Things to do in Dandenong Ranges

Things to do in the Dandenong Ranges


  • Explore enchanting trails in Sherbrooke Forest, ride the historic Puffing Billy train, and discover Indigenous art at Billy Rickets Sanctuary. Enjoy the vibrant Tesselaar Tulip Farm in autumn and the lively tulip festival in spring.
  • Immerse yourself in the arts scene at Burrinja Cultural Centre, attend the Folk and Ranges Music Festival, and indulge in panoramic dining at Sky High Mount Dandenong. Discover historical sites and savor local cuisine in charming townships.
  • Experience lakeside adventures at Emerald Lake, stroll through diverse gardens, and hike scenic trails. Best visited in spring and autumn, the Dandenong Ranges are easily accessible from Melbourne by car or the iconic Puffing Billy train, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural treasures.

Things to Do in Dandenong Ranges

The Dandenong Ranges, situated in the heart of Victoria, Australia, offer a harmonious blend of natural beauty and cultural richness that is sure to captivate travelers of all interests. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an art lover, a foodie, or a history buff, the Dandenong Ranges provide a diverse range of experiences to cater to your preferences. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a detailed journey through the region, offering insights into the myriad of activities and attractions that await in this captivating destination.

Top things to do in the Dandenong Ranges

Ride the Historic Puffing Billy Train

Hop aboard the historic Puffing Billy train, running since 1900. Enjoy the wind in your hair as you travel through lush gullies and forested villages. Choose unique experiences like Devonshire tea or the Puffing Billy Dog Express.

Explore Sherbrooke Forest's Magical Trails

Walk through the enchanting Sherbrooke Forest. Take the popular Sherbrooke Falls Trail, a 2.4-kilometer journey through a magical rainforest. Keep an eye out for lyrebirds, possums, wombats, and wallabies.

Discover Indigenous Art at Billy Rickets Sanctuary

Visit ‘Billy Rickets’, an outdoor sculpture garden with 92 artworks. See Indigenous peoples and animals intertwined with the rainforest. These sculptures, designed by William Ricketts, showcase the deep connection between humans and nature.

Marvel at Flowers in Tesselaar Tulip Farm

Witness the ‘KaBloom’ flower spectacle in Silvan during autumn. Attend the annual tulip festival in spring with over a million bulbs in vibrant colors. Enjoy family-friendly activities, food, and entertainment.

Stroll Through Charming Sassafras

Explore the quaint streets of Sassafras. Enjoy Devonshire tea, browse antique stores, and have lunch among the fern trees.

Immerse Yourself in Culture at Burrinja Cultural Centre

Discover local art and events at the Burrinja Cultural Centre in Upwey. Explore rotating exhibitions, cultural workshops, and activities for all ages. Indulge in food and drink on-site.

Enjoy a Lakeside Adventure at Emerald Lake

Visit Emerald for a lakeside adventure. Paddle on a vintage paddleboat on Lake Treganowan, spotting ducks, kookaburras, wallabies, and rosellas.

Explore Diverse Gardens in the Dandenong Ranges

Wander through Olinda’s Botanic Garden with nearly 300,000 flowers. Enjoy the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens for picnics amid sculptures and blooms. Explore the ever-changing Cloudehill Gardens in a volcanic soil landscape.

Feel the Adrenaline of Treetop Adventure

Experience an adrenaline rush in the treetops near Puffing Billy station. Try the Treetops Adventure, an exhilarating zipline course spanning eight hectares of rainforest.

Discover the Beauty of Dandenong Ranges through Hiking Trails

Hike the 1000 Steps (Kokoda Track Walk), a challenging yet rewarding journey. Explore the Olinda Falls Walk for stunning waterfall views or the Cardinia Reservoir Park walk, a three-kilometer trail welcoming prams and dogs.

Outdoor Activities in the Dandenong Ranges

Hiking and Bushwalking

The Dandenong Ranges offer a diverse range of hiking trails, ensuring there’s a path suitable for hikers of all levels. From the popular Kokoda Track Memorial Walk to the challenging 1000 Steps, you can embark on adventures that take you through lush rainforests, fern gullies, and verdant landscapes.

Bird watching

Birdwatchers will be delighted by the region’s abundant avian life. The Dandenong Ranges are home to a wide variety of bird species, including colorful parrots, laughing kookaburras, and the elusive lyrebird known for its mesmerizing and complex song. Keep your binoculars handy and your eyes peeled for these feathered residents.

Gardens and Picnics

To fully appreciate the beauty of the Dandenong Ranges, pack a picnic and spend a day in one of the many stunning gardens. The Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, with its enchanting ornamental lake, Grants picnic ground, and the RJ Hamer Arboretum, home to an extensive collection of trees and shrubs, provide perfect settings for relaxation and picnicking.

Arts and Culture

Immerse Yourself in the Dandenong Ranges Arts Scene

Explore the vibrant arts scene by visiting local galleries and studios. Discover a spectrum of artistic expressions, from traditional paintings to contemporary and experimental works. Engage with local artists for insights into the region’s creative spirit.

Experience Cultural Extravaganza at Dandenong Ranges

Attend various cultural events held throughout the year in the Dandenong Ranges. From art exhibitions to music festivals, theater productions to community events, immerse yourself in the local creative community and celebrate the region’s diverse cultural offerings.

Journey Through Time at Historical Sites

Delve into the rich history of the Dandenong Ranges by exploring its historical sites. Visit the former home of William Ricketts, now a sanctuary and museum, to gain insights into the life and art of this renowned sculptor. Witness the profound connection between Indigenous culture and nature.

Ready for a Cozy Escape?

Book your accommodation in Olinda at Olinda Cascade now for a delightful stay in the heart of Dandenong Ranges.

