They say that the hills are full of magic and that it's like visiting make believe!
As you drive up the mountain you'll be surrounded by tree ferns and towering mountain ash trees and you'll start to understand why. It's like leaving the city and going on a European Village adventure to a place where quirky old world charm and history is carefully injected with great coffee, excellent regional wine, unique shops with everything you might want and need, award winning restaurants and some of the most luxurious and insta-worthy accommodation in Victoria. The Villages of the Dandenong Ranges are the lush green breath of fresh air that you've been searching for.
Watch our video and try and resist visiting us!
Sassafras is home to one of the hills biggest icons, Miss Marples. A tudor house full to the brim of memorabilia and Devonshire tea! If a bit of kitsch isn't your thing, you'll be well looked after with lunch and Devonshire Tea at Dine Divine, in the old Sassafras church at the bottom of Sassafras, or Fortnum's, a wonderful glass pavillion at the top end. In between you'll find the secret that the locals don't want you to find out about Ripe Sassafras Café Restaurant.
For coffee lovers you can't go past The Storehouse Roastery. You'll probably smell it before you see it.
The main road that runs through Sassafras is flanked by some of the most unique shops you'll ever come across. If you don't find it here, you don't need it! If you're into fashion, accessories and homeware you'll love Lennox at the top end of Sassafras. For ethically sourced, sustainable fashion and giftware, From Dust is the place to go.
If you're looking for a bit of everything, then Seven Pages has you covered, an emporium full of Australian and locally made homewares, gifts, art, clothing, books and so much more. Wander down a secret alley, and you'll discover a unique store with a myriad of treasures... Smits & Bits!
As you wander down the road, you won't be able to resist SOAK, the sweetest smelling store in Sassafras with fragrances, body care, soaps and candles all made in Melbourne. If candles are your passion, we even have a store dedicated to them at Bluestone Candles. Buy already made or purchase the supplies to make them yourself. Sassafras also has a store dedicated to all things soap, 100% natural skin care products, appropriately called Soap Opera.
If you're a dedicated tea drinker then you won't want to miss Tea Leaves with 100's of unique tea blends and equally unique tea pots. And we haven't forgotten the kids, big and small. No trip to Sassafras is complete without a visit to Geppetto's Workshop for toys and puppets galore and Sassafras Sweet Co for old fashioned favourites from around the world.
A short drive down the Tourist Rd from Sassafras is Olinda, home to the night life on the mountain. Here you'll find several great restaurants for lunch and dinner. Our favourites are Pie in the Sky for a casual lunch and for something more elegant, Citrine.
If you're looking to stay somewhere central there is the Olinda Apartments that overlook the Olinda township. Just down the road is Lochiel Luxury Accommodation and the gorgeous Wild Orchid. For some real hills history you can try Como Cottages, also in Olinda. Pick up a bottle of wine at Olinda Cellars, one of Melbourne's finest wine shops, right here in Olinda.
Around Olinda there are lots of gorgeous accommodation options. Valley Ranges Getaways has a large selection and there is also The Maples Bed & Breakfast, Arcadia Cottages, The Beeches and Botanica Retreat just out of Olinda village and Mountain Lodge B&B Suites and Villa d'Amour towards Kalorama.
There are also plenty of shops to browse here and pick up something special. An Olinda landmark is Mangana, a treasure filled, eclectic mix of hand selected items from around the world. Stock up on gorgeous soaps and 100% natural skin care products at Soap Opera in Olinda and Sassafras.
Olinda is also home to many of our resident artists. Tall Trees Studio is home to local & Victorian Artists showcasing beautifully designed and/or hand made pieces. Emma Jennings Gallery is a unique destination featuring local, ethical and sustainable art and gifts inspired by living in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.
Did someone say chocolate? No trip to Olinda is complete without a visit to Only Mine Chocolate Factory. Watch chocolate being made, enjoy the best hot chocolate you'll ever taste and take some delicious choccies home. You can also drop into Sassafras Sweet Co in Olinda for sweets from around the world.
From Olinda, take a drive down the Olinda-Monbulk Rd to explore the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens and the Olinda Playscape. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Chelsea Australian Garden at the Botanic Gardens, which is expected to be open to the public in mid-2023. A little further down the road you'll find the stunning Cloudehill Gardens, Diggers Nursery and Seasons Restaurant.
In a beautiful location, down the side of Cloudehill Gardens you'll find Gracehill Accommodation for couples and families. The Barn even has a playground! Opposite Cloudehill Gardens is the gorgeous Olinda Tea House with inspiring Asian food, a mind blowing High Tea and gorgeous gardens with alpacas and a pony. A little further down the road turn right on Hacketts Rd to the beautiful terraced gardens at Pirianda Gardens. Deer roaming across Pirianda are a common sight.
A short drive from Olinda, on the way to Kalorama is Mt Dandenong village. If you love a browse through antique and Bric-à-brac Markets then you're in luck as here you'll find Butlers Vintage Depot. There is also an awesome fresh roast coffee shop here and a favourite of the locals, The Deli Platter.
If you need some essentials for an evening in your accommodation there is also the local IGA Supermarket, which is the only supermarket on the mountain. Across the road is the Mt D Hotel where you can enjoy pub food and often some live music.
If you are staying awhile and have relaxation on your mind, you can't go past Balance Mountain Day Spa for a relaxing massage or spa treatment.
If you take Ridge Rd, out of the Village, you'll head up to Observatory Rd, home to SkyHigh Mt Dandenong. Here you'll get the best views of Melbourne, a Bistro and a fun Maze. A car parking fee applies at SkyHigh.
If you come up the mountain from Montrose, you will pass through Kalorama before you get to Mt Dandenong.
On the right you'll find Kalorama Reserve and playground, home to many events on the mountain. Behind the reserve is one of our hidden jewels, the Karwarra Australian Plant Garden, featuring more than 1400 different species of native plants, a retail plant nursery and lovely views.
Also off to the right from here is the beautiful Holly Lodge B&B Cottage and Suites in a breathtaking forest setting.
If you continue on the Tourist Rd to what has always been called Five Ways, due to the roads leading off into 5 directions, you'll find one of the best views of Silvan Reservoir. Destiny Point cafe looks over the viewing point with great views from it's windows and the Kapi Art Space is working art gallery to local artists.
You can continue on to Mt Dandenong from here, passing William Ricketts Sanctuary, which unfortunately is still closed due to the damage caused by the June 2021 storms. You can also take Ridge Rd from here up to SkyHigh Mt Dandenong and the Mt Dandenong Arboretum.
If you're coming up the mountain from Upper Ferntree Gully you'll head through Tremont where there is a petrol station. If you're running low, we advise filling up here as there is no petrol station on the mountain.
On from Tremont is Ferny Creek, home to our favourite pastry shop and baker at Proserpina. Across the road you can head down to the gorgeous and romantic cottages at Clarendon Cottages.
A little further up to the road you can turn right at Sherbrooke Rd and head past the historic Burnham Beeches to Alfred Nicholas Gardens. It is in these gardens that you'll find the famous boat house that is photographed often.
At the end of Sherbrooke Rd is the gorgeous village of Kallista which is worth a visit for it's wonderful general store full of local produce and wines. There are also other shops to browse. If you continue on the Monbulk Rd and turn right after the Kallista Tea Rooms, you'll head to the Chestnut Lodge Conference Centre.