If there is one place in the Dandenong Ranges I would recommend to go hiking in, it would have to be RJ Hamer Arboretum in Olinda.
And one of those tracks is the return hike from Woolrich Lookout to Valley Picnic Ground.
In terms of the Arboretum itself, there are so many tracks to walk thus making it an ideal place to go for a day hike.
Furthermore, despite the fact that Woolrich Lookout car park is quite popular for picnics, barbeques, and crowds in general, you rarely see many people once you make your way into the forest.
Including a few stops and some decent hills to navigate, this hike should take you approximately a little over two hours to complete.
Start your hike walking down Dam Road while passing some nice looking sequoia trees and then cross over the Lyrebird Creek.
After a short while, this becomes a proper hiking track where you will find yourself on Sequoia Track which includes a reasonable climb to the junction of the Rock Track.
Follow this for a short time and take a right for 350m on Cornus Track, which will lead you to Mathias Road (essentially the main management vehicle track through the area).
From here, you’ll walk until you come to the t-intersection of Black Hole Track and follow the gradual decline to Yallambie Road.
There are a number of tracks sprouting off from the Valley Picnic Ground, either to other areas of the Arboretum or continuing on into the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
After spending some time relaxing here (depending on the weather, of course!), make your way back up Yallambie Road and take a left at Ginkgo Track.
A short while later, keep an eye out for and tale a right at Fraxinus Track which will take you back up to Mathias Road.
Both Ginkgo and Fraxinus track are a gradual incline through dense, shady forest areas.
This makes for a nice change from the wide-open tracks that are consistent throughout the entire hike.
From here, it’s just a short walk to the base of the hill that will eventually lead you back to the car park.
If you are unfamiliar with the area, this particular hill starts on a track that is just past the Red Dog Hut – a tin shed shelter.
This particular hill is the hardest part of any of the walks in the Arboretum as it has a sharp incline from the very beginning.
In saying that, if you stop and turn around, you will be rewarded with amazing views of the hills off in the distance.
Overall, I would rate this particular walk as an easy-to-moderate hike but it would depend on your level of fitness.
I would recommend this hike to anyone who has already done a couple of hikes or for those of you who are looking for somewhere different to go in the Dandenongs.
Apart from the RJ Hamer Arboretum being a fantastic place to go hiking, it is also dog-friendly.
However, the Dandenong Ranges National Park isn’t, so keep that in mind if you want to keep venturing north past the picnic ground.
Find your way to the main street of Olinda and drive down Olinda-Monbulk Road. After Olinda Reserve and the old abandoned golf course, take a left onto Chalet Road.
Continue down the dirt road for about 500m or so and Woolrich Lookout will be on your left. It is well-signed so you can’t miss it.
As always, if you would like to follow this track, and have the WikiLoc app, download it here.
The Stats – Woolrich Lookout to Valley Picnic Ground
Length (km): 5.57km (according to WikiLoc)
Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
Moving Time: 1hr 37 mins
Average Speed: 2.66 km/h
Maximum Elevation: 514m
Accum. elev. uphill: 237m
Accum. elev. downhill: 237m
Return/Circuit/One Way: Circuit