What’s special

This popular park on Melbourne’s eastern edge is famous for its superb lyrebirds, which may be seen and heard along some of its walking tracks. The mountain ash trees growing on the park’s southern and eastern slopes are some of the tallest living trees in the world, and its wet gullies provide homes for ferns, mosses and rainforest plants.

Best time to visit

Any time, but avoid days of total fire ban during summer. Spring is best for wildflowers.

What to do

Picnicking at one of the many picnic grounds is popular with locals and tourists. The picnic grounds are also a good place to see the local wildlife.

There are numerous bushwalking tracks to suit all levels of experience, as well as horse trails and cycling tracks, but please remember to keep to the trail designated for your activity.

All walks can be comfortably completed in a day. There is no overnight camping within the park.

Accessibility

Wheelchair-accessible facilities are available at many picnic grounds. There are also some walking tracks suitable for wheelchairs.

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Where

Just 32km south-east of the Melbourne CBD, this park is easily accessible by public transport. Take the Belgrave train to Upper Ferntree Gully or Belgrave. Buses also operate in the area.

Accommodation

Hotels, motels and guest houses may be found in surrounding suburbs and villages. The park is easily reached as a day trip from anywhere in the greater Melbourne area.

About the park

Before European settlement, this area was home to local indigenous people who lived off the natural resources of the area. Since then, early European settlers have had a major impact through land clearing and timber cutting. The Ferntree Gully section of the park was established in 1882, with other areas protected at various times since then. Today the park is largely surrounded by residential areas and small farms.

The Dandenong Ranges National Park is extremely popular, partly due to its easy access from Melbourne. Visitor management and the maintenance of facilities such as tracks and facilities require significant resources.

Invasive species are a major threat to the park. Sambar deer have become established and are having a major impact on the vegetation and watercourses of the park, particularly in the denser forests. Foxes, along with feral and roaming domestic cats, have a major impact on small native mammals and birds such as the lyrebird. Cat curfews in nearby suburbs require a greater level of enforcement to be effective.

Invasive plants such as blackberry and ivy are also a problem, escaping from nearby gardens and smothering native plants along the park’s boundaries, tracks and watercourses.

Increased resources for park management and invasive species control would help address these issues.

Natural history

Mountain ash forest dominates the cooler southern and eastern slopes, while the park’s fern gullies harbour a wide variety of ferns, mosses and other plants adapted to a cool, damp climate. Fungi, in the cooler months, are an important and colourful feature.

On the drier northern and western slopes you will find a more open forest of messmate, stringybark and peppermint trees. These slopes offer the chance to see wildflowers in spring.

The park’s rich birdlife includes parrots, honeyeaters and the famous superb lyrebird. Many of these birds can be seen around picnic areas. The ranges are also home to large forest owls such as the powerful owl, Australia’s largest.

More than 30 mammal species have been recorded in the park, although most are nocturnal and difficult to see.

Friends groups

Friends of Dandenong Ranges National Park
Contact: Graham Barstow 9548 3167 (BH) 9753 6685 (AH)

Friends of Glenfern Valley Bushlands
Email: [email protected]