Events and Festivals

Tesselaar Tulip Festival

If you happen to visit the Dandenong Ranges in spring, don’t miss the vibrant Tesselaar Tulip Festival. This annual event showcases a breathtaking display of tulips in full bloom, creating a vivid tapestry of colors and an atmosphere of festive celebration.

Folk and Ranges Music Festival

Music enthusiasts will find delight in the Folk and Ranges Music Festival, an annual event featuring a diverse lineup of artists and a lively ambiance. It’s the perfect setting for enjoying live music in the great outdoors.

Where to eat and drink in the Dandenong Ranges

When it comes to dining and refreshments in the Dandenong Ranges, a delightful array of options awaits to satisfy your taste buds. Here are some fantastic places to eat and drink.

Sky High Mount Dandenong

Enjoy a meal with a view at Sky High Mount Dandenong, where you can savor delicious pub fare while taking in panoramic views of the mountains and the Melbourne CBD skyline.

Pig and Whistle Tavern

Located in Olinda, the Pig and Whistle Tavern is a popular stop for pub meals and offers garden views.

The General Store

Head to The General Store in Emerald to relish fresh local produce and seasonal dishes.

High Tea Delights

For a quintessential high tea experience, visit the Olinda Tea House and Restaurant for treats like croquettes and profiteroles, or stop by Miss Marple’s tearooms in Sassafras for a soothing cup of tea accompanied by English scones.

Local Wineries

If you’re looking to explore beyond the Dandenong Ranges, the nearby Yarra Valley is renowned as a premier wine destination. You can visit cellar doors, wineries, and rustic tin sheds hidden among the vines, making it a must-visit destination for wine connoisseurs.

Travel Tips

Best Times to Visit

While the Dandenong Ranges are enchanting year-round, the best times to visit are spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May). During these seasons, the region is adorned with vibrant foliage and comfortable weather.

Getting There

The Dandenong Ranges are easily accessible from Melbourne by car, with well-marked routes leading you to this picturesque destination. Alternatively, you can take a train from Melbourne to Belgrave and connect to the Puffing Billy Railway, offering a unique and historic start to your Dandenong Ranges journey.

What to do on a day trip to Dandenong Ranges?

For a perfect day trip to the Dandenong Ranges, immerse yourself in the region’s diverse offerings, combining nature, culture, and culinary delights. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your day:


Early Start with Puffing Billy Train Ride:

  • Begin your day with an early ride on the historic Puffing Billy train. Feel the wind in your hair as you traverse lush gullies and forested villages. Opt for a unique experience like the Puffing Billy Dog Express or indulge in Devonshire tea on board.

Explore Sherbrooke Forest:

  • After the train ride, head to Sherbrooke Forest for a refreshing morning walk. Follow the Sherbrooke Falls Trail, a 2.4-kilometer journey through the magical rainforest. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including lyrebirds and wallabies.

Late Morning to Early Afternoon

Visit Billy Rickets Sanctuary:
  • Journey to Billy Rickets Sanctuary to explore the outdoor sculpture garden. Marvel at 92 artworks depicting Indigenous peoples and animals, showcasing the profound connection between humans and nature.
Lunch in Sassafras:
  • Head to the charming town of Sassafras for lunch. Explore the quaint streets and enjoy a delightful meal at one of the local cafes or restaurants. Don’t miss the chance to try some locally sourced dishes.


Burrinja Cultural Centre Exploration:
  • In the afternoon, venture to Upwey and visit the Burrinja Cultural Centre. Immerse yourself in local art, rotating exhibitions, and cultural workshops. Take your time to appreciate the diverse creative offerings in this cultural hub.
Lakeside Relaxation at Emerald Lake:
  • Continue your day trip to Emerald and unwind by the lakeside at Emerald Lake. Paddle on a vintage paddleboat, soak in the serene surroundings, and enjoy the company of ducks, kookaburras, and wallabies.

Late Afternoon

Garden Stroll and Tea at Olinda:
  • Head to Olinda and spend your late afternoon exploring the beautiful Olinda’s Botanic Garden. Take the free Garden Explorer bus tour for a guided experience. Afterward, indulge in a relaxing tea time at one of the local tearooms.
Dinner with a View at Sky High Mount Dandenong:
  • Conclude your day trip with a scenic dinner at Sky High Mount Dandenong. Enjoy a meal with a view, savoring delicious pub fare while taking in panoramic views of the mountains and the Melbourne CBD skyline.

Additional Tips

Check the schedule for any ongoing cultural events or festivals in the Dandenong Ranges and plan your visit accordingly.
Consider booking tickets for the Puffing Billy train ride and any cultural workshops or exhibitions in advance.
Capture the scenic landscapes and memorable moments with your camera or smartphone to cherish the memories of your day trip.
This itinerary offers a well-rounded experience, combining the natural beauty, cultural richness, and culinary delights that the Dandenong Ranges have to offer in a day. Adjust the timing based on your preferences and enjoy a memorable exploration of this captivating region.


With this detailed guide, you’re well-prepared to plan your visit to the Dandenong Ranges. Whether you’re an adventurer seeking hiking trails, an art enthusiast exploring galleries, or a food lover savoring local cuisine, the Dandenong Ranges promise a memorable and enriching experience. So, embark on your journey, immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty and cultural treasures, and create lasting memories in this captivating part of Victoria. The Dandenong Ranges are waiting to be discovered and cherished.

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely! With stunning landscapes, the iconic Puffing Billy Railway, a vibrant arts scene, charming townships, and delightful cuisine, the Dandenong Ranges offer an enriching experience for all.

Known for lush landscapes, Puffing Billy Railway, vibrant arts, charming townships, and delightful cuisine, the Dandenong Ranges promise a multifaceted destination worth exploring.

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