(3788, 39 km E, Knox City, Yarra Ranges Shire)
High in the Dandenong Ranges, the small township of Olinda, originally a timber splitters' camp, was expanded as a closer settlement scheme during the 1890s depression, and today is a popular tourist destination.
The present township apparently owes its name to Olinda Creek, in turn named after Alice Olinda Hodgkinson, daughter of early surveyor, Clement Hodgkinson. Palings were split in the heavily timbered district for Melbourne's building boom of the 1880s. Increasing settlement in the 1890s saw a move to small land-holding and the beginnings of berry farming and nursery development.
Construction of a railway from Ringwood to Upper Ferntree Gully (1889) saw tourism begin in earnest. Coaches regularly plied from either Bayswater or Upper Ferntree Gully stations, offering Melburnians a day out in the hills and guesthouse accommodation. The original Quamby Café survives today as The Cuckoo.
During the early 20th century a number of artists settled at Olinda. Heidelberg School painter Arthur Streeton lived and painted frequently at Olinda, and is buried in the Ferntree Gully Cemetery. He would regularly meet up with fellow Heidelberg painter, Tom Roberts, who during the 1920s lived at Kallista. During the 1940s William Dargie, Archibald Prize winner and sometime head of the National Gallery Art School in Melbourne, lived at Olinda. Artist Max Meldrum also made his home here for a time.
The first Melbourne International Film Festival was held in Olinda in 1952. Today there is considerable life in the old township with growing numbers of bed and breakfast businesses, restaurants and antique shops. Residential properties provide commuting Melbourne workers with a more rural setting, and a century of gardening (Edna Walling has several gardens to her credit here) has resulted in autumnal displays that attract people from round the world. The National Rhododendron Gardens, Olinda Forest, R.J. Hamer Arboretum and an adjacent golf course also draw their share of visitors.