Victoria's Dandenong Ranges lie just east of Melbourne and overlook the Yarra Valley wine region, offering a mountain retreat on the city's doorstep. What the peaks lack in size—the highest are under 2,620 feet (800 meters) above sea level—they make up for in scenery, such as ash forests, valleys of tree ferns, and wild bushlands.
The Dandenongs' lush landscapes are ideal for hiking, cycling, and bushwalking, but one of the most popular ways to get around is the historic Puffing Billy Steam Train. Tours from Melbourne often include highlights such as the Mount Dandenong Lookout, with its panoramic views over Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay; wildlife spotting at Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary or William Ricketts Sanctuary; and wine tasting in the Yarra Valley.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Temperatures can reach over 86°F (30°C) in summer, so be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and insect repellent. There may be lots of walking, so bring comfortable shoes.
- Facilities at the Dandenong Ranges Visitor Center include restrooms, a shop, a café, and free Wi-Fi.
- Mount Dandenong National Park has wheelchair-accessible trails, as well as TrailRider all-terrain wheelchairs available to rent.
How to Get There
The Dandenong Ranges are located roughly 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Melbourne. Trains run from central Melbourne to Belgrave, a major town at the foot of the mountains. From there, buses connect to the mountain villages of Sassafrass, Olinda, and Kallista. By road from Melbourne, it's a 1-hour drive along Burwood Highway to the Dandenong Tourist Road, which winds its way up into the mountains and through the villages.
When to Get There
Summer (December through February) is the most popular time to visit, although temperatures can reach upwards of 86˚F (30˚C) and the area can get busy, so it's recommended to book accommodations and activities in advance. Autumn (March through May) and late spring (November) bring the best weather for outdoor activities, while the winter months (June through August) offer cheaper prices on accommodations and activities, plus fewer crowds.
Outdoor Activities in the Dandenongs
The trails around Mount Dandenong offer a variety of terrains for hiking, running, and bushwalking, as well as horseback riding and cycling. Head to Dandenong Ranges National Park to walk the Dandenong Ranges Tourist Track, the Olinda Creek Walking Track, and the Living Bush Nature Walk; explore the popular Sherbrooke Forest area; or visit highlights such as One Tree Hill, the Thousand Steps, or the Kokoda Walk.