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Kallista, VIC

Attractive village in the Dandenong Ranges

Kallista is a village in the Dandenong Ranges notable for its tea houses, coffee and craft shops. It lies on the south-eastern edge of Dandenong Ranges National Park and the rich forests of towering eucalypts and ferns are created by the high rainfall and rich volcanic soils. At this point in the ranges there are a number of impressive gardens and the area has a strong appeal to day trippers from Melbourne and people wanting to holiday in the cool temperatures of the mountains.


Kallista is 46 km east of Melbourne's city centre via the M3 and Ferntree Gully. It lies on the south-eastern edge of Dandenong Ranges National Park.


Origin of Name

The European settlement was originally known as South Sassafras but in 1925 it was changed to 'kallista' which is Greek meaning 'most beautiful'.


Things to See and Do

The Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden
The Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden is located at 1a Sherbrooke Road and is currently administered by Parks Victoria. They were the original gardens for Burnham Beeches. It is known for its extensive aquatic features including waterfalls. The main walkway leads down a terraced slope to an ornamental lake with tiny islands and timber bridges. There is also a quaint boathouse which is a popular spot for picnics, wedding photos and ceremonies. There are many interconnecting paths which weave through the garden, passing beneath a canopy of mountain ash trees which are the largest flowering plants in the world. The gardens feature both native and exotic plants including maples, ginkgos, liquid ambers, and flowering exotic shrubs. The birdlife includes king parrots, rosellas, ducks and kookaburras.
Alfred Nicholas died in 1933. His wife continued to live in the house but eventually the Nicholas Institute donated the gardens to the local shire council in 1965 and it was subsequently taken over by Parks Victoria. The Garden is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm daily, tel: 131 963 or check out the downloadable map and information at https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/313157/05_0674.pdf. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit. In spring you can see flowering azaleas, cherry trees, rhododendrons, camelias and viburnum. Summer is noted for the displays of hydrangeas, fuchias, native ferns, rhododendrons and native terrestrial orchids. Autumn is when the maples, beech and golden ginkgos are at their best and winter has displays of camellias and rhododendrons.

Burnham Beeches
Located at 1 Sherbrooke Road, Burnham Beeches, built in 1933, is a remarkable Art Moderne mansion. It was originally built as the home of industrialist, Alfred Nicholas. Nicholas, with his brother George, developed the Aspro company. The drug was invented in Germany but supplies ceased in World War I and George, a chemist, re-invented it and he was granted the lucrative patent.
Over the years Burnham Beeches has been used as a research facility, a luxury hotel and a children's hospital before being purchased by celebrity chef, Shannon Bennett. In 2019 Burnham Beeches was turned into an art installation by street artist, Rone (real name: Tyrone Wright) and opened to the public from 6 March - 22 April of that year. At the time Rone explained to ABC Radio National (For the full story check out https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-05/rone-empire-burnham-beeches-melbourne-installation-street-art/10862082) : "Treating the building like a "blank slate", Wright set about recreating his imagined vision of its interiors.
The result is a haunting picture of abandoned opulence, housing "hundreds, if not thousands" of objects, from chandeliers and a grand piano to vintage shampoo bottles.
Wright describes it as "a kind of open-house viewing" that gives you a glimpse of the life of an imagined family, and foments a sense of mystery around why they might have left.
"I didn't want to try to tell a historical story of the space because I'm only going to get it wrong," he explains.
Empire is Rone's most ambitious project to date: a 12-month endeavour involving custom-made fittings, heritage consultants, creative collaborators — and a "monstrous" amount of paperwork.
The wallpaper has been custom-designed and printed, the ceilings have been transformed with a patina that looks like black mould, and even the "dust" (which is actually ash from the cafe on the property) has been artfully arranged. It almost looks too real — at first glance, it might even look au naturel.
But then you see the piece de resistance: the "library". The most elaborate of the rooms in the project, this one has been flooded in a difficult operation that had to be done twice — because it leaked the first time.
Throughout the house, various objects distract and draw the eye thanks to interior stylist Carly Spooner.
The team spent days collecting greenery from Burnham Beeches' gardens. Autumn leaves are piled up in corners, grass seems to sprout out of couch cushions, and in some rooms trees look to be springing out of the walls.
In the hallway, branches have been intertwined overhead to create a dark, atmospheric tunnel.
"Walking around this property and driving up here [you see] how important nature is to the area … you could see this place just being engulfed if it was left for another few decades."
Rone's signature portraits of aloof women haunt the walls, besieged by peeling wallpaper.
The finishing touches are an evocative soundscape, by composer Nick Batterham, and a custom scent designed by Kat Snowden."
It has been converted into a "six star" hotel. Check out the website for details: http://www.burnhambeeches.com.au.

