Forget a mid-week journey that just goes directly from A to B; it’s far more relaxing (and fun!) to make stops - especially unplanned ones - along the way. The Dandenong Ranges is just under an hour from Melbourne and despite it being so close, is a whole world away, making it the perfect destination for a mid-week getaway.
Below are 10 reasons why we all need to visit the Dandenong Ranges:
1. National Park
Concrete under your feet every day? Get some green under those soles of yours and point your iPhone at something other than the food.
The Dandenong Ranges is a protected national park flooded with natural wildlife, tall mountain ash trees and breath-taking beauty: get your camera ready for unforgettable sights.
Sleep - we all need it - do it in style.
With a vast amount of boutique and niche accommodation options, you can find yourself exploring the mountain villages, rainforest walks and winding scenic drives - all to finish up enjoying a cheese platter, in one of many B&B found in the area. Our ‘Top Picks’ are; Villa D Amour, The Blackwood, Misty Woods and White Gates.
Need to feel crisp fresh air to liven your senses? This is the place.
The Dandenong Ranges is generally mild and wet, with low temperatures averaging 1 degree during the cooler months. Hide from the heat of the urban environment and take a deep breath in the hills! The mountaintop is known to produce snow which usually falls twice a year - The perfect weather to pop on that turtle-neck sweater, curl up by the fireplace (wine in hand) with your loved one.
This is a foodie haven.
Don’t stroll past the restaurants on the Dandenong Ranges thinking it’s all the same. Around every corner there is a hidden gem boasting great coffee, local wine and organically-sourced dishes, all with a hint of Melbourne culture. We recommend checking out The independent Restaurant and Bar and Coonara Springs. Two very different restaurants, but both crowd favourites. Just need coffee and cakes that you’ll want to be really naughty with? The Piggery Cafe and Burnham Beeches Bakery is your answer.
Gardens that you get lost in aren’t just in books...
Breathe in the fresh mountain air as you venture through one of the many walks and trails found in the Dandenong Ranges. Visit the flowing Sherbrooke Falls, popular 1000 Steps or follow the maze of stone walls in the Cloudehill Gardens. Most walks are suitable for all ages and skill levels. More details here.
6. Scenic Drives
Fill the tank up, you may be on the road all day.
As the kilometres rhythmically tick away and mobile service dips in and out, find yourself memorised in the stunning scenery; winding roads accompanied by mountain ash trees and fern beds. You and your partner are sure to volley the phrase, “Look at that!” and “How adorable!”.
Try shopping somewhere that doesn’t have a food court attached.
Follow the scenic winding roads from one mountaintop village to the next and discover the heritage, essence and culture of the Dandenong Ranges. Uncover motor history at the Great Motorist Museum in Gembrook, watch the afternoon escape in the comfort of a cafe in Sassafras and discover the antique shops scattered throughout Olinda. There’s something to do for just about everyone.
8. Arts & Culture
Get ready for a culture buff up.
Over the years locals have created the art culture of the Dandenong Ranges, with various private spaces and open studios operating throughout the year. You wouldn’t expect to find world renowned art in the Dandenong Ranges, but with Burrinja Art Gallery in the region, locals can enjoy the artwork and high-end theatre productions.
Put away your National Geographic - There’s wildlife everywhere up here.
Pack the binoculars, keep an ear out and take in the sound of natural wildlife. Listen to the elusive Lyrebird imitating the rainforest surrounding, listen to the rustles as wallabies skip from one bush to another. For those adventuring through one of the many walking trails, discover wombats, echidnas and a wide variety of birdlife.
10. Picturesque Lookout Views
Discover some of the most serene lookouts.
Only just a stone-throw away from Melbourne, visit the famous Sky High lookout, view the surrounding foothills of the Yarra Valley at Kalorama Lookout or jump on board the Puffing Billy to discover breathtaking views between Emerald and Gembrook. More details here.