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Published April 23rd 2017
May The Forest Be With You
Descend in the valleys of Dandenongs... (by Visit Victoria)
The Dandenong Ranges, over 500sq/km of undulating rainforest 35km east of Melbourne, have been popular with hikers since the 1870s. Join millions of other Melburnians and discover its beauty along the many kilometres of walking trails. The cool temperatures, with little rain in summer, and the variation of mountain ash and box trees, stringybark and forest ferns, with gentle creeks, waterfalls and diverse wildlife, from possums and kangaroos to lively rosellas and laughing kookaburras reward the observant walker with surprise encounters, teasing us back for a repeat show. Each trail spans across lush forest, rising for distant views of the horizon then dipping into secluded valleys beside streams and rock ridges, making Monday seem a million miles away.
The Dandenongs host dozens of walking tracks, usually with alternate parallel tracks or circuits to double your pleasure as you return to your starting point. Once you're a regular, try combining these walks to extend your exploration time, spending as many daylight hours as possible before relaxing with a hearty dinner. If you're keen to show off the Dandenong Ranges to a first-timer, start with one of these top hikes.
Before climbing to Victoria's summits (by Visit Victoria)
Whichever walk you choose, relax, enjoy your surroundings - the sights, scents and sounds, but stay safe.
Practise your best Girl Guide/Boy Scout three fingered salute then be prepared with water, snacks, apt attire (hat, long-sleeve shirt, pullover, rainjacket, sunnies, firm, comfortable walking shoes with good tread, heel and arch support, long pants (leave your designer jeans in the wardrobe, cargo pants are ideal against brushes with thorny undergrowth and have pockets for Space Food Sticks and lollies), smartphone with camera and a backpack. Review a map, watch for signposts and landmarks and let a friend know where you're going and when you'll finish.
Each of these walks offers unique highlights, shifting as the seasons change, ensuring repeat visits are just as memorable.
The colours of autumn in the Mount Dandenongs gardens (BY 2.0 / Adrian Mohedano)
Dandenong Ranges Tourist Track - 17km one-way. An immersive exploration of the Dandenong Ranges, this easy dog-friendly track winds over bridges spanning creeks in Sassafras and Woori Yallock. You'll brush past ferns and eucalypts on your 6-hour hike as you crest mild ridges and descend into cool valleys, pausing for a picnic at convenient spots along the track. Begin at Sassafras or Emerald. Visit Parks Victoria for more info.
Living Bush Nature Walk - 3km circuit. Journey through the park's history on this 90-minute signposted trail, resting at picnic shelters from the 1940s, looking up through soft tree ferns to see crimson rosellas and possums nesting, fungi growing from moist logs on the forest floor and listening for fantails and robins singing and tweeting. Visit Parks Victoria for more info.
Olinda Creek Walking Track - 5.6km one-way. Beginning at Silvan Reservoir Park on this 2-hour walk, look closely at the scorched trunks of towering Mountain Grey Gums, still scarred from the 1939 Black Friday fires. As you dip lower into the Olinda Creek valley, feel the refreshing temperature drop as ferns thrive in the moist gully. Step lightly and you may hear echidnas and Black Wallabies plodding past the track or look skyward to see a warbling Superb Lyrebird. Visit Parks Victoria for more info.
Mathias Track - 3.5km one-way. Skirting along the eastern edge of the National Rhododendron Garden, this easy, dog-friendly walk, ideal as a jump-off point to other other trails west in Olinda. Walk south from the Falls Rd carpark or north from the Silvan Rd carpark. Click Google Maps for more info.
Burkes Lookout - 500m one-way. Just north of the television transmitter towers, park beside Ridge Rd and make the easy climb to the summit of Mount Corhanwarrabul, pausing at the memorial cairn to the 14 passengers and 4 crew of the DC-2 airliner Kyeema, killed when the plane crashed here in 1938. Visit Explore the Dandenongs for more info.
Rays of sunlight over a forest of ferns in the Dandenongs (BY-SA 4.0 / Uzman Naleer)
Birdsland Reserve - 3km circuit. Enter the reserve via Mount Morton Rd, enjoying a picnic or barbecue after an easy 1 hour walk along Monbulk Creek and the lake, suitable for strollers and prams. If you spot a platypus, visit the Belgrave Platypus Facebook page, they're eager to track them for conservation. Click Yarra Ranges Council for more info.
1000 Steps – Kokoda Memorial Walk - 2.5km one-way. Pause at the Ferntree Gully Rangers Office and the informative memorial before beginning the most poignant walk in the Dandenong Ranges. As you make the steep ascent over an hour, passing manna gum and blackwood trees, your stamina will be tested, but only mildly in comparison to the hardships endured by Australians in Papua New Guinea during World War 2. You can also return via the Lyrebird Track, with the lyrebird's delightful song mesmerising you. Click Visit Melbourne for more info.
Sherbrooke Falls - 2.5km circuit. Take an easy hour walk to the gentle Sherbrooke Falls, snapping a selfie in the hollowed tree before crossing the wooden bridge to reach the viewing platform, drawn by the trickling water and forest valley. After a picnic, there are plenty of short trails to explore. Click Visit Melbourne for more info.
Eastern Sherbrooke Forest - 7km circuit. Set off from Grants Picnic Ground, along the Lyrebird Walk . You'll continue on to Neumann Rd, over Hardy Creek then rising on Welch Track and completing the 2-hour journey along Coles Ridge Rd, arriving back at the picnic ground to enjoy a well-earnt lunch. The walk features Mountain Ash and Stringbark trees, still scorched from wildfires. Visit Parks Victoria for more info.
Kalorama Park - 2km circuit. The 1 hour jaunt begins beside the park's orchard at the end of Yosemite Rd. You can circle clockwise or anti-clockwise, turning at the fork after 1km or continuing east to exit the park at Jeeves Ave. The walk is lined with ferns in varied shades of green, with moss growing over the signposts. Visit Parks Victoria for more info.
After you've left only footprints, which of these tracks in the Dandenongs is your favourite?
We live in the Dandenongs, love it up here and you have covered some of the best walks to be found. My favourite short walk is along Mathias Track, favourite longest is the hike from Mt Dandenong all the way to the 1000 steps! Definitely Burkes lookout for views!