Heading for the Yarra Valley for a weekend getaway? Then check out our Yarra Valley Guide!
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Chill out in the Yarra Valley
The lush cooler-weathered Yarra Valley, situated four and a half hours northeast of downtown Melbourne, is renowned for its weekend getaway vibe, picture-perfect national parks and the odd wine producing establishment (actually that’s a downright lie – there are over 80 wineries here).
Trek, swim or kayak
If trekking amongst forest and farmland is your thing, then the Cathedral Range State Park will totally satisfy with its seven-kilometre ridge (rock climbers take note), sky-high peaks and sparkling mountain streams perfect for picnicking and trout fishing.
Kinglake National Park on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range is ideal for the amateur photographer, offering dramatic vistas of the Melbourne skyline, Port Phillip Bay and the You Yangs, and if you’re after a bit more than just pretty scenery, head for Lake Eildon National Park where you can try your hand at kayaking or water skiing.
Need a cool-down on a hot day? The Big Peninsula Tunnel was hand dug out of a rocky hillside during the gold mining boom in the mid 1800’s, and is a refreshing stop-off on your drive back to Melbourne. Around two metres high and 25 metres long, it can be reached via a 13-kilometre loop track (if you’re feeling energetic) and is a great spot for rock hopping and waterhole splashing.
Eat, drink and be merry
Whether you grab a bench at a local bakery, treat yourself to a cheese platter in one of the fabulous wineries or simply wander about one of the local kitchen gardens, the Yarra Valley is certainly a foodie’s wonderland.
With restaurants flaunting degustation menus, cafes offering vego-vegan-dairy-and-gluten-free options and local producers spruiking their cold drip coffees, ice-cream pig-outs and decadent chocolate tastings, naughty indulgers should be prepared for a sizeable food coma at the day’s end.
And then there’s the vino. With over 80 wineries crammed into its beautiful checkerboard landscape, the Valley is renowned worldwide for some of its ‘drops’. Bulong Estate and its vine-filled 162 hectares, De Bortoli with its cheese maturation room and Yering Station with its art gallery and regional produce store are just a few worth checking out.
Bubbles your fave? Frenchy flavours can be found at Domaine Chandon and beer lovers should head to the Coldstream Brewery for handcrafted ales frothily produced onsite.
If you’re keen to take a stash of foodstuffs home to gorge on later, the Healesville Organic Farmers’ Market sells a bunch of locally grown produce, free range eggs, herbs, honeys and sourdough breads.
Lilydale Farmers Produce Market offers an authentic countryside experience, where you can browse through boutique stores, craft stalls and quaint little shops, and the Yarra Valley Farmers’ market has an extensive selection of seasonal treats, freshly ground coffee beans and home-made pastas. Pick up a sample or two of their delicious range of lavender products while you’re there and keep the artisan vibe going back home as well.
And there’s nothing like organic tidbits to iron out the creases of a stressful working week in the city. From delis, charcuteries and country butchers to dairies producing the finest of soft cheeses and Italian favourites, this place will more than satisfy your whole food cravings.
Berries and wildlife galore
As if all of this wasn’t enough, the divine Yarra Valley is also home to a truckload of orchards. Overdose on jams at the Kookaberry Strawberry Farm, pick up some blackberry takeaways at Chappies, stop in at Rayner’s for over 300 varieties of stone fruit or rent your own cherry tree (where you’ll be notified when they’re ripe for picking) at The Cherry Boys.
And for a side of nature fun, explore the bush land haven of the Healesville Sanctuary, where you can wander through tranquil tracks and introduce yourself to some of Australia’s icons, including platypus, wombats, kangaroos and koalas. This place has heaps of add-ons you can purchase as well, including a hands-on dive into the Platypus Play Pool, the Wombat Pat and Play exhibit and the Australian Wildlife Health Centre, where you can talk to the inspiring team of vets whose daily work is saving our precious fauna.
Adventure-up your weekend away
Exploring, eating and animal visiting not enough to get the adrenalin going? Then venture a bit further out and you’ll hit a section of the Bicentennial National Trail, a 33-kilometre track that starts at Healesville and snakes its way through the wilderness of the Great Dividing Range, all the way to Narbethong.
The entire trail actually stretches for 5,330 kilometres from Cooktown in Queensland through NSW and the ACT, and is recognised as the world’s longest, fully marked, non-motorised, multi-purpose trails. Now THAT’S impressive. The Yarra Valley section has been graded as moderate/hard, meaning that if you’re bushwalking you’ll need to be pretty fit, or you can take the easier option (although not for your backside) and tackle it on horseback.
If you’re after a bit of alpine landscape action, Lake Mountain’s your go-to. One of the most popular ski resorts in Australia due to its closeness to Melbourne, it offers tobogganing and cross-country skiing in the winter months and some fairly gruelling mountain biking in summer. Road cyclists will love the twenty-one-kilometre slog up from Marysville, where you’ll be rewarded with incredible valley views from the summit.
If easier grade activities are more your style, check out Marysville’s Trestle Track which consists of a two-kilometre amble to the trestle bridge and tramway or the Tree Fern Gully Track, which is a lovely walk amongst the greenery along the Steavenson River, with some fantastic views of the 82-metre-high Steavenson Falls at the end.
And finally, if you’re after a trek/swim adventure, follow the Michaeldane Track down to the Wishing Well, a bubbly natural spring where you can enjoy a splash about with the local trout.
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