Dandenong RangesIf you are visiting Melbourne and want to experience the Australian bush, there is no better place to go for a day s outing than the Dandenong Ranges, to the east of Melbourne. An area of gently rolling hills covered in at times dense forest interspersed by farms, orchards and picturesque villages, the Dandenongs became popular with tourists from the 1870s onwards; Scenic drives through the Ranges are just as popular today and are the best way to see and appreciate all that the Dandenongs have to offer. The Ranges are rich in wildlife with 130 native bird species, 31 native mammals, 21 reptiles and nine amphibian species recorded; these hills are the Lyrebird s most favoured habitat.
Location: 40 km east of Melbourne. How to get there: by car, drive from Melbourne via Burwood Highway or Canterbury Road (approximately 1 hour). Alternatively, take the train to Upper Ferntree Gully or Belgrave station. Melway maps 52, 65, 74, 75, 120 and 122 give additional details.
Visiting by car, it is possible to enjoy a picnic at one of the many picnic areas; follow one of numerous walking tracks for a short family stroll or longer hike; experience the coffee shops and restaurants, stay at a cosy bed and breakfast, or explore the many craft shops, antique shops and feature gardens (best in Spring, Sept-Nov) dotted throughout the Ranges.
If you are not driving a car, you can visit the Dandenongs on day trips offered by coach tour operators, or take the train from Melbourne to Belgrave for a ride through the bush on the heritage narrow gauge Puffing Billy train.
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Puffing Billy Tourist Railway
One of Melbourne's favourite attractions, the Puffing Billy is a narrow guage steam train which winds its way through the towns, forests and scenic hillsides of the Dandenong Ranges.
Mt Dandenong: at 633 m above sea-level (the highest point in the Dandenongs) it offers outstanding views of Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay, the You Yangs and Mt Macedon.
Mt Dandenong Observatory
This site is occupied by SkyHigh Mount Dandenong. Offers outstanding views of Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay, the You Yangs and Mt Macedon.
An outstanding 20-room art deco house which still overlooks the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden. It was built in 1933 by Alfred Nicholas who, with his brother George, had developed the Aspro company.
Situated on the main road, it looks down over Kalorama Park, Silvan Reservoir, forests and farmland. There are also tea rooms.
Emerald Lake Model Railway
Emerald Lake: this is the largest HO scale model display in the southern hemisphere. It features 2 km of track and detailed scenery. Ph (03) 5968 3455.
Johns Hill Reserve and Lookout
Johns Hill Reserve, to the south-east of Kallista, offers excellent views of Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay and Westernport.
Gateway town to the Puffing Billy tourist railway and towns along it.
Terminus of the Puffing Billy Railway, Emerald is set beside a pretty lake.
A town on the Puffing Billy Railway, Gembrook is largely a commuter area.
Celebrated for its picturesque natural setting, wealth of heritage houses and gardens, and country atmosphere.
Kalorama is a small settlement perched atop the Dandenong Ranges 40 km east of Melbourne on the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road.
Highest town in the Dandenong Ranges with spectacular views to the City of Melbourne.
Noted for its scenic situation, gardens, and its many art, antique and handicraft galleries.
A picturesque settlement, noted for the three popular picnic grounds in the forests.
A growing tourist town, with many visitors making the journey to the Tesselaar Tulip Farm in Spring.
Upper Ferntree Gully
A former farming area on the suburban rail system, that is now a gateway to The Dandenongs.
The small township of Sassafras features many art-and-craft shops and galleries.
Situated at the picturesque foothills of Mount Dandenong, Montrose is close to the Yarra Ranges, the Dandenong Ranges and the wineries of the Yarra Valley.
A small town on the Puffing Billy Railway line, Cockatoo was named after Cockatoo Creek. It was first settled in the 1870s but progress was tardy as the land was difficult to clear.
A days drive to and around the Dandenong Ranges, commencing in inner Melbourne.
Heidelberg School and Historical Trail
This driving route is designed to take interested parties to the approximate sites depicted in the paintings of those associated with the Heidelberg School.
Kallista: (300 m) passes through mountain ash forest and has been especially designed for the ease of the disabled.
Hardy Gully Nature Loop Walk
Kallista: (700 m) encounter tree ferns, bats, blackwood, blackberry, epiphytic ferns, mountain ash, lichens and native flowers.
Montrose Brickworks Heritage Trail
Montrose: extends through the gardens and commemorates the town s only main industry in the 1920s.
Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Loop Walk
Sherbrooke Forest: (7.1 km) starts from the picnic area, then follows Lyrebird Walk through mountain ash and messmate-stringybark forest.
Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail
Lilydale: A walking and cycling track, which runs through Mount Evelyn on its way from Lilydale to Warburton.
