Kat, a HomeAway staffer, takes us on a tour through the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne
The Dandenong Ranges is a treasure trove of quaint towns, breathtaking views, scenic drives and nature. Located around 25 miles or 40 kilometres from Melbourne, it’s an easy drive to paradise, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors can keep themselves as busy or as relaxed as they want - there's plenty on offer to suit every type of getaway.
Enjoy the Outoors
The 1,000 Steps is located at the foot of the Dandenongs in Upper Ferntree Gully via Burwood Highway and is well-known in Melbourne for its gruelling (for some) circuit of steps on the way up and steep incline on the way down. For visitors that aren’t keen to test their fitness, there are plenty of barbeque areas and less strenuous walks at the base of the hill.
Another great spot for walks, picnics and barbeques is Grant’s Picnic Ground in Sherbrooke. Cockatoos frequently call this place home but it’s for a good reason because you can feed colourful and friendly rosellas here.
If you’re keen to see a movie while you’re in the hills head to Belgrave and visit the Cameo Cinema. The main street of Belgrave also has plenty of shops and cafes to enjoy. Plus, if you have children to entertain you can board Puffing Billy - an old time train that takes you through the Dandenongs between Emerald and Gembrook.
The famed Sky High in Mount Dandenong offers sweeping views of Melbourne, which can be enjoyed day or night. There's a restaurant on site where you can eat and watch the world go by. There’s many a spot to sit and enjoy the view in the Dandenongs but Sky High is by far the most well-known. If you're coming from Kalorama you can stop at the look out over Silvan Reservoir, which is hard to miss because it’s opposite the road to Sky High!
Art and Culture
In Mount Dandenong, see William Rickett’s Sanctuary. The famous sculptor crafted many pieces that are on display throughout the Sanctuary. It’s a peaceful place that’s great for wandering and enjoying the art on show.
The town of Olinda offers lots of antique and craft shops as well as great pubs. The Pig and Whistle Tavern provides hearty meals and a good atmosphere, and just around the corner is Kelly’s Bar and Kitchen, which features live music acts on various nights of the week. A little off the beaten track is the Olinda Tea House. The food is great and on a hot day you can sit and enjoy the sun on the outdoor deck.
For those out there who enjoy a good garden, you’d be wise to take yourself to the Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda. In spring, the colours are stunning and you could be forgiven for the over-using the word ‘wow’ after spending a day there.
Tastes and Treasures
Another key selling point of the Dandenongs is Sassafras. People come in droves to taste Devonshire tea and treats at Miss Marples Tea Room. There are plenty of antique and craft shops here too, plus a nursery if you want to take home a plant or two.
There are so many amazing places to visit and enjoy in the Dandenongs and the above just touches the surface. When you visit, you’ll see why so many people love to getaway and enjoy a casual holiday here. It’s a place that you’ll need a car so if you’re from out of town, make sure you hire one so you can make the most of exploring everything this beautiful place has to offer. The only thing missing now…is you!
By Kat Scott