Dandenong Ranges: John’s Hill 13km

This hike taking in John’s Hill is in Dandenong Ranges but outside the national park. It also incorporates built up areas and local roads. Albeit with some lovely houses and gardens, particularly now during autumn. Alongside some eyecatching rural scenery.

I parked my car at Hermons Saddle Reserve but you could begin in many other places along the route. The maps:


Greater elevation difference today than I expected. It didn’t feel like this much variation.

Immediately after starting hiking, a steep dirtroad called Jacksons Hill Road ascended… and ascended… presumably up to… Jacksons Hill. Phew, no chance to warm up here. If you are anyhting like me, it takes me something like 30-60 minutes before I’m in “full throttle”.

Jacksons Hill Road up to… ehh…

Upside down sign halfway up the hill… Yes, on both sides.

Comedian at work?

You then follow the surfaced Ridge Road eastwards along a… ridge. Mostly through paths and grass off the road itself. Beautiful autumn colours, along some gorgeous estates.

Ridge Road

The ridge offered excellent views between houses. Looking north below.

North off Ridge Road

I reached the reserve giving this walk its name. Some 3.5km in, I stopped for a cuppa here at John’s Hill Reserve.

John’s Hill Reserve

Not a bad spot, John’s Hill Reserve. I read that on clear days, Port Phillip is visible from here but not today. The distant water below is Cardania Reservoir. One of the nine reservoirs providing Melbourne with drinking water.

Views off John’s Hill Reserve

A final picture of John’s Hill Reserve as I continue. An open expanse of green between farm and bush land.

Looking back at John’s Hill Reserve

Ridge Road then finishes being a road to become a road reserve. I am actually standing on the road below. Looking towards what could have become the road’s extension. Except for…

End of Ridge Road and onto Reserve

…well, this sign explains it.

In the top left corner it says “Drawn as a straight line in an office in the city about 1860, this section of “Ridge Road” was too steep to become a through road“.

That wording made me giggle…

About Ridge Road Reserve

…and continuing walking the track where they planned the road, I agree with that earlier statement.

Ridge… ehh, Track

Several large and impressive eucalyptus trees along the road reserve. This bloke muddying the picture is somewhat less impressive…

Large gum trees along RIdge Road Reserve

The road reserve sometimes opened up, providing splendid rural vistas. I stopped here below to absorb it all. The colours, man, the colours…

Farmland north off Ridge Road Reserve

You then turn south and walk along Avard Road, another dirtroad despite its name.

Avard Picnic Ground below looked unloved and deserted. One picnic table only which appeared unused for some time. Spider web covered most of the signboard. I will have my second cuppa elsewhere…

Avard Picnic Ground

The path soon left Avard Road to follow Menzies Creek for the next kilometer or so.

The trail continues behind the gate…

A different landscape yet again. Tree ferns and tall eucalytus trees grew along Menzies Creek’s valley. Damp and overgrown in places. No surprises in finding mushrooms…

Mushrooms next to Menzies Creek

…and here the vegetation had almost claimed the path. As the timberboards reveal, the track goes underneath all that. This was the most pleasant part of today’s hike.

Walk through here and you may never return… 😉

The terrain then changed again with large trees and plenty of leaves on the ground. Where is the trail? Hint, underneath all that ground cover on this side of that fence.

Autumn has arrived here

The final part off Menzies Creek consists of a timber stairway. To heaven…? No, to Telopea Road.

Stairway to… Telopea Road

There was a landing halfway up, with a bench, perfect for a break. I enjoyed today’s second cup of tea there when the sign below on the woodwork caught my eye.

Walking Forever“. I agree with Victor Sperlich whoever he was. Victor must have loved this area.

“Walking Forever”

At the top of the stairs, there were several signs, providing all kinds of information. It turned out that this part of today’s trail formed part of the Tourist Track, a 15km walk from Emerald to Sassafras. To investigate for another time…

Top of the stairway

Some outer suburbia followed. I passed four llamas in an enclosure, in four different colours. Just another regular hike…

Llamas checking me out – food?

Up at Belgrave Gembrook Road, I stumbled onto Puffing Billy railway line. Which travels between… ehh… Belgrave and Gembrook.

No steam train in sight… yet…

Puffing Billy train tracks

I soon found a Puffing Billy at Menzies Creek Railway Station. I decided to check it out…

Puffing Billy train set

Sign confirming where I was…

Menzies Creek Railway Station

Puffing Billy is one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world. The century old steam train is still running on its original 25 kilometre mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook. Today predominantly a tourist attraction.

Steamy Puffing Billy

I tried to avoid including Chinese tourists into my Puffing Billy shots. But believe me, there were plenty here…

A pose repeated 10+ times during my Puffing Billy visit

I hogged a station bench, while observing Puffing Billy and its fans. Mobile phone cameras went wild. And the train operators in their uniforms were more than happy to pose for photos. Particularly with cute female Chinese tourists on either side. Who could blame them?

Puffing Billy’s open carriages

Leaving Menzies Creek Railway Station, I saw four or five minibuses parked. Chinese people exit two of them. Must be a favorite destination.

I wasn’t finished with Puffing Billy for today as I again heard that distintive train whistle. Behind me, crossing the road, it was again. A final picture before we go…

Why did Puffing Billy cross the road…?

The remaining 2km from Menzies Creek Railway Station back to Hermon Saddle Reserve was unexciting. Walking along School Road, another surfaced suburbian style road. A few bored but now excited dogs barking as I passed the properties.

Bob’s Hill circuit offers some fantastic hiking and scenery, mixed with built up road walking. The latter diminished today’s attraction somewhat. Not a favorite hike, but exploring Puffing Billy was fun and a new experience.

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