One of the big draw cards for us in Melbourne is the ability to travel, in the space of a day, between the sites of the, city, the bay, and of course the mountains. The Dandenong Ranges are the closest mountain ranges to Melbourne.
The Dandenong Ranges are only 30 min drive from the city, but are another world as far as experiences go. Excellent roads wind around the lush mountain forests, filled with boutique shops and cafes, walking tracks and waterfalls. Dandenong Ranges National Park (3,540 ha) was declared in 1987 when the Ferntree Gully National Park, Sherbrooke Forest and Doongalla Estate were amalgamated. A decade later the Olinda State Forest, Mount Evelyn and Montrose Reserve were added. The park, which stretches from Kalorama in the north to Belgrave in the south is primarily a place for walking, sightseeing, picnicking, nature observation and car touring. More than 400 plant species have been recorded in the park, including the rare cinnamon wattle and smooth tea-tree, 130 bird species, 31 species of mammals (most are nocturnal), 21 reptile species and nine amphibians.
Parks Victoria has divided the park into four distinct areas:
- Olinda Area
- Doongalla Area
- Ferntree Gully Area
- Sherbrooke Area
Research your trip into the Dandenongs well as there are a range of hidden things to do that you don’t want to miss, like Olinda falls, which are like stepping back into prehistoric times.
Summer in the ranges is great, but we love rugging up in winter and having the place to ourselves when tourist number are low.
Yesterday we went to The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden (formerly the National Rhododendron Garden) is host to brilliantly coloured blooms of over 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3,000 camellias, 250,000 daffodils and countless cherries. Seasonal changes ensure the gardens are a delight all year around.
When not in bloom, you can still soak in the beauty of rich bark textures, seed capsules, foliage shapes and beautiful fragrance as you stroll through the grounds. The 104-acre garden is within close proximity to the township of Olinda
It was a surprise that even our kids liked as well. We walked the walk and found lyrebirds singing. The kids sprinted everywhere and climbed many trees. We enjoyed the coolness and space. This has to be one of Melbourne’s greatest treasures and we will be back.
We have visited many gardens around the world and this is world class. There are a some slight hills to walk around the 100 plus acres but if you cannot manage that there is a mini bus to take you around. The garden is filled with many exotic trees and shrubs and alpine plants. There is always something interesting to see all year round – it’s free – don’t miss it!!!
Really a ‘must see’ if you are in the Mount Dandenong area. The garden is open 10.00am to 5.00pm daily (last entry 4.30pm) except Christmas Day. Entrance to the garden is free.