The Dandenongs is a place for serenity; for devonshire teas, outdoor strolls, crackling fireplaces, and bird spotting right? In part, yes. But now, Trees Adventure has taken bird-spotting to new heights – quite literally!
Of course, no-one comes here to admire the birds. Proximity to wildlife is just one of the perks of tree surfing in the Dandenongs. More likely, you won’t even notice the cockatoos and parakeets preening in the tree canopy just metres from you.
This is because you’ll be channelling all your attention into balancing on taut, wobbly wires or scaling shaky rope nets.
Trees Adventure in Belgrave (Harrow Park, to be precise) features a series of challenging obstacle courses high in the treetops. These courses will push you to your limits, demanding you to swing, leap, climb and fly. Sounds pretty cool, huh?
Trees Adventure in Belgrave
Trees Adventure is nestled in a beautiful valley, surrounded by gorgeous oaks and eucalypts. On arrival, a staff member will give you an overview of the park. There are 5 courses which increase in height as they increase in difficulty. These are:
- 2 green courses just 2 metres off the ground
- 1 blue “Double Dare” course
- 1 red “Suck It Up” course
- 1 “Oh La La” black course suspended 20 metres in the air.
The latter is out of bounds until you can prove you’re capable of facing the challenge. And to do this, you have to undergo a brief training course and complete the red course.
Time to tune in, because the technicalities of locking and unlocking your safety equipment can be overwhelming (well, to me anyway; my sister appeared to have no problems with it). But don’t worry; you’ll have a patient staff member there to go through it all with you until you’ve got it down.
Once you’ve gone through the training session, it’s time to meet the Home Tree, which is a huge 150-year-old Algerian Oak. It’s pretty gorgeous I’ve gotta tell ya. All the courses shoot off from this tree.
Here you’ll have to scale rickety wooden ladders to reach the more difficult levels of the course. Don’t feel cowed if you experience a bit of vertigo when you reach the final platform. It’s a dizzying height, and it will take you a moment to realise just how safe you really are (you’re always tethered to the course).
We were directed straight onto the red course, where a flimsy cargo net greeted us as our first challenge. And trust me, if you can conquer this net, you can conquer anything (the day we visited, one older gentleman was thwarted on the ropes and had to be rescued).
From here, it’s over to you. You’ll be faced with all manner of obstacles, from rope bridges to airborne skateboards. Many will involve a bit of problem-solving, while others – the flying foxes especially – are the perfect reward for your hard work.
Some hot tips
Sure, you’re gonna have a few Qs for this mean activity. It’s not every day you fly through the tree canopy! So here goes…
Is it safe for kids?
Sure thing. On the day I visited, there was a pint-sized kid toddling along the green level course. It’s raised just far enough off the ground to be thrilling without posing any real danger.
Trees Adventure promote the course for “those aged 5 years to 85 years”. But some of the more difficult courses do have a minimum age as follows:
Green courses: 5 years and up. Children aged 5-7 need adult supervisors. There should be one adult for every two kids, but for those aged 8-9 years old, adults can enjoy free entry and just supervise from the ground.
Blue and red courses: 10 years and older. There should be 1 participating adult for every 4 kids aged 10-12.
Black course: 13 years and older.
A bonus tip here: the only toilets are back up in the carpark, a way back from the park. Make sure the kids (and yourself!) go before you’re all geared up.
What should I wear?
So here’s the deal, it’s in the Dandenongs, which is always a few degrees cooler than Melbourne city. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll need to rug up. You’re going to enjoy a seriously strenuous workout, so make sure you’re wearing layers you can easily strip off as you heat up.
Also, while it’s tempting to head there in shorts and tshirts in summer, I do recommend opting for longer pants and tops. There are times I used my entire arm to balance on courses – and without the long-sleeved top I would have suffered some serious rope burn.
If you have pants or a long-sleeved top with zip pockets, they’ll be great for storing your phone or camera. And trust me, you’ll want to get a happy snap or too. They say not to take these accessories, but as long as you have a wrist strap, neck strap or lanyard, I don’t see why you can’t play photographer at the same time.
Do be warned: you’ll be wearing gloves that aren’t the easiest for dexterity, so if you’re hauling a fancy camera around with you, take your gloves off before you remove the lens cap.
You have to wear a helmet on the course, so don’t even bother with a beanie or hat. Close-toed shoes are a big must! And put the jewellery away people; this isn’t a ball.
Where should I start?
You’ll have two hours (with the training time included) to complete as many obstacle courses as you want, although this isn’t strictly enforced if it’s a quiet day. For this reason, I highly recommend heading there midweek if you can.
Try to cover the course you desperately want to do first, before you tire out or your 2 hours are up. Having said that, I recommend leaving the black course to last, otherwise the other courses will simply feel too easy.
Be warned: the black course has a “Short Black” and “Long Black” version. The Short Black course consists of 3 easy flying foxes before meeting up with the tail end of the Long Black course. It will only take you 10 minutes or so. If you’ve got the time, do the whole Long Black course.
Do I need to be fit?
The courses are designed to cater to all fitness levels, but the higher courses definitely require some physical exertion. You’ll need good balance and strength – some upper body strength is definitely desirable (though I have learnt I have none, but still got along fine). And yeh, it won’t help if you’re afraid of heights.
I’m just going to say it now: expect soreness. It’s going to be a rough ride in some parts, but that’s all part of the fun, right? You’re getting in your weekly workout, in a far more enjoyable way than usual.
Plus, don’t forget you’re in the Dandes. After your workout, you can head into Olinda or Sassafras, knowing you truly deserve ample dollops of cream on your devonshire tea scones.
Trees Adventure Belgrave Tickets
Where: Glen Harrow Gardens, Old Monbulk Rd, Belgrave. This is on Wurundjeri nation land and is right near Puffing Billy station if you want to make a day of it.
When: Open weekdays 11am-5pm; weekends 9am-5pm.
You don’t want to go all this way only to discover the courses are fully booked for the day, so I highly advise booking online. You’re advised to arrive some 20 minutes before your scheduled time if you’ve booked tickets in advance, so you can gear up and get the most out of your designated session.
Cost: $25 for kids 5-9 years old, $35 for kids 10-17 years old, $40 for concessions, $45 for adults.