Why you'll fall in love with the Yarra Valley
In this beautiful Victorian region you’ll find fine wines, gourmet food and stunning views.
- June 2018
There’s no shortage of great accommodation in the Yarra Valley, from Airbnb properties and gourmet pubs to luxury resorts. At Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa in Yarra Glen, we wake from our spacious spa suite and pull the curtains to a view over rolling lawns and vine-covered hills. It’s a pretty spectacular way to start the day. It would be easy to spend all day here (cue spa treatments, a cellar door and indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the vines) but there’s too much to do to laze around.
If you’re in the valley on the third Sunday of the month, head to the Yarra Valley Farmers’ Market at Yering Station. You might find buffalo sausages on the barbecue, coffee, fresh bread, cheese, jams – all grown and produced locally. If you’re not visiting on market day, make a beeline to Healesville’s Harvest Cafe for bacon with eggs, Noisette pastries, muffins, smooth Genovese coffee, and healthy smoothies. Sit in the back garden in the sun at rustic timber tables while you plan your day.
The Maroondah Reservoir, a short drive from Healesville, has lovely mountain views and gentle walks in a mix of European-style gardens and native bush. Look out for yellow-tailed black cockatoos. A visit to Healesville Sanctuary is a ritual for every Victorian school student, but there are thrills here for any age. See native animals at home in a bush setting, and be sure to catch Spirits of the Sky, a daily demonstration of Australia’s majestic birds of prey in action.
There are more than 160 wineries in the Yarra Valley, ranging from tiny, rustic cellar doors to family-friendly restaurants and luxury experiences. If you’re finding it difficult to choose, why not dip your toe with a wine tour such as A Day on the Vine, which offers a wide-ranging tour of distilleries, breweries and wineries in the region. For a truly memorable experience (complete with sexy red helicopter on the lawn) Levantine Hill offers superb cuisine by acclaimed Melbourne chef Teague Ezard. There’s nothing like drinking an award-winning wine while gazing upon the vines where the grapes were sourced. Opt for a casual lunch on the deck (wagyu beef slider perhaps) or the showstopper five- or eight-course degustation with matched wines. For a completely different but equally delightful experience, nearby Maddens Rise winery has a small cellar door focusing exclusively on wine tastings, and the passionate staff will give you a personalised tasting that’s all about the love of wine.
The Besen family’s gift to the people of Australia is a Yarra Valley must-visit. The architect-designed rammed earth building housing the TarraWarra Museum of Art sits high on the hill at TarraWarra Estate, and its collection and temporary exhibitions are always worth seeking out. After a browse through the museum, stop in for a wine tasting or a picnic under the trees.
No visit to a country town is complete without a browse through the local op shop, boutiques and sweets stores. Healesville has all three in spades, and a wander along the main drag rewards a spot of window-shopping. Stop in at Silvermist Studio to find beautiful jewellery by local designer Tim Peel. If you’ve built up a thirst, check out the headquarters of Four Pillars Gin, where you can see the copper still at work and enjoy a tasting.
The headquarters of Innocent Bystander in Healesville (behind Giant Steps) includes a swish retail area, wine-tasting bar and dining space. Drop in for woodfired pizza and paella, and if you don’t feel like wine, try a cider, local beer or an Allpress coffee.