February 15, 2019 / By Oceana Setaysha
Melbourne locals and visitors will know the feeling well. A new day dawns over Victoria’s capital city, and in the distance the rising swell of the Dandenong Ranges calls out to the intrepid adventurer in us. While a day of urban exploration can excite the spirit, nothing soothes the soul quite like hiking in that little slice of citywide wilderness.
Many Dandenong visitors do a spot of research and immediately head to the most well-known of the hikes in the ranges: The 1000 Steps or Kokoda Memorial Walk. This walk is essentially iconic, but only worth visiting if you feel inclined to share the trail with hundreds of other people. For those looking for the peace and quiet to actually enjoy the tranquil beauty the Dandenongs have to offer, these other walks will suit you much better.
1. Olinda Creek Walking Track
A sizable hike at approx 5.6km one way, the Olinda Creek Walking Track gives you an up-close look at the history of the area. Starting from the Silvan Reservoir Park, hikers weave in and out of enormous Mountain Grey Gums, still bearing the burns from the 1939 Black Friday fires. It’s lovely to wander down into the cool and humid gullies where ferns fill every surface, and there’s wildlife to be seen too if you tread carefully enough.
2. Sherbrooke Falls
Located quite close to the 1000 Steps, but not nearly as popular, Sherbrooke Falls is about the same length but you’ll rarely walk it with a crowd. Wandering among the ferns and the sounds of the birdlife, you’ll find it easy to forget the hustle and bustle. Make it right into the middle of the forest, past the iconic hollow tree, and you’ll find a lovely wooden bridge that overlooks Sherbrooke Falls, and a few stunning spots for a picnic.
3. Eastern Sherbrooke
Another one within Sherbrooke forest, but quite a bit longer, the Eastern Sherbrooke Forest hike leaves from Grants Picnic Ground and takes a 7km circuit. Along the way, you’ll get the chance to complete the Lyrebird Walk, where you may very well hear the call of the birds themselves. There are some incredible examples of native growth along this track, including both Stringbark and Mountain Ash, which you still show the marks of past bushfires.
4. R.J. Hamer Arboretum
Not strictly one track but several, the R.J. Hamer Arboretum is worth seeing and exploring, particularly as its walking tracks lead to other popular Dandenong spots like Olinda Falls. If nothing else, the Arboretum is the place to go for tree lovers wanting to see variety and colours abound. Breathtaking in the autumn when the changing leaves pop colourfully among the evergreens, there’s an amazing view across Victoria’s wilderness from the Woolrich Lookout. On a clear day it’s easy to feel like you’re on top of the world.
5. Dandenong Ranges Tourist Track
If you’re truly dedicated to the trail, the only track worth your while in this forested hideaway is the Dandenong Ranges Tourist Track. At 17 kimometres one way (although you could turn back at any time) this track is the best way to really soak in the amazing natural environment within the Ranges. Dog-friendly, the trail winds delightful over creeks by way of bridges, and through some of the most beautiful fern lined gullies and gum-filled ridges. You can start it from either Sassafras or Emerald. There are over 200 kilometres of walking trails in the Dandenongs, and yet so many people visit just the one. Take a chance and explore what else is on offer, you never know the adventure you might have.
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