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Dandenong Ranges

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Dandenong Ranges
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The Dandenong Ranges is a range of low mountains lying, at its nearest point, about 35 kilometres21.748 miles
1,739.839 chains
east of Melbourne, Victoria. On the west side, the range rises abruptly from the plains around Melbourne, then taper off to the east, with foothills to the north and south.

In the early decades of the 20th century the ranges became popular with city people visiting for the weekend, and now with closer suburbs and greater mobility is popular with day trippers visiting its national parks, cafés and craft shops, and the restored Puffing Billy Railway.


Geography, flora, and fauna

The ranges reach a height of 633 metres0.633 km
2,076.772 ft
0.393 miles
at Mount Dandenong, 628 metres0.628 km
2,060.368 ft
0.39 miles
at the adjacent Mount Corhanwarrabul and 487 metres0.487 km
1,597.769 ft
0.303 miles
at One Tree Hill.[1]

The ranges are covered with eucalypt forest with ferns in the gullies, and, to the east and south, farmland and market gardens.

Apart from kangaroos in the flatter eastern parts of the range and koalas, the area is a known habitat of the lyrebird.


The ranges are believed to have been formed by a combination of volcanic eruption and subsidence caused by collapse of the underlying formations, especially along fault lines running from Mount Evelyn in the north to Emerald in the east and Ferntree Gully in the south west.[1][2]


Before the arrival of Europeans, aborigines from the Western Port and Yarra Yarra tribes (the Bunerong and Wawoorung peoples respectively)[note 1] would visit the Dandenongs in the summer months, hunting wallabies, possums, and koalas, but return to the warmer coastal areas in winter.[4] Aboriginal tools have been found at Olinda and Narre Warren North. Aeneas Gunn relates that members of various tribes gathered on what is now the football ground at Monbulk to confer on tribal matters. The Yarra Yarra tribe came via Ferntree Gully, the Western Port tribe via Emerald, and the Marysville tribe via Lilydale.[4]

Perhaps the first European to visit the ranges was botanist Daniel Bunce sometime between his arrival in the Port Phillip settlement in 1839 and 1848. With a group of aborigines, he crossed Gardiner's Creek then went via a lagoon probably near present-day Bayswater, and arrived about sunset at the foot of "Mount Koronth Marabool" (Corhanwarrabul). The next morning he followed the valley of what was probably Dandenong Creek up the slopes, hearing lyrebirds and seeing koalas, "flying squirrels", "porcupines" (echidnas), and kangaroos, which last creature made it to their menu. They then went to Mt. Dandenong itself, before returning to the city via Brushy Creek and Warrandyte.[5]

The Dandenongs were also visited by the Victorian Government botanist, Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller, in January 1853. He was accompanied by a botanic gardens employee, John Walters, who reported seeing tree ferns up to 12 metres1,200 cm
39.37 feet
472.441 inches
high, as well as bracken, wire grass, and several varieties of stringy bark trees.[6]

In their trip they encountered evidence of previous visits, in the form of old deserted bark huts and an old sawpit. They also saw evidence of the 1851 bushfires.[6]

The ranges were referred to as the Western Port Range, as they lay in Western Port District of Victoria, or the Corhanwarrabul Range, from the aboriginal name. The name Dandenong Ranges comes from the ranges being the source of the Dandenong Creek, named because it flowed through the town of Dandenong. "Dandenong" was sometimes written as "Dangy-y-non" or "Tanjenong". It was written as "Dandenong" at least as early as 1840 in instructions to surveyers.


Many towns have been established around the ranges, and along with the vegetation and terrain, this has made the ranges one of the most bushfire-prone areas of the world,[2] with fires devastating parts of the ranges in 1851, 1926, 1962, 1968, 1983 ('Ash Wednesday' fires), and 1997, among others.

The television transmission towers for Melbourne's television stations are on Mt. Dandenong (Nine network) and Mt. Corhanwarrabul (ABC, Seven Network, and Ten Network). Mt. Corhanwarrabul is also the site of the 1938 crash of the DC2 Kyeema with the loss of all 18 people, which led to an overhaul of Australia's air traffic control.[7]

Melbourne's electrified suburban railway network penetrates into the southern slopes of the ranges as far as Belgrave, from where the Puffing Billy Railway continues the rails to Gembrook at the eastern edge of the ranges.

There is little in the way of major industry in the ranges. Monbulk once had a jam factory, and although it was taken over by larger concerns and the factory closed, the name Monbulk Jams survives, now owned by H.J. Heinz & Co.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Geology of the Dandenong Ranges, Parks Victoria.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Melbourne Geology Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online.
  3. The Kulin People, Rowville Lysterfield Historical Project.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Coulsen, 1959, p.10-11
  5. Coulsen, 1959, p.3-4.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Coulsen, 1959, p.4-5
  7. Job, Macarthur, The Crash of Kyeema, Flight safety australia, November 1998, p.38-39.

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