Experience the Dandenongs

Mount Dandenong & Surrounds

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Legends of the Sky – Astronomical Stories From the Dandenongs

Less than an hour from Melbourne city center are the Dandenong Ranges – hills covered in lush fern glades and towering native forest where wildlife thrives.

Explore the stories and history behind the JN4 Jenny aeroplane and hear how it was used to train aviation legends Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Later, stargaze beneath an urban night sky that rivals its glow.

The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens

The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens is Melbourne’s premier cool-climate garden. A sprawling collection of gardens and walking trails nestled into picturesque landscapes showcase a vast array of flowers, plants and trees – an enchanting garden oasis awaits on your next mountain getaway.

Mount Dandenongs lies east of Melbourne and features rugged mountain peaks and lush fern gullies that house gardens. As part of the Great Dividing Range, these rugged hills boast thick temperate rainforest.

All year-round, an abundance of vibrant colour comes alive in this region’s fertile volcanic soils and cool climate, where vibrant rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias and magnolias thrive. Take five kilometres of sealed pathways or stroll along winding boardwalks – you might just spot native wildlife like echidnas scurrying across tracks!

Stroll through Alfred Nicholas Gardens for a picturesque haven of rock walls, a scenic lake with boathouse, picnic areas and flowering azaleas, rhododendrons and magnolias in bloom during spring. Or explore George Tindale Memorial Garden where rare plants flourish in its acidic soils and cool temperate climate of Dandenong Ranges – it even hosts its very own Gondwana Garden where ancient species from this supercontinent thrive!

At the arboretum, relax while exploring a forest walk beneath mature trees from around the world – both native and exotic species alike! Explore plantations arranged to simulate forests before looking out over Warburton and the Yarra Valley from its lookout point.

Gardens feature an impressive collection of shrubs and perennials native to the area, such as Mountain Ash trees. Make time during your visit to sit under their shade for timber production as well as fruit harvest. Furthermore, discover rare fungi in their natural habitat by exploring one or more fern gullies.

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Parks Victoria recognizes and respects the deep and continuing connection of Wurundjeri People to this land and waterway, as well as their role in caring for Country.

Mount Dandenong Observatory

Mount Dandenong Observatory is one of Melbourne’s premier tourist destinations. Just 45 minutes away from Melbourne City Centre, this iconic location provides fresh air and an abundance of things to see and do; plus it provides exclusive views of Melbourne skylines that you won’t find elsewhere.

This mountain was known to the Wurundjeri people as Corhanwarrabul and forms part of Victoria, Australia’s Great Dividing Range. At 633 metres above sea level, it stands as the highest point in Dandenong Ranges and provides stunning panoramic views of its surroundings from Burke’s Lookout on top.

Visitors to the summit can dine at the Sky High Restaurant while taking in stunning panoramic views of Melbourne’s surrounding eastern suburbs. In addition, there is also a cafe, BBQ/picnic areas, attractive formal gardens, and various viewpoints that provide breathtaking panoramic vistas over these areas.

Explore the park’s lush flora and fauna on one of its several shorter walking tracks. Don’t miss the Kyeema Airplane Crash Memorial; this poignant reminder commemorates a tragic event on October 10, 1938 on the mountain slopes that took the lives of both crew members and passengers and is only steps from Burke’s Lookout.

As early as 1840, settlers entered the forests of the Dandenong Ranges for timber harvesting and gold prospecting. Once settled they quickly realized these hills were an invaluable natural resource worth protecting; forest reserves were set up throughout this region including Ferntree Gully National Park, Olinda State Forest and Sherbrooke Forest which laid the groundwork for Dandenong Ranges National Park today.

By the 1920s, wealthy families from Melbourne would frequently visit the park for weekend retreats and build elaborate country homes that are now popular accommodations among visitors. Many of these homes have since been converted into accommodation that attracts many guests each year.

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The Park is home to a wide range of native mammals, birds and reptiles including echidnas, wombats, sugar gliders and swamp wallabies – not forgetting its fame as an excellent birding location where one may spot lyrebirds, kookaburras and crimson rosellas among other things!

Mount Burnett Observatory

Mount Burnett Observatory was constructed by Monash University in 1972 as one of Melbourne’s premier stargazing spots and features a dome-shaped building housing a giant white telescope at its core.

An observatory was taken over in 2011 by an amateur group of astronomers who decided to restore it for community use, and recently, its second anniversary event took place to mark that. Now run by MBO Inc astronomical association, its president Perry Vlahos said this open day offered people an opportunity to see what astronomy is really all about: understanding celestial objects’ creation, evolution and interactions with space surrounding them is part of its definition, Vlahos explained.

MBO members engage in a wide variety of activities, spanning from research to astrophotography and deep sky viewing. Their busy outreach program introduces the public to astronomy through talks, dome tours, guided viewing experiences as well as being present at local events and festivals.

Early 1970’s saw construction of the initial structure at Monash University Observatory; a two-storey ‘dome’ to house a 16 inch Newtonian reflector purchased from L Jeffree of Bendigo by Monash University. A prefabricated “chookhouse” shed was later added for observers quarters before, eventually, another 10 inch Newtonian reflector was installed.

MBO conducted research into cool stars that displayed solar-like activity (starspots), such as light variations over long timescales. Their observations proved that such variations were caused by magnetic fields present beneath them.

MBO currently employs a 0.45 meter Cassegrain/Newtonian telescope fitted with a Johnson UV/V filter enabling spectroscopy of stars down to magnitude 9. It is open for visitors every third Friday evening of each month as well as special occasions and school holidays and visitors are always welcome.

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The Story of the Dandenongs

The Dandenong Ranges National Park is a protected area of forested hills close to Melbourne, Australia. Its highest point, Mount Dandenong (locally referred to as Corhanwarrabul), rises 633 metres. The park provides home for various wild animals and native plants – as well as having an abundant Aboriginal heritage – with Wurundjeri people having lived here for millennia, developing an in-depth knowledge of its resources such as ferns and berries that they used as food, medicines or even as medicines!

The Dandenongs is an immensely popular tourist spot. The area features open forests, tall trees and fern gullies with walking tracks leading through them; wildlife such as swamp wallabies and kangaroos inhabiting its forest floor; as well as many species of birds such as crimson rosellas and kookaburras calling this home.

Geologically speaking, this area was formed over 300 million years ago from volcanic rocks erupted during an eruption. With time, rain and wind have worn away these rocks into what we know today as landscape.

Tourism began to flourish in the region during the early 1900s due to its close proximity to Melbourne and scenic beauty, prompting many villages and towns to spring up around its lush valleys and mountain slopes.

Montrose, Olinda, Sassafras, Ferny Creek, Belgrave and Monbulk have become popular weekend retreats for city residents with their tree-lined streets, guest houses and resorts offering idyllic environments.

Popularity grew rapidly during the 1920s and 1930s, when wealthy families built lavish country houses with gardens in Monbulk and Emerald. More modest weekend shacks also sprouted up; agriculture became an important industry here with orchard fruits being harvested at Monbulk and Emerald; as Melbourne expanded during this time, these suburbs increasingly became permanent residences for those commuting into Melbourne for work.

Now one of Victoria’s densest regions, this region is divided between federal electoral divisions; Bruce in the north held by Julian Hill since 2016; and Isaacs in the south represented by Mark Dreyfus.