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.
This stunning area was where one of The Hiking Society’s MeetUps took place on Sunday; hiking from Woolrich Lookout to Valley Picnic Ground and back.
In terms of the area itself, there are so many tracks to walk thus making it an ideal place to go for a day hike.
Furthermore, despite the Woolrich Lookout car park being quite popular for picnics, barbeques and crowds in general, you rarely see many people once you make your way into the forest.
Our hike was completed in a little over two hours and was roughly 5.5kms in distance.
This included a couple of reasonable hills; particularly the last section back to the carpark.
There is also the picturesque Valley Picnic Ground which is located at the northern end of the Arboretum and backs on to the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
We started our hike walking down Dam Road past some nice looking sequoia trees and then crossing over the Lyrebird Creek
After a short while, this becomes a proper hiking track where we found ourselves on Sequoia Track which includes a reasonable climb to the junction of the Rock Track.
We followed this for a short time and took a right for 350m on Cornus Track, which leads you to Mathias Road (essentially the main management vehicle track through the area).
From here, we walked until we came to the t-intersection of Black Hole Track and followed the gradual decline to Yallambie Road.
We were faced with yet another decline and then a short incline to the picnic ground.
There are a number of tracks sprouting off from the picnic ground, either to other areas of the Arboretum or continuing on into the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
After spending some time relaxing in the sunshine, we made our way back up Yallambie Road and took a left at Ginkgo Track.
A short while later, we took a right at Fraxinus Track which took us back up to Mathias Road.
Both Ginkgo and Fraxinus track are a gradual incline through dense, shady forest areas.
It was a nice change from the wide open tracks that were consistent throughout the entire walk.
From here, it was a short walk to the base of the hill that would lead us 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 this area as it is 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. This would all 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