A roadtrip around the Yarra Valley in Victoria promises a delightful experience with its picturesque landscapes, renowned wineries with their never-ending rows of vines watering and sunning themselves for perfect ripening. Waste no time as you take off for a short drive from Melbourne in the morning along along Maroondah Highway, destination being Healesville passing by the dramatic backdrop of the Great Dividing Range. At your disposal, are over 70 wineries and distilleries. With wine goes food and there’s no shortage of cafes, eateries, posher places, hatted restaurants. With food and wine go the hospitality and craftmanship of locals who quietly chest beat away with their artisanship.
Whilst you can do a day trip, you’re likely to regret not packing your toothbrush! Here’s a suggested 3 day itinerary for a roadtrip around the Yarra Valley:
Day 1: Departure and Arrive near Coldstream
Start your journey early in the morning to make the most of the day. Pack snacks, water, and essentials for the roadtrip. Don’t worry if you forget anything, there’s an abundance of fabulous stores enroute.
Head to Coldstream, the gateway to the Yarra Valley. Too early to sample the local grapes? Go easy as you hop from boutique cellar doors and big-name wineries worth visiting. Here’s a trail about 60Kms from Melbourne, starting with the home of an operatic icon, Dame Nellie Melba (and still in the Vestey family) is Coombe Yarra Valley. Established in 1998, the Coombe vineyards are located just five minutes north-east of Coldstream. Take a glimpse into Melba’s extravagant life on a guided tour of Coombe cottage or the stunning 100-year-old gardens surrounded by 600m of Cyprus hedges. Wine, dine, or wander the estate, spending easily an hour or two or three here, if you stay for lunch. Next stop is Helen and Joey Estate, a unique 220 acre Yarra Valley Farm made up of about 50 acres of productive vineyard (with 30 more acres under renovation), a cherry orchard, pasture, plans for a herb farm, sculpted gardens as part of a new Hotel and Restaurant build opened in late 2023, as well as a 30 acre native forest block that is undergoing regeneration.
A name you can’t drive by is Chandon. A must, because it is one of the most extensive collections of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wines in Australia, all while enjoying the breathtaking views of the surrounding Yarra Ranges. Had enough? Never…push onto Oakridge Wines an exceptional single-vineyard wines set in the mesmerising vineyard and sweep of the mountains. Not eaten yet? No problem, there’s a restaurant nestled in the vineyard. You’ve time left to visit family owned and operated Tokar Estate producing authentic, award-winning wines that are bold and distinctive. You’re nearing Healesville by now so possibly last stop of the day is Rochford Wines where wine is produced from grapes grown sustainably on three diverse vineyards. As we have already said, there’s no shortage of wineries and finding them is simply a matter of search and discover. Here’s a resource to help you along and forge your own path Yarra Valley Wineries, or hone in on best small wineries found at Top 10 small Yarra Valley wineries
Exhausted? Right time to check into a wonderful place in Healesville by Travellarks, being the perfect hub for all things Yarra Valley.
Day 2: Healesville
Arguably the epicentre, Healesville has great accessibility to enjoy Mount Buangs snowy slopes in winter for the die heart toboganist and cross-country enthusiast. It also offers some of the best hiking trails across the country in the off season with impressive panoramic views of the Yarra Valley, Melbourne and the Dandenongs from many vantage points.
Head first thing to the iconic Beechworth Bakery, located right next door to Brown Brothers’ Innocent Bystander and the ever popular Giant Steps winery, with plenty of inside and outside seating – under cover and in the garden area overlooking Grace Burn creek and park beyond, with live music on Sundays during summer, free Wifi. It’s open almost everyday of the year. Topped up?
For animal lovers, Healesville is famous for its sanctuary of Australian wildlife, including koalas, kangaroos, platypus, dingoes, wombats, emus and more. Discover spectacular birds too. On Sundays, Murrundindi (Wurundjeri Elder), shares his cultural stories of the land, listen and learn more about local indigenous culture, music and maybe watch a boomerang fly.
Bushwalkers might prefer to take head to Yarra Ranges National Park, Badger Weir Rd, Badger for inhaling fresh mountain air whilst passing through ancient fern gullies, traversing across clear mountain streams and meandering amongst mighty Mountain Ash and birdlife such as Australian King Parrot, Crimson Rosella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Superb Lyrebird. Enter off Badger Weir Picnic Grounds, it’s a short, easy walk about 2.5Kms, or 1.5 hours duration, and you’ll drum up an appetite so grab some extra goodies from the bakery, Healesville Organic Farmers Market (Saturdays), local fromagerie Sophie Cheese Monger in the heart of the Yarra, or Rayner’s Orchard – a family owned unique boutique orchard with over 450 varieties of fruit and other goodies.
Back into the car and head to Maroondah Reservoir Park an impressive 41-metre high dam wall offers a scenic lookout over formal gardens, forested slopes and the broad, peaceful reservoir lake. You’ll discover a sundial and the stone-paved Rose Stairway lined with rose bushes and Golden Pencil Pines. The gardens feature towering native eucalypts as well as many exotic deciduous trees with beautiful Autumn colours. The park features six rotundas, one shelter, six barbecues (gas and electric) as well as picnic tables scattered around the gardens, perfect for visitors to barbecue or just sit and enjoy the scenery. For a quieter spot, head for the area near the Watt’s River Rotunda in Hendersons Picnic Area. Easy and moderate walks surround the park. A short walk through the forest on the Maroondah Forest Track. A longer walk follows the Henderson’s Hill Track up the slope for another 1.4km. For cyclists, ride your bike across the dam wall to Donnelly’s Weir and then challenge yourself to ride up to Mount St Leonard along the start of the Bicentennial National Trail.
