The Beautiful Dandenong Ranges
Mount Dandenong and the villages that surround it are located just a short distance from Melbourne and are an easy Day Trip for the family. If you don't have a car you can also access much of the area by train or take one of the many Day Tours that access this area every day. There is so much to see and do within the area - beautiful National Parks and gardens, quaint little towns with great local shopping, amazing views right down to the Melbourne CBD and world class food and beverage options everywhere you look.
Here are some of our favourites :
Puffing Billy Steam Train
Puffing Billy is a beautiful vintage steam train that operates daily (except Christmas Day) through the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. The railway was originally one of four low-cost 2’6″ (762mm) gauge lines constructed in Victoria in the early 1900s to open up remote areas. The 29km Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook narrow gauge line was always a scenic attraction to the people of Melbourne, who began travelling on excursion trains for day trips and weekend holidays in the hills during the railway’s earliest years. In 1953, a landslide blocked the track and, because of operating losses, the line was officially closed in 1954. The present-day success of Puffing Billy has evolved from the humble beginnings of its rescue by determined members of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society, which was formed due to the public interest.
Today Puffing Billy is a thriving business but it could not survive without the tireless works of all the volunteers - be sure to have a chat to them all when you go to visit. The train travels through the beautiful countryside visiting 5 stations along the way, its possible to get off and picnic or go for a walk in this beautiful natural environment.
The Kokoda Trail (1000 Steps)
The 1000 Steps Walk is an institution for fitness enthusiasts across Melbourne and is well worth the time to venture out to The Dandenongs. The 3km trek one of the most popular spots in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, but its steep terrain is not to be underestimated. Created in the early 1900s, the 1000 Steps Walk was originally made from the trunks of tree ferns laid along the wetter areas of the track to make the 290 metre ascent somewhat easier. These have been replaced by a combination of wooden steps and concrete section overtime to ensure that the track can cater for users year round in all weather. There are even water fountains now installed at the very top of the steps so you don't have to carry bottled water.
Plaques along the trail depict the lives of the soldiers who fought and died on the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, during World War II. The steps represent the ‘Golden Staircase’, a name given by Australian soldiers to the 2000 steps cut by the Australian Army Engineers and others into the track between Uberi and Imita Ridge.”
The 1000 Steps follow a creek alignment up through the wet fern gully, walkers/runners will experience filtered sunlight through the Tree Ferns and Manna Gum as they make their way up, up up. There is always a range of native wildlife to enjoy along the way from birdlife to even the odd Lyrebird. Once at the top you can take the Lyrebird Track, which makes a great return circuit, or continue on some 800m to One Tree Hill.
See if you can count the 1000 Steps? Is it more or less? Note weekends on this Track can be extremely busy, particularly in the mornings. If you don't have a acr it is a short walk from the Upper Ferntree Gully Station to the carpark near the start of the trail. There are picnic areas, public toilets and a lovely cafe.
SkyHigh is one of Melbourne’s most spectacular destinations to visit in the Dandenong Ranges. At an elevation of 630m, it is the highest natural viewing point in the whole of Victoria, affording staggering views of Melbourne’s skyline across to Port Philip Bay and beyond.
You can visit SkyHigh anytime as it’s open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has dining options to suit everyone, in the summer, relax on the lawns and use the BBQs provided to sizzle up a feast for family and friends with that amazing view as your backdrop.
And after you’ve eaten, take a wander through the bush tracks or explore the hedge maze with your kids, find the secret garden, and see if Percy Possum is home at his Possum House.
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