Dandenong Ranges National Park encompasses more than 8,650 acres (3,500 hectares) of mountainous forests and shady gullies. Make your way through soaring stands of mountain ash trees and into shady valleys, where the broad fronds of tree ferns droop overhead. See Melbourne’s city skyline and the surrounding ranges from the peak of Mount Dandenong or explore the park’s five distinctive areas of native bushland.
Doongalla Forest sits beneath the wooded summit of Mount Dandenong. Drive to the mountain’s peak to visit SkyHigh Mount Dandenong, a restaurant and viewing platform that presents a panorama of Melbourne from the east. Ferntree Gully in the southwestern section of the park contains the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, a stirring memorial to Australian soldiers on the notorious Kokoda Track in World War II. Climb more than 700 steps to reach the summit of One Tree Hill and a small picnic ground.
To the north of the national park, explore the fern-filled gullies and ancient forests of the Mount Evelyn Recreation Reserve. Stroll by Olinda Creek or the flat-graded trail alongside the Mount Evelyn Aqueduct. Learn about a magnificent array of native and exotic trees in Olinda, which is situated on the eastern slopes of Mount Dandenong. Hike through a shady valley to cascading falls in Olinda Forest or visit the RJ Hamer Forest Arboretum nearby.
Take a ride on the historic Puffing Billy Railway, a scenic steam train that winds through the mountainous forests from Belgrave to Gembrook.
Pack picnic supplies and head to Sherbrooke Forest, where walking trails are interspersed with spacious picnic grounds and interpretive signage. Purchase birdseed from the kiosk and feed native cockatoos, or listen out for the call of the lyrebird and kookaburra.
Dandenong Ranges National Park is spread throughout Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the city centre. The ranges are interspersed with charming mountain villages and forest retreats, where you’ll find cafés, restaurants and accommodation. Visit the Parks Victoria Office within Ferntree Gully to purchase a bushwalking trail map. Many of the park’s picnic grounds have restrooms and informative signs. The park is free to visit at any time of the year.