The Dandenong Ranges (commonly just The Dandenongs) are a set of low mountain ranges in Victoria, Australia, approximately 35 km (22 mi) east of the state capital Melbourne. A minor branch of the Great Dividing Range, the Dandenongs consist mostly of rolling hills, rising to 633 m (2,077 ft) at Mount Dandenong, as well as steeply weathered valleys and gullies covered in thick temperate rainforest, predominantly of tall mountain ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth. The namesaked Dandenong Creek and most of its left-bank tributaries (particularly the Eumemmerring Creek) originate from headwaters in these mountain ranges. Two of Melbourne's most important storage reservoirs, the Cardinia and Silvan Reservoir, are also located within the Dandenongs.

Dandenong Ranges
Corhanwarrabul, The Dandenongs
Left - Mount Dandenong and right - Mount Corhanwarrabul, viewed from Mooroolbark
Highest point
PeakMount Dandenong
Elevation633 m (2,077 ft)
Coordinates37°49′38″S 145°21′10″E / 37.82722°S 145.35278°E / -37.82722; 145.35278
Length50 km (31 mi) N-S
Width10 km (6.2 mi) E-W
Dandenong Ranges is located in Victoria
Dandenong Ranges
Dandenong Ranges
Location of the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria
Range coordinates37°50′08″S 145°21′33″E / 37.83556°S 145.35917°E / -37.83556; 145.35917
Parent rangeGreat Dividing Range
Age of rockDevonian
Type of rockIgneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic

After European settlement in the Port Phillip Bay region, the range was used as a major local source of timber for Melbourne. The ranges were popular with day-trippers from the 1870s onwards. Much of the Dandenongs were protected by parklands as early as 1882 and by 1987 these parklands were amalgamated to form the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which was subsequently expanded in 1997. The range receives light to moderate snowfalls a few times in most years, frequently between late winter and late spring.

Today, The Dandenongs are home to over 100,000 residents and are popular amongst visitors, many of whom stay for the weekend at the various bed & breakfasts throughout the region. The popular Puffing Billy Railway, a heritage steam railway, runs through the hills villages of the eastern Dandenong Ranges.

Geology and ecology

Sherbrooke Forest
Olinda Forest, west of Olinda Falls

The range is the remains of an extinct volcano last active 373 million years ago.[1] It consists predominantly of Devonian dacite and rhyodacite.

The topography consists of a series of ridges dissected by deeply cut streams. Sheltered gullies in the south of the range are home to temperate rain forest, fern gullies and Mountain Ash forest Eucalyptus regnans, whereas the drier ridges and exposed northern slopes are covered by dry sclerophyll forest of stringybarks and box. The entire range is highly prone to bushfires, the most recent of which have been the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, the 1997 Dandenong Ranges bushfires and small fires during the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

A number of watercourses originate in the Dandenongs, these include:


  • Olinda Falls
  • Sherbrooke Falls
  • Griffith Falls


Mount Corhanwarrabul summit, 2005
Sortable table
Summit Name Height (m) Comments Location Source[a]
Mount Dandenong 630 Tallest peak of the Dandenongs Observatory Road, Mt Dandenong DANDENONG ECC J survey mark
Mount Corhanwarrabul 612 Burkes lookout and location of transmission towers Burkes Lookout Reserve, Eyre Road, Mt Dandenong contour data
Olinda summit 592 No official name. Labelled Mt Olinda in older tourist maps. Range Road, Olinda contour data
Sassafras peak 538 No recorded name. Cooloongatta Road, Sassafras contour data
Dunns Hill 562 Location of a number of radio and telephone towers. One Tree Hill Road, Ferny Creek contour data
One Tree Hill 500 Lord Somers Road, Ferny Creek contour data
Tremont Hill 395 No official name. Tremont Hill Track, Tremont contour data
Chandlers Hill 405 Chandlers Track, Tremont contour data
Johns Hill 419 Johns Hill Reserve, Ridge Road, Kallista JOHNS HILL ECC 1986 survey mark
Black Hill 374 Black Hill Reserve, Two Bays Crescent, Selby contour data
Upwey Hill 278 Belmont Street, Upwey contour data
Lewis Hill 298 Queens Road, Silvan contour data
Nobelius Hill 320 Ambrose Street, Emerald contour data
Mount Morton 275 Chaundy Road, Belgrave South MORTON ECC A survey mark
  1. ^ Survey mark and counter data has been accessed from the State of Victoria Land and Survey Spatial Information[2]



