Best Walks in the Dandenong Ranges
If you want a rainforest getaway on the doorstep of Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges is your best bet. It’s only an hour away by car or train and is full of cool forests, quaint hilltop towns and charismatic animals like lyrebirds and wallabies.
With a variety of walks to suit all abilities, the Dandenong Ranges is sure to provide you with the perfect hiking adventure. Take on the 1000 Steps, visit Olinda Falls or hike the tourist track and explore this pristine part of Victoria.
1. Birdsland Reserve
Tucked away in the Yarra Ranges between Lysterfield Lake Park and Belgrave South, Birdsland Reserve is an exciting destination. It is 75 hectares in size and is home to numerous native species of birds and animals.
The Wurundjeri people inhabited the region around Birdsland hundreds of years ago. Over 150 years ago, the area was cleared for grazing and crop production. In 1940 the Bird family purchased the land and used it for sheep farming until 1981 when it was bought by the Shire of Sherbrooke in order to preserve it from urban development.
Now a community bushland reserve, Birdsland is home to a large number of walking trails that cut across the lands. It also contains a 28ha retarding basin, which is home to two lakes. There is also a Environmental Education Centre, where the Yarra Ranges Environment team share important information about conservation and sustainable living with local school children.
One of the easiest walks in the area is the 2.5 km loop around the two lakes. This is an easy flat trail that is very popular with families and cyclists.
It is a lovely walk that allows you to take in the stunning views of the surrounding area. The walk is well signed and the carpark has a shelter, toilets and BBQ facilities.
There are a range of other walking tracks in the area too. These can be combined to create a longer route. We recommend you get a map of the area and do some research on which walks are more suitable for your needs.
Another great option is the short and scenic track that runs along Monbulk Creek. This is a perfect way to stretch your legs after a long run.
Finally, don’t forget to check out the wildlife at Birdsland Reserve, with over 130 different native birds and 200 species of native plants, this is a beautiful place to spend some time in nature!
A great day out for the whole family, it’s a must for anyone who loves nature and the outdoors. Whether you’re looking for a family walk, a nice bike ride or just a relaxing picnic, Birdsland Reserve is the perfect choice.
2. Sherbrooke Forest
Sherbrooke Forest is a beautiful spot for a walk amongst hundred year old trees in the midst of fern gullies and cool temperate rainforest. Located about 40km east of Melbourne it is one of the largest sections of the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
It is known for the tallest flowering plant in the world, Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), and its incredible tree ferns. It is an ideal escape for families and couples looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
There are a number of short walks in Sherbrooke Forest and it is worth taking time to explore all the different tracks and fern gullies available. There are also plenty of picnic grounds with tables and BBQs, so you can enjoy a picnic before or after your day of hiking.
If you are looking to do a longer hike, Sherbrooke Falls is a great option. It is an easy walk and leads you to a series of small waterfalls. If it has been raining, the water running over the rocks and fallen trees will be a real treat!
Another popular short walk in Sherbrooke Forest is the Lyrebird Walk, which starts and finishes at Grant’s Picnic Ground. It passes through cleared areas of bush created by the successive wildfires that occurred in the early 1900s. It has been a significant area for the study of lyrebirds and was a favourite with Ray Littlejohn who worked on sound recordings in the 1930s.
You can also visit Sherbrooke Creek which is a very popular swimming spot. The rocky stream is a favourite with locals and visitors alike. It’s a great place to watch the local wildlife including wombats, sam pangolin and echidna.
The walk also includes a few sections of wet temperature rainforest, a variety of tree ferns and is very popular with birdwatchers. It is also a great place to see owls.
The forest is also home to many animals, including wombats and a large population of superb lyrebirds. These birds can mimic dozens of other species and are famous for their songs and calls. They are protected by the Dandenong Ranges National Park and are very important to its ecology.
3. Ferntree Gully
Ferntree Gully is one of the best places to enjoy a stroll in the Dandenong Ranges. It has a number of scenic walking tracks and is home to the Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground, an information centre and a wildlife sanctuary.
The park is a popular picnic spot and is located at the top of the Burwood Highway near Upper Ferntree Gully train station. It has parking, toilets, drinking water, picnic tables and shelters, electric barbecues and a ranger’s office.
There are many different walks to choose from including the Living Bush Nature Walk, Ferntree Gully Track and One Tree Hill Track. The latter takes you through stringybark and peppermint gum forest with pea shrubs blooming in spring.
A visit to the park is also a chance to see an amazing collection of Mountain Ash trees. Some of these have been planted as part of the Victorian Government’s Landscape Project, which is aiming to restore old growth trees in the park.
Visitors can also take in the stunning views from Burkes Lookout or SkyHigh. The former is a great place to relax and enjoy the view, while SkyHigh offers the opportunity to climb up to Mt Dandenong.
In addition to the park’s natural attractions, it is a popular destination for fitness enthusiasts. The 1000 Steps walk is an ideal way to exercise while enjoying a beautiful forest setting.
The park is also a popular base for bird watching. The park is a habitat for over 350 species of birds, with more than 130 mammals and 31 reptiles also being recorded.
Another attraction in the park is Trees Adventure, a fun and exhilarating experience which consists of five tree-top obstacle courses. It is a favourite among families and young people, as well as adults looking for an exciting activity.
It is worth visiting the park on a clear day, as it can provide spectacular views of the city and Mount Dandenong. You can also explore the surrounding wetlands and forests.
Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by the Woiwurrung and Wurrundjeri people. The first European to explore the area was botanist Daniel Bunce in 1839 who climbed Mt Corhanwarrabul (628 m) and Mt Dandenong (633.4 m). Ferdinand von Mueller, who was responsible for the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, also explored the park in the 1850s.
4. Mount Dandenong
The Dandenong Ranges is one of the most popular areas in the Victorian Alps, offering a range of activities for the whole family. It’s home to short walks, picnic areas, gardens, mazes and viewpoints, making it ideal for a day out in the mountains.
It’s also home to a steam railway, the iconic Puffing Billy, and there are a number of places to eat while exploring the Dandenongs. The Wild Oak, Indian by Nature, Fairy Mountain Chinese and Grinds and Vines restaurants are all located in the Mount Dandenong Village.
If you’re looking for a shorter hike in the Dandenongs, try Burkes lookout which is under 1 KM and offers spectacular views across Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay, Kinglake and the Macedon Ranges.
Or, if you’re after a bit of a challenge, you can go on the Fire Trail (also known as Glasgow Track), which involves three steep inclines, but is well worth the effort once you reach the top of Burkes Lookout and enjoy the panoramic views over Melbourne.
There’s a lot to explore in the dandenongs, but one of the best things to do is to hike and take in all the scenery. If you’re feeling really energetic, you could do a circuit walk that links two large sections of the national park and visits Olinda Falls, Mount Dandenong and the Arboretum.
Aside from that, the Dandenong Ranges is also home to a number of stunning gardens and parks. If you’re there in spring, make sure to check out the Tesselaar KaBloom, one of Australia’s biggest flower shows.
Another great activity is to take the kids to SkyHigh Mt Dandenong, a family-friendly attraction that offers a fantastic dining experience. The award-winning bistro is perfect for a quick lunch with views, and the SkyHigh Maze is a fun and interactive activity for kids.
Finally, if you’re looking for some fun, you can also visit the Trees Adventure Park in Belgrave. This family-friendly attraction features a forest walk under towering eucalyptus trees and a maze that will keep your children entertained for hours on end.