The Best Walks in the Dandenongs
A short drive from Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges offer cool, lush forests and stunning gardens. So, if you’re looking for a day of adventure to recharge your batteries, look no further!
A great place to start is with the Living Bush Nature Walk, which winds through fern encased gullies beneath giant eucalyptus trees. Expect to see cockatoos, kookaburras and Rosellas along the way.
Hardy Gully Nature Trail
The Dandenong Ranges are less than an hour from Melbourne and offer over 200 kilometres of walking trails. These temperate rainforests contain superlative examples of native flora and fauna.
The Hardy Gully Nature Trail is a short walk that showcases some of the best ferns in the area. It also offers spectacular views of Mt Dandenong and the surrounding mountains. It is a great way to spend a half-day hiking and is easily accessible for people of all fitness levels.
This walk is a popular choice among visitors and it’s easy to see why. The trail is easy to follow and there are numerous spots that allow you to explore different aspects of the forest, including the mossy gully, huge eucalyptus trees, and rainforest ferns.
It’s a popular destination for families, and is ideal for kids who want to explore the natural environment. The track is also very well marked and has a picnic area.
In addition to its scenic beauty, the Hardy Gully Nature Trail is a great place to see lyrebirds, cockatoos, and galahs. The track also features beautiful fern-filled gullies and a waterfall.
Another popular hiking destination in the Dandenong Ranges is Sherbrooke Forest. It is located 41km east of Melbourne and offers magnificent Mountain Ash trees, cool moist tree fern gullies, and lots of colourful rosellas, galahs, and cockatoos.
The forest is a great spot to take a walk with the family, as it provides an excellent opportunity to view a variety of native Australian wildlife. There are plenty of picnic areas for family meals and the park is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm, so you can enjoy a relaxing break after your walk.
If you’re looking for a longer walk, you can head to Sherbrooke Forest Loop via Grants Picnic Ground, which is a 4.2-mile route with an elevation gain of 797 feet. The walk is a little more difficult than the other walks listed here but it’s still very manageable and will provide an incredible day out.
There are a lot of different walks that you can do in the dandenongs, so it’s important to decide which one is right for your needs and preferences. It’s also worth taking note of the weather conditions as it can affect how difficult the trails are. For example, if it rains while you’re out, the mud may be a problem.
If you are looking for a bushwalk that is both picturesque and rewarding then the Birdsland Reserve is for you! This 75 ha bushland reserve has a long history of being used for agriculture. It was owned by the Bird family from around 1940 until 1981 and then the Shire of Sherbrooke purchased it.
The reserve is now a community bushland reserve. It is home to over 130 different native birds including the Wedge Tail Eagle and Powerful Owl. The site also supports over 200 species of plants.
There are two walks available at the reserve, a short loop around the smaller lake and a longer loop that goes all the way around the bigger lake. The walk is a popular one with locals and families. There is a BBQ area, a toilet and a picnic shelter at the start of the walk.
It is a lovely walking trail for all ages and fitness levels. It is a gentle 90-minute return journey through the beautiful fern encased gullies beneath the lofty eucalyptus trees.
This is a great place to see Superb Lyrebirds, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Crimson Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and Australian King Parrots. It is also a great spot to watch the birds as they nest in the bushes.
Another popular walk in the Dandenong Ranges is the Glasgow Track. This is a steep incline and is a great challenge for those with a keen sense of adventure. It is recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes as there are a lot of rocks.
As well as being a very popular walk, it is also a great place to watch frogs and toads. The path passes a wetland boardwalk and is a nice place to sit and listen to the frogs singing.
During the flowering season of June to early December the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden in Olinda is an excellent place to see the Rhododendrons at their best. There are many other flowers and shrubs to see as well, it is a beautiful place for a relaxing day out!
For those who are more interested in the flora of the Dandenong Ranges, there is the 3km Living Bush Nature Trail at the Acacia Picnic Ground. This is a great place to take the kids and to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Dandenongs.
Mt Dandenong Hiking Trail
The Mt Dandenong Hiking Trail is a stunning circuit around Mount Dandenong and it offers some of the best views in the dandenongs. It is a great way to see the whole Dandenong Ranges and also takes in some of the best attractions such as Kyeema Memorial, Sky High and Burkes Lookout.
It is a long track but it is fairly even grading so you can tackle this hike at any level. It will take you through fern filled gullies, forests of eucalyptus and over creek crossings and boardwalks.
There is plenty to see on the track, mainly ferns and mountain ash (also known as swamp gum, stringy gum and manna gum) but there are also some other interesting trees on the walk. It is a fantastic place to visit in Autumn with all the different leaves and colours.
Another of our favourite walks is the Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk, this is an easy moderate walk that will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of the National Park. It has only one really steep section which makes it ideal for beginners and is well worth a few hours of hiking.
This is a great hike for families with small children as there is plenty of variety on the path and there are many different bird species to keep an eye out for, especially Superb Lyrebirds which can be seen in abundance along the track. Other birds you may be able to spot are Crimson Rosellas, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Australian King Parrots.
Depending on the time of year and how early you go on your walk it is possible to see Swamp Wallabies, Wombats and Echidnas, you can also find other animals such as Kangaroos, Fallow Deer and Sugar Gliders on the track.
It is an easy 700 metre return walk to Steavenson Falls which is one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls and the path is floodlit between dusk and midnight so it is a great day or night stroll. It starts and ends at Falls Car Park on Steavenson Road.
Olinda Falls & Valley Circuit
Located just an hour from Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges are a rainforest getaway with stunning views, quaint hilltop towns and charismatic animals like lyrebirds and wallabies. With plenty of short walks, picnic areas and garden trails, it’s an ideal family holiday destination.
The Olinda Falls & Valley Circuit is one of the best walks in the dandenongs and is the perfect combination of waterfalls, forest gullies and a cool temperate rainforest. It also offers commanding views of the Dandenong Ranges National Park and the Yarra Valley.
This walk starts off at the Falls Car Park on Steavenson Road and is a 700 m (return) walk. It’s easy to walk to and from the falls if you’re short on time and the path is floodlit during the night, making it even easier for you to enjoy the waterfall.
It’s a great short walk, with the added bonus of being able to hand-feed white cockatoos! There’s also plenty of parking, and the picnic grounds are well-maintained and family-friendly.
There are also plenty of lyrebirds in this area, so if you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of these majestic birds. Other birds that can be seen include Crimson Rosellas, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets.
If you are looking for a slightly longer hike, the Tourist Track is another excellent option. This is a quiet point-to-point bushwalk that takes you along moss covered bridges, through lush fern gullies and surrounded by towering trees.
You’ll also get a real sense of the Dandenong Ranges as you travel from Sassafrass to Emerald and back. It’s a fantastic way to experience the Dandenong Ranges and is probably our favourite hike in this area.
This is a popular trail and can be busy during weekends, so be prepared to wait for a spot. It’s a good idea to wear sturdy shoes and bring water on your trip, especially after rain.
It’s not the easiest trail to find if you’re not familiar with the area, but it’s a rewarding experience and is well worth the effort. It’s also a dog friendly hike, so if you have your dog with you, they can have a great time while you take in the beautiful scenery.