Published on 3rd May 2022
by Kelly Pigram

Just an hour from Melbourne lies a green swathe of mountain ranges, wineries and tranquil walking tracks. In partnership with Visit Victoria, here’s our guide on where to eat, drink and stay in the region.

The Dandenong Ranges are something of an anomaly on the outskirts of otherwise flat Melbourne. They’re the result of a huge volcanic eruption that occurred more than 300 million years ago. Over time, volcanic ash in the area broke down to create fertile soil, which started the growth of the cool rainforests, luscious bushland and picturesque ferntree gullies we know and love the area for.

The Ranges are a region of low-set mountain ranges and winding roads surrounded by towering Mountain Ash trees, populated with quaint villages such as Sassafras, Olinda and Belgrave. Originally founded in the early 1900s to facilitate timber farming, these small towns have become a haven of organic food, experimental hospitality, gardens and luxurious accommodation.

Start your trip to the “Dandenongs” in Belgrave (home of historic steam train Puffing Billy) and drive all the way up to Mount Dandenong, which peaks at 633 metres. On the way, stop by Proserpina Bakehouse (a bright sourdough bakery in Sassafras that mills its own organic flour) and RJ Hamer Arboretum (a botanic garden with acres of “mini forests” and native flowers).

With a half-hour drive north-east you’ll find the Yarra Valley: Victoria’s oldest wine region, with its first vines planted in 1838. Famous for cool-climate vineyards and incredible artisan cheese (see: Yarra Valley Dairy), visit Four Pillars’ distillery to taste its award-winning namesake gin, and Sir Paz Estate for woodfired potato pizza with a view of the Yarra Valley from the expansive al fresco deck.

Here’s our guide for what to eat, drink, do and where to stay in the area.

Explore more travel itineraries here.

Welcome to Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges

EAT

Organic Victorian sourdough, thali plates of south Indian street food and farm-to-table fare from chef Shannon Bennett.

DRINK

The Yarra Valley rightly has a reputation for producing incredible wine, but there’s sour beer, hand-crafted rum and award-winning gin to try, too.

DO

Explore tranquil walking tracks and picturesque natural bushland (or ride through it on a historic steam train).

Yarra Valley Dairy

Bar

Whether you like your cheeses hard, soft or marinated, this spot has you covered.

Olinda Collective

Shop

A home for all things local and handmade.