Eco-Friendly Events and Festivals in the Dandenongs
The Dandenongs offer a beautiful combination of wild nature, manicured gardens and charming towns for an enjoyable day trip or weekend escape from Melbourne. Explore soaring forests of mountain ash trees, leafy fern glades and picturesque villages like Olinda and Sassafras for yourself.
This year’s Dandenong Sustainability Festival returns to the iconic Dandenong Market with its outdoor terrace transformed into an environment- and family-friendly zone filled with exciting, eco-friendly and family friendly activities!
Australia Day Festival
The Dandenong Ranges’ lush forests, towering glades and eclectic villages make them a natural wonderland just minutes from Melbourne. Explore lush rainforest and colourful blooming gardens; boutique accommodation; fine dining; day spa services; market shopping opportunities; galleries and plant nurseries. Don’t forget the Puffing Billy steam train that runs between Belgrave and Gembrook for breathtaking mountaintop views!
Be sure to leave time for strolling through established cool climate gardens that come alive during spring and autumn. Gaze upon impressive rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias at the National Rhododendron Gardens before strolling around an ornamental lake surrounded by mountain ash, gingko maple and liquid amber trees at Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens. Or experience the Tesselaar Tulip Festival (early September to early October) before witnessing 20 English style “garden rooms” at Cloudehill Nursery & Gardens!
Dandenongs’ lush temperate rainforest is a hiker’s delight. Stroll along trails carved through the forest canopy and admire nature’s splendour of ferns, waterfalls and majestic mountain ash; listen out for rosellas singing or look out for wallabies and echidnas hiding amongst the greenery!
Many villages in The Dandenongs were first settled as weekend retreats by wealthy city families during the 1920s and 30s, creating elaborate country homes and guesthouses as weekend getaways for friends and family. Over time, however, as eastern suburbs expanded further still, this region became permanent residential property.
Explore Dandenong Ranges National Park and walk one of its most beloved trails – the 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk – which honors those who served in Papua New Guinea. Admire Mount Dandenong or take an excursion up Sherbrooke Forest for stunning views and hikes!
Dandenong forests are home to an abundance of wildlife, making it easy to spot wallabies, lyrebirds and possums among the ferns. Or join one of several wildlife tours offered by local guides to hear their tales!
Dandenong Sustainability Festival
The Dandenong Sustainability Festival is a free event dedicated to eco-friendliness. There will be workshops for children as well as demonstrations for adults to gain an insight into environmental matters. In addition, there will be bush food walks and native wildlife workshops where visitors can connect with nature; plus recycled art workshops and animal cartooning!
The Festival takes place at Dandenong Markets outdoor terrace, at the corner of Clow and Cleeland Streets, and will transform into a sustainable haven filled with exciting, environmentally-conscious family activities arranged into zones so it is easier for visitors to find what they are searching for.
Melbourne Water’s Living Links program is managed and hosted by River Gum Primary School as their Living Links Ambassador school, who have an established history of working closely with partners and the community. 2022 will see their school complete a project which aligns with their vision of “Creating a network of green spaces where people and nature come together”.
Greater Dandenong’s sustainability initiatives cover topics including climate change, waste, energy usage and more. Their programs aim to raise awareness about environmental issues while prompting community involvement by offering expert advice and support.
One of their programs aims to help businesses reduce energy costs by switching to solar, offering financial incentives so business owners can take full advantage of this opportunity.
Sustainable Living Awards is another of their programs and offers grants to local residents who demonstrate innovative sustainable living methods. Award recipients are then recognized and receive up to $1,000 as prize money; this program is open to anyone in Greater Dandenong community.
The City of Greater Dandenong’s sustainability programs are supported by grants from both Australian and Victorian governments, providing residents with incentives to recycle resources, reduce energy use, support local growers and support sustainable practices in general. Furthermore, their reduction of pollution helps enhance residents’ quality of life.
Puffing Billy Steam Railway
Dandenong Ranges in Victoria offer nature lovers an abundance of stunning mountain ranges and charming villages for exploring. In addition, Victoria is home to one of Australia’s oldest and best preserved heritage steam trains: Puffing Billy steam railway has been operating continuously since 1900 bringing generations of visitors on an enjoyable journey alongside lush tree ferns and towering Mountain Ash Eucalyptus trees. Hop aboard and let your legs dangle out the carriage window as you travel past lush tree ferns and towering Mountain Ash Eucalyptus trees along its tracks!
Lakeside Visitor Centre provides an unrivalled train riding experience, featuring modern cafes serving locally designed cuisine, unique souvenir shops offering treasures exclusive to this station, and even steam artifact displays. In addition, Lakeside serves as a hub for events – hosting workshops on everything from cooking with rainforest fruits to learning how to use traditional firemaking methods.
Upgrade to first-class carriage for an unforgettable experience and gain exclusive access to an Edwardian-style lounge, or take the scenic route between Belgrave and Lakeside to witness iconic trestle bridges and beautiful mountain track scenery – whatever time of day or night, Puffing Billy promises an unforgettable journey!
Greater Dandenong Sustainability Festival The Greater Dandenong Sustainability Festival is an environmental and social responsibility-focused family festival held in the heart of Dandenong Market. The festival fosters sustainable lifestyle choices by engaging people in connecting to their local environment while stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in the process. Event participants are encouraged to engage in eco-friendly activities, including gardening, recycling and building wildlife habitats. This festival also hosts a variety of free musical and arts performances, providing opportunities for those with artistic abilities to showcase their work. Arriving sustainably is also encouraged; public transport options including trains and buses as well as bike parking at Dandenong Market are available.
Go Fruit Picking
Experience the thrill of harvesting fresh, seasonal produce at its source! The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges boast many U-Pick orchards where you can indulge in this rewarding activity. So put on your sturdy shoes, grab a basket/bucket/pair of scissors combo and head out for an enjoyable day filled with delectable berries!
Summer is the ideal time for fruit picking, when fruit is at its ripest and plumpiest. Enjoy picking your own strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, loganberries and boysenberries from your own patch – or choose from seasonal offerings like figs (November to April), citrus fruits such as tangelos and kumquats (May to November) and kiwi fruit (November to March).
Be sure to pick up some local jams, jellies, chutneys and relishes for a picnic in the park – they make perfect accompaniments! Also don’t forget a hat and sunscreen as much of your day will likely be spent outdoors!
If travelling with children, visit the onsite playground to keep them occupied before treating yourself to an afternoon treat of strawberry milkshake and ice cream from one of our cafes! After this indulgence, get back into nature by walking through Dandenong Ranges National Park nearby – home of Mountain Ash trees (world’s tallest flowering plants), native wildlife including lyrebirds, wallabies, and echidnas!
The Dandenongs are a top day trip destination from Melbourne with plenty of things to do, from relaxing at a day spa and shopping vintage finds, to reconnecting with nature. But they are also ideal weekend destinations if you want to explore its wild nature, manicured gardens and breathtaking vistas – so grab your friends, pack a picnic and visit The Dandenongs; you won’t regret it!