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Top Things to do in the Dandenong Ranges

Home > Melbourne > Cafes | Day Trips | Escape the City | Picnic Spots | Walks | 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 February 9th 2014
Walks, mountain biking, cafes, accomodation and more
Olinda Falls picnic area

Mountain biking at Lysterfield Lake with over 20km of designated mountain bike track including the 6.3km state mountain bike track which was made for the 2006 Commonwealth games. There are different trails for all abilities of riders and are clearly marked out with level of difficulty starting with a white circle which stands for the easiest trail right up to the double diamond which represents extremely difficult with an average trail grade of 20%. To find out more about mountain biking at Lysterfield Lake check out parks Victoria info here.

Some of the best walking trails in Victoria are located in the Dandenong Ranges including these listed below.
Sherbrooke Falls is a nice easy 2.4km return walk.
Olinda Falls is a short steep 1km return walk from the picnic area but can be easily extended to a 14km walk, you can read my full review here.
1000 steps Kokoda Memorial Trail at Ferntree Gully is the most popular walk in the Dandenong Ranges, some people love it and some say it's a thousand reasons not to go because there's 1,000 people, read my full review here.
Eastern Sherbrooke Forest circuit is a 7.1km walk with a medium difficulty rating. The walk starts and returns at the popular Grants Picnic ground in Kallista.

See the views from Sky High lookout at Mount Dandenong perfect for a romantic sun rise breakfast or sunset picnic . Entry into the car park is $5

National Rhododendron Gardens

Visit the Gardens with so many to choose from you could spend the entire day just looking around them and admiring the cool climate plants. Make sure you visit all of these gardens at least once in your lifetime.
George Tindale memorial garden (Parks Victoria)
Pirianda Garden (Parks Victoria)
RJ Hamer Arboretum (Parks Victoria)
William Ricketts Sanctuary (Parks Victoria)
Blue lotus water garden (private farm, fees apply)
Cloudhill (private garden and nursery with lovely cafe/restaurant, fees apply)
Tesselar tulip festival ( private garden, fees apply)

With lots of mountain biking, hiking and sight seeing you're going to want somewhere good to replace all those burnt calories and here are some of the best places to eat;

The General Food Store, Emerald (picture from TGFS facebook page

The General Food Store at Emerald was named 'Melbourne's best kept secret' in one of the big newspapers and scoring 97% from 427 reviews from urbanspoon, it's good enough reason for me to visit next time I'm up that way.
Cafe de Beaumarchais in Sassafrass also comes highly rated at 93% of 385 reviewers.To read a Weekend notes review of Cafe de Beaumarchais click here.
Little Elixir in Olinda is well known for great coffee and cake. You can read some Beanhunter reviews here.
Penny Olive Sourdough Cafe is the former Cog cafe along the rail trail in Mt Evelyn. I have never been to this cafe but it has great reviews.

Cafe de Beaumarchais (picture from their facebook page)

Take a look at the lakes and reservoirs including:
* Aura Vale lake (Henley's picnic ground) in Selby where small water craft under 3.3 metres are permitted on the lake.

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is a popular tourist day tripper destination with the Puffing Billy Station located within the park, peddle boats on the lake and plenty of BBQ's and shelters. Read more on Emerald Lake here.

Silvan Reservoir is a part of Melbourne's water catchment so you can't access the water but the picnic ground is lovely and there is a playground for the kids, BBQ's and plenty of lawn to picnic on.

Silvan Reservoir

If you want some adventure in the Dandenongs head to Trees Adventure at Glen Harrow Park in Belgrave next to Puffing Billy where you can climb among the trees, catch the wind on the flying foxes and give yourself a good workout on the challenging ropes courses. Entry fee for Trees Adventure is $39 adults, $25 - $33 children which includes all equipment for a 2 hour session.

Trees Adventure (picture from Trees Adventure Facebook )

Puffing Billy needs little introduction as it's one the tourist attractions that really puts the Dandenongs on the map. You can experience Puffing Billy on one of the regular train rides that run each day or with one of the special trains/events that include:
Day out with Thomas
Steam and Cuisine
Valentines Day train
Rock and Roll
Murder on the Puffing Billy Express
Spooky special
Comedy train
and many more special events that you can view here.

Puffing Billy at Emerald Lake station

After all the activity you may feel the need for some relaxation at one of these day spas:
Balance Mountain Day Spa in Olinda has many treatment options to choose between and if you're staying nearby they can come to you with their mobile massage service.
Japanese Mountain Retreat is a hot spring, day spa, restaurant and accommodation all in the one place. I do warn you though it is expensive.
Nourish at Sassafrass looks divine and at $120 for a 90 minute relaxation massage it seems good value too.

Nourish at Sassafrass (picture from Nourish at Sassafrass

If you're planning on making a weekend of it then you will want a nice place to stay, here are my picks:
The Gallery B & B in Olinda to which I have been awaiting to escape to without the children.
The Blackwood at Sassafrass
The Gallery B&B picture from their webpage

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges as much as I have enjoyed compiling this list for you.
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Why? For the best of the Dandenong Ranges
When: All year round
Where: Dandenong Ranges
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thanks for the article
by azar (score: 0|5) 2462 days ago
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