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Melbourne's Backyard Mountains

The Dandenong Ranges rise out of Melbourne's eastern suburbs, giving city dwellers an easily reached rustic and wilderness escape. From restaurants to gardens to day spas, these old volcanic highlands have their share of cosmopolitan offerings, but their greatest treasures are of the ecological and scenic varieties--beautifully expressed in Dandenong Ranges National Park. We're talking some truly spectacular forests of mountain-ash--one of the tallest trees in the world--and fantastical fern gullies, plus abundant birdlife (including the well-named superb lyrebird) and tumbling cascades and waterfalls.

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Utrip Tips

* The town of Ferntree Gulley serves as portal to the Dandenong Ranges, and local food and drink options are available there before heading into the national park.

* Visit the information center before embarking to check on local trail conditions.

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