The Dandenong Ranges (commonly just The Dandenongs) are a set of low mountain ranges, rising to 633 metres at Mount Dandenong, approximately 35 km (22 mi) east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys and gullies covered in thick temperate rainforest, predominantly of tall mountain ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth.
After European settlement in the region, the range was used as a major local source of timber for Melbourne. The ranges were popular with day-trippers from the 1870s onwards. Much of the Dandenongs were protected by parklands as early as 1882 and by 1987 these parklands were amalgamated to form the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which was subsequently expanded in 1997. The range receives light to moderate snowfalls a few times in most years, frequently between late winter and late spring.
The etymology of the Dandenongs is a complicated one. Two names have been used to refer to the ranges; Corhanwarrabul and Dandenong, both derived from the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people. It is thought that the name Dandenong was applied to the ranges due to being the origin of the Dandenong Creek; however, the original name for Dandenong Creek was Narra Narrawong. The origin of the name Dandenong is unknown, as is its meaning or correct spelling with other variations include; Tanjenong, Tangynon and Bangeong. In any case, both names relate to watercourses rather than mountains or ranges, as indicated by the ong ending. Given that the name Dandenong may not apply to anything in the immediate area, the relevance of the name Corhanwarrabul becomes apparent. Carhanwarrabul (pronounced either "corhan-warrabul" with a silent "h", or "cor-hana-warrabul") or Koran warrabin was the original name for one of the two main summits, perhaps both or perhaps the entire range. The name applied to the main summits and was in continued use up until around 1900, when the name Dandenong appeared. At any rate, Corhanwarrabul remains the most relevant name for the ranges to date.
The range is the remains of an extinct volcano last active 373 million years ago. It consists predominantly of Devonian dacite and rhyodacite.
The topography consists of a series of ridges dissected by deeply cut streams. Sheltered gullies in the south of the range are home to temperate rain forest, fern gullies and Mountain Ash forest Eucalyptus regnans, whereas the drier ridges and exposed northern slopes are covered by dry sclerophyll forest of stringybarks and box. The entire range is highly prone to bushfires, the most recent of which have been the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, the 1997 Dandenong Ranges bushfires and small fires during the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
The Dandenong Ranges are home to a variety of native Australian mammal, bird, reptile and invertebrate species. Well-represented bird species include the Sulfur-crested cockatoo, Superb lyrebird, Laughing kookaburra, and Crimson Rosella. Mammals include the Short-beaked echidna, Common wombat, Sugar glider, and Swamp wallaby. Invertebrates include two species of burrowing crayfish.