Updated 5 December 2019

Can’t bear the thought of leaving your pooch behind but totally in need of a little rest and relaxation in the mountains? We get it. The Dandenong Ranges, just an hour from Melbourne by car, is a dog-friendly destination that will have all your tails wagging! 

Pack your bags, grab a lead and your doggo’s favourite toy, and hit the road for some ‘ears flapping  in the wind’ drive time. There’s no need to rush – you’ve got two days (and we’ve got some brilliant dog-friendly accommodation) so the ‘down time’ is real time. 

dog running, Dandenong rages


AM – Arrive Emerald (less than one hours’ drive from Melbourne)

Priority one is a great coffee and a dogachino for your pooch! Incy Wincy & Behind the Trees in Emerald is a fabulous contemporary lifestyle store with an easy ‘grab and go’ hatch for coffee and other sustenance if your dog is a little too eager to explore after the drive. If your pooch is happy to sit and watch the world go by, stop for a bite in the courtyard, or buy some delicious local goodies to eat later (in your accommodation) or some homeware delights. (Enter from Heroes Ave, Emerald.)

Across the road, Emerald Lake Park is a great place for a little four-leg stretching.  Dogs must be on a leash but there are plenty of walks to choose from. Try the Lake Nobelius Loop Track (easy), which takes about 15 minutes, or Emerald-Cockatoo Multi-use trail (easy to moderate), about 20 minutes to walk. 

->Head from Emerald to Sassafras - 20 mins drive

coffee Proserpina, dandeong ranges, dog friendly

PM - Lunch and more

At Sassafras, Proserpina Bakehouse is ‘not to be missed’. The bread is full of country goodness (the flour is stone ground on the premises) and the lunch menu is a sweet and savoury treat fest! Set in an old garden centre, there’s plenty of outdoor seating and green space to kick back on a picnic blanket and scratch a canine belly. 

The township of Sassafras offers a delightful village atmosphere with plenty of shops to browse (all within minutes on foot), walks to wander (let your doggo follow his nose and explore the surrounding area) and random bowls of drinking water for thirsty pooches. Make sure you visit the Tea Leaves shop for its 300 teas and heavenly aromas.  Spend a few hours pottering, and hunt down a bargain or unique locally made artefact. If you have two-legged children, Geppetto’s Workshop is a toy cave of wonderous delight that should not be missed.  (Or maybe a new toy for the four-legged one as well? Soooo spoilt…)

-> Head to your accommodation

  Image: Treetop Stay

PM – Dinner and stay

For intimate, home-style settings, choose a dog-friendly cottage. These options are within 20 minutes drive.  

Ask about fenced areas (some do, some don’t) and be welcomed by fellow dog lovers who understand pets love to be with you inside (just not on the furniture or beds!).  Order in dinner from a local restaurant (see Where to eat) or enjoy the kitchen facilities and graze on all the goodies you’ve purchased during the day! Don’t forget to pick up some wine! Snuggle in for sweet doggie dreams.

dog latte, Dandenong Ranges


AM - Wake up and check out the day

After breakfast, depart/check out from your accommodation and head to SkyHigh at Mt Dandenong.

SkyHigh has a range of attractions that will delight any curious pooch. Never taken your dog in a maze? – SkyHigh has one to explore. There’s plenty of parking, lots of shady trees, BBQ and picnic facilities and a ballpark (shared with humans). So much to sniff and do including a Secret Garden walk, English garden walk, a wishing well, a forest walk and lookout. There’s a wonderful bistro and restaurant with exceptional views from ‘skyhigh’ windows towards the city.  Dogs are welcome on a leash. Linger for lunch and fill your lungs with fresh mountain air.

->Mt Dandenong to Olinda (5 mins) – heading home 

PM - Options

From SkyHigh, it’s only a short drive to Olinda for an afternoon wander and a coffee at the dog-friendly Ranges Café. If your doggo needs a little more ‘run’ time before the drive home, make a quick bypass to the Kalorama Memorial Reserve where there is an off-leash dog park (More off-leash parks at the end of this post).

Depending on which way you’re heading home, there’s still time to wander the Alfred Nicholas Gardens, or stop at The Piggery Café at Burnham Beeches – both welcome wagging tails. 

That’s 48 hours of quality time with your pooch and two days of the Dandenong Ranges done with serious woof appeal.

Ready to book? Click here to dig up more accommodation deals.


Drive times:

Sassafras to Olinda - 6 mins drive (4 km)

Olinda to Emerald – 18 mins drive (15 km)

Mt Dandenong to Olinda – 4 mins drive (3.3 km)

Off-leash dog parks in the Dandenong Ranges include:   

  • Johns Hill Lookout Reserve, Ridge Road, Kallista. Melways Reference: 124 K11 Google Maps
  • Mt Morton Reserve, Chaundy Road, Belgrave South. Melways Reference: 84 D5 Google Maps
  • Belgrave Lake Park, Park Avenue, Belgrave. Melways Reference: 75 G12 Google Maps
  • Kalorama Memorial Reserve, Cnr Mt Dandenong Tourist Road and Grange Road, Kalorama. Melways Reference: 120 A9 Google Maps
  • Richards Reserve, Copeland Drive, Montrose. Melways Reference: 52 E7 Google Maps
  • Minak Reserve, Wombalana Road, Selby. Melways Reference: 124 A11 Google Maps

For more information on off-leash dog parks

Dogs must be on lead in all Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water or DSE reserves unless otherwise stated.

Dogs are not permitted in National Parks.