Experience the Dandenongs

Mount Dandenong & Surrounds


Rainy Day Activities for Kids in the Dandenongs

Puffing Billy is Victoria’s iconic steam train and makes an enjoyable journey between Belgrave and Emerald Lake. Step aboard now for an enjoyable journey!

Discover breathtaking sights at Dandenong Ranges National Park, such as Sherbrooke Falls. William Ricketts Sanctuary features 92 ceramic sculptures among lush fern gullies and Mountain Ash trees; Trees Adventure allows you to soar through its canopy via tight ropes and flying foxes.

1. Puffing Billy

The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges are world-renowned for their breathtaking scenery, lush forests and exquisite gardens – but Victoria offers so much more! A host of quirky family attractions add charm and character to this region: lookouts offering picturesque vistas; picnic spots where families can relax together around towering mountain ash trees and lush fern gullies; as well as local bazaars celebrating heritage-rich trades that bring local community together.

One of the top activities for kids in the Dandenongs is taking a ride aboard Puffing Billy, a narrow-gauge steam railway offering a “step back in time” experience for visitors young and old alike. Puffing Billy runs from Belgrave to Emerald Lake Park along its authentic mountain trail – offering visitors an enjoyable adventure!

Explore lush fern gullies and majestic Mountain Ash trees as your train gently rolls past them on Puffing Billy. Take in all that nature has to offer as this train gently rolls down its tracks; discover Rhythm & Blues Journeys, Dining Car Experiences, Thomas The Tank Engine Adventures for kids as well as Thomas the Tank Engine adventures for adults! Be sure to book tickets in advance, especially during busy periods!

Purchase a picnic or lunch parcel before embarking on your train journey from Belgrave or Emerald Lake Park; these can be pre-ordered online and collected.

Puffing Billy is proudly run by an outstanding group of dedicated volunteers. Thanks to them, this charming railway attraction remains open today – offering Victorians and visitors alike an unforgettable railway adventure!

After being destroyed by a landslide in the 1950s, public donations enabled reconstruction of this railway. Upper Ferntree Gully to Belgrave opened for business first in 1962 with Menzies Creek and Emerald lines coming later in 1965 and 1975 respectively.

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The railway’s standard journey from Belgrave to Emerald Lake Park typically takes around an hour and is well worth your while. Additionally, day tours are also available and allow visitors to visit Puffing Billy Museum and Heritage Park.

2. William Ricketts Sanctuary

One of the top things to do in the Dandenongs is visiting William Ricketts Sanctuary and strolling its forest sculpture trail. This garden houses clay sculptures by late Australian potter and artist William Ricketts; its lush rainforest setting on Mount Dandenong Tourist Road makes its visit truly breathtaking; featuring 92 half hidden sculptures depicting Aboriginal people as well as winged angels, statues of native wildlife and winged angels hidden amidst towering Mountain Ash trees and lush fern gullies.

After spending time living among Aboriginal communities, Rickets came to understand and advocate for respecting Mother Nature as she expressed herself through art. This belief manifested in his outdoor sculptures without glazing; instead allowing moss and lichen to colonize them naturally; as well as choosing untreated timber as his medium for his works because its natural texture provided a perfect surface on which his art could flourish.

William Ricketts Museum provides visitors with an insight into the life of this talented artist by featuring some of his personal belongings and offering video footage that provides more details regarding his working process and philosophy behind his creations.

Visitors are asked not to bring food or drinks into the gardens, which were designed for strolling and quiet contemplation. Olinda village offers numerous cafes and restaurants where you can stop for Devonshire tea, pie or an indulgent chocolate treat; kids will especially love Geppetto’s Workshop; this charming toy shop sells wooden marionettes, puppets as well as puzzles, spinning tops and wooden toys!

Explore William Ricketts Sanctuary and other attractions of the Dandenong Ranges easily in one day trip or extended stay. Attractions such as Puffing Billy Steam Train, National Rhododendron Gardens and SkyHigh panoramic restaurant are nearby – there is even a maze at Mount Dandenong! It makes this destination perfect for relaxing day trips or extended stays alike.

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3. SkyHigh

Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges offers something for everyone in its many forests and gardens – thrill-seekers can take the 1000 Steps Walk while city lovers will love taking in panoramic city views from Puffing Billy; while little ones can meet friendly animals at Healesville Sanctuary. There are also plenty of forests and gardens containing safe trails where children can run free, as well as picnicking under towering mountain ash trees for an unforgettable picnic.

SkyHigh on Mount Dandenong provides an exciting family adventure filled with illusions and sculptures for children as well as adults to discover together. Grab a passport at the on-site cafe and collect stamps as you navigate its twists and turns – or earn extra stamps to become a Maze Master!

On a clear day, this scenic lookout offers stunning views of Melbourne and its suburbs from its panoramic lookout. Make this one of your must-visit spots during sunset to watch its magnificent show; or come here after dark and witness how Melbourne lights transform the southern sky into a carpet of glittery lights!

SkyHigh also features other activities and attractions for visitors, including two cafes, a restaurant/function room complex with outdoor terrace seating area and summer beer garden, maze and walking trails through state forest. Making it the ideal location to spend an enjoyable and educational visit.

William Ricketts Sanctuary offers visitors the unique experience of viewing aboriginal carvings carved into rocks. For just an entry fee, visitors will enjoy seeing these incredible art installations! With picnic areas, BBQ facilities, children’s play equipment and playground facilities nearby – plus your pet and dog may join you! For something extra special during their trip to the mountains, Tesselaar Flower Farm hosts their KaBloom Flower Festival where performers perform among marigolds while jugglers move through snapdragons – it truly adds extra special experience!

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4. Emerald Lake

At William Ricketts Sanctuary you’ll discover 92 ceramic sculptures of Aboriginal figures among rocks, fern gullies and Mountain Ash trees – an outdoor artwork which showcases indigenous philosophies while stressing the importance of connecting to nature. Kids will love exploring this four-acre property using either a map or self-guided tour to locate each statue; then head on over to Burrinja Cultural Centre where gallery spaces, art activities and workshops provide plenty of family entertainment and inspiration!

Nobelius Heritage Park and Emerald and District Museum provide children with an engaging way to connect with local history, while Montrose Community Playground features playground equipment for them to use while you’ll find Emerald Lake Park an ideal spot for lunch, with our Incy Wincy Picnic Pack offering enough food and wine for two adults as well as children to share.

Emerald Lake Park in Cardinia Shire provides walking tracks, a model railway and paddle boats available for rental – perfect for exploring. There’s also barbecue facilities and plenty of seating around the lake – plus there’s even a wading pool! Also look out for native animals such as wallabies and kookaburras at this park!

If the rain has you locked indoors, there are still many activities for families to enjoy at community centres and museums in Belgrave and elsewhere. Kids will love Trees Adventure’s e-bikes and flying fox, while all ages can join together on Kokoda Track Memorial Walk to experience first-hand what soldiers endured when crossing this iconic Australian track in 1942. Sherbrooke Falls and Olinda Falls always provide something fun or you could stop in for Devonshire tea or pie and chips at Sassafras.

If you visit during spring, you can enjoy seeing thousands of blooming tulips at Tesselaar KaBloom Festival of Flowers in Silvan. Other seasonal flower festivals can also be found at Dandenong Valley Gardens early spring and Mt Donna Buang autumn festivals.