Noted for its scenic situation, gardens, and its many art, antique and handicraft galleries, Olinda is 44 km east of the Melbourne city centre atop Mt Dandenong. The golf course on the Olinda-Monbulk Rd offers excellent views.
Pirianda Garden (11 ha): Designed to take advantage of the steep slopes, the terraced gardens of Pirianda are distinctive for their combination of botanically important trees, shrubs and perennials with an over storey of large blackwoods and mountain ash towering over the natural fern gullies. Pirianda Garden has rare, exotic and native plant species, all individually named. Its steep slopes are terraced and walking tracks pass through fern gullies where currawongs, crimson and eastern rosellas, butcher birds, honeyeaters and kookaburras make their homes. It is possible to see Arthurs Seat (see entry on Dromana) and the Mornington Peninsula on a clear day. The Garden features plant species otherwise unknown in Australia and it is particularly beautiful in autumn when the exotic trees are at their finest. The Garden is open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Ph: 131 963.
Dandenong Ranges Botanical Garden: 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. The 3000 camellias are best seen in winter and there are also proteas, magnolias and Japanese maples. Birdlife includes the superb lyrebird, king parrots, crimson rosellas and peacocks. Ducks and geese can be fed in the lake. Self-guide walk signs open up the possibility of a full three-hour exploration or you can simply pursue shorter subsections. The Georgian Road, Olinda. The Gardens are open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, entry fees apply. Ph (03) 9751 1980 or Parks Victoria on 131 963.
R.J. Hamer Forest Arboretum
R.J. Hamer Forest Arboretum: R.J. Hamer Forest Arboretum (100 ha) 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). There are bushwalking opportunities, picnic, barbecue, toilet and parking facilities. The site is open daily and entry is free unless you book a site. Tours are available by appointment, Ph: 131 963.
Olinda Falls and Picnic Ground: Located off Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd on Falls Rd which runs along the western boundary of the Olinda section then rejoins the Tourist Rd near Kalorama. It leads past the picnic ground which provides access to Olinda Falls.
Cloudhill Gardens: A must see garden made at the top of The Dandenongs where a maze of stone walls and jewel like garden rooms are set within woodlands of magnificent and historic, cool climate trees. Some 20 garden compartments are threaded through glorious 80 year old European beech, magnolias, maples and a collection of Himalayan tree rhododendrons, all beautifully grown and a testament to the lush, moist soils of the Dandenongs. The garden is highlighted by glorious herbaceous borders which focus on two of the finest Japanese weeping maples to be seen anywhere in the world. 89 Olinda-Monbulk Road. Entry fees apply.
The Valley and Eagle Nest Picnic Grounds: The carpark on Boundary Rd is the starting point for both 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. They pass through a range of forest types (mountain grey gums, fern gullies and dry bushland). The former track slopes downhill (with the toilets to the left) and connects with Eagle Nest Rd which will take you to the Eagle Nest Picnic Ground. Once there, cross the wooden bridge and continue for 400 m. From here you can return to Valley Picnic Ground via Hermons Track or extend the walk by turning right into Possum Track, right into Georges Rd, left into Barges Rd (steep) and return to Valley Picnic Ground via Rifle Range Gully Track.
National Rhododendron Gardens, Dandenong Ranges Botanical Garden
Olinda Falls Reserve