The Yarra Valley, to the northeast of Melbourne, is Victoria's premier wine region. Being only a short distance from the city, it's a popular destination for day trippers, either for the culinary delights or for a visit to Healesville Sanctuary to catch some local wildlife.
The Yarra Valley generally refers to the valley north east of Melbourne around the Yarra River. The Yarra River originates in the Yarra Ranges, some 60 kilometres east of Melbourne and flows towards the city and out into Port Phillip Bay. The definition of where the region starts and ends is somewhat fluid, sometimes even incorporating outer suburbs of Melbourne.
Healesville Sanctuary is a popular wildlife park providing a very convenient way for visitors and locals alike to experience some of Australia's unique wildlife. For full details on the park, have a look at the Healesville guide.
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The star of the Yarra Valley is its numerous wineries. There are dozens and dozens of them scattered around and you can easily spend days touring around visiting them. These are some of the more popular ones with cellar doors where you can enjoy a tasting:
The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is one of Victoria's most popular bikes rides. The trail is 40km in length and there are multiple entry and exit points along the route if the distance concerns you. For those without a vehicle, you can catch a metropolitan train to Lilydale Station where the trail begins at the northern end of the station car park. The real highlight of the trail is the scenery between Seville & Launching Place station - it's here in the Valley floor that the space really opens up around you and provides views of farm land, wineries and the gorgeous Yarra Ranges National Park in the distance.
Distance to Warburton:
Lilydale Station to Mount Evelyn Station - 6.9 km
Mount Evelyn Station to Wandin Station - 5.4 km
Wandin Station to Seville Station - 3.4 km
Seville Station to Killara Station - 3.2 km
Killara Station to Woori Yallock Station - 4.1 km
Woori Yallock Station to Launching Place Station - 6.4 km
Launching Place Station to Yarra Junction Station - 2.1 km
Yarra Junction Station to Wesburn Station - 3.7 km
Wesburn Station to Millgrove Station - 1.6 km
Millgrove Station to Warburton Station - 3.3 km
Total: 40 km
Being more inland than Melbourne, the weather in the Yarra Valley can be a little chillier in winter and hotter in summer. For up to date weather forecasts, it's best to go straight to the source and look at the Bureau of Meteorology site. These are the forecasts for Yarra Glen.
There are a couple of small airfields in the Yarra Valley, but unless you have access to a private plane, chances are this will not be how you arrive. The nearest airport is in Melbourne, with many international and domestic services.
The nearest train station to the Yarra Valley is in Lilydale. From there, it is possible to catch buses to Yarra Glen or Healesville. Use the Metlink Melbourne website to find route times.
To make the trip, you will need a Zone 1+2 ticket. More about Melbourne's public transport system can be found in the Melbourne article.
It takes roughly an hour to reach the Yarra Valley from the centre of Melbourne (traffic allowing). Drive along the Eastern Freeway, turn right at Springvale Road, then left onto the Maroondah Highway (you can also stay on the freeway till Ringwood, but tolls apply). Travel through Ringwood and Lilydale and continue straight to reach Healesville. To reach Yarra Glen, turn off the Maroondah Highway at the Melba Highway in Coldstream.
A popular way to see the Yarra Valley is on a bus tour. This way, you can enjoy the wine tastings all you like, without worrying about drink driving. There are quite a few companies offering their services in this area. A few are listed here:
If you are just trying to reach a destination in Yarra Valley to stay for the night, then you can catch one of the public buses that runs there. Full scheduling information can be found on the Metlink Melbourne website.
There are countless great places to eat in the Yarra Valley. Many are attached to wineries, but don't dismiss the excellent pub meals to be had at Yarra Glen Hotel or Healesville Hotel for example.
Drinking is one thing you will have no trouble doing in the Yarra Valley. The main thing to consider is how this might affect your travel plans. After a few tastings, you might well have exceeded the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.05. You can either decide to limit your alcohol intake, allocate a designated driver or even take a winery tour, so you don't have to worry about limits.
Whatever you decide, be sure to also drink lots of water to keep your hydration up and help avoid a nasty hangover.
Wineries are the most popular places to visit in the Yarra Valley and you certainly should take the time to stop at a few. If you like your beer though, then you may also want to sample some of the local brews at the Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company, Coldstream Brewery, White Rabbit or Buckley's Brewery.
Although the Yarra Valley is an easy day trip from Melbourne, many people prefer to spend a night or two here, taking in more of the wineries and scenery.
Several of the wineries in the Yarra Valley offer accommodation. They are usually not cheap and on the luxurious end of the scale. Another option is the large number of private holiday houses or bed & breakfasts that can be found in the area.
For travellers on a budget there aren't all that many options, but if you have a tent and your own transport, then there are some excellent campgrounds in the area.
Ask Peter a question about Yarra Valley
I live right nearby and on weekends we frequently head to the Yarra Valley to enjoy some of the great wineries, food, art, markets and scenery.
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