The monumental two-storey stuccoed town hall was built in 1890. It initially served as a town hall, courthouse and mechanics' institute. A Classical design it features a clock tower with grand mansard roof and is located at the intersection of Lonsdale St (the Princes Highway), Walker St and Langhorne St.
Heritage Hill Social History Museum
Heritage Hill is a cluster of historic buildings set in picturesque gardens at 51 Langhorne St (which runs off Walker St). Buildings include the Benga Oral History Centre, St James' Church (Dandenong's oldest building) and 'Laurel Lodge' (1869). There is also a collection of material pertaining to local history. It is open Wednesday to Friday and Sundays from 1.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 9793 4511. There is an admission charge.
Dandenong to Patterson Lakes Trail
Park your car at Dandenong Park in Pultney St then walk all the way along Power St to the Clow St intersection. A 17-km cycling trail starts nearby, at a quiet corner of the green belt bordering Dandenong Creek. An asphalt path leads south alongside the creek past several ovals and a picnic ground, then over the creek via a suspension bridge. Follow the red-brick path to the Lonsdale St lights. Cross the road and walk along Webster St (again adjacent the creek). Cross Hammond Rd and continue along the gravel path. It veers to the left and heads south-west beneath Greens Rd and Perry Rd, passing through Dandenong South and Bangholme. The creek eventually becomes the wider Patterson River and the path passes the National Water Sports Centre and under the Mornington Peninsula Freeway. The scenery improves as you reach Patterson Lakes - a former swamp which has become a residential area. The track follows a levee and bridge across a series of floodgates, then follows the river past boat-launching ramps and a carpark to the Nepean Highway and the mouth of the river on the shore of Port Phillip Bay. There are barbecues and a playground near the bridge.
Churchill National Park
Just to the north-east of Dandenong is Churchill National Park (193 ha) which represents a rare remaining section of the bushland and forest which covered the Melbourne area prior to European settlement. Although there are clear traces of the human presence (a disused aqueduct, powerlines, man-made dams, water-supply channels, abandoned quarry sites, and evidence of man-made fires and clearing practices) it is still an oasis for native fauna and flora and a good spot for picnicking and scenic walks.
A police corps headquarters for native trackers was established on this land in 1837 though it closed in 1839. The national park was declared in 1941. It was initially known as Dandenong National Park but was changed in 1944 in honour of Winston Churchill.
The park is profuse with birdlife such as parrots, honeyeaters, wrens, thornbills and a colony of melodious bellbirds at Bellbird Bend. Kangaroos and wallabies have been reintroduced as they died out in the 19th century. They can be seen in the early morning and at dusk. Echidnas are quite common and so are green and golden bell frogs in summer. Snakes can be seen on warmer days. They are protected and tend to flee at the vibrations of approaching footfalls. Much of the wildlife is nocturnal. Eucalypt and wattle species are many. Due to clearing in the past, open woodland tends to be more common than forest.
To get there, turn off the Princes Highway at Dandenong along Clow St then turn left into Stud Rd. After about 1.7 km turn right into Heatherton Rd and after about another 1.7 km turn left again into Power Rd. After about 2.5 km it reaches a T-intersection with Churchill Park Drive. Turn right and you will soon come to the park entrance on the left. It leads to a picnic area with barbecues, toilets, tables, parking and a large picnic shelter. Before it reaches the picnic site the main entrance road passes an area on the left where kangaroos and wallabies feed at dawn and dusk.
There are a network of intersecting walking tracks in the park. You can pick up the Shelter Track from the picnic area. It reaches a T-intersection with the Aqueduct Channel Track which follows the course of a disused water channel that once supplied water to Dandenong, passing through an attractive, lightly wooded landscape. If you turn left onto the Aqueduct Track it soon leads to Bellbird Bend. Other trails are the Bellbird Track, the Ridge Track, the North Boundary Track (which passes the only stand of messmate in the park and an artificial dam which is a good spot for birdwatching) and Stonemasons Track which is recommended for cycling and jogging.
Parks Victoria put out a pamphlet relating to the park which includes a map outlining the walks, tel: 131 963.
Lysterfield Lake Park
Just to the east of Churchill National Park is Lysterfield Lake Park, based around the former Lysterfield Reservoir which supplied water to the Mornington Peninsula from 1936 until it was supplanted by Cardinia Reservoir in 1975. It has since become a recreation area.
To get there, head off the Princes Highway along Clow St then turn left into Stud Rd. After about 1.7 km turn right into Heatherton Rd. Proceed east for about 8 km then turn left into the Belgrave-Hallam Rd. About 2 km along this road turn left into Horswood Rd which leads through the main entrance and ticket office to Lysterfield Lake. The entrance is closed at night. There is an admission fee.
This Park incorporates valuable remnant native forest and eucalypt plantations. It is also a wildlife refuge which has attracted numerous bird species such as ducks, swans, grebus, pelicans, Japanese snipe, gang-gang, cockatoos, bellbirds, wrens and honeyeaters.
At the Lakeside Picnic Area there are carparks, picnic areas, barbecues, boat-launching ramps and toilets. Horseriding is permitted in summer on some tracks in the east of the park. Those interested in orienteering, rogaining or bringing in groups of 40 or more must contact the Park Office first, tel: (03) 9796 8763.
Swimming is permitted only from the beach in the lakeside area and, while power boats are forbidden for reasons of swimmers' safety and for the protection of waterbird habitats, non-powered boating is permitted in certain delineated areas (it is excluded from the northern, eastern and south-eastern edges of the lake). Those with sailboats should note that a 5-metre maximum applies to monhull boats and 4.3 m for multi-hull boats. Sailboarding, canoeing and rowing are other possibilities. Informal competitions are allowed but not regattas and model boating is restricted to non-motorised craft. A brochure called 'Boating on Lysterfield Lake' is available from the park or ring Parks Victoria on 131 963.
Some of the park's tracks are for walkers only while others are also open to cyclists. The paths around the lakeside are wheelchair friendly and there are disabled facilities at the toilets. Access along the tracks can be difficult after heavy rain.
The two main walks are (a) a short and pleasant walk from the lakeside area to the dam wall and (b) an 8-km walk around the lake, across the dam wall and along the Tramline Track, Lamberts Track and Lake Track, around the northern edge of the Conservation Zone to Logan Park Rd then through the Conservation Zone to the main carpark.
Parks Victoria publish a pamphlet relating to the park, tel: 131 963.