If you are interested in trees or simply just love a good walk in the hills then the R.J. Hamer Arboretum is a spectacular place to spend a couple of hours. There’s a few nice things about the Arboretum and one of them is that it’s free to visit. Parks Victoria manage the site and all of the usual facilities are available such as toilets, picnic benches and our favourite feature is the electric barbecues. It’s the perfect spot to throw a few snags on the barbecue as the sun goes down over the horizon.
Another great thing about the R.J. Hamer Arboretum, well, two things actually is it’s location and the distance from the city. It’s located approximately a 45 minute drive from Melbourne’s CBD which is nice even just for an afternoon stroll or a quick picnic with a view. If you want to make more of a day trip out of it there’s plenty to do close by to the Arboretum. Some of our favourite things to do whilst we are out this way is to check out the view point of the city which is just 5 minutes from R.J. Hamer or go to Grants Picnic Ground. Grants Picnic Ground is also a nice spot to have lunch and feed the birds, if you so wish. There is a dedicated bird feeding area and seed for sale to feed the Cockatoos. Don’t worry, they’ll be eyeing up your lunch too.
Before we get too far off track, the Arboretum boasts over 150 different species of trees from all over the world including conifers from the west coast of the USA and broadleaf trees from Europe. It’s nice to explore the different sections in your own time as it is as much a park as it is an attraction, so no gates or opening hours etc.
It is said that large bushfires destroyed the old growth through this section of the Dandenong’s in the early 50’s and whoever was in charge at the time planted the softwoods for timber production. A few years later, the newly planted trees were destroyed by yet another fire and then the government decided to establish the Arboretum as a firebreak for the township of Olinda.
No matter what time of year you visit R.J. Hamer, you won’t be disappointed. Park your car at the top of the hill and take in the view. Then follow the Dam Track down into the Arboretum to enjoy the magic of the trees.