At some 500 metres above sea level, the air is distinctly crisp in Sassafras. The lush, green surrounds, which are literally oozing with dew instantly invigorate. The valley of ferns boasts a palpable healing power that’s both easy and cheap to access. Sassafras retains the charm of its 19th century eminence. Authentic English tearooms and Devonshire delirium are bountiful for those who are so inclined. Yet there’s more to Sassafras than Miss Marples. You’ll be looking for Mary Antoinette as you enter Café de Beaumarchais. Gold chandeliers offset the dark walls and distressed floorboards, and a Parisian inspired menu complements the decor. French baguettes, croissants and the smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese flan is a must, although it’s the sweet treats that really impress. A popular favourite is the heavenly Lindt white chocolate raspberry and lime cheesecake.
If you’re into antiques, Sassafras is a bit of a dream. Collectables are the order of the day and if you’re into quirky pieces, then you can’t go past Smits & Bits. This treasure is tucked away in an eclectic secret garden stocked with garden ornaments, original antiques, jewellery and other knick-knacks are all for sale.
Across the road, Tea Leaves offers a huge selection of specialist teas and coffee beans. Rummage through the chais, mint senchas and butterscotch coffee blends on display in this little gem. The teapot selection is also second to none. For souvenirs that capture the restorative power of Sassafras, local artist Carol Tregonning has designed a range of meticulously crafted terrariums sourced from the region’s earth and foliage.
The greatest appeal of Sassafras has to be its glorious gardens, parks and forest walks. Take a casual stroll amidst the giant ferns and towering mountain ash trees of the Alfred Nicholas Gardens. Find a spot on the old-world footbridge and look out over the picturesque lake and boathouse – it’s sure to melt even the most cynical of visitors.
Situated in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the iconic 1,000 Steps (Kokoda Track Memorial Walk) is a refreshing alternative to a gym work out. Don’t be fooled by the ambient surrounds – this is a challenging walk, but well worth the effort. Concrete steps now fortify the track, which was originally laid out with trunks of tree ferns. The ascent is a steep 2.8 kilometres of beautiful forest interjected with scenic points. There are benches for a break along the way, where you’ll find plaques detailing the experiences of the Australian soldiers who braved the Kokoda Track.
There are plenty of accommodation options if you’re not quite ready to face the big smoke after a rejuvenating day in the hills. Nestled in a secluded acreage just off Mount Dandenong Road, Clarendon Cottages offers luxury bed and breakfast accommodation. Three elegantly appointed guesthouses are set amidst the pristine English gardens. A night in this quaint setting will certainly cap off your sojourn to Sassafras.
Café de Beaumarchais
Shop 1, 372 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras
(03) 9755 1100
263 Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras
(03) 9755 2630
Quirky Best Bits
359 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras
(03) 9755 3224
Alfred Nicholas Gardens
Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke
(03) 8627 4699
1,000 Steps (Kokoda Track Memorial Walk)
Dandenong Ranges National Park
Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Upper Ferntree Gully