Ferny Creek Bushland Reserve
Located at the corner of Clarkmont and Hilton Roads, close to the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, is Ferny Creek Reserve which has picnic, barbecue, toilet, parking and playground facilities. "The Ferny Creek Horticultural Society maintains the 10 acre Ferny Creek Ornamental Garden Reserve that features the 'old' garden with its impressive Mountain Ash and Mountain Grey Gums plus extensive collections of Rhododendrons, Magnolias and Azalea." For more information check out https://visitdandenongranges.com.au/activity/ferny-creek-bushland-reserve.

George Tindale Memorial Gardens
Located at 33 Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke, the George Tindale Memorial Gardens are located about halfway between Kallista and Sherbrooke. Covering 2.4 hectares, the Gardens have an impressive range of exotic flowering plants and shrubs under a canopy of mountain ash. These are plants rarely found in cultivation which thrive in the acidic soils.
The first European to purchase the land was Captain J Pallant who built a house on his ten acre property. The property was subsequently purchased in 1915 by Herbert Harper for use as a holiday retreat. He built the existing house, established Harper's Drive, started an English garden and received some distinguished visitors, including prime minister Billy Hughes. Improvements were made to the property by Mr and Mrs H. Potter who purchased the property in 1939. However, the most substantial work on the existing garden was carried out by George Tindale, a research scientist with the Victorian Department of Agriculture, and his wife, Ruth. They bought the property in 1958. Mrs Tindale bequeathed the garden to the Victorian Conservation Trust in 1980 and Parks Victoria took over the management in 1995. Tindale's aim was to create a garden which was impressive all year round. Thus, in springtime, there are displays of magnolias, azaleas, camellias, cornus, rhododendrons and spring bulbs. Summer sees liliums, fuchsias, hydrangeas and perennials in bloom. There are cyclamen, nerines, lapageria and autumn foliage during the autumn months and camellias, luculia, rhododendrons and hellebores in winter.
The gardens are open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, tel: 131 963. There is a useful, downloadable brochure with map which can be accessed at https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/313800/Park-note-George-Tindale-Garden.pdf.

The Johns Hill Reserve Lookout
Located on Ridge Road, the Johns Hill Reserve, which lies to the south-east of Kallista, provides panoramic views of Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay and Westernport. The lookout is 410 metres above sea level and the surrounding parkland is ideal for a picnic. There are walking trails leading away from the lookout. Additional information is available at https://www.dandenongrangespoint.com.au/attractions/johns-hill-reserve-lookout.


Other Attractions in the Area

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 (https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/belgrave-vic), Dandenong, Emerald, Upper Ferntree Gully, Kallista, Kalorama (https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/kalorama-vic), Monbulk, Olinda (https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/olinda-vic) and Sherbrooke.

The southern section of the National Park is known as Sherbrooke (over 800 ha) which extends from Selby in the south to Sherbrooke in the north and the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road in the north-west. This section of the Park is known for its impressive stands of mountain ash. Most grew after a severe fire in the 1920s. The largest flowering plant in the world, they can reach a height of 100 m and can live for 500 years. Sherbrooke forest is home to lyrebirds, ring-tailed and brush-tailed possums, blue-winged parrots and tree creepers which forage from the tree trunks.
There are a number of excellent Picnic Grounds

* Sherbrooke Picnic Ground is located, surrounded by bushland, near Sherbrooke Road and is the departure point for a number of bushwalks including a easy 2.4 km (one hour return) walk to Sherbourne Falls. There are a number of picnic tables. Check out https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/dandenong-ranges-national-park/accessibility/sherbrooke-sherbrooke-picnic-ground for more information.

* O'Donohue Picnic Ground has picnic tables, toilets and information boards. Walking tracks lead  through mountain ash forest and tree ferns to Sherbrooke Falls (2.4 km return) and the track from the O'Donohue Picnic Ground can be steep and is not suitable for people of limited mobility. There is a narrow staircase down to the Falls viewing platform. Check out https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/dandenong-ranges-national-park/things-to-do/odonohue-picnic-ground for more information.

* Grants Picnic Ground is located at 70 Monbulk Road, Kallista. There are three walking trails which depart from the Picnic Ground:

(a) Margaret Lester Forest Walk - a 300 metre, 30 minute loop through the forest. It is particularly suitable for disabled and the website (https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/dandenong-ranges-national-park/things-to-do/sherbrooke-grants-picnic-ground) has specific information for disabled visitors.

