Hike through the beautiful forests of the Dandenong Ranges
There's something immensely satisfying about a one-way bushwalk that goes from Point A to Point B. A loop walk – starting and returning to the same spot – is also fun, as every point along the walk is new, as opposed to an out-and-back walk where you have to retrace your steps. But on a one-way walk, you get to travel from somewhere to somewhere else… and even the end point is new. Usually, however, this type of walk requires a degree of organisation with a car shuffle.
The Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne, present some great options for a hassle-free one-way walk by utilising public transport to return to the starting point. This particular walk links together three popular areas of the Dandenong Ranges National Park to create a one-way bushwalk of around 17-18 kilometres, starting from Upper Ferntree Gully train station. It's public transport friendly, so you can catch the train to the start of the walk, or otherwise, there's parking at or near the station along local roads. The walk finishes at Belgrave train station, which means just a short train trip back to the start.
Tips: (1) This is a fairly long walk – make sure you are well prepared with water, food, weather-appropriate clothing (it can get very cold and wet in the cooler months) and sturdy shoes (the trails can get muddy and slippery in places). (2) Take a map – the description below is only an overview of the walk and not a substitute for having a good map with you. (3) Don't forget your Myki card to get back to Upper Ferntree Gully train station from Belgrave!
From Upper Ferntree Gully station, follow the sealed pathway that runs alongside the train line (on the north side of the tracks), which soon turns to gravel. This track comes out at the entrance to the main carpark for the 1000 Steps Walk – turn left here onto Belview Track.
Follow Belview Track, a steady uphill climb towards One Tree Hill (top photo); after the water tank continue up the hill along Ramu Track (bottom photo)
Belview Track winds its way up the hill through shrubby forest for 3.3 kilometres to One Tree Hill. It's a steady uphill climb along a wide gravel fire trail, with a few long steep sections to test the legs. It's a much more peaceful and less-travelled route compared to the uber-popular 1000 Steps Walk and Lyrebird Track. You can still take either of these tracks instead as they all lead to One Tree Hill, but be aware the trails are likely to be very busy. They're shorter – but much steeper.
After approximately 2.2 km the track passes a water tank with several tracks branching off in different directions – continue straight on up the hill following Ramu Track, which eventually emerges onto One Tree Hill Road.
Crossing One Tree Hill road to the One Tree Hill picnic area
From here find the signposted Tyson Track, which is a short steep descent before reaching an intersection with Janesdell Track – follow Janesdell Track which continues straight ahead through more picturesque forest. After a while the track passes through a clearing and reaches a signposted intersection with Alpine Track – continue straight here. This track winds its way up the hill, eventually reaching a gate and emerging onto Alpine Road.
From One Tree Hill Picnic Ground, take Tysons Track downhill (top photo) before following Janesdell Track straight ahead (bottom photo).
This next section involves a walk through the streets of the township of Ferny Creek. Follow Alpine Road to One Tree Hill Road and turn left. There's a foot track along most of the length of the road. From here it's about a 1.3 kilometre walk to the intersection with Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.
The intersection of Janesdell Track and Alpine Track - go straight here to head back up the hill to Ferny Creek township
Cross the road carefully, and you are now in the beautiful Sherbrooke Forest. Keep quiet as you walk to increase your chances of hearing and seeing lyrebirds. There's often lots of scratch marks along the side of the tracks – these are signs of lyrebirds digging around in the leaf litter foraging for food. Sherbrooke Forest is also famous for its majestic towering Mountain Ash trees (don't forget to look up!) and leafy tree fern understorey. There's also fungi galore in winter.
There's a few walking track options through Sherbrook Forest – you can take any route you like as long as you end up at O'Donohue Picnic Ground. After crossing Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, I turned right onto Hackett Track which skirts the edge of the forest at this point, and followed it to the south and then south-west towards Sherbrooke Falls. Hackett Track reaches a t-intersection with Sherbrooke Track – turn right here and follow the signs to see the falls. Then head back up O'Donohue Track to O'Donohue Picnic Ground.
Walking through Sherbrooke Forest: following Hackett Track (top photo) and Sherbrooke Track (bottom photo)
From here, exit the picnic ground area and turn right onto Sherbrooke Lodge Road, a quiet road lined with beautiful houses on one side and Sherbrooke Forest on the other. Keep your eye out on the right for the signposted Clematis Track and take this. It's a narrow trail through stunning fern trees and wet forest, but take care as it can be slippery and steep in places. It seems less well-used than other tracks and can sometimes require a clamber over fallen branches and debris. The track comes out at Kallista on Monbulk Road.
Cross Monbulk Road carefully (it can be quite busy) and head straight into Grant's Picnic Ground. Turn left along the driveway (past the frenzy of the bird feeding area) and then turn right into Lyrebird Walk (also signposted with Hardy Gully Nature Walk). This is the eastern section of Sherbrooke Forest.
Passing through more lovely wet forest and tree ferns, there is then a right turn into Neumann Track. This is a steady uphill climb, and is another great place to spot lyrebirds, as well as an assortment of other birds like blue wrens.
A lyrebird foraging on the side of Neumann Track in the eastern section of Sherbrooke Forest
Welch Track comes out onto Old Monbulk Road. Turn left here and descend down the road into Belgrave, crossing over the Puffing Billy railway line. Then make your way to Belgrave Station and let your feet take a well-earned rest on the train journey back to Upper Ferntree Gully!
Almost back at Belgrave Station at the end of the walk
Hi Lyndsey, This is a good walk. My wife and I did a similar one from UFTG station taking Ramu Tk (I think from memory) and other forest tracks across to Forest Rd, Boronia and then train from Boronia back to UFTG. Not as long as this one, but a good walk.