The Dandenong Ranges are home to a variety of native Australian mammal, bird, reptile and invertebrate species. Well-represented bird species include the Sulfur-crested cockatoo, Superb lyrebird, Laughing kookaburra, and Crimson Rosella. Mammals include the Short-beaked echidna, Common wombat, Sugar glider, and Swamp wallaby. Invertebrates include two species of burrowing crayfish.



The Dandenong Ranges climate is generally mild and wet, with daily temperature variation generally low, often as low as 1 degree in the winter months. Rainfall is fairly uniform through the year, tending to peak between April and October with lower rainfall during January and February. The mean annual rainfall is between 1000 and 1500 mm, increasing with elevation and from west to east.[3] The elevation means that temperatures are typically 2 to 5 °C cooler than the lower suburbs of Melbourne to the west [1], with temperatures typically lowering by 1 °C for every 150 m of elevation. Due to the elevation, fog is common in the winter months.

As a result of its elevation, snow typically falls one or two times a year at higher elevations, mostly between June and October. A rare summer snow occurred on Christmas Day 2006 [2]. The local region has experienced substantial warming in recent decades [3] and heavy snowfalls which were once common have become rare. The last significant snowfall to affect the Dandenong Ranges was on August 10, 2008, when as much 15 cm (5.9 in) fell at the highest elevations.

A Bureau of Meteorology weather station sits at an elevation of 513 m in the Ferny Creek Reserve in the southern part of the Dandenong Ranges. This weather station replaced one that was previously located on the summit of Dunns Hill.

Snow in Sassafras, Victoria, Australia, August 10, 2008
Climate data for Mount Dandenong
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 37.3
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 22.1
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 11.5
Record low °C (°F) 4.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 70.2
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 12.1 8.4 12.4 13.7 18.2 17.8 20.0 19.7 17.5 16.5 15.2 12.9 184.4
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[4]

Settlements in the Dandenong Ranges


Around 240,000 people live in and around the Dandenong Ranges, depending on the definition. The following settlements are located in the Dandenongs themselves (72,500~):

Some settlements located on and around the plateau to the east of the ranges are sometimes included (14,200~):

Settlements in the southern and western foothills are also sometimes included (180,500~):


The Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge, part of the Puffing Billy Railway

The ranges are located near the boundary between the Wurundjeri and Bunurong people's territories. The two nations were part of the Kulin alliance and were most often on friendly terms. The mountain range, however, was not often frequented by either nations people as mountainous areas were often considered one of many resting places for various spirits.[citation needed]

In 1938, the aircraft Kyeema crashed on the western face of Mount Corhanwarrabul due to heavy fog and poor navigation. Eighteen people died.[6]



Transmission towers


There are several large television transmission towers on various summits that were initially constructed to broadcast TV to Central Victoria

  • Channel 10/Channel 0, 204m high—Mount Corhanwarrabul (628m), (highest frequency)
  • Channel 9, 131m high—Mount Corhanwarrabul (628m)
  • Channel 7, 131m high—Mount Corhanwarrabul (628m), this tower is from interesting design, as it is a partially guyed tower, consisting of a free-standing lattice tower as basement and a guyed mast as pinnacle.
  • Channel 2—Ferny Creek Summit (561m) (lowest frequency)

