Originally used by the Bunurong and Woewurrong Aboriginal people, the Ranges became an important source of timber for early Melbourne and much of the forest was cleared. Farming became established late last century as roads and railways were built. The 'Puffing Billy' narrow-gauge line from Ferntree Gully to Gembrook was opened in 1900.
The area became popular with tourists from the 1870s onwards. Fern Tree Gully was first reserved as a park in 1882 and other areas followed. The present national park was established in 1987.
Some of the heritage of the Dandenongs is depicted in paintings by famous artists such as Sir Arthur Streeton. Reproductions of their works can be found on signs in the park and around the Ranges.
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