If you’re visiting Melbourne you must make a trip out to Healesville. Healesville is a gorgeous country town located one hour east of Melbourne. The roads to Healesville are lined with vineyards producing world renowned wines (such as Domaine Chandon & Punt Road), making for beautiful scenery and yummy stops along the way. If you love great food, great wine, beautiful scenery, friendly locals and Australian wildlife this is the place for you.
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The Healesville Sanctuary is popular among tourists as the place to get up close to Australia’s native wildlife. The sanctuary has a kiosk for food purchasing; although beware of the Emus and Kookaburras in the picnic area who have been known to snatch food from the hands of unsuspecting victims.
The sanctuary runs Meet the Keeper presentations such as Birds of Prey from noon to 3:30. Birds of Prey takes place in an amphitheatre where the birds dive and circle overhead, delivering a thrilling experience. Watch and learn as the instructors educate about the birds' routine way of life. These times also provide the opportunity for questions directly to the bird’s keepers. Other Meet the Keeper presentations for koalas, wombats and reptiles run daily. Check the Healesville Sanctuary website for an up-to-date schedule.
For those who are willing to spend a little extra money there are also ‘Behind the scene’ tours available, allowing you to get up close and personal with some of the reptiles and nocturnal animals.
Admission is $26.10 for adults (16+), $12.90 for children aged 4-15 and free for under 4's. ALL children (under 16) are free on Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays and School Holidays. There are discounts for concession card holders and families. 
The Sanctuary is open every day of the year from 9am to 5pm. Allow at least 3 hours for your visit.
If you prefer to see the wildlife in a more natural setting, there are plenty of bushwalks to journey, just hop into the local news agency for a map. Otherwise try the more popular locations of Maroondah dam, Badgers Weir or Donnelly’s Weir. All have picnic areas, barbecues (which are not to be lit during fire season, usually December to February, but keep an eye out for the signs) and public toilets available. You must take your rubbish home with you and as these areas are major catchments for Melbourne’s water supply be mindful not to pollute the water. Feeding the wildlife is prohibited (not that that stops them from pinching your food). The gates open at approximately 8:30am and close from 6-7pm usually with sunset. For further information on these parks contact 13 19 63 or check out the Parks Victoria website.
From Melbourne, travel along the Eastern Freeway. Get off at Springvale Road and turn right. Turn left on Maroondah Highway and continue travelling along the road until you reach Healesville. The town is located 65 kilometres out of the centre of Melbourne. Allow about 1.5 hours to make the trip.
Unfortunately, Healesville doesn't have a train station, so a combination of public transport is necessary to make the trip.
There are two ways to make the trip from the centre of Melbourne. Bus no.684 leaves from Spencer Street a couple of times a day and travels all the way to Healesville.
The more frequent option is to catch a train to Lilydale Station (on the Lilydale Line) and then transfer to bus no.685, which leaves much more regularly. Use the Public Transport Victoria website to find route times. This bus terminates at the Sanctuary.
To make the trip to Healesville, you will need a Zone 1+2 ticket. More about Melbourne's public transport system can be found in the Melbourne article.
Maroondah Highway is the main road cutting through Healesville. To access the Healesville Sanctuary, turn off down Badger Creek Road and drive for about 5 minutes.
The town of Healesville can be navigated fairly easily on foot. The Sanctuary is about 4 kms out of the centre, making that a bit far to walk.
Healesville is pretty easy to get around by bicycle if you have access to one. There are some steeper roads as you head out of town though.
Now back to the fantastic wine! Healesville has some great little cafés and restaurants, which all serve the local wines. For dinner, the favourites among the locals tend to be “The Bodhi Tree”, “Giant Steps”, “Healesville Hotel” and “Poppies Thai Restaurant”, each having their own unique style. The Bodhi Tree and Giant Steps, both serve fantastic wood fired oven pizzas. The Bodhi tree has a rustic, alternative feel and often has great local bands or acts playing on the weekend (keep an eye on the blackboard at the entrance). Giant Steps is a winery and restaurant so feel free to do some tasting whilst dinning. During the day other cute places to dine are “Cheesefreaks” and “Harvest House”, serving fantastic gourmet breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas.
While there aren't any youth hostels in town, there are some good caravan parks and camping grounds which provide the cheapest option for overnighting in town.
There are also several motels in town to choose from.
Internet cafés are very common in the larger Australian cities and popular tourist destinations. However, once you leave the major population centres, you might have trouble finding somewhere to log on. Free wifi is getting more and more common (either with or without a code) in places like restaurants, some bars and coffee places and hotels. Sometimes a fee is required.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Australia is on a GSM 900/1800 network, so if you have an unlocked phone that works on those frequencies, you will be able to buy a prepaid SIM-card and stick into your phone when you're in Australia. You will receive a new Australian phone number with the SIM-card.
To dial out of Australia use the prefix 0011, followed by the calling code of the country you are trying to reach, followed by the area code of the city/town (without the 0!) and finally the phone number.
Within Australia, it is necessary to add an area code to the phone numbers if you are calling from outside the area. Below are Australia's area codes:
000 is the emergency telephone number in Australia, but the international GSM mobile emergency telephone number 112 also works on mobile phones.
Australia Post is the government's postal service. Most suburbs will have at least one post office. Opening times are mostly from around 8:00 or 9:00am to 5:00pm though larger ones keep longer hours sometimes. A standard letter or postcard sent within Australia will cost $0.60. Internationally, it costs $1.70 to send postcards anywhere in the world. Letters cost $1.85 to send within the Asia Pacific region and $2.60 to anywhere else in the world.. It is also possible to send things as parcels or by express mail. You can also use use private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL as they are competitive and reliable.
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