Featherdale vs. Healesville

Aug 19th, 2005, 12:53 PM
  #1  
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Featherdale vs. Healesville

We will be traveling to both Melbourne and Sydney. My question is whether Featherdale or Healesville is the better animal park? We will be in Sydney for more days, so we'd rather go to Featherdale Park. Will we be making a mistake? Thanks!
jacylou is offline  
Aug 19th, 2005, 08:47 PM
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jacylou - sorry to say this, but I think you will find Healesville far better than Featherdale. Featherdale is in a highly populated suburb of western Sydney, called Blacktown, whereas Healesville is a lovely country town, and not far from Healesville, is one of Victoria's most scenic areas, the tall forests & tree ferns of Marysville.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 05:36 AM
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I don't know anything at all about Healesville, but I would trust tropo's advice, if I were you. I should imagine that an animal park is, in the long run, an animal park, and what will make the visit memorable is the setting, the journey, and what you learn about the people in the host country. Featherdale is a good park, but the area it is in -- Blacktown -- is a depressed dormitory suburb which hasn't got anything worth visiting except for Featherdale -- even the shops are the usual two-dollar junk shops with goods you'd never want spilling out onto the sidewalk all around you.

And Sydney -- the nice parts -- is such a great city! It's far more interesting than Melbourne, so even if you had twice the time in Sydney, you would always find something interesting to see, somewhere fascinating to go. Using a day of this to go out to Blacktown when there is a similar set-up near a less-memorable city just doesn't make sense.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 06:04 AM
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LN
 
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If you're in Sydney please don't miss Taronga Zoo! It is a wonderful zoo and we actually enjoyed it more than Featherdale. I've not been to Healeville so I can't comment on that.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 08:11 AM
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Thanks to you all. Now that we are going to Healesville, can we combine it with Puffing Billy? We were going to take the train out from Melbourne but it looks like we will need to rent a car. ??? Thank you for all your help!
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Aug 20th, 2005, 02:17 PM
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Yes, you should rent a car. I live between Puffing Billy and Healesville - they are easily combined in a very pleasant day, but the countryside is what makes it so charming, so car is best - go at your own pace and select the sights you like best. PB winds through the Dandenong Ranges - all towering mountain ash (tallest eucalypts in Oz) and giant treeferns plus lovely C19th "european" gardens. On top of Mt Dandenong, the lookout over the whole of Melbourne and (on a clear day) to Geelong has just been refurbished and is pleasant. Healesville is now surrounded by really excellent wineries. Most have great cafes attached. Tarrawarra, 5 mins out of Healesville, is particularly impressive because it combines the winery and cafe with a truly excellent Museum of Contemporary Art - all Australian works collected over fifty years by a wealthy Melbourne family, and the purpose-built gallery itself is a fabulous space with windows which frame beautiful views. There is no comparing this region with the ugly western suburbs of Sydney. Just beyond Healesville is one of Victoria's great drives, along a road called "The Black Spur" which takes you through dense rainforest and under the canopy of giant treeferns and on to charming Marysville. Lovely. Have fun.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 04:59 PM
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Thank you, so much, PaulS. Great info. Now one more question. Do you have a good recommendation for a place in the area to stay? A nice B&B that is around$150 AUD? We thought we'd stay over and come back to Melbourne the next day. Thanks!
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Aug 20th, 2005, 05:43 PM
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Paul,
Forgot to mention that we will be heading for the GOR the following day. So maybe you would be so kind as to suggest a B&B heading in that direction. ONE MORE QUESTION! Should we go to Healesville first thing in the morning or do Puffing Billy first? Thanks, double!
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Aug 20th, 2005, 10:59 PM
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Jacylou, Healesville is open 365 days a year, 9-5. So it's best to plan your day around the Puffing Billy timetable. Not sure when you'll be here, but a website lists the timetables for the next 12 months, by month. Find it on www.members.optusnet.com.au/~puffing.billy/ Now, for a B&B - I recommend Olinda/Mt Dandenong (closest to Melbourne in the region you'll be travelling). Up here is B&B land. By far the best is Lochiel Cottages - new and very sleek, and perhaps the only B&Bs in the Ranges not victim to the "would you like frills with that" decorating theme....we love Victoriana nonsense in the cottages up here. It's slightly above your price range but is cheaper midweek, and you can check it out at www.lochielaccommodation.com. If however you do want four poster beds and lots of lace, try www.observatorycottages.com.au or www.merrowcottages.com.au. These are all well located to the lookout over Melbourne (Observatory cottages are right next door). Olinda has a couple of really good restaurants. Credo cafe springs to mind. If you want a really terrific lunch though, head to Sassafras (the next town along) and go to the hardly-publicised cafe Ripe, which only uses local produce and local wines and is sensational. It's surrounded by much more touristy places best avoided unless you love Ye Olde Worlde teashop affairs. They do a great breakfast too, but not open for dinner. Best avoided is the Dandenongs' most famous restaurant - The Cuckoo - which is an institution and has been serving "wedding reception Bavarian style" food for forty years. Busloads of visitors come in droves. All of these places are on or near the Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd, which starts not far from Belgrave, the start/finish of Puffing Billy, and goes along the modest ridge of Mt Dandenong, finishing at Montrose which then takes you on the road to Healesville, so it's all very manageable in a day. What you should also know is that despite the tourist attractions of these very pretty villages there is not a single ATM machine outside Belgrave, so if you need $A, go to the machines in the main street near PB's Belgrave Station. When are you coming over? Remember it's always 5 degrees (Celsius) cooler up here than in Melbourne,and last week it snowed (a rare event).
PaulS is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 06:59 PM
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Thank you, Paul, for your detailed reply. Especially concerning the ATM!!
We are checking into the B&Bs you mentioned and will choose one. I'm not much for the frills either. Many of our B&Bs decorate in the Victorian style also!
I really value your emails and the suggestions. If all Aussie are as helpful as you and the others who have provided answers to all our question, we will all have wonderful trips to your beautiful put of the world. Your all great!!
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