Friday, November 16, 2012

The Ultra Dandenong Project - Sherbrooke & Olinda

I've been having wild plans & woke up one day thinking whether it's actually possible to plan an ultra route (50k?) around the dandenongs, and it has fuelled my process of discovery of this national park since.. so Dandenong is split into 5 zones: Sherbrooke, Olinda, Mount Evelyn, Doongalla, Fern Tree Gully.. as seen here:

So I was thinking - could it be possible to run, let's say, from Upper Ferntree Gully station, into FernTreeGully & find some path through to Doongalla, popping out perhaps Olinda & eventually back south towards Sherbrooke & complete an ultra distance & live to tell the tale. Or vice versa! It'd be one helluva feat that's for sure.


So I've been to the Dandenong twice to date - first trip was to Sherbrooke, covered only the north-western portion... here's my garmin track:

Map 1: Big portion of Sherbrooke still unexplored.. but in light of the Ultra LSD, the first part of the area I covered seem logical. To link up with Olinda we'll need to cut east into Sherbrooke Road. Most likely through Alfred Nichols Memorial Gardens & traverse along Sassafras Creek, link up with Perrins Creek + Howard Rd 
When I went it just rained the night before so it was nice soggy trails on the day, here are some pics to give you an idea how this particular section looks like.. pretty nice:

Ferns galore! This was along Hillclimb

This was in the Hackett Track zone, wider clearer trails.. pretty decent for runs.


I made a separate trip to Olinda - took a bus from Upper Ferntree Gully & started the exploration from Olinda town itself. I walked towards the National Rhododendron Garden & then south towards R J Hamer Forest Arboretum. Coming from Olinda, you have to walk through either one to get to Dandenong National Park (Olinda Region).

Map 2 : from Map 1's description, you can see at the bottom of this map Perrins Creek & Howard Rd... and see how it links up with the Arboretum. That's the next adventure I guess.. to explore whether it's possible to link these two regions up via this route. 
National Rhododendrum Gardens - beautiful place to bring your mom!
There was a sign 'Scenic outlook' at the start of Chalet Rd - they weren't kidding! :)
Well - I sat here for a good 15mins admiring the view. Pictures don't do justice to sceneris as we all know.
Happy me & unmarked trail leading down towards Mathias Rd.
Flowers all stretched out for a bit of sun.. :) 
This was the furthest east I went - the track is Board Track that fences up the forest region surrounding Silvan Reservoir - now I know it's not accessible (my mission was to try to reach the reservoir, now I know it's not possible via this route!). If I persevered along Silvan Rd, I would've reached the reservoir eventually but I wasn't prepared to go that far this trip.
A blue-tongue lizard (a big one too!) sunbathing along Mathias Rd.. 
Knackered. Back waiting for the train at Upper Ferntree Gully station. 
Well basically what I've found out so far:

1) The major busy roads are Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd & Monbulk Rd (ie. can't run/hike these)
2) If I want bus service as back-up plan then it needs to be along these 2 main roads
3) Scenic spots (to date) - One Tree Hill Junction with Mt Dandy Tourist Rd, Monument Trek, Chalet Rd
4) Silvan Rd is a long gravel downhill - hard on the knees - avoid
5) Most like Sherbrooke-Olinda route will be this:

Map 3: 23km in total, good elevation challenge, 3 scenic spots - One Tree Hill Rd junction, Chalet Rd, Silvan Reservoir, brings us back towards main road where I can catch a bus back towards train station. I think this would be a good Part 1 of the Ultra Dandenong Project! 

Next, will need to find out:

1) Whether can link up Sherbrooke Rd & Chalet Rd via intended route as per Map 3
2) Best forest scenic route from RJ Hamer towards Silvan Reservoir
3) Mt Evelyn, Doongalla & Ferntree Gully regions

Stay tuned folks!


  1. Hey Ben, nice work. You might me interested in the upcoming Roller Coaster Run in March. Same RD as Two Bays Run.

    1. cool thanks for the heads up Gary.. looks like fun, & the elevation profile looks crazy! I like it! :D do let me know if you're going for it!