriented at first, I was able to follow the trails (picturing them with snow) and making my way around the mountain to familiar sites. What a buzz yet filled with grief. The snowgums are beautiful with their stark white trunks set against the blue alpine sky. Yet they are all dead and regeneration is slow and challenging. This place will never be as it was, but perhaps will evolve into something new and better (crossing my fingers behind my back as I wrote that).

Prior to going up to the mountain you can download maps from the Lake Mountain Resort website here. They are excellent and it’s a good place to start, particularly if this area is unfamiliar to you.

  • How to get to Lake Mountain from Melbourne
  • Resort Map
  • Ski trails and snowshoeing Map
  • Walking and Recreation Trails Map
  • Mountain Bike Trails Map

I would also recommend you check the weather, particularly if you’re coming from Melbourne. What may be calm and windless in one place can be stormy and unpleasant on the mountain.

There is a cafe on the mountain if you’d like to utilise that for a meal and coffee but there is also free undercover bbq facilities available. The cafe is open 9am – 4pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday. You can contact them directly on 03 5957 7253. I’d suggest you bring some basic food and all the water you need (just in case) and plan for a big day out. You always have the opportunity to stop at one of Marysville’s great eateries on the way up or down.

Just as a side note, the water at the resort comes from the Echo Flat area of the ski trails. This is actually where the Taggerty River starts and it is an unprotected catchment. Under the provisions of section 6 of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Minister for Health has declared the water not suitable for drinking. Therefore, bring all your own water or you can purchase bottled water at the cafe on the mountain.


So let’s start at the beginning as you leave Marysville. The resort is 22kms from town and will take you longer than you might expect as the road is windy and you need to take care as there are often many drivers (particularly motor bikes) going to and from the resort.

You can stop at a few points along the way if you need a break but you should be there in around 20 minutes. No toilets on the way so use the ones in Marysville.

There are a number of car parks on the way up but you’re looking for the very top one where there are two large buildings and massive car parking.

This photo to above is one of the Information Boards that will help you get oriented and give you ideas of what you can do.

Here you make choices: Do you walk to the summit of Lake Mountain, venture on the Flying Fox, go for a walk, have a picnic. I’d suggest a walk to start with. It takes 10 minutes to walk up to the Snow Gauge and is a gentle uphill walk easy for most people. Then it flattens out from there. In summer the trails can be tussocky but easy to walk on.

Make sure you have a map with you so you know where you’re going. Most trails loop and you can branch off at one point and end up at another that links up with your original starting point.

You can walk on many of the trails that will take you right out to the back of the Resort where in winter I’ve seen antechinus footprints in the snow or wombats shuffling under tree trunks to hide from the wide. In summer, you will see kites, currawongs, wrens, wombats, the occasionally wallaby or kangaroo and lots of skinks. Why not take the opportunity to bring a picnic and have a culinary experience in the alpine world. Beware the march flies are vigilant and I’d bring insect repellant with you.

If you’re not a big bushwalker, then try the walk up to the summit of Lake Mountain which tops out at the almighty figure of 1443m (highest point is 1480 on the Hut Trail). Mt Bogong which is the highest mountain in Victoria is at 1986 metres. If the weather is clear, the views from the lookouts are stunning and with any luck, you may even be able to see Melbourne highrises.

You can engage a professional environmental officer named Sue who can be contacted on 03 5957 7222 or emailing her at admin@lakemountainresort.com.au. Sue’s experience in flora and fauna is exceptional and will give you an insight into the environs that you may otherwise miss without her knowledge. Ideally you would have a group of 4+ to engage her services and you will need to prebook.

Flying Fox from the start looking to the finish

Up for Adventure?

Having spent some time in Northern Italy in 2016 I was thrilled to see how the managers of the ski resorts utilise their facilities all year round with mountain bike riding and other activities. This is what is unfolding at Lake Mountain. They have installed an amazing 240-metre Dual Flying Fox that is easily accessible from the car park. It’s an absolute hoot and highly recommend.

Flying Fox Rules and Regulations

In summer there is also the ‘tube run’ which is a ski trail where plastic is laid down the trail along with water and in a tube you can go for a hoot down the hill.

Signage to the Flying Fox

Finally, Laser Skirmish. This is new and who wouldn’t love the chance to pop some of your friends with paint. For more information on the Adventure Activities, go to the website here.

End of Flying Fox looking up to the start

Operation of the flying fox, tube run and laser skirmish are subject to weather conditions in the White Season. For these activities and guided wildflower walks, group bookings are essential in the Green Season. (quoted from the website).

Mountain Biking

The Resort continues to do great work on expanding the mountain bike trails around the area with over 20kms of single tracks that caters for the beginner to the advanced. You can bring your own bike or hire them at the  Lake Mountain Cafe & Visitor Centre which includes a helmet. The bikes are Kona mountain bikes and are in very good condition. Costs $15 for two hours or $25 for a whole day.

This is not my photo but not sure who took it but credit to them.
This is not my photo but not sure who took it but credit to them.

If you’d like to camp up on the mountain, you MUST contact the resort management for permission a there are designated camping areas. Remember this is alpine heathland and extremely sensitive to overuse.

NOTE – During the summer months when there is a day forecasted for Code Red Fire Danger, the resort will be closed. If you need more information visit Parks Victoria here.

The Ski Trails are also the walking trails and here are the distances below (taken directly from the Resort website). This will give you an idea of the distance and time it may take you to venture around the area.

Trail up to the Snow Gauge

 Walking / Ski Trails

  • Echo Flat Loop – 1.5 km
  • Snow Gum – 1.5 km
  • Muster – 2.6 km
  • Echo Flat – 6 km
  • Roystone – 2 km
  • Woollybutte – 2 km
  • Panorama – 3.5 km
  • Long Healthed – 3 km
  • Jubilee – 6 km

OPENING HOURS: 24/7 during summer months. Limited in winter.

LOCATION: Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, 1071 Lake Mountain Road, Marysville

PHONE: (03) 5957 7222. There is only Telstra 3G coverage on the mountain.

PARKING: There are two large carparks close to the buildings at the Resort and a few more further down the road to Marysville but these are used as spillover carparks in winter.

TRANSPORT: There is no public transport to Lake Mountain during summer. You can drive or ride your bike up the mountain.

DISABLED ACCESS: Around the buildings it’s pretty good but not on the trails and tracks.

ATM: There is no ATM on the mountain during summer although if the cafe is open they have EFTPOS.

ENTRANCE FEE: No fee during summer

DOGS: This is part of the Alpine Resorts Commission and therefore, no pets allowed.

TOILET FACILITIES: Toilets within the buildings

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Lake Mountain Resort on Facebook click here.

Lake Mountain Resort on Twitter click here.

Instagram @lakemountainresort and #lakemoutainresort

WEBSITE: Lake Mountain Resort

Now it’s your turn. Share your stories of spending time at Lake Mountain during the summer months. Leave a comment below.