I am a Freelance Writer-Photographer and Novelist. I travel to find inspiration, wherever the distant horizons lead.
Published January 7th 2015
Historic Doongalla Homestead, picnic area and forest glade
What is Doongalla? The consensus of opinion, is that it is an Indigenous word meaning 'a place of peace' and you will find it tucked away on a mountain ridge on Mount Dandenong near The Basin. There is definitely a secure and restful feeling about the place. Apart from that, you will find it bright and enchanting and the mix of native forest, gardens and European trees makes it a delightful place for a barbeque, walk or any outdoor game. The extensive shade will make it the place to be, even on a hot sunny day.
Daniel Bunce was a botanist and he is believed to be the first European to visit the area. He wished to explore the hills on the horizon, some 40 kilometers from the emerging city of Melbourne. With the aid of the local Aboriginal people, Bunce set out with a team on foot to crest the lofty 633 meter peak of Mount Dandenong in 1840. Settlers followed around 1860 and by 1892, a grand house consisting of 32 rooms was built on the 279 hectare property, then owned by a member of parliament Sir Mathew Davies. In 1908 Invermay, as it was then known was purchased by Miss Helen Simson and she renamed it Doongalla. She had a number of improvements built, including stables, a laundry, coachmens quarters, bridges and a butchers shop.
Doongalla with its garden views extending across the wooded slopes of Mount Dandenong.
In 1922 the place was sold once more to T. burke and was used as a place of rest for Roman Catholic Priests. Fire destroyed all but the servants quarters in 1932. Doongalla still remains a place of peace and beauty today. The site is now adorned with picnic tables and a metal barbeque in the upper picnic area. There are two toilet blocks, one in the lower and one near the upper areas.
Most of the original gardens remain to make the scene the magnificent and charming. The elm trees at the lower picnic ground add a wonderful atmosphere in contrast to the eucalypts and fern forest surrounding on all sides. Spays of hydrangeas and old world camelias frame some of the drive, walking paths and gardens.
It is a great place to visit whether for a few hours or most of the day. The typical bird species of the Dandenong Ranges include the likes of kookaburras, galahs, sulphur crested cockatoos, lyrebirds, corellas, king parrots, crimson rosellas, yellow tailed black cockatoos and currawongs. There are many more species and if you want to learn about birds click here.
Parking is plentiful and the eco-toilets are well maintained.
There are many walking tracks that lead from Doongalla and criss-cross the Dandenong Ranges, catering for novice and experienced walkers. Refer to the National Park website for more information click here.
Nearby towns with most facilities include Sassafras, The Basin and Olinda. To find out how to get there, click here. Please note when following the map, go left at the last fork on Doongalla Road, so the Basin Theatre is passed on your right.