Olinda is one of the highest villages in the Dandenong Ranges, and is known for its superb gardens. Masses of spring bulbs and blossoms are followed by brilliant summer colour, then the burnished leaves of autumn fade into winter’s stark beauty. Occasional light snowfalls create a magical landscape.
Just 500 metres from Olinda are the extraordinary National Rhododendron Gardens. In spring there’s a riot of colour, with more than 270,000 blooms. There’s now a sensory garden too, where you can touch, smell and taste a specially selected range of plants.
Pirianda Garden is close by, and features a rich collection of plants from across the globe, while The R.J. Hamer Forest Arboretum has magnificent views. The renowned Cloudehill Nursery and Gardens are inspired by the arts and crafts gardens of England, and the property is divided into around 20 garden ‘rooms’ which feature changing exhibits of sculptures and garden art.
A drive to the mystical William Ricketts Sanctuary at Mt Dandenong is a must do. Ricketts was an inspired potter and sculptor who created nearly 100 sculptures of people and animals depicting the Aboriginal Dreamtime. They’re hidden away in this spiritual and peaceful sanctuary, and are slowly revealed as you stroll.
There are more than 100 B&Bs around Olinda, with contemporary to traditional accommodation, and a number of day spas and wellness centres. The village’s busy shopping strip has a very eclectic range of shops offering everything from cooking spices and homewares to hand-crafted jewellery, boutique fashion and traditional sweets.