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Dandenong, VIC

Substantial suburban city lying south-west of the Dandenong Ranges

The City of Greater Dandenong is an administrative, industrial and residential region within Melbourne which incorporates the suburbs of Dandenong, Dandenong South, Bangholme, Keysborough, Noble Park, South Springvale, Springvale and Dandenong North. It is basically a city on the southern edge of Greater Melbourne. Its most important attractions are the parks - the Churchill National Park, Lysterfield Lake Park and the Dandenong Ranges National Park - which edge the city and offer excellent opportunities for bushwalking and weekends away from the bustle of the city.


Dandenong is located 34 km south-east of the Melbourne's CBD. It is 23 m above sea-level.


Origin of Name

Dandenong is probably a corruption of the Woiwurrung Aboriginal word (either 'dan-y-nong' or 'tanjenong') meaning 'high mountain'. It was probably a reference to Mt Dandenong.


Things to See and Do

Town Hall
Located on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Walker Street, this huge two-storey stuccoed town hall, court house and Mechanics' Institute was built in 1890 to a design by Beswicke and Hutchins. Its design has been variously described as "Renaissance with Palladian window motifs" and "a Classical design featuring a clock tower with grand mansard roof". The Victorian Heritage Register records that "The prominent clock tower is distinctive for its strong modelling with corner pilasters and its mansard roof in the form of a truncated pyramid capped by a belvedere, and with circular dormer vents." For more details check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/65748#statement-significance.

Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens
Located at 51 Langhorne Street, Heritage Hill is a collection of historic buildings including the Benga House(1936), St James' Church (Dandenong's oldest building - 1846) and 'Laurel Lodge' (1869) set in two acres of landscaped gardens. 

* Benga House was designed by Fredrick Ballantyne and built by Norman Taylor in a Tudor Revival style. When it was built it was the largest home in Dandenong covering 24 squares and with seven rooms. It is currently a gallery and an opportunity to inspect a house built in the 1930s. It also contains over 300 interviews with a diverse collection of local citizens. In 2010 the building received a Heritage Grant which has resulted in the refurbishment of the maid's quarters which now "includes period dressing of the Maid’s Quarters encompassing the kitchen, laundry, pantry and Maid’s bedroom with activities throughout. An audio tour and soundscape installation also allows visitors to listen to original recordings from Mrs. Dorothy Hart (owner of Benga house 1936-1987) and several of her maids as they describe life at Benga between 1940-1970." Check out http://www.greaterdandenong.com/document/21686/history-of-benga-house.

* Laurel Lodge is one of the oldest buildings in the region. "Its design appears to have been inspired by Italianate provincial ornamental villas and the 'Chinoiserie' style popular in England and America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries." It has been the home of a number of prominent local citizens and from 1869-1884 was an elite ladies private school. For more information check out http://www.greaterdandenong.com/document/21687/history-of-laurel-lodge.

* St James Anglican Church dates from 1864 and is one of Dandenong's oldest buildings. For more information check out http://www.greaterdandenong.com/document/21689/history-of-st-james-anglican-church. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm., tel: (03) 9793 4511.

Dandenong Creek Trail to Patterson Lakes
This is a 17 km section of the Dandenong Creek Trail which is a 43 km downstream from Bayswater to Patterson Lakes. From Dandenong the trail can be joined at Dandenong Park. The trail starts nearby and a path leads south beside the creek past ovals and a picnic ground. The creek becomes the wider Patterson River and the path passes the National Water Sports Centre and under the Mornington Peninsula Freeway. Near the Patterson Lakes - a former swamp - the track follows a levee and bridge across a series of floodgates, then follows the river past boat-launching ramps and a carpark to the Nepean Highway and the mouth of the river on the shore of Port Phillip Bay. There are barbecues and a playground near the bridge. There is a very useful website with a map and photographs. Check out https://www.cyclelifehq.com/en/listings/301497-dandenong-creek-trail-to-carrum.


