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The Dandenong Ranges are bustling at this time of year, Sassafrass is swamped with day trippers in down jackets, Olinda is awash with cars parked on precarious angles along the road side, all in the name of finding a good coffee shop and locals are avoiding the tourists at the local football ground.
All the while there are many great walks that seem to go under the radar at this time of year, one of them is Olinda Valley Walking Circuit which is a part of the Melbourne Day Walks guide.
This walk begins with a very impressive view over the ranges at the Woolrich Lookout, also apart of the RJ Hamer Arboretum in which the walk criss crosses through.
We completed the 12.1 km circuit, however, there are many variations listed in the Day Walks book that include a 5.6 km circuit, 8.3 km circuit and a 16 .3 km circuit that incorporates the 12.1 km walk with the Olinda Falls. You don't necessarily need a copy of the Day Walks book to complete the walk as the tracks are clearly marked in the Melways and you could photo copy the page and take it along. You must take a map however, as there are many tracks that cross each other and it's easy to become disorientated if you don't know the area well. Parks Victoria notes are available online, however, it doesn't show all tracks.
The scenery changes throughout the walk as you go through fern gullies, tall woodland areas, open grassed areas and on the ascent back to the car park which is ultimately the most enjoyable part with many rows of birch trees, rhododendrons and camellias, and if you look back, the view is stunning.
Bird life here is extremely good, right from the beginning of the track the sounds of currawongs, fairy wrens and cockatoos is very pleasant, further along the track we spotted these two Lyrebirds frolicking in the undergrowth and they didn't seem phased by our presence.
In the gullies it becomes slippery on red clay so it's best to stick to the sides of the track where there is some old bark and leaves to give you a bit of grip and avoid becoming unstuck in the most unflattering way.
There are a few basic picnic grounds along the walk that you may like to stop at and take a breather, but there is no running water along the track, so make sure you carry enough water with you, especially in the warmer months.
R.J Hamer Arboretum is named after the Premier of Victorian from 1972-1981 Sir Rupert Hamer. Arboretum is a Latin word meaning a place of trees. There are over 150 species of trees and shrubs planted within the area, including deciduous trees, conifers, birch, maples and many more from places all over the world.