You are in Melbourne and you want to experience the Australian countryside. You can’t go wrong with a visit to the Yarra Valley. This region of Victoria is only 90 kilometres/56 miles east of Melbourne, so readily accessible. What is there to see and do? In a nutshell, a short list includes wineries, hiking trails, country towns, animal sanctuaries, art galleries, water parks, and balloon rides – to name a few attractions. Enjoy these spectacular offerings from the Yarra Valley on your Australia vacation.
Let’s Start with the Wineries
The Yarra Valley has a thriving wine industry due to its relatively cool climate – suited to producing the required grapes. The region produces high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wine. You could undertake what the locals call a “wine flight” (with both feet remaining on the ground), sometimes referred to as a tasting flight. It consists of tasting multiple wines, which allow you to get a more detailed understanding of particular wines. A flight can generally include anywhere from three or four wines, and will often be based around a central theme, but may also just be a chance to try a number of different types of wine at the many local wineries.
A sad story about the Yarra Valley wine industry is about an occurrence called Black Saturday. Due to a series of bush fires burning large areas of rural Victoria in 2009, the Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association estimates that around 25% of the viticultural area was threatened or impacted by the fires.
Check Out the Scenery in the Yarra Valley
There are several vantage points from which to enjoy panoramic views. There is the Kangaroo Ground Memorial Tower Lookout which offers 360 degree views, taking in Melbourne, the north-east suburbs, and the Dandenong and Kinglake Ranges.
There is the Mount Donna Buang Lookout Tower, with its Rainforest Gallery part way up the mountain, featuring the spectacular Skywalk aerial walkway through the tree tops. There is Selovers Lookout which offers a perfectly elevated vantage point for taking in the impressive Maroondah Reservoir and surrounding mountain ranges. Then there is the Keppel, offering stunning views of the ridgeline and forests surrounding Marysville. Perhaps the most popular site is Lake Mountain, which offers the most incredible views from several lookouts. On a clear day you can certainly see Melbourne. You can find a spot on the plateau to stop for a picnic and soak up spectacular panoramic views of the Victorian Alps to the east, and over to the surrounding foothills of the Great Dividing Range to the west.
You Enjoy Walking?
The Australian Bicentennial National Trail is a 5330 kilometre/3300 mile long multi-use route through bush, wilderness, and mountain areas. As far as the Yarra Valley is concerned, trails start in the town of Healesville and wind through some of the most magnificent terrain Australia has to offer. This breathtaking walk passes through rare mature-aged mountain ash including the majestic, 85 metre/285 feet tall Big Tree, which has been towering above the forest floor for some 400 years.
The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is a 40 kilometre/25 mile recreation trail for walkers, cyclists, and horse riders, following the path of a historical railway line through the Yarra Valley. It crosses through vineyards, beautiful mountain scenery, farmlands, and forests and is ideal for all levels of fitness, including families.
Healesville, the Yarra Valley’s Heart
Pretty little Healesville is the main town and base for exploring the Lower Yarra Valley, and is perfectly located for easy access to some of the region’s finest wineries. It is famous for its wildlife sanctuary – a nature park with hundreds of native Australian animals displayed in a semi-open natural setting, and with an active platypus breeding programme. You can wander through trails and meet some iconic Australian animals such as koalas, kangaroos, platypus, dingoes, wombats, and emus. Healesville is also an excellent centre for accommodation.
Toolangi State Park
To fully immerse yourself into the beauty and diversity of the Toolangi State Park, you could camp, walk through the bushes and take in the enticing aromas of wildflowers, and look out for colourful bird life such as parrots, honeyeaters, whistlers, and lyrebirds.
Toolangi State Park features a number of trails. The Yea River Walk is an easy one hour walk. Along the way, discover the Yea River which is full of aquatic life, including platypus and many fish species. There is a viewing platform which provides an excellent vantage point to see the river.
The Tanglefoot Track is a spectacular walk through the majestic Mountain Ash forest of the Toolangi State forest. This trail is 9 kilometres/6 miles one way which takes about 3 hours.
What Else is There in the Yarra Valley?
The answer is… too much to list here but let’s throw in a couple of other attractions. First up is the exotic sounding Blue Lotus Water Garden in Warburton, a unique 14 acre garden displaying lotuses and water lilies. Then there is the Tarra Warra Museum of Art, located in the beautiful Yarra Valley wine region. Throughout each year it presents seasonally-changing exhibitions and has become recognized as the cultural jewel of the Yarra Valley. It’s an inspiring experience which combines stunning architecture with the very best of modern and contemporary art. The collection features many significant Australian artists who were instrumental in the development of modern art in Australia.
Lastly, want to pamper yourself? There is a number of life-rejuvenating spa centres to be found in the Yarra Valley.
The surface has only been scratched as to the multiple activities and attractions in the Yarra Valley, so certainly consider this destination on your next Australian vacation.
2-Day Yarra Valley Explorer