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Dandenong Ranges, VIC

Villages, huge gardens, parks and chic accommodation to the east of Melbourne

The official website divides the Dandenongs, a charming area which lies to the east of Melbourne and is characterised by the Dandenong Ranges, into the Foothills, Hilltop Villages, Growers and Farmgates, Puffing Billy Country and the Southern Dandenong Ranges. The area includes the towns and villages of Belgrave, Cockatoo, Dandenong, Emerald, Gembrook, Kallista, Kalorama, Lilydale, Menzies Creek, Monbulk, Montrose, Mount Dandenong, Mount Evelyn, Olinda, Packenham Sassafras, Selby, Sherbrooke, Silvan, Tecoma, The Basin and Upper Ferntree Gully. The Dandenongs, or the Dandenong Ranges, are a collection of small towns and villages characterised by houses nestled into the surrounding forests and some of the finest gardens in Australia. The area is cool enough to be a wonderland in both the spring (when the gardens are at their best) and autumn when the deciduous trees are spectacular. Aussie Towns has attempted to deal with the towns individually and hence there are separate entries on Belgrave, Dandenong, Emerald, Monbulk, Kallista, Kalorama, Monbulk, Olinda, Sherbrooke and Upper Ferntree Gully.


The Dandenongs are located directly east of the Melbourne CBD. Mount Dandenong is 49 km from the centre of the city.


Origin of Name

Dandenong is a local Aboriginal word ('dan-y-nong' or 'tanjenong') meaning 'high mountain'. It originally referred to Mount Dandenong.


Things to See and Do

Dandenong Ranges National Park 
Dandenong Ranges National Park (3,540 ha) was declared in 1987 when the Ferntree Gully National Park, Sherbrooke Forest and Doongalla Estate were amalgamated. A decade later the Olinda State Forest, Mount Evelyn and Montrose Reserve were added. The park, which stretches from Kalorama in the north to Belgrave in the south is primarily a place for walking, sightseeing, picnicking, nature observation and car touring. More than 400 plant species have been recorded in the park, including the rare cinnamon wattle and smooth tea-tree, 130 bird species, 31 species of mammals (most are nocturnal), 21 reptile species and nine amphibians.
Parks Victoria has divided the park into four distinct areas:
* Olinda Area
* Doongalla Area
* Ferntree Gully Area
* Sherbrooke Area

Each has its own attractions and they can best be explored by:
(a) check out https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/dandenong-ranges-national-park and downloading the specific Visitor Guides for each section.
(b) checking out Aussie Towns specific entries on Belgrave, Dandenong, Emerald, Upper Ferntree Gully, Kallista, Kalorama, Monbulk, Olinda and Sherbrooke.
(c) there is a useful, downloadable map of the Ferntree Gully area - check https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/695873/DRNP-map-FernTreeGully.pdf.


Other Attractions in the Area

The Towns and Their Attractions
See separate entries on Belgrave, Dandenong, Emerald, Monbulk, Kallista, Kalorama, Monbulk, Olinda, Sherbrooke and Upper Ferntree Gully.




* A cattle run was established at Dandenong Creek in 1837 by pioneer Joseph Hawdon. He was also a pioneer of the overland mail service. 

* In 1837 a native police camp was also set up on land now part of Churchill National Park. It closed in 1839.

* The red gum forests drew timbergetters in the early days of European settlement who supplied a growing market in Melbourne.

* A simple bridge was built across the Dandenong Creek in 1840.

* The Western Port Aboriginal Protectorate Station was opened in 1840. 

* The district was the starting point for Charles La Trobe's 1845 expedition to Port Albert. 

* Both Dunn's Inn and Dunbar's Hotel were established in the 1840s. 

* The first post office opened at Dunn's Inn in 1848 and later moved to Dunbar's. Land auctions, courts, church services and Road Board meetings were all held at Dunbar's.

* A plank bridge was constructed over Dandenong Creek in the early 1840s 

* A basic road to Gippsland was developed in 1847-48. 

* A new log bridge was built over Dandenong Creek in 1849.

* A stronger timber bridge was built in 1850.

* Dandenong began to develop into a town in the early 1850s. 

* Between 1858-1865 a coach road was built between Melbourne and Sale and passed through the area.

* After a market was established at Dandenong c.1864 it became one of the state's most important marketing centres for livestock and farm produce.

* A stone bridge replaced the timber bridge across the Dandenong Creek in 1867. 

* Dandenong became a shire in 1873.

* The area was developed after World War II with many Housing Commission homes.

* Dandenong was declared a city in 1959. 

* The Dandenong Cattle Market closed in 1998.


Useful Websites

There is an official website. Check out https://visitdandenongranges.com.au for information about the villages and gardens in the area.

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