Silvan Dam: (5 km return) within the Mt Evelyn section of Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Track
Mt Evelyn: (7.2 km) a walk within the Mt Evelyn section of Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Olinda Creek Walk
Olinda: (5.6 km) a walk within the Mt Evelyn section of Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Dandenong Ranges Tourist Track
Emerald: (17 km) Meanders and criss-crosses the cool, clear waters of the Sassafras, Woori Yallock and Menzies Creeks.
Eagle Nest Walk
the Eagle Nest Walk (3 km one-way) and the much steeper and longer (6.5 km) Valley Walk which is only for experienced and fit walkers.
Living Bush Nature Walk
Ferntree Gully: (17 km) experience beautiful native bushland, including spectacular fern gullies and tall eucalypt trees.
Located within the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the 1000 steps boasts the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, a popular walking trail of this area. Nicely maintained by rangers, the Kokoda Track is a beautiful walking track with adjacent forested areas, bushlands and various scenic points.
Dandenong Ranges National Park
Covering most of the Dandenong Ranges, the National Park offers opportunities for walking, sightseeing, picnicking, nature observation and car touring. The Park is divided into five sections.
Ferntree Gully Park
Ferntree Gully: part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park and home to Parks Victoria's Education Centre.
Bimbimbie Wildlife Park
features deer, wombats, kangaroos, emus and farm animals in walk-through enclosures. Ph: (03) 5942 7238.
Australian Rainbow Trout Farm
Macclesfield: You can catch your own fish and picnic amidst the mountain ash and bellbirds.
Butterfield Picnic Ground and Wildlife Reserve
Emerald: a wildlife corridor located adjacent to Woori Yallock Creek.
Kurth Kiln Park
Contains a range of plant communities from mountain ash and other forest types to swampy heathland which supports a plenitude of flora.
Bunyip State Park
An ideal for bushwalking, picnicking, horseriding, mountain bike riding, camping, 4WD and trail bike riding. Bush camping is permitted at more remote locations although there are no facilities at these sites.
R.J. Hamer Forest Arboretum
Has an outstanding collection of over 150 native and exotic tree and shrub species from around the world, including maples, liquidambers, ash, elms, birch, conifers and oaks, which are at their best in autumn.
Olinda Falls and Picnic Ground
Contains a picnic ground and a walking trail which provides access to Olinda Falls.
William Ricketts Sanctuary
Features a series of kiln-fired clay sculptures executed by William Ricketts who bought this land in 1934. Living with the Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte Aboriginal people whose culture and traditions inspired his sculpture.
A pleasant 22-ha reserve on the eastern slopes of the Dandenongs with picnic facilities, free gas barbecues and walking trails which lead through open country and mountain ash forest.
Grants Picnic Ground
It has barbecues, picnic tables, toilets, an information board, a kiosk, a picnic shelter, a disabled toilet and several walking tracks. Large numbers of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos, Crimson Rosellas, Galahs and Australian King Parrots gather to be fed bird seed by on-lookers.
The forest is famous for its population of Superb Lyrebirds and was an early, and still important, site for the study and conservation of this species. There are a number of excellent picnic spots within the forest.
Emerald Lake Park
A 50-ha heritage park is open every day (hours vary on a seasonal basis). It features old exotic tree species and expanses of lawn, amenities such as picnic and barbecue facilities, an Environment Centre (Ph. 03-5968 5095).
George Tindale Memorial Gardens
Covering 2.4 hectares, the Gardens have an impressive range of exotic flowering plants and shrubs under a canopy of mountain ash.
National Rhododendron Gardens
Set in a natural amphitheatre of mountain ash, oaks, maples and beeches which tower over 43 ha of outstanding botanic gardens which are home to 15 000 rhododendrons, 12 000 azaleas, 250 000 daffodils, cherry tree groves and laburnums, all of which blossom in spring.
Has rare, exotic and native plant species, all individually named. Its steep slopes are terraced and walking tracks pass through fern gullies.
Karwarra Australian Plant Garden
A two-hectare landscaped botanic garden with a wide range of native wildflowers and other plants, a diversity of birdlife, easy-going walking tracks, picnic facilities, toilets, a nursery and a continuous floral display situated beneath stands of mountain grey gums and messmate.
Tesselaar Tulip Festival
The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is a unique annual event the whole family can enjoy, showcasing the breathtaking beauty of over one million spring flowers in bloom.
Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden
Known for its extensive aquatic features including waterfalls. There is also a quaint boathouse which is a popular spot for picnics, wedding photos and ceremonies. Interconnecting paths weave through the garden, passing beneath a canopy of mountain ash trees.
Melbourne's largest water storage area has a section of parkland on the south-western shore which has picnic-barbecue facilities, nature walks and views of the reservoir from Duffys Lookout.
The reservoir dates back to 1914 when a severe drought forced Melburnians to search for a new water supply to handle their ever increasing needs.
Yan Yean Reservoir
Yan Yean Reservoir Park provides visitors with peaceful picnic areas, a variety of walking tracks and breathtaking views of Melbourne's oldest water storage site.
Puffing Billy railway