Where to Explore in the Dandenong Ranges

Friday, 12 June 2015
It clear that I prefer the ocean to anything else in life. There's something about being by the water that instantly clears my mind. And yet somehow Australia, you have mesmerised me with your forests and mountain ranges. One of my favourites (mainly because it's a 40-minute drive from my place) is the Dandenong Ranges. Within the Dandenong's there are heaps to see and do. It really is the perfect day trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city!

Dandenong Ranges National Park

The Dandenong's are located roughly 40km outside of Melbourne. Every time I travel up to the Ranges, I feel as though I'm travelling back in time. Seriously, it looks like something out of Jurassic Park. I secretly hope a kangaroo dinosaur will come stomping out of the trees, just barely missing my car, having me freaking lose my shit with excitement! Alas, dinos are extinct, and only roos pose a real threat. Anywho, within the National Park, there are 5 main sections: Sherbrooke Forest, Ferntree Gully, Olinda Forest, Mt Evelyn Forest, and Doongalla Forest. Each is filled with breathtaking scenery, wildlife, and even some waterfalls! Side note: I freaking love waterfalls! Any place with a waterfall is a winner in my book!

Trees Adventure

Ever wanted to feel like Tarzan? Trees Adventure is the place for you! I went during my holiday back in January of 2014 with a couple of friends. I have to say, it was pretty dang amazing. If you have a fear of heights, don't worry! You're strapped in pretty securely to the trees. After the first 5 minutes, the fear of falling goes away. The ropes course varies from beginner to expert with different obstacles and a few zip lines (or flying foxes as they're known as here). It's definitely harder than it looks. So let's "pretend" you've aggravated a herniated disc in your back from the roller coaster at Luna Park...maybe sit this one out.

1,000 Steps

I had a love/hate relationship with this hike. Midway up, I started to sound a bit like Donkey from Shrek. "I am the stair master! I am the master of the stairs!" The hike begins in Ferntree Gully, and throughout the hike, you get a glimpse into the Australian soldiers struggle during WWII. There isn't actually 1,000 steps, but lord does it feel like it! Listen to the signs posted in the car park...BRING WATER!!! Wear some shoes with a bit of grip. The steps often get slippery, especially on wetter days. Once at the top, let the feeling of accomplishment (or death) kick in and enjoy the success!

Sky High

Apparently, on a clear day, you can see the Melbourne skyline...I have not been lucky enough to see this site. I somehow hit Mt. Dandenong on the days where it's super overcast or close to rain. I've been told the views from here at night are absolutely breathtaking (I'll get up there around sunset one of these days)! Forgot to pack a lunch? Fear not! There is a restaurant up top the mountain. There's actually quite a bit to see atop Sky High. It's definitely a must see when visiting the Dandenong's.

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

I stumbled across the Alfred Nicholas Gardens by accident. I had been driving to Sherbrooke Forest when I saw the sign. Luckily I had enough time after hiking the Sherbrooke trail to explore the gardens. Boy was I impressed! I highly recommend seeing the gardens during autumn. You get the evergreen trees and plants mixed in the beauty of the trees changing colour. Absolutely breathtaking!

This is probably one of the strangest/coolest places I've visited. Within the Sanctuary there are beautiful sculptures of Aboriginal people. Some of the sculptures are so much part of their surroundings that one needs to keep a close eye out. I will admit, I was startled a few times when I saw a face in the forest (I'm also a bit of a baby).

Any time I need a break from the city, the Dandenong's are high up on my list of places to visit. From the storybook-like villages to the hikes, to the falls, the Dandenong's never disappoints. With it practically in my backyard, I'd be a fool to pass up on all it has to offer. 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

Want to know about other great sites in Melbourne? Click here to see what else Melbourne has to offer!

*Eventually I will do a more detailed post on each of these sites in the Dandenong's. It's simply too much information to cram into one post!*

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