The Dandenong Ranges: A Magical Destination
To the east of Melbourne lies a magical wonderland of verdant forest; lush valleys carpeted with ferns and canopies of towering majestic ash trees. The Dandenong Ranges lie just an hour from the city, but feel like a million miles away. Immerse yourself in the stunning panoramas, colourful villages and pure escapism of this amazing destination.
It’s an easy drive to The Dandenong Ranges (or Dandenongs) from Melbourne. The town of Montrose is the northern gateway to the Ranges and is a well-facilitated town with accommodation, shops and restaurants. Some choose to stay here and make day trips into the ranges for bushwalking, picnics or other adventures.
Bushwalking, picnics and bird watching are just a few favourite activities. There are several walking tracks through Sherbrooke Forest, around Olinda and in Ferntree Gully. The 17km Dandenong Ranges Tourist Track is just one option. Passing via trickling creeks, fern gullies, eucalypt groves and bridges, it connects the cute towns of Sassafras and Emerald. Stop for a picnic along the way at any number of gorgeous shady spots.
Be sure to visit SkyHigh on Mt Dandenong, with its viewing platform, bistro and gardens. There’s even a wishing tree and a SkyHigh maze for the young – and young at heart. This popular destination has panoramic views that stretch across the entire Greater Melbourne district. Other popular spots include Doongalla Homestead, One Tree Hill and Olinda Falls. William Ricketts Sanctuary is a tranquil glade dotted with over ninety hidden sculptures created by Ricketts, an artist who lived there for many years.
The eclectic villages of the Dandenong Ranges are bursting with character and creativity. Visit Olinda, Belgrave and Sassafras and lose yourself in the markets, galleries and stores laden with hand-crafted goods and artworks. Sassafras has been a popular weekender since the 19th century. Immerse yourself in history at English-style tearooms and the Agatha Christie inspired, Miss Marple’s Tea Room.
The villages are home to several boutique guesthouses that would make a wonderful spot to stay for a day or weeks on end. Spend your day exploring the ranges and relax in beautiful surrounds by night. Make your acquaintance with the range of colourful cafes and fine restaurants. Finally, don’t miss a ride on the famous Puffing Billy steam engine, or even better, book into first class and stay for a traditional dinner on board.
The Dandenong Ranges are a spectacular region that you might visit on a day trip from Melbourne or for an extended stay. Choose to relax with picnics, shopping and wonderful food and wine, or get adventurous with bushwalking and other outdoor activities. When you’re ready to immerse yourself in the magic of the Dandenong Ranges, just book your ticket and pack a spirit of adventure.