Channel 7, 9 and 10 all transmit from the 204M high ' Ornata Road ' TXA owned tower just to the South of Burke's Lookout. This tower also carries some of Melbourne, Victoria's commercial FM broadcast services. It also carries DAB+ digital radio services. Channel 2 services ( ABC, JJJ, emergency services, Govt owned ) transmit from the 130M high Broadcast Australia ' Eyre Road ' tower. This is an interesting tower in that the base is of four legged, freestanding design, while the upper portion is guyed by two sets of three guy cables. This tower is just to the North of Burke's Lookout. Adjacent to the Broadcast Australia tower, is the TXA ' Eyre Road ' standby tower, capable of transmitting 7, 9, and 10 signals in the event of an Ornata Road transmitter/antenna failure. This tower stands at 130M also and is a conventional four legged freestanding design. About 2 km to the North of this group of three towers, stands the original Channel 9 tower, built in 1956 to a height of 69M. This tower, on Observatory Road and adjacent to the Skyhigh lookout and restaurant now carries only some of Melbourne's commercial FM broadcast channels.

Tourism and attractions

  • Scenic drives—popular for many years on the abundance of winding roads throughout the ranges
  • Picnics—dedicated picnic areas can be found in Fern Tree Gully Picnic Ground or at One Tree Hill or in Sherbrooke Forest. Emerald Lake Park has a variety of pretty picnic spots with electric barbecues, sheltered areas and water activities. This park with landscaped gardens adjoins the historic Nobelius Heritage Park
  • The various coffee shops and restaurants, bed and breakfasts, craft shops, antique shops and gardens
  • Puffing Billy Railway—a narrow-gauge heritage steam railway, from Belgrave, through to Emerald, Cockatoo and ending at Gembrook
  • Lookouts & views—There are several locations throughout the ranges that offer excellent views on both sides of the range. On a clear day, features as far as Mount Macedon, the You Yangs and Port Phillip can be seen simultaneously
  • Walking & hiking—various tracks and trails are available at a variety of lengths and difficulties. For example; Four Brothers Rocks near Gembrook, Wright Forest near Cockatoo; The Eastern Dandenong Ranges Trail, which runs through Emerald, Cockatoo to Gembrook has a variety of open scenery and dappled woodland trails and at various stages follows the Puffing Billy railway line

Sherbrooke Falls, Sherbrooke

  • Cycling—the Dandenong Ranges is one of Melbourne's most popular cycling areas. Popular road cycling climbs include the "1 in 20" on the Mountain Highway, "The Wall", a steeper route between Monbulk and Olinda, and the also-steep "Devil's Elbow", heading north from Upper Ferntree Gully along the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road to Ferny Creek . Also popular for picturesque and leisurely family bike rides is the Eastern Dandenong Ranges Trail, which runs through Emerald, Cockatoo to Gembrook



Camping is not permitted within the National Park and fire restrictions may apply during the summer months. There are no rubbish bins in the national parks and visitors must leave with all items that they arrived with. Camping is permitted near Gembrook at Kurth Kiln Regional Park. Please stay informed and be prepared, so as to ensure you have a fun and safe experience. It is important to observe weather conditions and warnings during the bushfire season and follow official recommendations.



Due to the climate of the region, the type of vegetation and the topography, the Dandenong Ranges periodically experience bushfires. Some of the recent occurrences included:

The Dandenong Ranges, viewed from Heidelberg looking east over Doncaster Hill, through smoke haze after the Black Saturday bushfires

See also



  1. ^ Birch, William D. (1994). Volcanoes in Victoria. Royal Society of Victoria. ISBN 0730606279.
  2. ^ Land and Survey Spatial Information, State of Victoria (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning). Accessed 15 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Climate statistics for Australian locations - Dunns Hill". Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  4. ^ "MOUNT DANDENONG GTV9". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. May 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  5. ^ "2016 Census QuickStats: Belgrave". Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  6. ^ "The Crash of Kyeema" (PDF). Flight safety Australia. November 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2017.