Cottages Monreale is recognised as one of Victoria's premier romantic escape destinations. In addition to beautiful accommodation Cottages Monreale has three acres of stunning garden with many water features, Cottages Monreale is the perfect accommodation when exploring the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley. The villages are broken into general areas in a vast range of mountainous hills.
Olinda, Sassafras and Mt Dandenong villages are grouped together as a tourist precinct because of their close geographic location to each other in the hills, and are seen by many as the foremost tourist villages when compared to the other towns in adjacent areas.
Belgrave, Gembrook, Emerald, Cockatoo and Monbulk are on the other side of the mountain to Mt Dandenong and each have their individual attractions and shops. They are probably more urbanised than the tourism group mentioned above. Whilst Olinda and Sassafras townships are small, they have great individual character and are located within one hours drive of Melbourne. Each has individual art, antique and handicraft galleries, with Olinda having its own unique golf course that offers a unique experience.
The Holden family is recognized as the First European settlers to live in Olinda. From about 1855 they cut down Mountain Ash for the Melbourne market until the turn of the century when the timber began to runout. Olinda was the first settlement, which occurred around 1870, with the first Olinda shop opening sometime around 1893.
In 1920, Australian artist Arthur Streeton purchased a house in Olinda. In 1938 Arthur Upfield a noted novelist used his experiences in Mount Dandenong as the setting his novels, The Devil's Step (1946) and An Author Bites the Dust (1948). Olinda has a market on the second Sunday of each month. The now very famous Cuckoo restaurant is another icon, and is situated between Olinda and Sassafras. Apart from their sensational smorgasbord fare they have lively and entertaining music and side acts.
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