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Published June 25th 2019
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.
Lookout for mountain ash and box trees, stringybark and forest ferns beside gentle creeks and waterfalls.
Share the park with its natives - possums and kangaroos, lively rosellas and laughing kookaburras.
Each trail spans across lush forest, rising for beauty spots overlooking Victoria before dipping into secluded valleys to escape the city crush.
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 and be prepared with water, snacks, the right clothing (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 can protect against thorny undergrowth with bonus pockets for Space Food Sticks), 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 explore of the Dandenong Ranges on an easy dog-friendly track. Cross bridges over the creeks in Sassafras and Woori Yallock. Brush past ferns and eucalypts on your 6-hour hike as you crest mild ridges and descend into cool valleys. Pause for a picnic at plenty of peaceful spots along the track. Begin at Sassafras or Emerald.
Journey through the park's history on this 90-minute signposted trail. Relax at picnic shelters from the 1940s. Look up through soft tree ferns to see crimson rosellas and possums nesting. Scan the forest floor for fungi growing from the damp logs. Listen to the sweet song by fantails and robins.
Begin at Silvan Reservoir Park on this 2-hour walk. Touch 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, the cool temps refresh hikers and encourage the ferns to thrive in the lush gully. Step lightly to hear echidnas and Black Wallabies plodding past the track or look skyward to see a warbling Superb Lyrebird.
Skirting along the eastern edge of the National Rhododendron Garden, Mathias is an easy, dog-friendly walk. It's also a jump-off point onto the other western trails in Olinda. Start southward from the Falls Rd carpark or northbound from the Silvan Rd carpark.
Just north of the TV towers, park the car beside Ridge Rd and make the easy climb to the summit of Mount Corhanwarrabul. Take a moment at the memorial cairn to the 14 passengers and 4 crew of the DC-2 airliner Kyeema. The tragic fatalities when the plane crashed here in 1938.
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 BBQ after an easy hour's walk along Monbulk Creek and the lake. The path is suitable for strollers and prams. If you spot a platypus, visit the Belgrave Platypus Facebook page to log your sighting in a citizen science conservation project.
1000 Steps – Kokoda Memorial Walk - 2.5km one-way.
Pause at the Ferntree Gully Rangers' Office and the memorial for a primer on the most moving walk in the Dandenong Ranges. Test your stamina for an hour of ascending the steep walk. Pass manna gum and blackwood trees as your stamina is tested on the hour's ascent. It's a small ordeal compared with the hardships endured by Aussies in Papua New Guinea during World War 2. You can return via the Lyrebird Track, with the lyrebird's delightful song serenading you.
Take an easy hour's walk to the gentle Sherbrooke Falls. Snap a selfie in the hollowed tree before crossing the wooden bridge to reach the viewing platform. Watch the endlessly trickling water in the forest valley. After a picnic, explore the signposted short trails.
Set off from Grants Picnic Ground, along the Lyrebird Walk. You'll continue onto Neumann Rd, over Hardy Creek, then rising on Welch Track. Complete the 2-hour journey along Coles Ridge Rd, returning to the picnic ground for a well-deserved lunch. The walk features Mountain Ash and Stringbark trees, still scorched from wildfires.
The hour's 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 every shade of green, as moss grows over the signposts.
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!