YARRA VALLEY – THE AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLER GUIDE
Renowned as a world class wine region, the Yarra Valley offers a slice of European indulgence in our Aussie backyard. Boasting stunning surroundings, plentiful markets and countless spas, restaurants and wineries, the Yarra Valley has become a popular destination for romantic getaways.
WHERE TO STAY
There is a plethora of accommodation choices throughout the Yarra Valley, with the higher end of the spectrum featuring delicious retreats like Chateau Yering Historic House Hotel. Restaurant, room service, spa and wellness centre, business centre, child care and high speed internet access are just some of the offerings at this luxurious 5-star hotel, but expect to pay atleast $500 per night in exchange.
For something a little more affordable without skimping on indulgence, check out Sanctuary Park Cottages. Well reviewed and with plenty of options, prices generally start from about $175.
But if you’d rather get amongst the vines there are many more options for accommodation on local wineries.
WHAT TO DO
The obvious starting point to any Yarra Valley to-do list is to visit some of the region’s award-winning wineries and breweries. As you meander through the area, don’t forget to sample other available home-grown produce. From Yarra Valley Dairy in Yering, or Badger Creek Blueberry Farm in Healesville, to Marysville Trout and Salmon Ponds – there’s something for all taste sensations.
Food and wine venues are not the only thing in abundance, with health and day spas dotted throughout the region, relaxation is a key aspect of the Yarra Valley experience.
To make the most of the local scenery, hot air balloon tours are also available in a variety of time frames and features, such as champagne breakfasts and winery tours. For those with kids in tow, the Healesville Sanctuary is worth a visit with over 200 native species to discover.
During your stay, also consider also driving through the Black Spur and visit Marysville as it rebuilds following the 2009 Black Saturday fires.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Although the region has something to offer any time of the year, spring not only offers temperate weather, but is also the time for many annual festivals. Some events include the Inspiring in Spring Garden Festival, celebrated throughout nearby Dandenong Ranges, the Healesville Railway Heritage Festival, Melba Food, Wine and Music Festival, ShedFest for various smaller wineries throughout the Yarra Valley and the Marysville Sparkling Wine Festival.
Located just 50km to the east of Melbourne’s CBD, the Yarra Valley is a comfortable hour drive away.
Alternatively, several airports are located throughout the region.
Score: 8.08 The menus! The markets! The merlots! And that’s just starting in the middle of the foodie alphabet. Not only can you pick sun-warm strawberries in the fields, but cooking schools have pooled here: there are cafés acting like restaurants, and wineries acting as temptation. Once you’ve sampled as many drops (and foodie shops) as your tastebuds can feasibly cope with, cosy up at Sanctuary Park Cottages: they’re well reviewed, with plenty of options, and prices start at $185 per night. It goes with the sublime territory that you’ll be wearing elastic by the time you leave, by the...
Where is it? 60km north-east of Melbourne How to see it for yourself? This view is from a hot-air balloon above Dixons Creek, looking towards Yarra Glen. De Bortoli Winery can be seen on the right. The balloons land as close to Rochford Wines as possible, so guests can enjoy a sparkling-wine breakfast. Why I love it “A dawn hot-air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley is something special.” – Lincoln Wilson, Yarra Ranges Regional Marketing Image by Robert Blackburn...
What lies beneath the vegie patch is a local legend. It’s also what makes this country kitchen so great, writes Renate Ruge. “It could be down to the horse…” muses a grinning Tim Sawyer, maître d’ and restaurateur, as he attempts to illuminate me as to why the buttered asparagus is so darned perfect at his cosy country restaurant, Bella Vedere Cucina. At Bella Vedere, beautiful vegetables come straight from the patch to plate. The Italian-inspired restaurant, cooking school and garden share a picturesque vineyard spot with Badger’s Brook cellar door and winery in the Yarra Valley. The AT Menu...
