Dandenong Ranges DriveGently rolling hills covered in at times dense forest, interspersed by farms, orchards and picturesque villages is what the Dandenongs are all about. There are plenty of things to see and do along the way, just keep your eyes open and follow the signs to wherever takes your fancy.
How to get there: to access the northern section, travel by car via either Cotham Rd/Maroondah Hwy or the Eastern Fwy. to Ringwood and then Lilydale. Take Hereford Rd to Mt. Evelyn, then follow the road through the Dandenongs by the villages of Montrose, Kalorama, Mt. Dandenong (633 metres; don t miss the lookout for panoramic views over Melbourne), Olinda, Monbulk, Sherbrooke (enjoy a picnic in Sherbrooke Forest) and Kallista to Belgrave. Return to Melbourne via Burwood Hwy from Belgrave.
To access the southern section, drive east from Melbourne along Burwood Highway to Upper Ferntree Gully. From there, you can take either Mt Dandenong Tourist Road towards Sherbrooke, Olinda and Calista, or continue east on Burwood Highway to BelgraveIf you have more time, drive or. The main attraction here is The Puffing Billy steam train, which run to Selby, Menzies Creek, Clematis, Emerald, Cockatoo, Fielder and Gembrook and back again. There is plenty to see and do along the line (if travelling by train or car) allow a whole day to see it all.
Highlights: Caribbean Gardens & Market, Scoresby; various arts and crafts galleries; various show gardens, garden centres and nurseries (bulbs; daffodils; Mount Dandenong Arboretum; Karwarra Australian Plant Garden; National Rhododendron Gardens, Olinda); trout and lavender farms; fruit orchards; tearooms, cafes and restaurants; lookouts (Mount Dandenong lookout, Sky High Restaurant, a cafe, BBQ and picnic areas; Mount Corhanwarrabu lookout).
Distance (Melbourne to Dandenong Ranges and return): 150 km (average)
The Dandenong Ranges (commonly just the Dandenongs) are a set of low mountain ranges, rising to 633 metres at Mount Dandenong, approximately 35 km east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys and gullies covered in thick temperate rainforest, predominantly of tall Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth.
After European settlement in the region, the range was used as a main source of timber for Melbourne. The ranges were popular with day-trippers from the 1870s onwards. Much of the Dandenongs were protected by parklands as early as 1882 and by 1987 these parklands were amalgamated to form the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which was added to again in 1997. The range experiences light to moderate snow falls a few times most years, frequently between late winter and late spring.
Today, the Dandenongs are home to over 100,000 residents and the area is popular amongst visitors, many of which stay for the weekend at the various Bed and Breakfasts through the region. The popular Puffing Billy Railway, a heritage steam railway, runs through the southern parts of the Dandenongs.
The range is the remains of an extinct volcano last active around 200 million years ago. It consists predominantly of Devonian dacite and rhyodacite. The topography consists of a series of ridges dissected by deeply cut streams. Sheltered gullies in the south of the range are home to temperate rain forest, fern gullies and Mountain Ash forest Eucalyptus regnans, whereas the drier ridges and exposed northern slopes are covered by dry sclerophyll forest of stringybarks and box. The entire range is highly prone to bushfires, the most recent of which have been the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, the 1997 Dandenong Ranges bushfires and small fires during the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
The ranges are located near the boundary between the Wurundjeri and Bunurong nations territories. The two nations were part of the Kulin alliance and were most often on friendly terms. The mountain range however was not often frequented by either nations people as mountainous areas were often considered one of many resting places for various spirits.
Puffing Billy railway