The Dandenong Ranges are less than an hour from Melbourne’s CBD, but this majestic forest feels like worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city. And tucked away, amongst the spectacular mountain ash, lush ferns, and quaint villages, are some of Melbourne’s loveliest wedding venues.
Cherie Farr, of Lyrebird Falls, says people are often amazed by the stunning scenery of the Dandenong Ranges.
“People who come to view our venues often tell us that the Dandenongs are more beautiful than they remember. Some say that even our professional photos don’t do it justice.”
“The forest has a beautiful calm feeling, it almost feels magical. Even the way it smells is so fresh and beautiful, it is almost other-worldly. It really has the wow factor,” Cherie says.
Here are 10 reasons to consider the Dandenong Ranges for your wedding.
Distance from Melbourne
The Dandenong Ranges are about 40 minutes from Melbourne, and the drive up through the hills is amazingly picturesque – a great way to impress guests and to make the most of your wedding transport. “People often tell us how much they’ve enjoyed the drive, it’s very relaxing,” Cherie says. There are no issues for guests finding car parking when they get there.Image: Ateia Photography
The huge trees, fern gullies, and natural waterfalls and streams are a photographer’s dream, and all most are within metres of the wedding venues. “We have a little wooden bridge over a natural stream here and it looks amazing in every photo,” Cherie says.
Variety of venues
Whether you want a wedding that is classic or more rustic, there is sure to be something that suits your style in the Dandenong Ranges. “Even between our three venues, we find there is a huge variety of wedding themes. We had a beautiful woodlands-themed event under our big oak tree recently – it was so pretty. But of course, the venues also work really well for more traditional events.”
The venues in the Dandenong Ranges offer a one-stop shop for the couple and their guests, with chapels on-site. “People usually choose to hold their wedding in the chapel or the gardens, and then the guests can have some drinks and canapés and explore a little more while the couple are having their photos taken. Many venues up here are purpose-built for weddings, which makes things easier for the bride and groom, and also for the guests. It’s a hassle-free experience for everyone.”
The Dandenong Ranges are an all-weather location. The temperature in the hills is usually a few degrees cooler than Melbourne, which means spring and summer weddings are very popular. “The rhododendrons and camellias are particularly beautiful in spring, but the Ranges are also perfect for autumn and winter wedding,” Cherie says. “Blazing fireplaces and cosy venues – which have huge windows looking out onto the forest – make the Dandenongs a spectacular setting for a winter event.
While many venues also offer hotel-style accommodation on-site, there is a full range of options to choose from if your wedding guests want to stay in the area overnight, or even make a weekend of it. From farm stays to luxury bed-and-breakfasts, the Dandenong Ranges has it all.
People might think the of food options in the Dandenong Ranges as quaint tearooms selling delicious scones with jam and cream, and there is certainly no shortage of these cosy establishments, but the Dandenong Ranges are also home to a bustling modern café scene.
“Shannon Bennett, of Vue de Monde, has recently opened a new café in Sherbrooke and there are other new eateries popping up. Wedding guests who choose to stay in the Dandenong Ranges won’t find any shortage of good places to eat,” Cherie says. “There are also boutique shopping strips which can be really fun to wander through.
The Dandenong Ranges offers many unique experiences, including the century-old steam train Puffing Billy which winds through the Ranges. “It’s a great area for people wanting to showcase a unique part of Australia for family or friends from overseas. There is a lot of history here. People with family coming from interstate and overseas love the Dandenong Ranges because it offers some great tourism options for those who are only here for a short time.
The number of wedding venues in the area have given rise to a host of high-quality wedding suppliers. “We have really good suppliers for everything from the flowers to the wedding cake, and we are always happy to pass on recommendations to our couples. There is even a local chocolatier who makes amazing bomboniere,” Cherie says.
Walks and hikes
Fitness fanatics will already be familiar with the Kokoda Memorial Walk, also known as the 1000 Steps. The steep 5km track winds its way through tree ferns, manna gums and blackwood. It’s one of many walks and hikes in the area, perfect for guests – or fit brides and grooms – who want a leisurely walk or a cardio workout before or after the big day.