The National Rhododendron Garden is one of the most magnificent gardens in springtime and well worth visiting anytime of the year, especially considering the garden is now free entry. The gardens are found at Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges, a popular tourist destination itself. In 1960 the Australian Rhododendron Society was formed and established the gardens, which are now owned by Parks Victoria.
The gardens have a good walking track that winds its way around the outside of the gardens. The path is well maintained and mostly flat. The plantation is expansive and contains a wide range of flora and fauna. There are laughing kookaburras, blue wrens and you might even see Lyrebirds foraging in the undergrowth. We spotted one cheeky kookaburra pinching a sandwich from a couple who were enjoying a picnic; make sure you hold on to your snags.
For a short walk, make your way around the lake and back up to the information centre. Otherwise a longer walk will take you past the Magnolia Lawn, Lyrebird Garden, Cherry Tree Grove, and up towards Ash Forest and the Messmate Forrest. The far end of the gardens also has a couple of lawns to take a break and enjoy your surroundings. You would need a good hour and a half to fully explore the gardens.
It is a delight having a picnic and enjoying the stunning gardens. In spring the gardens are blooming with azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, cherry trees and daffodils. The National Rhododendron Garden informational centre has a map which points out the best locations to visit for each season and which flowers will be in bloom. Many rare and endangered plants can be found in the gardens. The huge mountain ash trees are the tallest flowering trees in the world and the mountain views from the gardens are amazing.