Driving from Melbourne to the Dandenong Ranges
Melbourne is a hustling, bustling cosmopolitan city with so much to see and do that despite its big open bay and ample greenery, you may just find it hard to relax. Luckily, the Dandenongs and Yarra Valley are an easy day trip away! VroomVroomVroom can help you find the perfect car rental for your next adventure because we compare only the best deals from leading car rental companies in Australia. Click here to start comparing rental cars in Melbourne.
Drive your hire car along the Eastern Freeway passing through the Eastlink tollway. Make an exit at Burwood Highway and head to Upper Ferntree Gully. You can also exit at Canterbury Road and head to Montrose. From Montrose, turn right at the roundabout and follow the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road through Kalorama and Mount Dandenong to Olinda.
Guide to The Dandenongs
Who said there was nothing good about the city's weather? The Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley experience such an eclectic mix of weather conditions that the area is quite unlike anywhere else – and it all starts just 30 kilometers down the Eastern freeway from the metropolis.
The Dandenongs are famous for their majestic, tall, white manna gums, with a lush canopy 40 or more meters high, where lucky travelers can spot koalas at rest. At ground level, unlike the typical dry Australian forest, lush plant life and delicate ferns make excellent hiding places for wombats and other wildlife. There are plenty of places to hike (over 300kms of track in fact), take scenic drives, camp and picnic in the ranges. Campers should lock away all food at night as the wombat population isn't shy about conducting midnight snack raids.
For families, the Puffing Billy is a great destination. Puffing Billy is a 110-year old steam train that makes a 25 kilometer journey through Emerald Lake Park (a great stop for a picnic by the spectacular lake), the lush forests, ferny gullies, picturesque countryside and on to Gembrook (check first because not all services run the whole route).
There are several options for travel from three course fine dining with local wines included, to dangling your legs over the side and getting up close to nature. Special events such as “Thomas The Tank Engine” days and murder mystery themes are also available. Puffing Billy departs from Belgrave 3-4 times daily depending on conditions. You can buy your tickets here.
Nearby, art lovers can visit the Burrinja Contemporary Art Gallery precinct with open studios, eateries, workshops and exhibitions by the local Indigenous community.
Guide to the Yarra Valley
In YarraValley, wine lovers are in for a real treat. The YarraValley is one of Australia's premier vineyard districts (producing some of the world's finest Pinot Noirs) and there are dozens to choose from. Pack yourself a designated driver and get ready to taste! Whether you are after a best seller (cellar?) or something boutique and unusual, some of Australia's best wines are available for quaffing! Visit Coldstream Hills, Rochford, Domaine Chandon, DeBortoli, Bianchet, historic Furgussons and dozens more, many sporting a tasting deck or restaurant with divine views of the surrounding countryside and vineyards. The region is a must-see for wine lovers!
Guide to Healesville and Yarra Glen
From Dandenong, head north-east along the Maroondah Highway towards Healesville (or Yarra Glen), the hour long drive features picturesque views and there are plenty of vineyards along the way. For an especially breathtaking drive, continue on to Maryville.
For families or international visitors, The Healesville Sanctuary is one of the very best places to view and interact with Australian wildlife and is well worth a visit. Healesville is also a great place for antique shoppers to find treasure.
For a romantic getaway, head up to Yarra Glen. Besides the picturesque views of hot air balloons rising sleepily over the mountains, the quaint township of Yarra Glen is home to some lovely old buildings and rustic farming scenes.
Sip a local wine and sample local cheeses, desserts and fresh produce or indulge in a day spa experience. Couples will love the local B&B accommodation options, romantic picnic spots and walks in Sugarloaf Reservoir Park and the fresh farmers market on the third Sunday of the month. Yarra Glen is the perfect spot for taking things easy!