The Dandenong Ranges were once used by the Wurundjeri people for hunting and gathering. Following European settlement, timber was extracted from the ranges during the 1850s up until the 1960s.
Thankfully, preservation of wildlife and the environment is now key, and these days the area is predominantly used by Melbournites as a natural recreational area. The crisp mountain air of the Dandenong Ranges is unforgettably refreshing. The region boasts a large number of activities such as the Dandenong Ranges Farmers Markets, Organic & Craft Markets. Often celebrated by boutique shoppers, many visitors will be able to explore specialty foods and crafts and grab what they like as a souvenir for home or a snack to enjoy later.
Just an hour’s drive from the heart of Melbourne and right next door to the Belgrave Farmers Market, the Dandenongs are home to many iconic experiences. At Puffing Billy Railway passengers can climb aboard – legs dangling out the carriages – as the steam train meanders its way around tall mountain ashes and endless green flora. The Puffing Billy is a well preserved steam train. The entire 24 kilometre track winds past farmland, forest and historic train stations on a tour acknowledging history and celebrating the beauty of the forest. There are multiple journeys deep into the centre of the forest to choose from so book ahead online.
Bush walking the Dandenong Ranges
Bush walking is a popular activity for the area. The 5.9km Lyrebird Track – aptly named for the birds that frequent the ranges – a particularly popular trail. It can get a little muddy, but it’s worth digging up your gumboots to reconnect with nature among the glorious green ferns. Sherbrooke Falls Walk is another popular hiking trail in the largest section of the Dandenong Ranges. It’s only a short trail, complemented by picnic areas on either end. In comparison to the other popular walks such as Lyrebird Track and 1000 Steps, the Sherbrooke Falls Walk is less popular so you can really feel enveloped in with the forest, surrounded by tall Mountain Ash and ferns that wrap around the edges of the track. There are waterfalls along this walk so it is always a good reminder to pack the camera and be careful on your hike.
If you’re after an action-packed adventure in the canopy itself, Treetops Adventure in Belgrave is perfect for a two-and-a-half-hour session of heart-pumping fun. There are plenty of courses that range in experience, so you’ll find the perfect challenge to match your skill level: think ziplines and wobbling step ladders at a dizzying height of 25 metres
Delving into The Dandenong Ranges food
There are a few places where the weary wandered can stop to unwind, have a drink and of course, enjoy delicious food. On the outskirts of the ranges, Olinda Tea House, Marybrooke Manor and Micawber Tavern.
Marybrooke Manor host weddings and functions, doubles as a breakfast bar for explorers between 8am and 10pm on weekends and is also open for high tea in the afternoon, the restaurant is called PJs.
Olinda Tea House offers customers Asian fusion dining or high tea options. They’ve won multiple awards, are open six days a week (Tuesdays are the exception) and deliver stunningly presented meals to match the quaint ambience of the forest. Dining at Olinda Tea House is a luxurious experience. If you’re after something a little more laid back with the style of a pub than Micawber Tavern in Belgrave is the place that will deliver. The meals are generous in traditional gastro-pub style, the venue has a creek running right through the middle of it and they also celebrate with live music and entertainment. The Micawber Tavern is fun, upbeat and reasonably priced.
Fly into Melbourne with Rex airlines.