For someone like myself who grew up in The Dandenong Ranges, I’ve always been aware of their beauty and importance for Melbourne’s tourism. However, it wasn’t until I returned as an adult with camera in hand that I discovered the diversity of scenes on offer.
Featured here are some photos shot in the most iconic and beautiful spots in the Dandenong Ranges.
I spent the first 25 years of my life living and working specifically in Kalorama, a suburb with arguably the most scenic spot in the entire Dandenong Ranges. Kalorama was in fact named for its view of Silvan Reservoir after the Greek word kalos, meaning beautiful.
The view at five-ways was always a place I was passing by on the way to school as a kid, or staring at from workplaces as a young adult. So it was a pleasure to head up there one morning before dawn with my camera and patiently wait for the sun to peek over the distant hills.
One of the first things people associate with The Dandenong Ranges is Puffing Billy, the charming little steam engine that carries tourists between Belgrave and Gembrook. I had never actually photographed a train before, let alone Puffing Billy, so when I decided to finally do it I knew the iconic trestle bridge in Belgrave was the perfect spot. I arrived early enough to give myself time to climb the hill and get everything set up just right. What I didn’t realise was just how incredibly slow Puffing Billy was, it chugged across the bridge for what seemed like an eternity enabling me to get the perfect shot.
When you think of photographs taken in the Dandenong Ranges a lot of famous spots come to mind, but something you won't see often (at least in a professional sense) is photos taken of the ranges and peaks themselves. The Dandenong Ranges are relatively low in elevation and pale in comparison to their bigger brothers in the Yarra Ranges. They are the first ranges you’ll come across heading east from Melbourne and that positioning makes them seem higher than they actually are. The main reason I got into photography was because the mountains in my images taken on smart phones and point-and-shoot cameras never gave the right sense of scale.
When attempting to capture the two main peaks of the Dandenong’s it’s important to shoot the steeper West faces, rather than the gradual East slopes. The problem is that suburbia runs all the way up to the foot of the west side of the mountains, making it hard to take a photo devoid of buildings. My favourite spot to photograph the mountains is from the main roundabout in The Basin township. The view is almost completely unobstructed and features a foreground of gentle farmland that leads up to Mount Corhanwarrabul and it’s iconic towers.
The Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens and their boat shed by the lake are one of the more prominent locations featured in Dandenong Ranges photography and general tourism imagery. I’ve frequented the gardens many times and it’s always a great day, the gardens and lake are beautiful and they are very close to The Piggery Cafe at Burnham Beeches, one of the better coffee’s you’ll get in The Dandenong’s.
The National Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda are another gorgeous setting. It’s this combination of beautiful manicured gardens, untouched Australian bush, epic mountain views and one of a kind family experiences that make The Dandenong Ranges a great spot not just for Photography, but for sightseeing in general.