Toolangi sits only fifteen minutes up the road from Healesville and is most noted for it's spectacular National Forest. The name Toolangi is an Aboriginal word meaning tall trees but in some circles it is believed the area was known as Mt Rose up until the 1890s. Toolangi was first inhabited in the 1860s by paling splitters and then timber cutters, who camped deep in the bush. They were attracted by the huge stands of mountain ash, a tree that splits easily, and the messmate timber, which proved durable as a building material.
Today the lush forest provides many tracks and viewing areas, such as the Mt St Leonard lookout. This can also be accessed as a popular, but challenging walk, from Donelly's Weir in Healesville or a shorter walk of just over 1km from the gate in the Toolangi Forest. It's also home to the Kalatha Giant, a mountain ash that is the seventh largest tree in Victoria. There has been a wonderful walk constructed to assist people enjoy this magnificent natural wonder. There are several other local walking tracks, including the Wirra Willa Rain forest walk through local rainforest, the Yea River Walk opposite the Discovery Centre, and the Forest Sculpture Trail, which takes in nine works by sculptors of international repute and views both of Melbourne and the local district.
Toolangi was also home to C J Dennis the author of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, Jim of the Hills, The Glugs of Gosh, Rose of Spadgers, The Singing Gardens and Ginger Mick, to name a few. Dennis joined artist Hal Waugh on an expedition to Toolangi in 1908. Dennis stayed on after the expedition, attracted by the ambience of the area. Dennis' work captured perfectly the feel of the bush and through his writing he created quintessential Australian characters. In 1915, he purchased 3.5 acres and a mill house. This was done up slowly over time but, unfortunately, the house was lost to bush fire. His original garden is still open to the public and home to an ever popular tea rooms, The Singing Gardens, set in under the established and overhanging branches of the orginal plantings.
The town is also know for it's potato research centre, which speaks to the deep red rich soils of the region and why it's such a popular farming area. Many locals have relaxed 'farm gate' style situations with road side stalls and the occasional wobbly table or bucket of excess produce being sold using the honesty system. Others have created unique ways to enjoy your fruit such as the kiwi fruit wine and cider at Giverny Estate.
The former Toolangi Hotel burned to the ground in 1975. The story goes, that while the building was totally destroyed, the locals saved the beer. For weeks afterwards, they would gather under the trees at the old pub site and assist in depleting the stocks. The former licensee decided not to rebuild the pub and the town remained publess for decades. Today there is a General Store and a Tavern that looks back over the sprawling mountain range behind.
Perfect for that weekend escape, why not stay in Toolangi and enjoy all that it has to offer.