Olinda is a township, with rural and scenic areas 37 km east of Melbourne and at the southern foot of Mount Dandenong.

The name Olinda originates from Olinda Creek, a watercourse with its headwaters in the Olinda area and which runs northwards towards Lilydale. In 1858 the creek was named after Alice Olinda Hodgkinson, the daughter of Victoria's dedicated and energetic Acting Surveyor General, Clement Hodgkinson.

Olinda was settled by Europeans in the 1870s following its excision from the Dandenong Forest. The local timber provided a living. In the mid-1890s ten acre blocks were made available for selection, and township blocks surveyed and sold. Between 1900 and 1906 a post office, school and churches were built. By 1910 the area of Olinda stretching south-east to Monbulk was extensively cleared for horticulture: orchards, berries and vegetable growing. The western forested part of Olinda was a tourist area, the first guest house being built in 1896. After 1910 berry growing was replaced by dairying and cut flowers and Olinda entered a prosperous period of guest house tourism. Melburnians built weekenders and, later, more spacious residences situated to take advantage of the extensive views. Several artists (Streeton, Meldrum, Maltby) built in Olinda.

The postwar years signalled the decline of guest houses, but better motor transport made it possible for Olinda to become a commuter dormitory. Day tripper tourists also made a substantial contribution to the local economy, drawn to a place which has the highest number of hospitality, gallery and garden attractions of any location in the Dandenongs. Notable ones are the National Rhododendron Garden, Cloudehill, R.J. Hamer Forest Arboretum, Pirianda Garden and the Olinda Falls Reserve.

Olinda has a shopping centre with a hotel and a post office, and about 2 km away the Anglican church, a row of craft shops, the school (26 pupils, 2014), the mechanics’ institute (1913), the recreation reserve and the Olinda golf course.

Olinda's census populations have been:

Area Census date Population
Olinda 1911 218
  1947 560
  1991 821
  2001 1574
Olinda and environs 2006 1846
  2011 1664

Further Reading

Helen Coulson, Story of the Dandenongs, 1838-1958, Melbourne, 1968

Volkhard Wehner, Olinda, a pictorial history of the first century of settlement, 1895-1995, Mount Dandenong, 1995