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Dandenong Ranges


Dandenong Ranges

From Melbourne: 35 km | 1 day

Just 35 km from Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges are perfect for a day trip. The landscape is a lush patchwork of farmland, gardens, and native forest with a verdant understory of tree ferns. Narrow roads meander through charming villages such as Belgrave, Olinder, Sassafrass, Kallista and Mt. Dandenong, where you can enjoy scones with tea, browse the antique stores and boutiques, and sample local produce. The entire area is famous for its beautiful gardens that are eye-popping in spring and autumn.

The Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia. jiaxiangzheng
The Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia. Photo: jiaxiangzheng via IG

The national park is criss-crossed with excellent walking tracks, has some great lookouts, and gorgeous picnic grounds. During weekends, the Dandenongs are swarming with day-trippers so go through the week if you can.

If you’re going for a day trip, you could fit in a couple of towns (such as Olinder, Sassafras, Kallista and Belgrave), a walk (1000 steps or the East Sherbrook Forest Walk are good ones), pick your own berries on Chappies farm, feed cockatoos at Grant Picnic Ground, ride the Puffing Billy steam train, wander through a beautiful garden, and watch the sun set from the top of Mount Dandenong.

The following six stops, from south to north, include all the major highlights of the Dandenong Ranges. All are mapped at the end.

Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia. adambradyau
Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia. Photo: adambradyau via IG

Stop 1: Belgrave

Belgrave sits at the south end of the Dandenong National Park. It is home to walks, wetlands, wildlife, picnic areas, Trees Adventure Park for the family, Puffing Billy steam train arrivals and departures, the historic cameo cinema, and a baroque-inspired jazz lounge and cocktail bar.

Puffing Billy Railway, Dandenong Ranges, Victoria
Puffing Billy Railway, Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, Australia.

Puffing Billy Steam Train, Dandenong Ranges, Victoria
Puffing Billy Steam Train, Dandenong Ranges, Victoria

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earthly pleasures cafe, Belgrave, the Dandenongs
Earthly Pleasures Cafe, Belgrave, the Dandenongs, Victoria

birdsland reserve
Kangaroos in Birdsland Reserve, Belgrave, the Dandenong Ranges

STOP 2: Fern Tree Gully

The Ferntree Gully Area has several short walks, including the popular 1000 Steps up to One Tree Hill Picnic Ground (two hours return). This is part of the Kokoda Memorial Track that commemorates Australian WWII servicemen who served in New Guinea.

1000 steps, Dandenong Ranges,  elliesalmon3
1000 steps, Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. Photo: elliesalmon3 via IG

STOP 3: Kallista

The Sherbrooke Forest is home of the Superb Lyrebird, wombats, swamp wallabies, echidnas, possums, cockatoos and powerful owls. It has several picnic grounds and some good walks.

Grants Picnic Ground at Kallista attracts flocks of sulphur-crested cockatoos that you can feed with special food.

The Sherbrooke Forest Walk leaves from here, and takes you through towering mountain ash trees. It’s 6.6 km return (2.5 hours) and is graded moderate to easy.

The Sherbrooke Falls Walk is an easy 2.4 m walk (45 mins) on a gravel path from Sherbrook Picnic Ground or O’Donohue Picnic Ground. The cascading falls are most spectacular after the rain.

grants picnic ground, Dandenong Ranges, ingrideknes
Cockatoos at Grants Picnic Ground, Dandenongs. Photo: ingrideknes

sherbrooke forest, Dandenong Ranges. sheardo
Sherbrooke forest, Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. Photo: sheardo

sherbrooke forest memoirs of acacia
Sherbrooke forest, Dandenong Ranges. Photo: memoirs.of.acacia via IG

Stop 4: Olinder & Sassafras

These two little towns merge somewhat along a narrow winding road in the heart of the Dandenongs and its lush forest. Enjoy scones and tea, art, charming wooden buildings, and immaculate public gardens.

cloudehill gardens, Dandenong Ranges, michaelgoodwindot1988
Cloude Hill gardens, Dandenong Ranges. Photo: michael.goodwin1988

cloude hill gardens elowong
Cloude Hill gardens, Dandenong Ranges. Photo: elowong via IG

national rhododendron gardens, Dandenongs,  selinagao 125
National Rhododendron Gardens in autumn. Photo: selinagao_125

National Rhododendron Garden, stephanielouisemobbs
National Rhododenron Garden in spring. Photo: stephanielouisemobbs

Stop 5: Mount Dandenong

Mount Dandenong is the tallest peak in the range at 633 m.

william ricketts sanctuary mtlees
William Ricketts Sanctuary, Mount Dandenong. Photo: mtlees via IG

skyhigh mount dandenong
View of Melbourne from Sky High, Mount Dandenong, Victoria.

Stop 6: Silvan

Silvan is farm country. If you love berries, call into Chappies or Blue Hills to pick your own cherries and berries. During spring, drive through Tesselaar Tulip farm to take photos of their tulip fields.

If you have the time, continue onto the Yarra Ranges for wine tasting and forest walks.

tulip fest adelenetiew
Tesselaar Tulip Farm, Silvan, Dandenongs. Photo: adelenetiew via IG

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