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The Dandenong Ranges

Home > Melbourne > Day Trips | Escape the City | Family | Free | Parks | Lists
by Lorraine A (subscribe)
Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Published October 2nd 2013
Lush surrounds on the city's edge
George Tindale Memorial Garden

Nothing evokes the thought of a tree change more than visiting the Dandenong Ranges, the colours of the trees in autumn, the masses of blooms in spring, the smell of a wood fire burning in the cold of winter, coolness in the fern gullies during summer, the smell of gum trees walking through the tall forests, room to breathe in fresh air and the time to take it all in.

Charming rustic cottages with gardens to match, small communities with cute little primary schools, spectacular parks and gardens and the odd flurry of snow on the coolest of days.

My favourite things to do in the Dandenongs Ranges is to be surrounded by nature, it's like food for your soul.

Olinda Valley walk

Walking tracks:
With so many great walking tracks it's time to dig the hiking boots out and explore the area. The most famous of walking tracks in the Dandenong Ranges is the 1000 Steps Kokoda Memorial Track in Ferntree Gully but if you want something a little more out of the way with much fewer people than I suggest the Olinda Valley walk that begins from the R J Hamer Arboretum, Mt Evelyn to Silvan Reservour walk, Olinda Falls walk, and Sherbrooke Forest has many great options and you can join a few together to take in more sights.

The start of the 1000 steps walk

The Dandenong Ranges are famous for their gardens that have rich acidic soil and cool growing conditions that's perfect for autumn colours and spring time blooms. A visit to all the gardens mentioned below will not disappoint but don't rush through them all in one day, make sure you take your time and make a second or third trip if need be.

Rhododendron garden

These gardens listed are opened daily (excluding Christmas day) and for more information on each garden click on the blue highlighted words.

# George Tindal Memorial Garden
# Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden
# National Rhododendron Garden
# RJ Hamer Arboretum
# William Ricketts Sanctuary
# Pirianda garden
# Cloudhill

All of the gardens above except for Cloudhill are run by Parks Victoria and entry is free. Cloudhill costs $7.50 adult entry.

R J Hamer Arboretum


There are some beautiful little towns in the Dandenongs, including Sassafrass, the home of Miss Marples, Olinda (Pie in the Sky), Emerald, Sherbrooke, Kallista, Gembrook (end of the line for Puffing Billy), Belgrave (start of the line for Puffing Billy), Silvan is home to Tesselaar (famous for the tulip festival) , Monbulk, Mt Dandenong (Sky High) to name all but a few.


Viewpoint Kalorama

Tourist attractions:
Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Victoria are located within the Dandenong Ranges. Here are just a few:

Puffing Billy ( the famous train that runs between Belgrave and Gembrook)
Sky High Mt Dandenong ( park, restaurant and views across to Melbourne)
The Cuckoo ( buffet all you can eat food combined with live entertainment)
Miss Marples tea rooms
Grant's Picnic Ground ( a popular spot to start walks from and tourists love it here, it's always busy with picnickers).

Puffing Billy


If you like walking tracks and gardens, there are plenty of fantastic parks to discover. Silvan Reservoir Park is huge and has extensive lawn areas to set up BBQs, picnic rugs and play ball games. Facilities include BBQs, toilets, shelters, play ground and landscaped gardens.

Silvan Reservoir

Emerald Lake is a popular choice with day trippers taking Puffing Billy from Belgrave to Emerald Lake for a picnic lunch. Last time we were there we had a go on the paddle boats and it's more of a workout than it looks (take the 15 minute option over the 30 minutes). This park is great because there is a playground, the lake, Puffing Billy train station, BBQs, toilets and walking circuit around the lake. The only downside is that parking costs $2 an hour or $6 for the day.

Emerald Lake

There are so many picnic areas it's difficult to mention them all but the Parks Victoria website has a thorough list of parks that can be viewed here.

For the best playground Montrose Community playground wins hands down.

Kalorama lookout

The Dandenong Ranges are only approximately a 40 minute drive from Melbourne's CBD and makes a great day trip.

Rhododendron garden
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Why? To experience the Dandenongs
When: All year round
Where: Dandenong Ranges
Your Comment
Exceptional photographs. Thank you for such an extensive overview of the Ranges. We sometimes forget to appreciate what treasures lie in our backyard. I rather like the little Emerald Station Park as well.
by choud (score: 2|164) 2612 days ago
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