Experience the Dandenongs

Mount Dandenong & Surrounds


Understanding the Ecosystems of the Dandenong Ranges

Dandenong Ranges are one of Melbourne’s premier tourist spots, where you can see beautiful rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias at the National Rhododendron Gardens.

There are also numerous established cool climate gardens scattered throughout the Ranges, and their eastern slopes below Olinda and south towards Kallista contain abundant native forest.

Temperate Rainforest

Victoria’s Dandenongs lie along the southern Yarra Ranges and are an hour’s drive east from Melbourne – providing an ideal way to discover cool temperate rainforest. Not only is this mountainous region known for food and wine tasting tours, but there is plenty of fantastic nature waiting to be discovered including cascading waterfalls, picturesque lakes and lush forests to discover as well.

Dandenongs temperate rainforest is home to dense temperate forest species like Southern Sassafras and Mountain Ash trees, providing shaded environments that support Tree Ferns and an array of ground flora. Gully creeks in the park feature this forest type; however it is threatened by environmental weed invasion which smothers mature plants while blocking their natural regeneration into new ones.

An enjoyable way to experience this eco-system and its diverse wildlife is with a walk through the forests at Dandenongs, including their rich ecosystem and array of birds, such as the hauntingly beautiful lyrebird. Additionally, one may witness other indigenous fauna like echidnas or kookaburras; and don’t forget all those important insects and fungi which serve as part of this vital ecosystem!

Forest walkers will also find many trail options in the Dandenongs, from short strolls to strenuous hikes. Many trails in this national park are dog-friendly and suitable for wheelchair users – making it easy to make the most of this stunning parkland. Early in the morning is ideal for seeing wildlife such as the lyrebird, so it is wise to arrive before the forest heats up!

Dandenong Ranges National Park’s volcanic soil offers an amazing diversity of climate zones, from lush temperate rainforest in deep gullies and valleys, to dry sclerophyll forests consisting of stringybarks and gum trees atop high ridges. As a result, this park hosts an astounding range of plants and animals.

Visit it for hiking, birdwatching, picnicking, photography and wildlife observation. As it is a national park, camping isn’t allowed within its borders but plenty of villages and towns east of it offer accommodation as ideal bases from which to explore its wild beauty.

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Cool Temperate Forest

Dandenong Ranges are Melbourne’s lush green lungs, an easy day trip from the city. Here you will discover tranquil forest walks, charming hilltop towns and captivating wildlife like lyrebirds and swamp wallabies. Plus there are some incredible gardens here as well as delicious regional fare in cafes or historic steam trains!

Climate of the Area The climate in this area is typically mild and moist, with rainfall reaching its highest points from April through October. Temperatures tend to decline by two or five degrees with every rise in elevation; temperatures often become colder at night during winter nights than day. Fog can often be seen around higher elevations. Snowfall also occurs occasionally at higher altitudes.

This landscape provides habitat to an assortment of native animals and plants, such as the endangered Sooty Owl. Notable mammals include echidnas, wombats and sugar gliders while bird watching enthusiasts frequently spot rosellas, kookaburras and cockatoos within its boundaries.

At one time, this area was extensively cleared for timber harvesting and agricultural development; however, early European settlers recognised its ecological value and saw fit to protect it for future conservation efforts. Parklands such as Ferntree Gully National Park and Sherbrooke Forest Park were established during this time; both eventually being united into one park as Dandenong Ranges National Park by 1987.

The park serves as an important water catchment area, housing two of Melbourne’s key reservoirs (Cardinia and Silvan). Along with an extensive network of rivers and streams, this area provides critical habitat for numerous water-dependent species in Melbourne such as koalas, platypuses and kangaroos.

At the park, one of its greatest challenges lies in managing invasive plants. Lantana poses a particular threat; however, other weeds pose similar threats and threaten biodiversity.

