Top 10 Things to Do in the Dandenong Ranges, VIC inner banner

Top 10 Things to Do in the Dandenong Ranges, VIC

Melbourne is ringed with stunning natural landscapes — but at just an hour's drive from the CBD, the Dandenong Ranges are one of the easiest to access. Here's a handy checklist of things to do in this magnificent part of Victoria.
Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges
Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges. Image: Visit Victoria

Top Oz Tours offers a day tour to the Dandenong Ranges from Melbourne. You can book the tour here.

For years a favoured destination for Melburnians in search of R&R, the Dandenong Ranges offer a huge amount to enthral visitors.

Located just 35 kilometres east of Victoria’s capital, the air in these low rise mountains is fresh and clean, wonderful walking trails meander through old growth forests, and quaint villages and towns dot the elevated terrain. It’s a piece of paradise that many tourists miss entirely. Don’t be one of them! Hire a car and away you go.

Here are ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges.


Melbourne

Victoria Tours, Activities & Attractions


1. Drive the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road

Driving the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road offers a wonderful all-round introduction to the area. Stretching for 30 kilometres from the access point at Upper Ferntree Gully, the route is framed for much of the way by lush greenery peppered with fragments of light. It will take you through the charming townships of Sassafras and Olinda, before ending up in Montrose — a thriving community back at the base of the Dandenongs. The city views from various vantage points along the top of the range are absolutely amazing.

Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges
Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges: Take tea. Image: Visit Victoria

2. Enjoy tea and scones

One thing the Dandenongs have in abundance is tearooms. Sassafras, Olinda, and Kallista all have gorgeous traditional cafes, which turn over mountains of freshly baked scones throughout the day. The only problem is choosing which venue to try. So don’t. Try them all!

3. Do the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk

Burn off those extra calories in beautiful Dandenong Ranges National Park by tackling the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk — also known as the ‘One Thousand Steps’. It’s a challenging climb that was constructed to honour Australian soldiers who fought in Papua New Guinea during World War II. The walk is always busy on weekends, so go on a weekday and take it at your preferred pace.

4. Admire the view from Skyhigh

Skyhigh Mount Dandenong is one of the region’s top attractions — and with good reason. Perched high on Mount Dandenong, it features manicured gardens, picnic areas with BBQs, a bistro and cafe, a maze, and much more. And the views of Melbourne and Port Phillip will take your breath away! There’s a small fee per vehicle to enter, but it’s well worth it if you come prepared with a picnic and plan to stay for a few hours.

Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges
Image: Skyhigh Mount Dandenong

5. Reflect on our colonial past at William Ricketts Sanctuary

A walk through William Ricketts Sanctuary reveals more than 90 sculptures positioned on rocks and in tree trunks, and they provide a thought-provoking portrayal of the effect of European settlement on Australia’s Indigenous people. Sculptor and potter William Ricketts (1898–1993) spent almost 60 years creating the sanctuary, and today it inspires visitors to engage in some quiet reflection. Please note: William Ricketts Sanctuary is currently closed due to extensive storm damage. We hope to see it reopen in 2024.

Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges
William Ricketts Sanctuary. Image: Visit Victoria

6. Ride Puffing Billy

The iconic Puffing Billy steam train travels between Belgrave and Gembrook, giving guests on board a glimpse of the golden age of rail travel and a unique perspective of the undulating topography. The track was built back in the early 1900s, and Puffing Billy is now one of Victoria’s most popular attractions. You’ll need to book tickets well in advance!

Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges
Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges: Puffing Billy. Image: Visit Victoria

7. Eat your way across the range

There’s certainly no shortage of great places to eat in the Dandenongs. Treat yourself to fresh baguettes and gourmet sandwiches on board Puffing Billy, or pull up a pew-with-a-view at Skyhigh’s popular restaurant. Other memorable dining options includes Olinda’s Cuckoo Restaurant (a fun German-style eatery) and Kelly’s Bar and Kitchen, which is housed in a rustic log cabin conversion.

Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges
Dine at Skyhigh Mount Dandenong. Image: Visit Victoria

8. Explore Sherbrooke Forest

After lunch, divert from the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road towards Belgrave and you’ll soon find yourself immersed in the tranquility of Sherbrooke Forest. This woodland of mountain ash and stringybarks is home to wondrous wildlife — including lyrebirds and wombats. Make good use of the picnic tables and well maintained walking circuit, which will lead you past gorgeous Sherbrooke Falls.

9. Hike family-friendly trails

Consider doing some of the other walking trails tucked away within the Ranges — many of which are suitable for the whole family. Try the 2.2-kilometre Grey Gum Track, the 2.5-kilometre Living Bush Nature Walk, and for a slightly older age group — the 5.6-kilometre Olinda Creek Walking Track.

Ten of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges
Image: Sooki Lounge

10. See a live band

Many of the region’s furry locals are nocturnal by nature, and there’s plenty of fun to be had after dark for humans too. Swing by the Sooki Lounge in Belgrave — a quirky performance space that regularly hosts live music from the likes of Josh Pyke and Ash Grunwald. Savour the great tunes, epic cocktails, and delicious share plates on offer.

For more travel inspiration, visit www.visityarravalley.com.au.

Browse our range of Victoria tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do in the Dandenong Ranges? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Elle Vidovich

About the writer

Elle Vidovich is a freelance writer based in Melbourne with a love of travel, food, and architecture. She has visited more than 50 countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe, and believes that travel can change a person. It can open their eyes to different ways of life, make them thankful for what they have, and inspire them to make a difference.

 

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