AT FIRST GLANCE, THE HUMBLE TOWN OF GEMBROOK MAY SEEM LITTLE MORE THAN A QUAINT TOWN IN IDYLLIC SURROUNDS. HOWEVER, CLOSER INSPECTION REVEALS A CHARMING DESTINATION THAT HAS UNDERGONE SOMETHING OF A REVIVAL IN RECENT YEARS.
Originally established as a dairy farming, potato cropping, orchard and timber area, Gembrook got its name from the precious stones found in it’s waterways in the late 1800’s. These days, Gembrook is better known as the place to go for food, fun and a touch of old-world nostalgia.
Gembrook is less than half an hour from Pakenham by car, but within minutes of leaving the suburbs, you’ll find yourself surrounded by natural beauty. The road winds its way through the hills, shaded by graceful old gum trees, before sweeping past the rolling pastures that mark the Gembrook landscape. As well as cattle and the odd sheep or horse, you may spot a herd of farmed deer, or even a flock of ostriches. Rolling into the Main Street, you’ll find the hub of this boutique country town: a collection of new or gently restored shops, cafes and restaurants, with Puffing Billy station and the adjoining J.A.C. Russell park.
Families flock to the area to enjoy the historic railway, a delicious lunch at the popular Spencer’s Store, Hairy Dog café or Gembrook Bakery, and to breathe fresh air and get out amongst nature. There is plenty of opportunity to explore and get some exercise with playgrounds dotted around town; nearby Kurth Kiln reserve, with its historical buildings and bushland walking tracks, including the Shiprock Falls lookout & Bunyip State Park; and the newly installed walking track winding down from Gembrook to Emerald, which takes you past the picturesque potato fields, views of the Dandenong ranges, and alongside the Puffing Billy track. Stop in at Mapleridge farm gate and Fielderberry u-pick berry farm, both located on Belgrave- Gembrook Road towards Cockatoo, for fresh local treats.
Back in town, young and old alike will find wonder and delight at The Motorist Museum, home to a beautiful collection of old cars and vintage parts, traditional lolly shop and antiques store; CK Elements will give you a taste for Gembrook’s history with a demonstration of sieving for local gems, or wander up to the Gembrook market, held the fourth Sunday of the month, to find gorgeous handcrafted items and local fare, while the kids enjoy a pony ride. You’ll find Sue Jarvis Gallery nearby in Blackwood Lane that overlooks four hectares of spectacular gardens.
Opened in 2014 by renowned chef Mauro Callegari, The Independent restaurant and bar was the first in a series of exciting developments that have helped put Gembrook on the map. Serving up modern Argentinian cuisine in a rustic dining setting, The Independent has garnered significant attention from across the globe for its authentic and high-quality food. On Gembrook-Launching Place Road, the award-winning Forest Edge restaurant caters to weddings and functions as well as offering a la carte dining and wood-fired pizzas from Friday-Sunday. For a more casual dinner, there is Station House Pizzeria on the Main Street, with its delectable selection of rustic pizzas and Italian dishes; across the road, newly established tavern The Local has become an instant hit, serving up cold beers and simple yet delicious bar meals.
If all this is too much to absorb in a day-trip, Gembrook has a range of accommodation to suit your budget and taste. Signal Box B&B, Carinya Park, and Brilnybrook are just a few of the places you can stay while relaxing in this beautiful hills town. Or, bring your tent and camp out in Kurth Kiln reserve.
With so much to offer and only a stone’s throw from the suburbs, it’s no wonder Gembrook is fast becoming one of the most popular local tourist destinations. Be sure to amble over and discover all this little gem has waiting for you.Visit easterndandenongranges.com
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