dandenong ranges

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Dominated by pristine rainforest and stunning public gardens, the Dandenong Ranges are a popular getaway for Melburnians looking for a weekend escape from the city.

Located between Phillip Island and Yarra Valley, the Dandenong Ranges are a popular getaway for Melburnians looking for a weekend escape from the city. Less than one hour by car or metro train from Melbourne, plus the short distances between the attractions and villages, makes this idyllic destination a great vacation spot.

From panoramic views to hillside villages dappled by sunlight and seasonal colour, you step into the tranquility of crisp country air and the sounds of nature. The Dandenong Ranges are dominated by vast tracts of National Park waiting to be explored on well-marked walking tracks and home to the beautiful Sherbrooke Forest, an Australian sub-temperate rainforest. Hidden amongst the ranges are the stunning public gardens perfect for a picnic or quiet contemplation.

Whether you feel like a quiet weekend away or an adventurous one, there is something for everyone in the serene and beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

10 Reasons to Visit the Dandenong Ranges


The heritage and contemporary essence of the Dandenong Ranges lie within its villages. Follow the scenic winding roads and discover the wonderful villages and communities scattered amongst the trees. Character-filled streets lined with boutique shops await you. Fossick through the antique and craft stores, then sip tea in a quaint tearoom or indulge in a latte in front of a crackling fire.


Arts & Culture

Communities of artists are dotted throughout the hills and back roads. Some opening doors to their private spaces over the Dandenong Ranges Open Studios weekend in May each year, others with permanent spaces for the public to visit or represented in shops dedicated to the diversity of talent that flourishes in the Dandenongs.


Cool Climate Gardens

Home of the National Rhododendron Gardens, Alfred Memorial Garden, Kawarra Native Australian Plant Garden and the iconic William Ricketts Sanctuary. Curated gardens such as Cloudehill entice you to walk through and imagine yourself in a story, whilst others tell the tales of the Dandenong Ranges, its vast history and the stories of the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners.



Listen out for the intriguing and elusive superb Lyrebird imitating the diverse life surrounding it as you walk through the beautiful woodlands. Make your way to the cascading Sherbrooke Falls or Olinda Falls viewing platforms. Quiet and gentle of foot, you may observe wallabies, wombats, echidnas and a wide variety of birdlife such as cockatoos and rainbow parrots.


Scenic Drives

Jump in your car and take to the roads less travelled of the Dandenong Ranges. Feel the city fall away as you follow the winding road up through the thick tall forests and cool fern gullies.

Enjoy the many scenic drives to magical forests and historic townships, through the patchwork of nurseries, wineries and orchards. Alternatively, sit back and enjoy the views from Australia’s favourite steam train Puffing Billy as it traverses through lush bushland from Belgrave to Emerald or Gembrook.


Picturesque Views

The views from the Dandenong Ranges are breathtaking. There are arboretums and lookouts aplenty. As varied as they are stunning you will be amazed at just how far the eye can see. Undulating fields, mountain ranges and huge patchwork quilts of colour guide you through to the twinkling lights of the city and there’s no better vantage point than the viewing platforms at SkyHigh Mount Dandenong with sweeping views across Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay.


Picnic Spots

Take the time to be in the outdoors and feel the difference. Picnics can be the ultimate in a family day out or an intimate day for two to reconnect and wash the worries of the week away. Fresh air, stunning views, amazing wildlife and spectacular gardens all make for an entirely wonderful adventure.


Walking Tracks

Dominated by the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the Dandenong Ranges is filled with short and longer walking tracks suitable for all ages and levels. From scenic walks to Olinda and Sherbrooke Falls to the strenuous yet popular 1000 Steps / Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, every walking track provides you with spectacular scenery and the chance to spot some wildlife along the way.


Multiple Tour Options

Take the hassle out of planning a trip to the Dandenong Ranges with one of the tour options below. There are a range of tours departing from Melbourne that will take you to the best attractions in the Dandenong Ranges. Choose from spending the day exploring the Dandenong Ranges or combining it with a visit to the nearby Yarra Valley or Healesville Sanctuary. Whichever tour you choose, you are guaranteed to have a wonderful experience.


Stay A While

Take time to enjoy a change of scenery and stay a couple of nights or longer. Accommodation is available year round in boutique B&Bs, secluded luxury retreats, self-contained cottages and guesthouses.

Top 10 Things to Do in Dandenong Ranges

  • Fossick through the antique and craft stores in the villages of Mt Dandenong, Olinda or Sassafras
  • Treat yourself to a Devonshire Tea at one of the quaint tearooms in the Dandenong Ranges
  • Take a ride on Australia’s favourite steam train, the Puffing Billy from Belgrave to Emerald or Gembrook
  • Take in some amazing Aboriginal artwork at William Ricketts Sanctuary in Mt Dandenong
  • Go for a walk through Dandenong Ranges National Park to explore the forest and spot lyrebirds and other wildlife
  • Gaze over the city of Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay from the viewing platforms at SkyHigh Mount Dandenong
  • Explore the many gardens and parks that the area is famous for – National Rhododendron Gardens, Alfred Nicholas Gardens or RJ Hamer Arboretum
  • Take a scenic drive through the magical forests and historic townships of the Dandenong Ranges
  • Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city by renting a boutique B&B or a secluded cottage in one of the villages and relax and enjoy the change of scenery
  • Find some hidden gems in the art galleries and shops that are scattered across the Dandenong Ranges

Top 10 Dandenong Ranges Attractions

1. Dandenong Ranges National Park

Located in the heart of the Dandenong Ranges, Dandenong Ranges National Park offers great walking tracks and picnic facilities through beautiful lush rainforests. There are several walking tracks to suit all ages and fitness levels. Opt for a relaxed 300m walk to Olinda Falls or the strenuous yet popular 3km 1000 Steps / Kokoda Track Memorial Walk.

