One of God’s greatest gift to humanity is the gift of nature that can very well be seen in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. The uniqueness of a country can be best described through the unique nature’s bounty they have – the kind of flora and fauna is what defines the uniqueness of that country. For Australia, as it happens, Dandenong Ranges National Park is one such beauty. it is a haven for backpackers and nature enthusiasts with the rich flora and fauna that is present in this country.
About Dandenong Ranges National Park
It all started with a small reserve near Ferntree Gully in 1882 and now spans across 3500 hectares of different hues of nature. Colorful gardens, cool canopies, divine waterfalls, and great picnic spots make this a favorite among all kinds of travelers. Away from the hustle-bustle of the city life, this place provides a much-needed escape; it is serene and there are so many trails that there are chances you might even lose track of time. Close to Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges National Park is interspersed with small villages, roads and houses, which makes the trails here even more exciting.
Not just the flora, the national park also is home to a variety of birds, some rare, but all of them as beautiful as the other. Kookaburras, cockatoos, crimson rosellas and even the Superb Lyrebird, which were almost on the verge of extinction, have found themselves a home in this park. It is a paradise for the bird-watchers. The sweet sounds of the birds echoing in the forests, just add an extra touch to the ambiance of the park. A beautiful place with many gardens and some unique spots that you might not find anywhere else in the world, Dandenong Ranges National Park is soon catching up among the tourists, who seek solitude in this huge National Park.
Best Time To Visit Dandenong Ranges National Park
The Dandenong Ranges National Park weather is somewhat balanced almost all through the year. If you want to avoid the crowds, the Fall season of March to May is the best time to visit. The months of June to August are considered to be winter and is one of the most popular seasons to visit the park. Springtime in the park is from September to November, where it either rains or snows quite a lot, so it is better to avoid going in these months. The summer months of December to February are considered the best time to visit the park, as it is neither too hot nor too cold. The warmest time of the year is early to mid-February when it is the best time to visit.
Places To Visit In Dandenong Ranges National Park
From hiking different wonderful trails to getting amazed at the different hues of the colorful gardens, Dandenong Ranges National Park has so many spots and so many activities that one visit would not be enough.
1. The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden
This place is a piece of paradise on earth with its colorful hues of flora and fauna. This probably would be the highlight of your trip to the National Park. Home to flowers like rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, daffodils, and cherries, it is a nature lover’s delight. The perfectly-curated garden, which spans across 104 acres, is a sight to the sore eyes. It is a great place to capture some stunning images; the colors and the fragrance will refresh you and it is at its best during the Autumn and Spring seasons.
In fact, people sometimes visit the park just to observe the rare lyrebird species, in its habitat, especially during winter. There are also other birds like king parrots, ducks, and even peacocks, that you will spot in this garden. You would not want to miss this spectacular garden, which is open all through the year, except for Christmas Day. Since it has plenty of picnic spots, you could pack a basket and spend the entire day just here.
2. Dandenong Ranges National Park 1000 Steps
This is exactly what it means a thousand steps to reach the top of the trail. These ferens here were replaced with a combination of wooden and concrete steps. Located within the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the 1000 Steps, also known as a Kokoda Walk, is one of the popular walking trails of the park. The uniqueness of this walk is that it more than that; while climbing up, you will find plaques along the way, that will give you a glimpse into the pain and efforts that the Australian soldiers put in while climbing it during 1942.
If you are up to it and want to test your fitness level, there is no better place than this. Most of the people who come here are for this reason. So, make sure you wear comfortable clothing and footwear, as this is not an easy hike by any means. Also, make sure to carry Dandenong Ranges National Park map with you, so that you stay on the track. Depending on how fit you are, it might take somewhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to complete the trail.
3. Sherbrooke Falls
One of the most popular Dandenong Ranges National Park waterfalls, it is also one of the most popular trails in the park. It has very many picnic areas and walking trails, and the Sherbrooke Forest, with all its serene flora and fauna, is a perfect trail for any season. You will also come across the famous mountain ash trees, while on the trail, some of which are as old as 200 years. It is also a forest where you can spot the rare lyrebird species. You will also get a glimpse of the wildlife here with possums occasionally crossing your tracks and also some native birds. You can even have a picnic at the O’Donohue Picnic ground, located very near to the gorgeous falls. While the waterfall is stunning by itself, it is the walk that is more exciting with the beautiful scenery that it has to offer.
4. Emerald Lake
It is a known fact that the park is interspersed with many small villages and towns and this is just one of them, which is located in the Dandenong Ranges. What it is most famous for is its splendid lake, which offers many activities which includes fishing and paddle boat rides throughout the year. Another attraction at the Emerald Lake is the Puffing Billy steam train, in which you can take an interesting ride along the countryside. Apart from that, it also has an aquatic centre with a seasonal wading pool, among other things. Be it the town hall or the library or the numerous walking trails, Emerald Lake has something for everyone. You could also do some shopping and pick up some gifts while you are there.
5. Blue Hills Berries & Cherries
This farm at the foothills belongs to the Chapman family, who have resided here since 1894. This farm is truly a delight of fresh produce. As the name suggests, this is the farm where you can find a lot of berries and cherries, and the most exciting part of all this is, is that you can pick your own. The people at the farm, who have immense knowledge, will guide you while you go picking. Called the ‘Pick Your Own’ or ‘U-Pick’ berries, you will get to experience the fun and the hard work that goes into picking these berries. But, of course, since these berries are seasonal, you can explore this opportunity at its best during the months of November to April. Also, you could visit their gift shop and buy some delicious treats, made by the locals and also sample some jams which are farm-made!
Where To Stay In Dandenong Ranges National Park
As far as accommodation goes, there are plenty of options to choose from. Cottages of every size and amenities are on offer here. But, of course, nothing can beat the Dandenong Ranges National Park camping experience. There are so many options to choose from. There is an exhaustive list of campgrounds to choose from and it will be a difficult choice to make. From the basic campsites to even caravans with all the modern amenities like power, shower, and toilets, you will be spoilt for choice. But, one thing common among all these campgrounds, is the joy of living amongst nature and enjoy the sights and sounds of this stunning park.
How To Reach Dandenong Ranges National Park
There is more than one way you can reach this national park. depending upon your suitability and time on your hand, you can take any of the transportation modes.
Since it is very close to Melbourne, the park can be reached by Belgrave line Metro trains from Melbourne in just over an hour. Yet another option is to take the train to Croydon on the Lilydale line and continue by Ventura bus 688 to Mt Dandenong and Olinda.
Of course, the best option to visit this park is by road, in your own car, in your own time. There are also plenty of taxi services and self-drive vehicles available for rent and is one of the best options, especially on the weekends, when the trains and bus might be crowded.
Dandenong Ranges National Park is not just a park with trails, though no one can complain about that either with the number of trails available. But, it is also about the very many lakes, museums, arts centres and the likes. So, when you plan a trip to Australia, make sure, you have at least a weekend to explore it in its entirety.
Further Read: Your Handy List Of 10 Things Not To Do In Australia Ever
Dandenong Ranges National Park is not just a park with trails, though no one can complain about that either with the number of trails available. But, it is also about the very many lakes, museums, arts centres and the likes. So, when you plan a trip to Australia , make sure, you have at least a weekend to explore it in its entirety.
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