Where else can you find 80 wineries and 50 cellar doors just one hour from an international city of four million people. The Yarra Valley of course, one of Australia’s most popular day-trips. Head east from Melbourne for beer, cider, pink Moscato, local produce, bush walks, natural sanctuaries, spas…and some of the most inspiring Pinot on the planet.
WHERE: 42°S 147°E
MAJOR TOWNS: Healesville, Warburton, Yarra Glen
HOW TO GET THERE: Located just 50kms to the east of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is a comfortable one-hour drive from the city.
POPULATION: The Yarra Ranges have a population of approximately 145,000 people. That’s about the same as California’s Orange County or Montmartre in Paris.
MUST WALK: The Warburton rail trail in Lilydale is the perfect place to walk off any gastronomic indulgences. A former railway line converted into a 40km gravel walking and cycling trial, the Warburton is a simple way to discover the Yarra Valley at your own pace.
MUST EAT: Home of the oldest vineyard in the Yarra Valley, Yarra Yering is not only a ‘must taste’ destination, it is also home to one of the Valley’s finest restaurants. The winery’s signature restaurant provides a truly unforgettable wine and food experience, complete with magnificent views of the Yarra Ranges. For the perfect pairing try the seared kangaroo with barley, hazelnuts, beetroot and green peppercorn jus, washed down with the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir.
MUST TASTE: Known for its innovative wines and striking cellar door, Innocent Bystander is the go-to place for trend-setters. Enjoy a relaxed ‘tapas style’ shared platters along with a glass of their famously fizzy pink Moscato, a lightweight palate cleanser after a morning of Pinot tasting.
MUST DRINK: Another way to break up those tasting tannins is a visit to Meletos Ciderhouse and Brewery, a great little local where you can sample a tasting paddle of four beers or ciders of your choice.
MUST VISIT: Healesville Sanctuary is a great place to explore the natural beauty of the Yarra Valley. Home to hundreds of friendly native Australian animals, the sanctuary allows visitors to experience Tasmanian Devils, koalas, kangaroos and native birds up close and personal.
MUST SHOP: If you’re looking for that special sweet something to take home, the Yarra Valley chocolaterie and ice-creamery offers 150 different ways to consume sugar. It also has 16 hectares of rolling green lawns, an orchard and a picturesque native garden.
MUST DRIVE: Be different and take the scenic route from Melbourne to explore the western and northern aspects of the Valley via Kangaroo Ground – a viticultural region known for its high yielding, thick, black, volcanic soil. Here you can visit Wedgetail Estate where the winemaker-proprietor Guy Lamothe squeezes rich, fruit driven Pinot out of the ancient terroir.
MUST SEE: Take a leisurely 3.2km walk through temperate rain forest to the La La Falls for spectacular local scenery…and a sugar rebalance.
MUST STAY: Winner of the 2015 Best Regional Accommodation in Victoria Award, Balgownie Estate is the perfect place to rest your head. With 65 stylish suites, the Natskin Day Spa offering everything from pedicures to full body pampering packages and elegant dining at Rae’s Restaurant. Maybe settle in for week!