Dandenong Ranges National Park: Mount Evelyn Forest 12 km

The Mount Evelyn Forest is the latest addition to the Dandenong Ranges National Park, added in 1997. Earlier, farming and logging took place here.

Other parts were aqueducts moving water off Silvan Reservoir. Those corridors now forms part of Olinda Creek Walking Track. Once buried cement pipes replaced those open channels.

This side of Dandenong Ranges National Park is also in rain-shadow from Mount Dandenong. Hence, drier than elsewhere in the park.

Smoke haze in the air today. Back burning in action. Even the weather forecast spelt that out. Quite some haze while travelling there, but clear air once I arrived.

The map:

A flat first half of the hike while the hills appeared on the return.

The designated parking lot was the parking overflow for visitors to the Silvan Reservoir picnic ground. Not immediately obvious to me as I missed the turnoff. Returned moments later to find the sign.

Sign confirming start of hike

The first 1+km along Olinda Creek took me through green and somewhat overgrown areas. Cool and crisp in the early morning.

Happy to hike

What would be the age of this bench? Regardless, my guess would be little used these days.

Old wooden bench

The Olinda Creek Walking Track soon crosses… Olinda Creek…

Olinda Creek

…through this wooden bridge. Which also had seen better days. You assessed the risk of stepping right through the plank. Everything bounced and was damp.

Bridge over Olinda Creek

Soon, different terrain. Out of the woods and into the open. From Olinda Creek Walking Track to… Olinda Creek Track. Not much imagination naming these things. Olinda Creek Track follows the buried water channels. For the next several kilometres.

Olinda Creek Track

I saw these fields between the trees and I couldn’t decide what was growing there. Possibly vines, but… Looked great towards the morning sun.

Behind the trees

Plenty of signage, but maintenance suffered. This sign was not unique. Signs were helpful today given the area’s non recreational history. There were trails everywhere, not all drawn on my map.

Smashed sign

To here on the pipeline trail but not further today. Judging by the stile, walking trails continued down the slope. I saw a sign pointing to Mount Evelyn itself being some 4.5km away. Not for today either, next time.

A perfect place for a cuppa here though. Great outlook.

4.3km into hike

Sideways from above, a trail junction with three more trails plus the one from where I arrived.

My map suggested looping into neighbouring suburbia before returning to Wols Track. Which is the track straight ahead. Made no sense. If I’d known, I would hike straight up there.

Tracks, tracks and more tracks

Wols Track is where the ups and down started. A wide management track with plenty of hills. Beautiful surroundings.

Wols Track

Hills never come across well in photos but trust me, this is one of them.

Wols Track hill

Some of the crumbled signs looked almost photogenic. The artist in Hans The Hiker experimented… (Editors note: What artist?)

Hans The Hiker saw the sign

Some tracks lacked names and had “Road” and a number instead. Some had both. Here is Road (or Track) 21. One problem, road 21 to the right looked like…

Junction Wallaby Track (21) and Selma Track (13)

…this. i.e. no “road”. Short of bush-bashing, no path visible. I had a cup of tea while surveying the surroundings.

Where in the world is Road 21?

Well, a short distance away was a mountain bike track. Which took me down to Track 12, my next route.

A note on a tree informed hikers about back burning. What sections of the park to avoid and how to walk instead. My hike today didn’t take me anywhere near those areas.

Detour map due to back burning

Soon I returned to the pipeline track with open sunny spots. A mountain biker passed and I met people jogging and with dogs. Not alone on the trails today. Somewhat strange…

There is a pipe buried here somewhere…

I diverted from my map’s suggested trail. It looked like I could follow the pipeline straight back to the parking lot. Not so. Only to here.

Note the pedestrians no entry sign and the open gate. Intriguing… I didn’t push my luck, I reversed and walked as suggested.

Pipeline track here but not further

Once finished hiking, I drove the short distance to Silvan Reservoir for lunch. After all, the reservoir was the source for much of today’s hike.

Silvan Reservoir fence and information board

Contrary to Sugarloaf Reservoir, there was no public access to the dam’s foreshore. Fence and signs took care of that. This shot was through that fence.

Silvan Reservoir

The famous Australian painter Arthur Streeton was a local during the reservoir’s building. He couldn’t but paint the scene. From that distant hill back towards the dam.

Arthur Streeton was here

The picnic areas are downstream from the reservoir. Meaning that you couldn’t see the water from there. Still, plenty of picnic tables in a quaint park setting.

Views while eating my lunch

A final picture of two kookaburras eyeing any possible food scraps. Those guys were almost right above me. No laughing today though.

Shady kookaburras

In summary, an easy/medium hike with a few hills thrown in. Not one of my favourite Melbourne day hikes, offering only limited views and challenges. I prefer my hikes a bit more “meaty” than this.

Still, a restful day walking in the woods is never wrong. And the area around Silvan Reservoir is lovely in its own right…

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