Other Attractions in the Area

Churchill National Park
Located 8 km north-east of Dandenong (off Churchill Park Drive) is Churchill National Park (193 ha) which is an example of a rare remaining section of the bushland and forest which covered the Melbourne area prior to European settlement. It was cleared and used by Europeans in the 19th century. There is a disused aqueduct, artificial dams, channels, abandoned quarry sites, and evidence of clearing practices. A police corps headquarters for native trackers was established in 1837 but it had closed in 1839. The Dandenong National Park was declared in 1941 and renamed in 1944 in honour of Winston Churchill. Bushwalkers are likely to see parrots, honeyeaters, wood ducks, Pacific black ducks, wrens, thornbills and bellbirds at Bellbird Bend. Kangaroos and wallabies have been reintroduced and can be seen in the early morning and at dusk. Echidnas are common and so are green and golden bell frogs in summer. Eucalypt, wattle species and, due to clearing in the past, open woodland is common.
There are a network of walking tracks in the park. The main track is the Channel Track which is a 5 km long circuit which takes around 75 minutes. For more information check out https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/3300. A number of tracks branch of it including the Shelter Track which leaves from the picnic area and reaches a T-intersection with the Channel Track which follows the course of a disused water channel that once supplied water to Dandenong, passing through an attractive, lightly wooded landscape. The Channel Track leads to Bellbird Bend. Other trails are the Bellbird Track, the Ridge Track, the North Boundary Track (which passes the only stand of messmate in the park and an artificial dam which is a good spot for birdwatching) and Stonemasons Track which is recommended for cycling and jogging. 

Lysterfield Lake Park
Located east of Dandenong, beyond Churchill National Park, is Lysterfield Lake Park which extends in bushland to the north of the former Lysterfield Reservoir which supplied water to the Mornington Peninsula from 1936-1975. This Park incorporates valuable remnant native forest and eucalypt plantations. It is also a wildlife refuge which has attracted ducks, swans, grebus, pelicans, Japanese snipe, gang-gang, cockatoos, bellbirds, wrens and honeyeaters.
At the Lakeside Picnic Area there is a car park, picnic areas, barbecues, boat-launching ramps and toilets. There are also two swimming beaches beside the reservoir. Horse riding is permitted in summer on some tracks in the east of the park. Some of the park's tracks are for walkers only while others are also open to cyclists. The paths around the lakeside are wheelchair friendly. The two main walks are (a) a short and pleasant walk from the lakeside area to the dam wall and (b) a 6 km (one way) walk around the lake, across the dam wall and along the Tramline Track, Lamberts Track and Lake Track to the main carpark. It is also popular for mountain bike riding. Check out https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/lysterfield-park where it is possible to download a Visitor Guide, a map for mountain bike riding and a brochure about mountain bike riding in the park. The most comprehensive is the Lysterfield Park & Churchill National Park Visitor Guide which can be downloaded at https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/315693/Park-note-Lysterfield-Park-and-Churchill-NP.pdf.

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.



* Prior to European settlement the area was home to the Woiwurrung Aboriginal people.

* 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.

* A township was surveyed in 1852. 

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

* In 1855 both Presbyterian and Anglican churches were opened in the town.

* A court of petty sessions was established in 1858.

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

* By 1861 the town comprised 193 people in 40 houses. 

* St James Anglican Church was consecrated in 1863.

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

* A Road Board was established in 1865. 

* A stock market was established in the town in 1866. That year saw the consecration of the local Catholic Church.

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

* Dandenong became a shire in 1873.

* The railway reached the town in 1877. It ran from Oakleigh to Bunyip. 

* In 1888 Dandenong became the railway entry point to Gippsland.

* The Town Hall was opened in 1890.

* A brickworks was established in 1894.

* A canning factory and foundry were opened in 1898.

* A bacon factory was established in 1912.

* In 1919 Dandenong High School opened.

* Dandenong West school opened in 1925.

* In 1942 the Dandenong and District Hospital opened. 

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

* In 1952 International Harvester opened a factory in the suburb.

* General Motors-Holden opened motor vehicle manufacturing plants in 1952 and 1955.

* Heinz built a large food processing plant in the early 1950s. 

* The population of the suburb trebled in the 1950s. 

* Australia's largest market for livestock was built in 1958.

* Dandenong was declared a city in 1959.

* A Lutheran Church opened in 1962.

* Dandenong Plaza shopping centre opened in 1989.

* By 1990 34,2% of the city's population had been born overseas in non-English speaking countries. 

* The Dandenong Cattle Market closed in 1998.


Visitor Information

There is no Visitor Information Centre at Dandenong.


Useful Websites

The city has a useful website. Check out http://www.greaterdandenong.com.

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