By Romy Stephens
Tourists searching for an excuse to get outside for a day and who don’t mind the thought of taking a step back in time, the historic surrounds of Lilydale could be the place to go.
The grave of world-famous opera singer Dame Nellie Melba (born Helen Porter Mitchell) can be found at the Lilydale Lawn Cemetery on Victoria Road.
The world went into mourning upon the death of the singer in 1931.
After a funeral service in Scots Church, Collins Street, the hearse travelled to Lilydale where the coffin was moved to a gun carriage for the final journey to the Lilydale Cemetery.
The cemetery is open 7am to 5.30pm (7am to 7.30pm during daylight savings) and offers a heritage walk with 26 signposts throughout the grounds.
Visitors can find numerous historic sites along nearby Castella Street.
The Old Lilydale Court House was built in 1876 and is the oldest civic building in the shire.
It operated as a court house for more than 100 years before the court moved to Ringwood in 1997.
It is now the home of the Lilydale and District Historial Society.
Entry to the court house is free and it’s open 11am to 4pm on Wednesdays and weekends, and 1pm to 4pm Fridays.
The Athenaeum Theatre was built in 1888 and visitors can read up on its rich history within the building itself.
The Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre Company produces numerous productions and events in the theatre throughout the year.
The Yarra Ranges Regional Museum opened in 2011 after a redevelopment of the former Lilydale Shire Offices.
With stunning architectural design set in tranquil surrounds, a range of historic and present-day exhibitions bring art, artefacts and fascinating stories to life.
The museum is free to enter and open 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday.
The corner of Castella and Market streets provides some fascinating insight into Lilydale’s beginnings.
There visitors will find Melba Park and the David Mitchell Memorial Gates.
When the township was laid out in 1860, this area was set aside as a reserve for the people.
In recognition of the great contribution made by Dame Nellie Melba, the area was re-named Melba Park.
Melba designed and organised the gates in recognition of her father, David Mitchell.
Within Melba Park, visitors will also find the Mafeking Tree.
The quercus robur oak tree was planted in 1900 to mark the end of the 209-day siege of the British Garrison at Mafeking during the Boer War.
The Lillydale Lake and Cashin’s Mill can be found on Swansea Road.
The 28 hectare Lillydale Lake was built to stop flooding in Lilydale’s lower main street and to provide a local recreational facility.
It was officially opened in 1989.
Cashin’s Mill, built in the 1850s, was Lilydale’s first industrial building.
Local farmers, including Aboriginal farmers from Coranderrk, brought their wheat to be ground there. Fire destroyed the mill in 1915.
Visitors can pick up the Guide to Heritage in the Yarra Ranges by the Yarra Ranges Heritage Network for more on the region’s historic sites.