Published on 11th April 2016
by Kelly Pigram (words) and Gareth Sobey (photography)

Sprawling vineyards, expertly matched food and wine and enchanting natural surrounds, only an hour from Melbourne.

We all know someone who has a favourite place to visit in the Yarra Valley. With its first vines planted in 1838, it is Victoria’s oldest wine region, and most-likely the most visited. The Valley’s highly-respected winemakers experiment with new varieties, styles and techniques all the time, and with Victoria’s oldest planted vineyards, the region has developed a global reputation for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Naturally, there are a string of restaurants that perfectly complement the wine. Stop by Innocent Bystander for a sourdough pizza, Ezard at Levantine Hill for an eight-course degustation or Healesville Harvest for a breakfast of local produce. After that, take a hike to a waterfall or book a flight on a hot-air balloon.

The real beauty of the Yarra Valley is its convenience, with most destinations an easy hour out of Melbourne. Craving fancy cheese? Yarra Valley Dairy. Want to cuddle a native critter? Healesville Sanctuary. You can leave in the morning and be home in time for dinner, but why wouldn’t you stay the whole weekend?

Welcome to Yarra Valley

NEAREST CAPITAL CITY

Melbourne

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

2 hours and 30 mins by train and bus

DRIVE

1 hour from Melbourne

EAT

You know the region for its wine, but the Yarra Valley is also home to some incredible cafes and restaurants. Brunch spot, winery restaurant, degustation – take your pick.

Healesville Harvest

Restaurant

A simple menu and plenty of outdoor seating make this cafe a popular spot for families.

256 Maroondah Highway Healesville 3777
Wednesday
8:00am - 4:00pm

Yarra Valley Dairy

Bar

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

70-80 McMeikans Road Yering 3770
Wednesday
10:30am - 5:00pm

Ezard at Levantine Hill

Restaurant

Elegant fine-dining in a beautiful building.

882 Maroondah Highway Coldstream 3770
Wednesday
10:00am - 6:00pm

DRINK

The Yarra Valley is Victoria’s oldest wine region, with its first vines planted in 1838. Here’s our pick of the region’s best.

Pimpernel Wines

Bar

A family-run winery with a simple cellar door.

6 Hill Road Coldstream 3770
Closed Today

Napoleone Brewery and Cider House

Bar

Pizza and cold beer, Yarra Valley style.

12 St Huberts Road Coldstream 3770
Wednesday
10:00am - 5:00pm

Four Pillars Gin

Bar

Do you know how to do a gin tasting?

2A Lilydale Road Healesville 3777
Wednesday
10:30am - 5:30pm

Graceburn Wine Room

Bar

Mac Forbes’s low-key cellar door in Healesville’s town centre.

11 Green Street Healesville 3777
Closed Today

DO

It’s not just food and wine. Give your stomach a rest and try another activity.

Global Ballooning Hot Air Balloon Flight

If you’re not opposed to getting up before sunrise, hot-air ballooning over the Yarra Valley is one of the most spectacular ways to start your weekend. You’ll be up in the air for an hour, floating gently over the valley’s vineyards, mountains and countryside. A local pilot with extensive knowledge of the area gives a quirky running commentary. Afterwards, be treated to a champagne breakfast at either Balgownie Estate or Rochford Wines.

1309 Melba Hwy Yarra Glen 3775

Healesville Sanctuary

Healesville Sanctuary: the only place in the world where you can sit in a tank and hang out with Yamacoona the platypus. She was rescued by the sanctuary after being discovered belly-up, and now forms a part of the “Wade with the Platypus” show. There’s also the “Spirits of the Sky” show, where highly trained birds of prey soar over a specially built flight arena. Watch your head; the wedge-tailed eagle isn’t afraid to get up close.

Badger Creek Rd Healesville 3777

Steavenson Falls Trail

Steavenson Falls is only a 700m return walk, making it easy to fit between winery visits. Dropping 84 metres it’s one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls and is incredibly peaceful to watch. At night the path and waterfall are lit by floodlights, so you can walk it until 11pm. It’s worth going late to see it lit up under the stars.

Falls Rd Marysville 3779

TarraWarra Museum of Art

TarraWarra is a privately funded public art museum. Australian art exhibitions within the extraordinary $10 million building change every three to four months, and outside, there’s the rolling green hills and TarraWarra Wines vineyard. Visit on a sunny day when light shines through floor to ceiling windows and makes the space just as serene as an art gallery in picturesque surrounds should be.

311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd Tarrawarra 3775

STAY

The Yarra Valley has accommodation options from resort hotels to six-bedroom farmhouses. Take your pick from our favourites.

The George at Yering

A luxury farmhouse located next door to Yering Farm Wines cellar door, the huge property features just six bedrooms (some with balcony views), and a large outdoor pool among rows of apple trees and grazing alpacas. It’s an elegantly old-fashioned kind of place, with lots of dark wood, bookcases and antique furniture. Perfect for hosting a large group of friends (up to 20).

St Huberts Rd Yering

Balgownie Estate Resort and Spa

This luxury resort and winery sits in the centre of everywhere you’d want to visit in the region, and has the major draw of hosting Global Ballooning’s hot air balloon launches. One and two bedroom suites feature their own spa bath, and red wine body masks are one of many luxury treatments available.

1309 Melba Highway Yarra Glen

Itinerary

Wine Tour of the Yarra Valley

If you appreciate a good glass of wine, traipsing around Victoria's oldest wine region is a brilliant way to spend your day. Here's how to do it.

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9am

Healesville Sanctuary

Badger Creek Rd
Healesville VIC
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Healesville Sanctuary

Wake up early and beat the crowds for the platypus show. The best time to visit the zoo is when the animals are waking up.

10.30am

Yarra Valley Dairy

70-80 McMeikans Road
Yering VIC
(03) 9739 1222
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Yarra Valley Dairy

Grab your coffee and breakfast at Yarra Valley Dairy. Sample a few cheeses from the deli, pick something up to take home and be on your way.

11.30am

Pimpernel Wines

6 Hill Road
Coldstream VIC
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Pimpernel Wines

Stop for a tasting at Pimpernel, with its tightly curated seven varieties.

12.30pm

Graceburn Wine Room

11 Green Street
Healesville VIC
(03) 5962 3704
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Grace Burn Wine Room

You can sample a full range of Mac Forbes’ wine, or there’s a range of speciality teas if you’d like to pace your wine tasting.

4pm

Four Pillars Gin

2A Lilydale Road
Healesville VIC
(03) 5962 2791
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Four Pillars Gin

Mix it up a little. After lunch, learn to appreciate gin’s subtle flavours in a Four Pillars tasting session.

7pm

Ezard at Levantine Hill

882 Maroondah Highway
Coldstream VIC
(03) 5962 1333
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Ezard at Levantine Hill

Prepare yourself for an eight-course degustation with many matched wines. If you’re the designated driver, the meal is just as good on its own.

11pm

Balgownie Estate

46 Hermitage Road
Maiden Gully VIC
(03) 5449 6222
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Balgownie Estate

Perhaps a spa before bed? You’ll need your rest if you’re going to be up at sunrise for that hot-air balloon ride.