Australian Traveller Magazine’s 100 Great Australian Holiday Homes Around an hour northeast of Melbourne, hidden in bushland along the edges of a trout-filled lake, lies one of the most astonishing private homes available for rent. You’ll need to bring your extended family to even come close to filling Hazeldene, though, with its eight grand bedrooms, ten bathrooms, swimming pool, outdoor spa, BBQ area, open fires, balconies and decking, twin lounge areas – and of course its professional standard kitchen for keeping everyone nicely fed and happy. Once you’re on the property and handed the keys, it’s all yours, including the...
Once referred to as “God’s own garden,” Marysville, hidden in a valley just an hour northeast of Melbourne, was utterly devastated by the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009. Beloved for its tree-shrouded streetscapes and beautiful gardens, visitors to Marysville enjoyed exploring the hand-crafted wooden figures at Bruno’s Art & Sculpture Garden (above), before stopping in at Uncle Fred and Aunty Val’s Lolly Shop, famous for its old-style charm and great produce. But as we write this, a few blackened trees and just a few buildings remain. Street signs point to places no longer recognisable. The township is irrevocably scarred...
Melbourne’s Yarra Valley welcomes the newest member to the burgeoning food and wine region. Mandala Wines, the newly renovated restaurant and lounge, has just opened its doors north of Yarra Glen, a popular spot of the gourmet garden that is the Yarra Valley. “Mandala” is a Hindu symbol of a circle, signifying the elements of life that are considered the most important. “We always planned for Mandala to be a wine and food destination,” says owner Charles Smedley. “And the opening of our cellar door restaurant and lounge completes this circle.” You can casually stroll into Mandala Wines and taste...
A leisurely trip through Victoria’s Black Spur Drive will have you seeing the world’s tallest flowering trees – the eucalyptus regnans. The US may lay claim to having the world’s tallest trees at present (115m-plus redwoods in California), but to see the world’s tallest flowering trees – the eucalyptus regnans, or Mountain Ash – you have to come to Australia. And in fact there’s discussion in some quarters that e. regnans was once the world’s tallest tree full stop, with specimens in Victoria in the late 1800s clocking between 130m and 150m. A leisurely trip through one of the most well...
While you’re busy wandering among the world’s tallest flowering plants, keep an eye out for the very tiny, and very, very endangered Leadbeater’s Possum. While you’re busy wandering among the world’s tallest flowering plants (the mountain ash, see entry No.73) in Victoria’s highland forests, keep an eye out for the Leadbeater’s Possum. You’ll need to keep an incredibly sharp eye out, though, since these little fellas are nocturnal, hang out in the upper, upper reaches of extremely tall trees, are very tiny, and very, very endangered. Named for Museum of Victoria taxidermist John Leadbeater, the diminutive marsupial is another great...
The Yarra Valley’s fertile edges hide some the best boutique wineries in Victoria. Steve Robertson skirts the famously verdant valley, bringing you all the secrets of its overlooked fringe. Long before it becomes Melbourne’s infamous upside-down brown muddy waterway, a clearer and more compact Yarra River meanders through a gentle landscape. Here the lush green flatlands give way to a big sky and the soil is deep chocolate brown and almost obscenely fertile. Seville Area // Ainsworth Estate // Open 10:30-5pm daily (except Tues & Wed). Try the reserve Shiraz. (03) 5964 4711, www.ainsworth-estate.com.au Seville Estate // Open 10-5pm weekends and public holidays....
The Yarra Valley is a new old story. New, because with an explosion of winegrowing in the area, plus other fine produce and world-class winery restaurants (what else would you expect from a wine region that’s practically in Melbourne?), it’s become a hot destination in the last few years. Also, of course, it’s possibly the most beautiful winegrowing region in Australia. And it’s an old story because they’ve been growing grapes in the Yarra Valley since the 1800s, and in 1890 Victoria produced almost 60 percent of Australia’s wine – certainly more than all the other states combined. The rich...
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