One of the more notable and unique gardens within the Dandenongs is the R.J. Hamer Arboretum. With views that stretch across to Silvan Dam and the Yarra Valley, the R.J. Hamer Arboretum provides visitors with 120 hectares of breathtaking scenery and tranquil beauty.
The garden grounds themselves include over 150 species of native and exotic trees, and unlike most typical arboretums, includes rows upon rows of varying species, representing mini-forests that stretch over the rolling hills. The overall effect creates the stunning ‘patchwork’ view that is synomous with the arbortetum itself.
The R.J. Hamer Arboretum land is a small part of the original Dandenong and Woori Yallock State forest, proclaimed over 110 years ago. A succession of fires destroyed the original eucalypt forest and during 1948 -1955 softwood trees were planted on site as part of plans to improve Victoria’s timber supplies.
The fires of 1962 destroyed the majority of these post war plantings and the government then investigated the future use of the area. Plans were developed for the establishment of an exotic forest Arboretum to be used as part of a firebreak for the Olinda township. The R.J. Hamer Arboretum is the first known occasion in which a forest style Arboretum was completely established by planting. A basic planting design was completed in 1970 and planting was carried out for the next 15 years.
The flowering beauty of so many species in the R.J. Hamer Arboretum is worthy of many international arboreta, and it creates a kaleidoscope of colours at any time of the year.
The majestic gums and oaks and the ornamental willows and birches are at their best in the summer. A rich array of autumn colours provides spectacular views, from the fiery red, oranges and crimsons of the liquid ambers and maples, to the subtle paling of the deciduous conifers. In winter, the tranquil resting of the deciduous trees contrasting with the early flowering species among a mystic lake of low hanging clouds, offers viewing delight.