Dandenong Ranges National Park
In 1987 the areas of Sherbrooke Forest, Doongalla Reserve and Ferntree Gully were combined to form Dandenong Ranges National Park. Covering 3215 hectares, the park plays an important role in protecting its population of famous lyrebirds. Since June 1997 Olinda State Forest and the Mt Evelyn Forest have also been included in Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Things to Do
Visit the Mt Dandenong Observatory for great views, try a walk, or cycling or horse riding (certain tracks only).
Enjoy a picnic at the Lower Picnic Ground near Ferntree Gully or at One Tree Hill or in Sherbrooke Forest.
Near the park are coffee shops and restaurants, craft shops, antique shops, gardens and the historic Puffing Billy train from Belgrave to Lakeside.
This is mostly a day visit area and camping is not permitted.
There is now, however, an increasing number of bed and breakfasts in and around the Dandenongs that are popular for short weekend breaks.
Originally used by the Bunurong and Woewurrong Aboriginal tribes, the Ranges became an important source of timber for early Melbourne and much of the forest was cleared. Farming became established late last century as roads and railways were built.
The area became popular with tourists from the 1870s onwards; Fern Tree Gully was first reserved in 1882 and other areas followed. The present national park was established in 1987.
The park is rich in wildlife with 130 native bird species, 31 native mammals, 21 reptiles and 9 amphibian species recorded.
The Superb Lyrebird is its most famous inhabitant. People the world over are fascinated by the ability of this bird to mimic the calls of other bird species. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Crimson Rosellas, Laughing Kookaburras, Eastern Yellow Robins, Yellow faced Honeyeaters and Pied Currawongs are some of the native birds most frequently seen in the park.
Heavily-scarred eucalypt trees are evidence of the night-time feeding of Yellow-bellied Gliders and tiny Feather-tail Gliders make their homes in the hollows of mature trees. Tree Goannas can also be found in the park.
The plant communities in the park are remnants of the original vegetation that has receded over the last 150 years with the rapid growth of Melbourne's suburbs.
Dandenong Ranges National Park has six major vegetation communities in which about 400 indigenous plant species occur. The park is particularly well known for its spectacular Mountain Ash forests and fern gullies.
Other vegetation communities include Cool Temperate Rainforests, Box Stringybark Woodlands, Riparian Forests, Mountain Grey Gum-Messmate Forest and Sclerophyll Woodlands. The park supports significant plants such as the Slender Tree-fern and Summer Spider Orchid. Fire plays an important role in the ecology of the vegetation.
Looking After the Park
Dogs and other pets are not permitted within park boundaries.
Firearms are not permitted.
Light fires only in fireplaces provided. Wood is not supplied - you will need to take your own. Electric barbecues are provided in the Lower Picnic Ground and Grants Picnic Ground.
Please stay on marked tracks.
Do not disturb or remove any plants or animals.
Please take your rubbish home - no bins are provided.
How to Get There
The 40 km drive from Melbourne via Burwood Highway or Canterbury Road takes about 1 hour. Alternatively, take the train to Upper Ferntree Gully or Belgrave station.
Doongalla is a steeply sloping area at the foot of Mt Dandenong. There is an unofficial parking area used by visitors with a disability on a dirt road beside the picnic lawn and gardens. From this point the site is more easily accessible. No accessible toilet facilities are provided. The Stables Picnic Ground is only a short distance along the road and has water and recently installed accessible toilets.
Fern Tree Gully Picnic Area
Fern Tree Gully Picnic Area has extensive picnicking facilities, including shelters. Designated accessible toilets and car spaces are available. A Parks Victoria office has interpretive information about the features of the park. Facilities are good and generally accessible.
Grants Picnic Area
Grants Picnic Area is in a natural forest setting, and has some features and facilities accessible to visitors with a disability. There is an accessible nature circuit walk – the Margaret Lester Walk. Picnic facilities include shelter. The toilet is reasonably accessible, though not fully compliant.
One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill is a forest picnic site serviced by a flat sealed car parking area. The area is free of major obstacles. The toilets include a designated accessible facility, but it does not meet current access standards. The approach is rough with a small step.
Valley Picnic Ground
Valley Picnic Ground is nestled in the tall wet forest of the Dandenong Ranges. The site has basic picnic facilities and toilets. The car park is surrounded by a low fence with gaps left for access. The unisex toilet designated as an accessible facility is not always operational, and has a poor approach path.
Mt Dandenong Observatory
Mount Dandenong Observatory is a popular site offering views over Melbourne. It has a large car parking area, and viewing areas accessed by a roadside path. The views are partially accessible. There are steep ramps, bollards and some steps in places. The cafe/kiosk is generally accessible. The site does not have an accessible toilet. There are some obstacles hindering access to the picnic area.