There is so much more to the breathtakingly beautiful Yarra Valley and it’s surrounds than the wine trails it is famous for. My girlfriend and I went on a ‘see where the wind takes us’ kinda road tripping adventure. It’s an easy day trip, only an hour from Melbourne, yet feels like it’s a world away.
Our first stop was the organic farmer’s market in Healesville. It’s small (around 10 stalls) but friendly and happens from 9am – 1pm every Saturday, with a bigger market once a month. The lovely fella from Wild Crust Bakery had sold out of his sourdough by 10am – it must be good! Be sure to grab a loaf if you get there early enough.
If a classic country pub meal is more your thing you can’t go wrong with the Healesville Hotel next door – it was crowned The Age Good Food Guide Regional Restaurant of the Year for 2014. It’s cosy and warm with a fire to snuggle up by in winter, and picnic tables in the garden if you want to bask in the summer sun.
Health foodies need to call into Miss Spelt’s Grains and Goodies – it has an impressive range of products including organic bulk dry foods (like nuts, seeds, fruit, grains), a great place to stock up on snacks for your road trip.
We called into Innocent Bystander – an impressive restaurant, pizzeria, cellar door and artisan style bakery, wine making and a cheese room. We couldn’t leave without a loaf of the house baked organic sourdough.
There’s a really cute little bowls club in Healesville that would be perfect for a fun day out with friends in the summertime, when the weather is fine…
For kids there’s hours worth of entertainment at the Hedgend Maze, with 1.2 km of hedges, mini golf, frisbee golf, a fossil digging pit, eye spy, and an edible garden to explore.
We wound our way from Healesville to Marysville through the Great Dividing Range along the Black Spur – a 30 kilometre drive through towering mountain ash trees. WOW. It’s hard to believe a rainforest as lush and spectacular as this exists only an hour from the city. Be sure to stop at least once, stretch your legs, smell the rain forest and listen to just how peaceful it is.
After a quick stop in the beautiful little re-built town of Marysville we made our way a few kilometres up the road to Steavenson falls – one of the highest waterfalls in Victoria with an 82 metre drop. The roaring sound of the waterfall as you step out of the car will have you in awe of the power of mother nature. The falls are floodlit every night until 11pm.
From Marysville you have the option of making your way back to Melbourne via Lake Mountain, we opted the quicker route home, back along the Black Spur (much to my delight!) to Healesville and onto the Maroondah Highway. We made an obligatory little detour via the Yarra Valley Dairy.
Set in a rustic 105 year old milking shed, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more idyllic place to savour cheese and wine. You can sample the soft cheeses, taste wines from small local producers who don’t have their own cellar doors, order an antipasto platter, pull up a pew by the window and admire the view. With cows grazing in surrounding paddocks and the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in the distance, you really will want to sit there until the cows come home.
With stunning scenery, delicious gourmet delicacies, and activities to satisfy all ages, you really ought to make a dash for these hills next time you’re in need of a break from the city.
I ventured back to the Yarra Valley for a friend’s wedding in a fairy tale setting at Stones, another spot well worth adding to your itinerary, whether it be for a weekend lunch – The Stables at Stones has a tapas lunch banquet on Saturday’ and Sunday’ – or dinner on a Friday or Saturday.
I stayed at the Tuck Inn in Healesville, which I highly recommend – a stones throw from the main street, with bright, spacious, modern rooms, and the friendliest host (Donia) it’s the perfect place to base yourself for your adventure.