Parks Victoria is dedicated to working closely with local communities and stakeholders in order to produce positive environmental outcomes in the Dandenong Ranges. We recognize the deep ties that connect Traditional Owners to these lands and waters and their ongoing role in caring for Country; therefore our work in this region is guided by this understanding.

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Wet Temperate Forest

Wet temperate forest (sometimes known as “wet tropical forest”) is a biome dominated by an assortment of broad-leaved and conifer trees in mid-latitude regions of both hemispheres. The wet climate produces lush vegetation, often dense and with high humidity; climate conditions here are dictated by marine air masses and orographic lifting which together contribute to high levels of precipitation.

Australia is home to some of the wettest temperate forests, located primarily in parts of New South Wales and Tasmania. Antarctic Beech (Nothofagus moorei) dominates these forests in NSW; Victoria and Tasmania feature forests dominated by Eucryphia moorei Pinkwood Mountain Ash Eucalyptus regnans Myrtle Beech Nothofagus cunninghamii species of eucalypts.

Temperate rainforests occur at latitudes between 40deg and 60deg North and South. Their climate is wet with abundant rainfall year-round; their biome is marked by dense tree canopies that provide shelter to an abundance of animal species.

Temperate rainforest soils are extremely fertile, which make the forests important carbon sinks. Their rich, nutrient-rich soils help cushion drought and extreme heat events while buffering drought impacts. Contrary to tropical rainforests, temperate forests usually experience only brief winter periods with temperatures below freezing and reduced sunlight limiting photosynthesis rates and cutting off photosynthesis pathways altogether.

As global climate changed during the Cenozoic Era, many species became extinct while others successfully adapted to their new climate conditions in temperate rainforests – sometimes by adapting fruit production and seed dispersal processes to adapt.

Montane Wet Temperate Forests can be found across mountains of moderate height. Here they support an abundance of plants including oak, chestnut, rhododendron, larch cedar cedar chilgoza etc. They also supply fine wood used for construction or railway sleepers – they can even be found as far east as 88 degrees east longitude! These forests can be found in Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as eastern Himalayas including Assam West Bengal Sikkim Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland among other places.

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Dry Temperate Forest

Dandenong Ranges are among Victoria’s most fire-prone regions and have experienced severe bushfires for many years, destroying sawmills, farms and villages and tragically killing people – yet that hasn’t stopped Melbourne residents from making the Dandenongs their weekend escape destination! Narrow gravel roads snake through forests; mountain towns boast craft shops selling handmade products; private gardens offer respite; while its rich soils allow fruit cultivation – try picking at Cherryhill Orchards, Blue Hills Berries & Cherries or Kookaberry Berry Farm for seasonal fruit picking!

At an elevation between 100-400 metres, the Ranges are marked by cool temperate forests featuring tall Mountain Ash trees with wide canopies of tree ferns lining deep gullies and deep tree fern clumps in deep gullies. Higher on their ridges is where you will find more arid conditions with stringy bark and box trees dominating.

The Ranges boast an abundance of native plant life as well as stunning waterfalls and cliffs accessible to rock climbers. There are also hiking trails aplenty including the popular Puffing Billy Railway which passes historic sites such as One Tree Hill’s original fire lookout tower.

Windstorm of 2013 has rendered this forest even more spectacular and provided us with an opportunity to observe how it recovers after disturbance. ARI is working with students from Mount Dandenong Primary School to track how wildlife, such as birds and possums, have returned after being scattered by storm damage; we will use this data to compare recovery of various forest types across our range.

The eastern and southern slopes of the Ranges were heavily exploited for timber until 1890s, when unregulated fires began burning them uncontrolled. Following restoration work done between 1910-1914 these forests have since flourished into magnificent condition, particularly Sherbrooke and western foothill slopes from Olinda down to Kallista. Meanwhile drier western slopes such as The Basin can become less protected with frequent fire outbreaks threatening these areas; early detection and suppression techniques as well as cultivating healthy plant communities less flammable are effective ways of mitigating risk in these areas.