Navigating Black Spur Drive (or just ‘The Black Spur’) was one of the highlights of our time in Healesville.
We’d only really discovered it due to a few photos on Instagram – search #BlackSpurDrive to find them yourself – but we were instantly taken by this misty, mysterious road. The height of the trees made the photos look like they were taken in the Redwood Forests of North America, and the road was straight out of the pages of National Geographic.
We love a road-trip, so we made sure we got out and saw it for ourselves when we visited Healesville.
Black Spur Drive Route
Black Spur Drive is a 27km stretch of road between Healesville and Narbethong. It is part of the Maroondah Highway which stretches 65km to Melbourne in the west, and all the way out to Mansfield 142km away in the Alpine National Park.
From the pretty little town of Healesville, it is easy to pick up the Black Spur, just follow the main highway out of town, past the Maroondah Reservoir, which is the main source of water for Melbourne.
The drive will take about 30 minutes through winding forest roads, but there is the option to stop off along the way at some picnic spots if you want to explore the forest on foot.
Driving the Black Spur
The drive starts out nicely enough with a view over the reservoir, but 5km or so afterwards the real excitement starts. We were quickly surrounded by huge mountain ash trees blocking out most of the natural light. At their base are leafy ferns, often shrouded in mist creating a scene that wouldn’t look out of place on a movie set.
The scenes that unfolded have an odd contrast of being both characteristically Australian and not at the same time. The roads look familiar, with the diamond shaped yellow road signs distinctively Australian, but the setting didn’t seem right. As a recent expat I expected red sand, coastal roads and endless blue skies, but to find a green, lush forest like this less than two hours from Melbourne was truly unexpected.
The roads are smooth, and we were passed by a number of motorcyclists keen to take on one of Victoria’s best roads. Numerous ‘Slippery When Wet’ signs warn of the dangers of the forest road, with the huge trees blocking out a lot of natural light, meaning and moisture takes a long time to escape.
About halfway along we came to Fernshaw Picnic Area, which would be a great stop off on a sunny day, but we were in the middle of a very Victorian rain shower so decided to head on.
The twisting roads took us on up some pretty steep gradients until we eventually popped out Mystic Mountains Ski Hire shop. It was yet another surprise to discover there is snow this close to Melbourne. Australia really is a gift that keeps on giving.
There is good news and bad news to the end of the Black Spur Drive.
The bad news is there is only one road back to Healesville, and it is the one you came on!
The good news, you get to have the experience all over again!!!
I hope you enjoy the drive as much as we did!
If you get some amazing photos, Instagram Stories (@TheSabbaticalGuide), and I will share them with my followers.
Have fun 🙂
A Very Special Tree
And those trees? I described them as Mountain Ash earlier, but this is just a nickname, they are actually one of over 800 members of the Eucalyptus family – Eucalyptus Regnans.
They are a very special tree, as they are actually the tallest flowering plant in the world! They are also the second tallest tree, second only to those Californian Redwoods I mentioned earlier.
Eucalyptus Regnans grow exclusively on Tasmania and in Victoria, and regularly grow to over 85 metres. The tallest specimen is over 100 metres tall!
Video of Black Spur Drive
Here is a short clip of our drive along the Black Spur.
Where to Stay
If you are looking to stay nearby then Healesville is a great location.
You can read more about it in my post:
I would highly recommend staying at the magnificent Sanctuary Park Cottages which are right beside Healesville Sanctuary.
Useful Tools for Booking Your Sabbatical
I always use Skyscanner or Agoda alongside Google Flights to make sure I’ve got the best price. I use Google Flights to save a route and monitor price changes and a combination of Skyscanner and Agoda to get the cheapest tickets.
If you are in the UK I would also highly recommend signing up for Jack’s Flight Club to get incredible flight deals sent to your email inbox every week.
When booking accommodation I always start with Booking.com as they generally have the best range and prices. I also regularly use Airbnb for longer stays and apartments in cities (use this link for £25 off your first stay). For a different experience try signing up to Housecarers for free house-sitting opportunities (get 10% off membership with this link).
Travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, but when a flight gets cancelled, injury occurs or you damage a piece of gear you’ll regret not paying in advance. I’ve used World Nomads for two sabbaticals and (after badly damaging a hire car in Laos!) found the claim process to be simple and transparent.
Getting from the airport to your destinations is an added stress after a tiring flight, so take the guesswork out and pre-book with JayRide.com. Their prices often beat the local taxis and I've found them to be reliable and easy to use.