Another stip is R J Hamer Arboretum, 120 hectares of varied forest overlooking expansive views across Silvan Dam and the Yarra Valley. Frequented mainly by locals, the trails start between the toilet block and the barbecue area and lead to some truly big trees. There are few places in the world where you can see the giant sequoias and the world’s biggest hardwoods side by side. Bird lovers will find this place worthwhile as well with abundant variety and colour, particularly crimson rosellas, golden whistlers and eastern yellow robins. This is also a particularly good place to visit in autumn if it’s colour you’re after, the mesmerising yellows and reds of the liquid ambers and maples cannot fail to please.
There are wonderful views right beside the facilities so this is a good place to picnic.
The track can be slightly boggy in the wet and downright slilppery at times so hiking shoes are advised but the walk through dense thickets of tree ferns beside the gurgling stream is a delight; otherwise though the falls themselves are fairly minor, though attractive. You can also take the option to park at the nearby carpark and then it’s only a short, but steep, hike to the cascades.
It's all downhill from the Aboretum but the slope is gentle and the scenery pretty. You should allow half an hour each way and you cross a few backroads on the way.
I drove up to the nearby Mount Dandenong Arboretum. Here there is a carpark, a picnic table and little else save the trees, of which there are 16 hectares of deciduous and conifer varieties.
Should you walk among them and head downhill you may reach a dirt road below and that track you see immediately across the other side is the Mechanics Track, a 2km trail linking the Mount Dandenong Tourist Drive with Olinda Falls.
There's not a huge lot of exotic trees here but it would be a quiet place for a picnic, though there's no toilets, and some of the trees are interesting.
About 45 kms east of Melbourne, in the Dandenong ranges, is the Sherbrook Forest. Less than an hours drive, get away for some fresh air and from the hustle-bustle on city life. The drive is incredible and so is the walk in the forest.