(b) Hardy Gully Nature Walk - a 700 metre, 45 minute loop through cool temperate rainforest with interpretative signs along the way.

(c) Eastern Sherbrooke Forest Walk - is a 7.1 km loop which is moderate to difficult and will take two hours. Most of the walk is through Mountain Ash and Messmate Stringybark forest and there are steep sections which can become slippery when wet.

Pirianda Garden
Located on Hacketts Road off the Olinda-Monbulk Road is the 11 ha Pirianda Garden which has been managed by Parks Victoria since 1995. A sign at the entrance explains: "At the turn of the century Pirianda Garden was selected and cleared with the exception of tree ferns and Blackwood Wattles in the gully. In 1910 the property was purchased by Mr Crooks who planted many exotic trees including the eleven Copper Beech situated on the slope below the present house site. Later the land was sub-divided and leased for carrot and potato production. Harvey and Gillian Ansell purchased the 23 acre Pirianda property in 1959. The word 'Pirianda' is believed to mean 'sufficient' or 'enough' in Aboriginal and was chosen by Mrs Ansell because she believed this property would be sufficient for them to occupy for the rest of their lives."
The park notes explain that "As you enter the garden, you will pass through a grassy area containing many northern hemisphere trees rarely cultivated in Australia. Below this top terrace the bog garden leads past finely terraced walls built from local stone during the Ansell’s time. At the base of the garden, the natural fern gully is dominated by Blackwoods and Soft and Rough Tree Ferns, providing a shady haven during summer." The steep slopes are terraced and walking tracks pass through fern gullies where currawongs, crimson and eastern rosellas, butcher birds, honeyeaters and kookaburras make their homes. The Garden features plant species otherwise unknown in Australia and it is particularly beautiful in autumn when the exotic trees are at their finest. Pirianda Garden is open daily from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm from June to September and 10.00 am - 5.00 pm during the rest of the year, tel: 131 963. There is no admission fee and there is an excellent map and detailed brochure which can be downloaded at http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/315718/Park-note-Pirianda-Garden.pdf.

Heidelberg School Artists Trail
Starting in Heidelberg and continuing into the Dandenong Ranges and to Yarra Glen, this route is designed to take visitors to the sites depicted in the paintings of those artists who were associated with the Heidelberg School (Arthur Streeton, Walter Withers, Louis Buvelot, Tom Roberts, Clara Southern, David Davies, Emanuel Phillips Fox, Charles Conder, Tudor St George Tucker, Eugene Von Guerard, May Vale and Jane Price).
At each such site there is a reproduction of the relevant painting which allows the visitor to see artist's interpretation of the landscape and to observe how the landscape has changed since the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
There are three explanatory signs at Kallista:
45. Tom Roberts, Washing Day, Kallista, 1923
46. Tom Roberts, Country Road Makers, 1923
47. Tom Roberts, Sherbrooke Forest, 1924



* Prior to European settlement the area was home to the Woiwurrung Aboriginal people. The Wurrundjeri people also once passed their winters near the Dandenong Ranges.

* The first European in the Dandenongs was botanist Daniel Bunce in 1839. He climbed Mt Corhanwarrabul (628 m) and Mt Dandenong (633 m).

* Ferdinand von Mueller, the botanist responsible for the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, explored the area in the 1850s.

* From 1867 the local forests were logged by timbergetters.

* In 1882 the first land in the Dandenongs was reserved for recreational purposes at Ferntree Gully.

* In 1903 a Post Office was opened in the village.

* By 1907 most of the timber reserve were exhausted and the land was released for agriculture and settlement.

* In 1913-1914 the poet C.J. Dennis camped at Kallista in an old tram and wrote much of 'The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke'.

* In 1914 a Mechanics Institute was built in the village.

* In the early 1920s the artist Tom Roberts lived and painted in the district.

* During the 1920s both Anglican and Methodist churches were built in the area.

* The area was ravaged by bushfires in 1962.

* Sherbrooke Shire came into existence in 1963.

* The Cardinia Reservoir was opened in 1972.

* Serious bushfires raced through the area on 16 February, 1983.

* In 1987 the reserves in the area were amalgamated as the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

* In 1995 the gardens in the area were taken over and administered by Parks Victoria.


Visitor Information

There is a Visitor Information carousel at 70 Monbulk Road, Kallista.


Useful Websites

There is a useful official website. Check out https://visitdandenongranges.com.au/kallista.

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