R.J. Hamer Arboretum & Woolrich Lookout
The Hamer Arboretum, named after the Premier of Victoria from 1972 -1981, Sir Rupert Hamer, contains approximately 200 species of exotic and deciduous trees and shrubs creating ‘mini forests’ as opposed to the usual planting of single specimen trees that most arboretums display.
As the native bushland that had previously covered the slopes was destroyed over the years by successive bushfires, a post-war plan to improve Victoria’s timber supplies saw the planting of softwoods along with ornamental deciduous trees was implemented. Most of these were destroyed in the 1962 fires.
A proposal to establish the area as an arboretum was approved in 1970, decades later we now have an arboretum with many deciduous trees, making it a delightful place to visit in autumn and all year round.
The deliberate planting of less flammable trees was part of a fire plan to protect nearby villages on the mountain.
The views across to the Yarra Valley from Woolrich Lookout are stunning. The expansive forest, Silvan Dam and the mountains in the distance, makes this one of the best viewpoints in the hills. An ideal location to experience the sunrise or the rising of a full moon…
Below the Woolrich Lookout is a planting of Cryptomeria Japonica, an awesome playground for kids to engage in a game of hide and seek! The red of the trees in autumn can be seen from miles away.
Dogs are allowed in the arboretum on leads, keeping to tracks marked with dog walking signs.
- 1 hour / under 3kms or more, depending on the route chosen.
- Easy to moderate walk with some steep hill climbs.
- Dog-friendly (not all tracks) See all dog-friendly walks and cafes
- Public toilets are located at the Hamer Arboretum
- Electric BBQ’s
- Picnic tables | Water taps
- Parking at Woolrich Lookout – Chalet Road, Olinda
- Get Directions to Woolrich Lookout
Dam Track and beyond
The main walking track from the Woolrich Lookout passes by the BBQ area. Dam Track meanders downhill, past a small dam where Lyrebird Creek begins.
Walk options vary, as numerous tracks intersect the Arboretum.
- Walk down Dam track and link onto Sequoia Track which leads, sharply, off to the right and continues downhill to join Mathias Track (there is a smaller track which leads off to the right before Sequoia Track which goes down to join at Red Dog Hut too). Turning right on Mathias Track, you will soon pass by ‘Red Dog Hut’. The hut was built by one of the workers who helped plant the arboretum, though it has burnt down and been rebuilt a couple of times since. The dog was known to remain at the hut until his owner returned after a day of planting trees.
A small track beside the hut leads uphill, a good workout for calf muscles. The track narrows and then opens up onto a grassy area, the path is not very clear but walkers simply need to keep following up the hill, through the Cryptomeria and back to the Woolwich lookout area.
2. Another option is to walk along Dam Track until it joins Golf course Track. Head left up the hill until reaching Chalet Road where there is a pleasant track beside the road back to the lookout.
3. Get adventurous, if the above suggestions are not enough for you – download the Parks Map App, then plot a walk of your own, as the forest below the Arboretum stretches for miles with many tracks crisscrossing. Valley Picnic Ground can easily be reached from the arboretum, as a longer walk option.
Views across the Valley as the track begins to descend.
The small dam, about 10 minutes walk from Woorlrich lookout.
a few minutes walk past the dam, the Sequoia track branches off sharply to the right.
Red Dog Hut on Mathias Track.
Golden elms, planted in 1980, on the track that leads off from beside Red Dog Hut, back up through the arboretum.
Almost to the clearing below the Cryptomeria…
In the clearing, just below the Cryptomeria.
View back up to the Woolrich Lookout and parking area.
Other walks you may like nearby
- Mathias Track is a good walk with numerous other trails leading off to lower parts of the National Park. Mathias Track is dog-friendly – But they must be on-leash, please.
- Pirianda Gardens also has some lovely viewpoints as well as autumn colour. They are quieter than many of the famous gardens of the Dandenongs and well worth a visit.
- Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens, Olinda. Acres of rhododendrons as well as Australian native plants and ornamental lakes.
- The best off-lead dog park near Melbourne is right next to the Hamer Arboretum, The former Olinda Golf Course has stunning views, plenty of spots for a picnic and a new playground for kids.