Like any other hill station with the scenic bends and gradual chilling of the wind, the Dandenong Ranges is a paradise of hidden delight. This quaint hilltop houses an all round experience for tourists and locals alike, ranging from walking, cycling and gliding through the forest and clean air to relishing some Devonshire high Tea and pillow like scones.
Half a billion years ago, a gigantic volcanic eruption caused a cauldron in the centre of the earth, the area near the present town of Olinda. From this cauldron, four series of lava flows ran out. After eons of weathering, these rocks broke down to form the rich soil of the forested ranges. Located roughly 40 kms east of Melbourne, this place offers a set of low mountain ranges perfect to spend over a weekend.Because of its elevation snow regularly falls a couple of times each year at higher heights, generally between the long stretches of June and October (an uncommon summer snow even happened on Christmas Day in 2006).
Here is a complete guide to getting the best days out here at Dandenongs that aren’t just getting in and out of a standardised tourist bus routine:
Spoil Your Inner Spirits :
Arriving during a Friday evening, head up straight over to pick up some Rare spirits from the local wineries. The range offered is quite the surprise, with the best boutique cellars in the CBD. Get amazed by the wonderful craftsmanship of the tinnies along with some exclusive collection of local and imported whisky, gin, rum, vodka and wine (label and cleanskin). Olinda Cellars additionally provide their own assortment of uncommon and vintage wine—so in case you’re in the market for something extraordinary, get murmuring to the staff behind the counter.
Stroll The Alfred Nicholas Gardens
Head over to this fairyland on the Yarra Valley, the Alfred Nicholas Gardens, perfect for both a day visit as well as a night walk amongst the starry skies. Located on a rather offbeat pathway, these gardens were planted by Sir Alfred Nicholas and his brother George. The ornamental lake at the bottom of the hill takes the icing on the cake. A perfect moment to revel in the tranquillity of the lake and spend some time procrastinating.
Find the awesome woods of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges around evening time. Stroll under the world’s tallest blooming plants, Mountain Ash eucalyptus, and see the world’s biggest coasting possum, the Greater Glider.
Puffing Billy Railway
Venture back in time at Australia‘s preferred steam train: Puffing Billy, nestled in the Dandenong Ranges. Puffing Billy is one of the best-saved steam railroads on the planet and works each day of the year, aside from Christmas Day. Puffing Billy Railway is a significant vacation spot and prompts guests to come and experience extremely old tradition. Ride in the open sides carriages as the memorable steam trains keep on running on their unique 24km mountain track among Belgrave and Gembrook, in the idyllic spots of the superb Dandenong Ranges.
Special Aboard The Puffing Billy Includes:
Murder on the Puffing Billy Express – An interesting night of the homicide, riddle and tension on board Puffing Billy’s night feasting train extraordinary.
High Tea Express – Partnering with nearby Montrose business, Mary Eats Cake, Puffing Billy offers a choice of high tea experience installed in the extravagant carriages.
Walk/Struggle Up The 1000 Steps
Gear up early for a long tiring yet adventurous day at the historical Kokoda steps to commemorate fallen soldiers at the Kokoda, 1000 steps for 1000 lives lost to be precise. One of the busiest spots in Melbourne, with tourists travelling miles for this trek. Engage yourself with the timely placards explaining the historical significance of the various milestones along the way.
Brunch At Destiny Point Cafe
What next after a super exhausting, dehydrating trek combined with some long drawn out history lesson? Head over to the Destiny Point Cafe for a mid-day brunch amongst its huge bay windows for an epic view over the Kalorama Lookout. Feast from a variety of local delicacies for mild servings of hams, sausages and some eggs on toast to the sound of warbling kookaburras.
Also Read: Rejuvenate at the Hot Springs of Melbourne
The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden
The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden is host to splendidly shaded blossoms of more than 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3,000 camellias, 250,000 daffodils and innumerable fruits. Regular changes guarantee the nurseries are a joy the entire year around.
When not in full swing, you can, in any case, absorb the excellence of rich bark surfaces, seed containers, foliage shapes and delightful aroma as you walk around the grounds.
Opening hours – 10.00am to 5.00pm daily (last entry 4.30pm) except Christmas Day.
No Entrance fee.
Getting to the Dandenong Ranges
By Public Transport
Catch one of the regular trains heading to Belgrave Station from Public Transport Victoria.
Catch a Ventura bus from here to Olinda and Sassafras.
Travel Times (by road)
Melbourne to Olinda (49kms) – 55 minutes
Melbourne to Belgrave (46kms) – 45 minutes
Best Time To Visit
Mid-March to Late May would be the best time to drop by this hilltop wonderland, with some off-season outings expected during the September to November window. Ideally anywhere between a weekend to 5 days is ideal for the Dandenong Ranges.
Where To Stay
Choose from a plethora of options ranging from Bed and Breakfast, Guest Houses, Hotels, Motels and apartments. Make sure to check one of the cottage experiences for a couple of nights to have a one of a kind experience, Lot of the accommodations also provide pet-friendly features hence you don’t have to worry about leaving one of the most lively members of the family behind.
Get packing and catch one of the top 10 things to Explore in and around Melbourne and the Yarra Valley. Book your Australia tour package with PickYourTrail to customize the itinerary to suit your travel needs.