2. Puffing Billy Railway

Explore the Dandenong Ranges on Victoria’s famous steam train, the Puffing Billy that runs for 25km between Belgrave and Gembrook, stopping at Emerald Lake. With views second-to-none, you can expect to see Mountain Ash trees soar above you as you ride in comfort on this popular train.

3. National Rhododendron Gardens

The Dandenong Ranges is well-known for their spectacular parks and gardens and the National Rhododendron Gardens are the best of the lot. The Gardens begin just east of Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges and are something of a mecca for garden enthusiasts, with superb displays of rhododendrons and azaleas in spring (Sep to Nov).

4. SkyHigh Mount Dandenong / Mt Dandenong Lookout

There is plenty to see and do at SkyHigh Mount Dandenong which is why it’s such a popular attraction in the Dandenong Ranges. Visit SkyHigh for exquisite views, BBQs, bistro/restaurant, function & events, maze and stunning gardens.

5. William Ricketts Sanctuary

The William Ricketts Sanctuary in the Dandenong Ranges is one of the best places to see Aboriginal artwork in Victoria. See 92 ceramic sculptures of people and animals which merge with the natural surroundings at this wonderful location in the Dandenongs.

6. Alfred Nicholas Garden

Located in Sherbrooke in the Dandenong Ranges, Alfred Nicholas Gardens is popular for walks, picnics and birdwatching by the lake. The Gardens features rock walls, waterfalls, upper pools and the magnificent lake with the original boathouse.

7. RJ Hamer Arboretum

These beautiful gardens with exotic trees and lovely walking tracks located in Olinda provides a wonderful area for recreation or relaxation. Visitors can enjoy quiet contemplation of the magnificent view, the social atmosphere of a traditional Australian barbecue, or walk along the numerous tracks.

8. Pirianda Garden

Also located in Olinda, Pirianda Gardens is a beautiful woodland garden great for picnics and taking walks through the steep terraced gardens dotted with rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, camellias, hundreds of flowering plants and unusual trees. The Gardens features beautiful spring displays but is renowned for its unsurpassed autumn colours and its fine tree collection.

9. George Tindale Memorial Gardens

Popular for walks and picnics, the George Tindale Memorial Gardens in Sherbrooke is a hill top garden for all seasons. It contains a marvellous blend of exotic plants, surrounded by scented gum trees and under a canopy of Mountain Ash. Visit the gardens in autumn for spectacular colours.

10. Cloudehill Gardens & Nursery

Even though Cloudehill Gardens & Nursery in Olinda charge a fee for entrance to their gardens, it is still worth a visit. Visit Cloudehill and wander a maze of jewel-like garden rooms, explore the nursery with rare plants and garden art and take in the glorious views as you dine at their Seasons Restaurant.

Dandenong Ranges Tour Options

Dandenong Ranges Day Tour

This day tour comprises some of the best attractions in the Dandenong Ranges. Kick off the day at William Ricketts Sanctuary; get some perspective at Mt Dandenong and ride on Puffing Billy. Wrap up the day with a visit to Sherbrooke Forest in Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Duration: 10 hours
Depart/return: Melbourne
Tour provider: Leadbeater

Wildlife & Steam Train

Take in Victoria’s best hidden gems with three must-see attractions – Dandenong Ranges National Park, Puffing Billy & Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary. On this guided day tour you’ll walk under giant Mountain Ash trees, visit Aussie Animals and ride on a hundred old steam train.

Duration: 10 hours
Depart/return: Melbourne
Tour provider: Leadbeater

Private Steam Trains & Great Wines

This private group tour allows you to explore the Dandenong Ranges aboard the Puffing Billy steam train before travelling through Victoria’s premium wine region, the Yarra Valley. After a gourmet lunch, explore one of the Moet and Chandon estate properties, Domain Chandon before returning to Melbourne.

Duration: 9 hours
Depart/return: Melbourne
Tour provider: Australian Natural Treasures Touring

Dandenong Ranges Weather

Current Conditions for Mt Dandenong, Victoria

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Weather Forecast for Mt Dandenong, Victoria

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Dandenong Ranges Map

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How to get to Dandenong Ranges?

The best way to get to the Dandenong Ranges is by car or public transport from Melbourne.

Melbourne to Dandenong Ranges

By Car –

From Melbourne, travel along the Eastern Freeway. Continue onto the Eastlink tollway. Exit at Burwood Hwy, follow the Rd to Upper Ferntree Gully, or exit at Canterbury Rd, Ringwood and follow the Rd to Montrose. At Montrose, turn right at the roundabout and follow the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Rd.

Not via Tollway: From Melbourne take Eastern Fwy. (Continue onto the Eastlink Tollway). Exit Eastlink tollway onto Springvale Rd, turn left onto Canterbury Rd, turn right at the roundabout onto Mt. Dandenong Tourist Rd C415.

Public Transport Options –

Travel by metro train to Lilydale or Belgrave. A daily bus service runs between towns and villages. For detailed information on train and bus timetables and costs contact Public Transport Victoria on (in Australia only) 13 16 38 or visit ptv.vic.gov.au.

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