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Revision as of 21:32, 12 March 2011
The Dandenong Ranges are a group of hills forming the eastern boundary of Melbourne, Australia, about 35 km east of the central city. They can be seen from most parts of Melbourne, and are easily identifiable as a group of three hills with large television towers.
Four chunks of the ranges form the Dandenong Ranges National Park , whose highest peak is TV tower-topped Mount Dandenong itself (633 m). The valley between the hills has the pleasant towns of Olinda, Sassafras and Kallista, and the wineries of the Yarra Valley are just to the north. Although there is a suburb called Dandenong in Melbourne, it is 30km from the mountain of the same name. Make sure you double check!
The Dandedongs can be reached by Belgrave line Metro trains from Melbourne in just over an hour. Outside rush hour, you may need to board a train to Lilydale and change at Ringwood. Two park information centers are near Upper Ferntree Gully station (one on the Railway Rd side, the other 10 min away at the Ferntree Gully picnic grounds), while Puffing Billy (see below) leaves from near Belgrave.
Alternatively, take the train to Croydon on the Lilydale line, and continue by Ventura  bus 688 to Mt Dandenong and Olinda. The service is infrequent, but it's the only way of reaching either on Sundays.
As ever in Australia, a car will come in handy for touring the area, especially on weekends.
US Buslines runs several buses in the area. All are in Metlink Zone 2 and run very infrequently, so check schedules beforehand.
- Bus 694: Belgrave-Olinda-Mt Dandenong. Mon-Sat.
- Bus 695: Belgrave-Gembrook. Daily.
- Bus 698: Upper Ferntree Gully-Olinda-Mt Dandenong. Mon-Fri peak hours only.
It is possible to catch a train there and go on several walks near the Dandenong train station.
Cycling is possible, but only for intermediate and advanced cyclists.
Running  is also possible.
- Puffing Billy, . This historic steam train is the most popular attraction in the Dandenong Ranges. It runs on its original 24 km mountain railway track from Belgrave to Gembrook, through the beautiful lush bush of the ranges. It doesn't come cheap though: tickets are $31/48 single/return for adults, $15/24 for children.
- Kokoda Memorial Track (1000 Steps), 10 min from Upper Ferntree Gully stn. Named in memory of the notorious Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, this is a steep 1.5-km long staircase that combines hiking through near-jungle conditions with historical plaques documenting the battles against the Japanese and horrific conditions endured by Australian soldiers and their allies. At the top of the hill is the One Tree Hill picnic ground and a series of trails leading in all directions. Very popular on weekends!
- William Ricketts Sanctuary, Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd., . Daily except Christmas Day 10AM-4:30PM. May be closed during fire bans. William Ricketts is a well known Australian artist, and this, his previously private retreat is dotted with amazing sculpture blended into the natural environs. $5.60 adult, $4.40 concession, $2.20 child (10-14 years), $13.30 family of four, free for under 10 years.
- Mt Dandenong Scenic Lookout on the 633m summit is accessible by road and looks out across all of Melbourne
- Devonshire tea houses with friendly parrots
- Mt Dandenong Arboretum, .
- National Rhododendron Gardens, . 10AM-5PM.
Unless you're touring by car, you'll need to bring along your own supplies: there's a supermarket and a few basic eateries next to Upper Ferntree Gully station. The National Parl has half a dozen picnic grounds with barbecues, shelters and water.
- Linden Gardens Rainforest Retreat, 1383 Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd, Mount Dandenong (On the main Tourist Rd opposite William Ricketts Sanctuary), ☎ 03 9751 1103, . checkin: 3pm; checkout: 11.30am. Luxury boutique accommodation in the Dandenong Ranges with four luxe design driven suites on 3 acres of rainforest and woodland gardens. Enjoy a cooked breakfast delivered to your door and lots of extras to make your stay a memorable one. From AU$290. (-37.833561,145.355896)
- Dandenong Ranges and Knox Visitor Information Centre, 1211 Burwood Highway, next to Upper Ferntree Gully train station, .
- Parks Victoria office, Lower Picnic Ground, Ferntree Gully, Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd. Has park and track maps.