The Yarra Valley is one of Melbourne's most popular wine regions, but the region also offers a variety of other exciting things to do. From exploring the Dandenong Ranges National Park to riding the Puffing Billy steam train and meeting kangaroos in their natural habitat, here are some of the top things to do in the Yarra Valley on your 3-day trip from Melbourne!
1. The Big Peninsula Tunnel
The Big Peninsula Tunnel is a river diversion tunnel, dug in 1864 during the Victorian gold rush. It was used by alluvial gold miners to bypass strong river currents.
It has a variety of interesting features, including ice wedges, large segregated ice, thermokarst-cave ice and buried ice. Pingo ice is also exposed at one section.
2. Warburton River
Less than two hours from Melbourne, Warburton is a cosy mountain oasis with clear running Birrarung (Yarra River) swimming holes and wild berry picking at its best. It's the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and relax in nature.
The town was founded as a gold mining settlement in the 1890s, and later developed into a timber harvesting, farming and tourist destination. It was the location of the Upper Yarra Reservoir which was built to provide a water supply for Melbourne.
Kangaroos have powerful Z-shaped hind legs that are used to propel them forward and a strong tail that helps them balance while they hop. They are the only bipedal marsupials that move on two legs instead of four.
Kangaroos live in social groups called mobs. They have a variety of behaviors that build cohesion within the group, including nose touching and sniffing.
4. The Puffing Billy
The Puffing Billy is Australia’s oldest and most best-preserved heritage steam railway, situated in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges, and only 60 minutes from Melbourne CBD. The train offers passengers a front-row seat to lush fern gullies brushing past and Mountain Ash trees towering overhead, making for an unforgettable experience.
The historic line runs on narrow gauge tracks in the Dandenong Ranges from Belgrave to Gembrook. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.
5. Secret Gardens
Designed by William Guilefoyle, the same architect behind the Royal Botanic Gardens, this 2.8 hectare garden is a floral oasis. Walk across terraced lawns, wander through a rose arbour and visit native and Italian gardens.
A beautiful wisteria tunnel weaves through the garden, providing shade in the summer and a stunning autumn display. This secret escape also has a maple courtyard cafe where you can enjoy a scone and a flat white.
6. Four Pillars Distillery
A must-visit on your Yarra Valley tasting tour, Four Pillars Distillery in Healesville is a fun and informative experience. Book a flight of gin with or without a matched Fever Tree tonic, and an educated ambassador will guide you through their special botanicals.
Founded in 2013 by Cameron Mackenzie, Matt Jones and Stuart Gregor, Four Pillars is now considered to be the number one craft spirit in Australia. Their gins come in a variety of styles, from Rare Dry Gin to Bloody Shiraz and Navy Strength.
7. Innocent Bystander
Innocent Bystander is an estate-based winery based in the Yarra Valley, one hour east of Melbourne. They are renowned for their distinctive regional and varietal wines with a personality all of their own.
They source fruit from many wine growing regions to best represent the true personality of each variety. This approach is rewarded with strikingly branded wines that have gained a strong reputation in restaurants and fine wine stores around the world.
8. Yarra Valley Dairy
Located in one of Australia’s premium wine and dairy regions, Yarra Valley Dairy is a must-see on any trip to the region. Situated alongside a refurbished 120-year-old milking shed, the dairy is home to some of Victoria’s finest artisan cheeses.
Yarra Valley Dairy uses their local pastures and farms to produce award-winning farmhouse cheeses, many of which are homages to the best of Europe’s cheesy traditions. They also make a slick looking ashed-mould cheese, but the camembert style cow’s milk white mould trumeau might be the real show stopper.