|The tall gums
are such a distinctive part of the
Dandenong Ranges National Park
Ferntree Gully, Upper (including Ferntree
Suburb associated with Dandenong Ranges
Upper Ferntree Gully is 35 km east of Melbourne
along the Burwood Highway. Essentially a suburb
on the fringe of Melbourne, it sits adjacent the
southern section of Dandenong Ranges National
The mountains, which reach a high point of
633 m above sea-level, consist of volcanic lava.
They experience high rainfall as prevailing
westerly winds rise when they hit the range and
then cool to produce rain. The combination of
rainfall and rich volcanic soils renders the
soil fertile and the ranges are cloaked in vast
tracts of forests and fern gullies, as well as
some distinguished and renowned gardens.
Potatoes, flowers, bulbs and berry fruits are
produced for commercial purposes in the area.
The Wurrundjeri people once passed their
winters near the Dandenong Ranges. They passed
through the area en route to the Yarra Valley
where they spent their summers on the banks of
the Yarra River. Other sources place the
Woiwurung people in the area prior to European
The first European known to set foot in the
Dandenongs was botanist Daniel Bunce who was
drawn from Melbourne by the image of the looming
western slopes in 1839. Guided by a party of
Aboriginal people he climbed Mt Corhanwarrabul
(628 m) and Mt Dandenong (633 m) - the two
highest peaks in the ranges. Burkes Lookout (see
Olinda) is now situated atop the former.
Another botanist, Ferdinand von Mueller, who was
responsible for the Melbourne Botanic Gardens,
also explored the area in the 1850s.
The forests drew timbergetters in the early
days of European settlement who supplied a
growing market in Melbourne. The demands of this
same market later saw some of the forest cleared
for the establishment of farms.
Ferntree Gully was named after an 1860
painting of the local forest. Being so close to
Melbourne, the area became a popular attraction
in the 1860s and, in recognition, it was set
aside for public recreation in 1882. This
reserve was expanded in 1927 when Ferntree Gully
National Park (the nation's second National
Park) was declared. It became part of Dandenong
Ranges National Park in 1987. An animal
sanctuary was created at Ferntree Gully in 1931
but it was phased out in the 1950s.
Small sections of land were first opened for
settlement in the area in the 1880s and the
railway arrived at Ferntree Gully in 1889. A
narrow-gauge railway from to Gembrook was opened
in 1900 and it now forms the basis of the
Puffing Billy railway line (see entry on
Belgrave). A road to the summit of Mt Dandenong
was made suitable for coaches in 1904 and the
first motor coaches made the trip in 1922.
The Upper Ferntree Gully Market is held every
Saturday and Sunday from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
(and from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. from April to
Things to see:
The Dandenong Ranges and Knox Tourism
Information Centre is located at 1211 Burwood
Highway at Upper Ferntree Gully, tel: (03) 9758
Dandenong Ranges National Park
Dandenong Ranges National Park (3215 ha) is a
very attractive and popular attraction which
beckons Melburnians who can gaze upon its
western slopes on a clear day. It offers
opportunities for walking, sightseeing,
picnicking, nature observation and car touring.
More than 350 plant species have been recorded,
along with 130 bird species, 31 species of
mammals (most are nocturnal), 21 reptile species
and nine amphibian species.
The Park is divided into five sections. The
south-western section, covering 450 ha, is known
as Ferntree Gully which was named after an 1860
painting of the local forest. It is noted for
its walking tracks, its views of Melbourne, its
ferneries, eucalypt forests, picnic areas,
birdlife (including lyrebirds, crimson rosellas
and eastern whipbirds), mammals (including
wallabies, bandicoots, echidnas and possums) and
its flora, including 47 species of native
orchids, native grasses, eucalypts and shrubs
such as bush pea and austral indigo.
To access the Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground
turn off the Burwood Highway onto Mt Dandenong
Tourist Rd and take the first left. It has
parking, toilets with disabled access, drinking
water, picnic tables and shelters, electric
barbecues, a ranger's office, information
boards, a playground and walking tracks. The
Living Bush Nature Walk (3 km) is denoted by
markers and information sheets describe the
plants along the walk. The Ferntree Gully Track
(5 km return) follows steep, winding paths
northwards through ferneries, blackwoods and
manna gums and up the Thousand Steps to the top
of the range at One Tree Hill Picnic Ground,
offering excellent views.
To access One Tree Hill Picnic Ground by car
continue north along the Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd
and turn left either into Churchill Drive (at
Tremont) or, further north again, into One Tree
Hill Rd. Both lead to the picnic area which has
parking, toilets, water, wood barbecues (no wood
is provided), picnic tables and shelters.
From One tree Hill Picnic Ground you can take
either the Ferntree Gully Track south to the
Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground, or the One Tree
Hill Track (3.2 km return). The latter passes
through stringybark and peppermint gum forest.
Pea shrubs bloom in spring. Notes are available
on some of the tracks.
The picnic grounds are open to vehicles from
8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. (May to October) and
until 6.00 p.m. the rest of the year. There is
an entry fee for cars at the Ferntree Picnic
Ground on weekends, public holidays and school
holidays. You can catch Bus no.698 from Upper
Ferntree Gully or walk the one kilometre from
the Upper Ferntree Gully Train Station.
For general information and literature
contact Parks Victoria on 131 963 or, if you
require more detailed information contact the
office at Upper Ferntree Gully on (03) 9758
1342. You can also visit the Parks Victoria
website on www.parks.vic.gov.au.
At Ambleside Park there is an exhibit of over
2000 historic artefacts housed in a 19th-century
homestead with antique farming implements
displayed in the outbuildings. It is open Friday
to Sunday from 1.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. at 3
Olivebank Rd at Ferntree Gully. To get there
turn off the Burwood Highway into Railway Rd,
follow it through to Forest Rd and head north
for about 2 km then turn right into Olivebank
Rd. There is an admission fee and group tours
can be organised by prior arrangement, tel: (03)
Heidelberg School Art Tour is
exceptional. This plaque is at Kallista.
Heidelberg School Artists Trail
This route is designed to take interested
parties to the approximate sites depicted in the
paintings of those associated with the
Heidelberg School (i.e., Arthur Streeton, Walter
Withers, Louis Buvelot, Tom Roberts, Clara
Southern, David Davies, Emanuel Phillips Fox,
Charles Conder, Tudor St George Tucker, Eigene
Von Guerard, May Vale and Jane Price).
At each such site there is a reproduction of
the relevant painting, providing insight into
the artist's interpretation of the landscape and
into how the landscape has changed since that
time. It passes largely along the Yarra River,
through Heidelberg, Bulleen, Templestowe,
Eltham, Diamond Creek, Research, Warrandyte,
passing through Ringwood and Montrose, en route
to Kalorama, Olinda, Kallista and Ferntree
Gully. There is a guiding brochure which can be
obtained from Banyule Council (tel: 03 9490
4222) or the project's organiser, tel: (03) 9458
5955 or (0418) 356 768.