It’s been a long day, so driving back to Healesville, you cannot go past or leave Healesville without a pitstop at Four Pillars Gin which bears an extraordinary tale of success which started not so long ago in 2013. From a humble copper still and three guys who had a dream, Four Pillars Gin was named the world’s leading gin producer by the IWSC in London. And again in 2020, and then lightning struck a third time in 2023, making us the first gin maker to ever claim the title of World’s Best three times. In 2022 Four Pillars became Australia’s first certified carbon neutral gin distillery, and later in the year their sustainability efforts were recognised on a global scale with the IWSC awarded us the inaugural Green Spirits Initiative trophy! Housed in a former timber yard, Four Pillars will woo you with their signature range that uses of whole fresh citrus in every gin.
If gin isn’t for your palate, we bet that icecream is, and for a sweet finish you would not be a bit disappointed with slurping your way through the creamiest of icecreams and then some sustainable chocolates ‘for the road’ at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie. Set on 16 hectares, surrounded by picturesque Yarra Valley vistas, an orchard, wetlands, farm animals and sweeping lawns, the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery is a wonderful experience anyone will enjoy.
Day 3: Scenic Drives, Action, Adventure, Culture and Departure
Today doesn’t have to be your last day – extending your stay will only enrich your memories of a magical part of Victoria. We provide here action and cultural options, or dreamy drives to enhance your roadtrip around the Yarra Valley
Morning: (Optional) Experience the Yarra Valley with an early morning rise to go up, up, and away on a breath taking hot air balloon over vineyards and mountains. A number of local balloonists – here’s a few to investigate – Global Ballooning; Go Wild Ballooning; Geelong Ballooning Flights. Alternatively there are scenic joy flights and helicopter rides. Get a bird’s eye view of the vine-laced valley above wineries like TarraWarra and Domaine Chandon from Lilydale Airport. Many of your ballooning companies will offer both. For the consummate daredevil, take a skydive – visit Sky Dive Australia
Late Morning: Scenic drive through the valley, enjoying the beautiful landscapes and vineyards. Here’s some sample drives:-
The Black Spur Drive connects Healesville with Narbethong on the Maroondah Highway as it winds its way up the Great Dividing Range. Surrounded by lush foliage of the Yarra Ranges, this 30Km drive in the Yarra Valley with the mountain areas around Marysville. Renowned for towering trees and spectacular valley views. If you enjoy a sensory experience, wind down the windows and take in the fragrance of the forest and its inhabiting flora. At the base of the Black Spur there’s the Fernshaw picnic area with rest facilities or at Dom Dom in Marysville State Forest.
Marysville is worth exploring. A 20 minute drive from Healesville using the Black Spur drive. In Marysville you’ll find Steavenson Falls – an 84 metre drop to the bush and fern-fringed Steavenson River below. Stay around and see the falls illuminated at night. In winter you might strike snow in Mount Donna Buang and Lake Mountain for tobogganing and cross-country skiing during the snow season, or witness the mountain wildflowers in summer, a myriad of natural beauty, colour and striking countryside.
Lady Talbot Drive: Some routes in this region, particularly Lady Talbot Drive, may be affected by seasonal road closures. Always check before you head out on your trip. Here’s a good resource for Lady Talbot Drive from Marysville. This stunning scenic drive takes you along the Taggerty River in the Yarra Ranges National Park, as you explore both the raging waterfalls and calming cascades hidden amongst the rainforest. Stop at lookout points like the Yarra Valley Regional Park for panoramic views. Another resource for this region is found at Lady Talbot Drive and surrounds.
Got the munchies? In Murchison Street, Marysville you’ll find a bunch of eateries that rank well – Freshly Blended, Fraga’s, Keppel Cafe or the local bakery. Or you can wander off to another winery with a restaurant on site, for example 2019 Halliday Winery of the Year is Seville Estate with its fascinating history and purpose that has produced, including its restaurant philosophy of chefs-in-residence. Check its opening hours as they may be limited.
Art Trail: Brimming with bespoke artisans throughout this flourishing region which you will either stumble upon or wish to purposely visit in the back roads of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges are hidden studios and open doors to private spaces – Yarra Valley Arts & Culture. You’ll also get a great map here at Yarra Valley Art Trail. Some must sees are listed here, working your way back from Marysville…
- MiRa, Marysville Information + Regional Artspace,
- Healesville Glass Blowing
- TarraWarra Museum of Art in Healesville
- YAVA Gallery & Arts Hub in Healesville
- and heading towards Melbourne is Tread Sculptures
- Arts Centre Warburton
- The Water Wheel Gallery Warburton
- Bunjil Place an arts and cultural centre based in Narrewarren
- Melba Estate Gallery (not forgetting a last minute boot top up with its cellar door sales)
- Sherbrooke Gallery in Belgrave, then head home.
Explore the rich offerings of our galleries, retail, music and performance venues that are filled with a world of wonder. Find yourself at a potter’s wheel, watching the intricate work of a master jeweller or enjoy being astonished and inspired. Head back home or spend the night at nearby Healesville if you prefer – The Slate House.
Reflect on your Yarra Valley road trip experience.
Always check weather conditions for roadworthiness and terrain.
Remember to check for any events, festivals, or special activities happening in the Yarra Valley during your visit, as they can add extra charm to your road trip. Also, make sure your vehicle is in good condition for a smooth journey.
Take water, sensible shoes, snacks and essentials with you.