Dandenong is one of the satellite cities of Melbourne- it has its own distinct identity while being only 36 kms from the hugely influential Victorian state capital's CBD. The city was a major trading point in its early days thanks to its strategic position on Dandenong Creek and it enjoyed a healthy economy until more recently. It is however currently in the throes of a major developmental regeneration and urban renewal programme- so much of central Dandenong is undergoing a facelift. Although the city sits on flat land, it is the gateway to the Dandenong Ranges, a major recreational area and destination for outdoor pursuits.
As there is no accommodation in the Dandenong Ranges National Park (other than official campsites), many visitors will choose a holiday base in Dandenong city. Its close proximity to downtown and the amazing atmosphere and cultural hotbed that is Melbourne, is hugely advantageous for anyone wanting to get to know Victoria.
Dandenong National Park - It's hard to ignore the beauty of these stunning mountains. The slopes are covered with forests of Mountain Ash, and its gullies are filled with lush ferns. There are picnic grounds and peaceful forest walks. The park is particularly popular with birdwatchers who come to spot kookaburras, crimson rosellas and the rather special lyrebird.
Australian Ray and Shark Centre - An ideal example of how to make a brilliant ocean themed attraction away from the sea. Found on Princes highway in South Dandenong, this is the world's largest ray and shark experience. If you're looking for the animal encounter of a lifetime, it has to be hand-feeding the sharks and rays. The sharks measure up to 3 metres and the rays weigh up to 300 kilograms. Even kids can get into the waist high water to join in the patting or feeding.
Dandenong Market - In more recent times, markets have become a feature on the tourist menu. Dandenong's market is worthy of attention: In continuous operation since 1866, it's one of the oldest in Victoria. What was once a place where farmers and artisans sold their wares, it has grown, thanks to a well funded redevelopment, to massive cornucopia of retail delights. Multi-cultural, exciting, aromatic and colourful, the stalls sell everything from aubergines to zebra print cushions and everything inbetween. Fascinating!
Dandenong Police Paddocks Reserve - Don't let the rather boring name put you off. Here you can escape the city dust and noisy streets for the bushland and cultivated areas. The paddocks are enjoyed by walkers, dog owners, cyclists, sports and games enthusiasts and birdwatchers. The friends group has cultivated native plants, there's a renovated wetland area, nesting boxes, marked trails, including one for less mobile visitors, and a visitor centre that has the history of this popular recreational area.
Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens - This is the place to see Dandenong's growth from a rural market town to the busy multi-cultural metropolis of today. The story is immortalised in two acres of beautifully landscaped gardens in which stand fine examples of architecture: Laurel Lodge built in 1869, St. James Anglican Church from 1864 and Benga house which dates from 1936.
Walker Street Gallery and Arts Centre - There's always something of interest going on in this busy arts precinct running the gamut from Aboriginal Art, performance art, to children's book illustrations.
City and Community Events - Depending on what time of year you're visiting Dandenong, there's a variety of festivals, shows and celebrations to enjoy and participate in. These include: Greater Dandenong Race Day, Walkfest, The Dandenong Show, Australia Day, Carols by Candlelight, Nocturnal and the Greater Dandenong Children's Festival.