Quality Hotel Tabcorp Park
2 Ferris Road
Melton South, VI 3338
Phone: (61) 3 87460600
Fax: (61) 3 97468277
A 20-minute drive down the Calder Freeway brings you to the Calder Park Motor Raceway, also known as "The Thunderdome". For complete details about the racing schedule, check website.
Right on Melbourne's doorstep, the Sunbury wine region is officially classified as a cool climate area, but is still a suitable place to ripen red grapes. Shiraz and Cabernet do well here, as does Chardonnay. Goona Warra was originally established as a winery in 1863 and replanted several years later, in 1983. The original blue stone winery makes for a memorable setting to taste their herbal, spicy Semillon and vibrant cherry flavored Cabernet Franc. They also produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The popularity of this vineyard for lunch and afternoon tea on Sundays, only means booking is advised.
Horseshoe Bend Farm is an urban farm with lots of animals straight out of the "Old Macdonald" song to delight the little ones. Pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, and horses are all there to be patted and admired, while the more mechanically minded young ones can inspect (and climb on) the old tractors and farm equipment. The original farm house has been converted into a tea house and shop, surrounded by a lovely cottage garden. The Farm caters well for groups and can provide pony rides and guided tours by prior arrangement.
Sunbury is a maritime influenced region, where basalt clay based vineyards produce full bodied, full flavored red and white wines. Wildwood is Melbourne's closest winery, where a long, cool ripening period produces elegant but intensely fruity wines. Visitors can taste the multi layered Chardonnay and berry fruited Cabernets, as well as Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot/Cabernet Franc. One of the most interesting wines here is the perfumed Viognier. Interesting wine and food pairings can be tried at the Wildwood Cafe.
Quang Minh Temple is located in the picturesque suburb of Baybrook. Built by Vietnamese Buddhist immigrants in Victoria, lead by venerable Thích Tắc Phước, the congregation associated with this place dates back to the 1980s. Embodying its name, which means 'bright light', it continues to show the way to the followers of Buddhism in Australia. This temple is also the venue for the annual Quang Minh Tet festival.
Werribee Open Range Zoo's wide plains have that are proved ideal for African, Asian and North American wildlife. The park is home to giraffes, hippos, zebra, antelopes, monkeys and cheetah, as well as native Australian animals such as kangaroos and koalas. Visitors can tour in safari buses to take a closer look at the inhabitants. There are plenty of picnic spots and walking areas if you prefer to do your own thing. The Zoo is part of historic Werribee Park Mansion, which is only a five minute drive away.
Incongruously located in a nondescript outer suburb, Werribee Park is one of Australia's most palatial homes, formerly the mansion of a wealthy grazing family and now a public museum. Erected in the 19th century, it is still authentically furnished to give a taste of how the upper classes lived, although venture into the servants quarters for an altogether less grandiose experience! The mansion is set in a beautiful formal garden, on a 140-hectare property. It can easily be combined with a visit to the adjacent Open Range Zoo.
Altona Pier offers you a calm respite from the city hustle bustle and treats you to picturesque views. While you are in the city, do make a point to visit this waterfront.
Established and run by a team of passionate miniature steam train enthusiasts, this is the only miniature steam train park in western Melbourne. Since 1986 the doors have been open to the general public providing adults as well as kids the opportunity to ride the five-inch and seven and a quarter inch scale model trains powered by live steam or petrol. The 9.3 acre site is under continuous development and available for birthday parties and social club bookings. There are also picnic tables, barbecues and a kiosk offering light snacks.
The only clue that this great park was once a quarry and landfill is the design of the picnic shelters. Built out of rough timber and corrugated iron to resemble the quarry workers' huts, the shelters provide protection from the elements and can be reserved by phone. The park is large enough to have its own full-time ranger and features a lake, fantastic adventure playground, amphitheater, walking tracks and barbecues. A wetlands area planted with native flora is now home to many species of birds, amphibians and reptiles.
The home to the race that stops the nation, Flemington Racecourse is the place to be on the first Tuesday in November when Australia's richest horse race, the Melbourne Cup is held. The race attracts the premier thoroughbreds from Australia and New Zealand with a handful of overseas raiders also trying their luck. Check website for more details.
Not far from Moonee Valley Racecourse and the bustling Moonee Ponds shopping center lies the peaceful and pretty Queens Park. Like a miniature version of Melbourne's Botanic Gardens it has a lake, complete with ducks and other feathered creatures, and enough flowers, shrubs and trees to keep budding horticulturists happy. There are interesting and challenging adventure playgrounds to explore, as well as a maze featuring art works and sculptures. If all this makes the tribe hungry you can adjourn to Max's Tea Rooms for a snack or a meal.