A change of name, but still the same stunning attraction in the Dandenong Ranges. The gardens were named The National Rhododendron Gardens in 1960, the name was changed to become the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden in 2017, after community consultation.
The creation of the Chelsea Australian Garden at Olinda, opened in 2023, has added yet another reason to visit the Botanic Gardens and the Dandenong Ranges.
The new Chelsea Australian Native Garden was the first ever Australian entry to win the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in 2013, designed by Dandenong Ranges locals, Philip Johnson and Wes Fleming. The re-creation of the winning design is 20 times the size of the original. Gaze at the huge Waratah sculpture, waterfall and enjoy the tranquility of the billabong. 15,000 plants, with over 400 different Australian species.
National Rhododendron Gardens, Olinda
Established by the Australian Rhododendron Society, these stunning Mt Dandenong gardens and bushland are set on over 100 acres near the village of Olinda.
With magnificent views to the Yarra Valley and mountains beyond, ornamental lakes and thousands of rhododendrons, azaleas, daffodils, and jonquils – the former Rhodie Gardens are one of the biggest attractions in the Dandenong Ranges.
Visit in the springtime to experience the tens of thousands of blooms, cherry blossom time and the beauty of the gardens.
Look for Lyrebirds in the rainforest gully and follow winding paths through the bushland areas before enjoying a snack, lunch, or perhaps pre-order a picnic hamper from Cafe Vireya.
It is easy to spend a day in the gardens, we recently walked nearly 4 kms in total, following many of the paths and seeing Lyrebirds scratching the soil beneath Rhododendrons.
Tips for visiting the Rhododendron Garden
- The Botanic Gardens attract thousands of visitors, particularly in springtime – if possible, visit during the week when it is less crowded.
- Arrive early, the Olinda gardens open at 10 am. The last entry is at 4.30 pm and gates close at 5 pm.
- Bring a picnic or purchase lunch/snacks at the onsite cafe or in Olinda.
- Take your time to see the Rhododendron Gardens – allow a few hours at least.
- Walk to Serenity viewpoint and sit a while… The leaf shape inspired structure and seating is a delightful spot to relax.
- Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking!
- Browse the nursery and gift shop – full of beautiful gift ideas.
- Entry to the garden is free though there is a donation box at the entrance and all donations are appreciated to help maintain the gardens.
- Open 10 am – 5 pm (last entry is at 4.30 pm)
- Open every day of the year except Christmas Day
- Pram and Wheelchair friendly along the top sealed paths
- No dogs allowed
Public Transport to the Botanic Gardens, Olinda
Getting to the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens in Olinda (National Rhododendron Gardens) by public bus is quite easy.
- Catch a train from Melbourne to either Upper Ferntree Gully or Croydon Station.
- From either Upper Ferntree Gully or Croydon Train Stations, take the Route 688 Bus to Olinda Village. The bus stop is outside the Chemist shop.
- Walk along the Olinda-Monbulk Road and turn left into The Georgian Road. The gardens are clearly visible just a short walk away.
Do not get off the bus in Mt Dandenong Village, even if Google Maps makes this suggestion as it is further to walk.
Children at the Olinda Gardens
There is a lot of open space for children to play as well as a myriad of pathways to explore. The sensory garden is a lovely spot for kids, they always enjoy talking in the little ‘phone boxes’ which are a reminder of times playing with tin cans connected by a string and talking to each other as kids. Come to the gardens to discover more for kids. Skateboards, bikes etc. are not allowed.
Cafe Vireya at The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens
Enjoy a snack or lunch in Cafe Vireya, overlooking the botanic garden or pre-order a picnic hamper and find a pretty spot to enjoy lunch.
The cafe at the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens is not open all year round, check times and days on their website.
Weddings and Receptions
Melbourne gardens have long been a popular location for weddings and the Dandenong Ranges Botanical Gardens are one of the most popular wedding venues in the Dandenongs and near the city.
They are the perfect venue for wedding ceremonies with a number of semi-private garden areas for the special occasion.
The views across the Yarra Valley from Serenity Point are gorgeous, especially on a sunny day.
Nearby Gardens & Walks
There is so much more to do in the area, spend a day or two exploring the Dandenongs.
Cloudehill Gardens Cloud Hill gardens are set on 5-acres with different areas to wander through. Diggers run the shop and there is a restaurant, Season’s, serving delicious food.
Pirianda Gardens – Hackett’s Road, Olinda. Do not come up Hackett’s Road to Pirianda Gardens as it is very steep, narrow and rough, come down from the Olinda/Monbulk Road direction. These gardens are perhaps the least visited in the Dandenongs but definitely worth walking through if you have time.
More gardens to visit in the Dandenongs are listed here.
The Olinda Falls walk is not far from the gardens and well worth seeing, they are not large waterfalls and are best seen in the winter or after heavy rains, but the walk is pretty.
Playground, Views and off-lead dog walking
Close to the Botanic Gardens is the old Olinda golf course where a new playground has been created. The views are fabulous and the kids can be kept entertained for ages.
Dogs are allowed off-leash to romp on acres of land and it is a good place for a picnic or BBQ too. Find out more…
Dandenong Ranges Accommodation
There is such a variety of accommodation near the Botanical Gardens. Cottages, Bed and Breakfast options and even a vintage caravan.
Accommodation in the Dandenong Ranges has long been a favorite escape for Melbournians, coming in the summer months to escape the heat or visiting during the cold winter months to snuggle up by an open fire and indulge.
Enjoy the luxury of fully catered accommodation packages with spas or choose self-catered accommodation.
Olinda Accommodation and Dandenong Ranges Cottages
Within an easy walk of the Rhododendron Gardens and Olinda:
- Cambridge Cottages – ‘ Two gorgeous and separate country-luxe style cottages’ with absolutely everything needed for an indulgent and special stay. Just a few minutes’ walk to the gardens. Check prices and availability.
- Candlelight Cottage – A romantic, historic hills cottage built Circa 1880, less than a 10-minute walk to the gardens entrance and 5 minutes to both Olinda or Mount Dandenong Villages. The renovated cottage has 3 bedrooms and can accommodate up to 5 guests. Definitely a property to consider. Check prices and availability.
- Como Cottages – These pretty, self-contained cottages are central to Olinda and Mt Dandenong Villages and less than 10-minutes walk to the Botanic Gardens. With everything needed for a perfect get-away, Como Cottages are very popular. Check prices and availability.
- 1959 Vintage Caravan – This sweet little caravan is set on a 5-acre property on Falls Road. It is a 1.5 km walk or 2-minute drive to the entrance of the gardens. This property is an Air BnB listing.
Mount Dandenong Accommodation
A short drive away from the gardens, these properties in Mt Dandenong are extremely popular and have been part of the Dandenongs accommodation scene for years.
- Linden Gardens Rainforest Retreat – If you are seeking a truly indulgent getaway in the hills, Linden Gardens will definitely fill your expectations. Close to William Ricketts Sanctuary and a 5-minute drive to the gardens. Check prices and availability.
- Observatory Cottages are another luxury escape and the views across Melbourne are exceptional. Find out more and check for the best prices.