This region, located to the east of Melbourne, can be divided into two separate areas – the Dandenong Ranges, where Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs meet the mountains and forests, and the Yarra Valley, Victoria’s oldest wine region.
Located to the north-east of Melbourne, the Yarra Valley features over 80 vineyards set in picturesque rolling hills mainly around Lilydale, Coldstream, Yarra Glen, Healesville and Seville. The first vines were planted in 1838 at Yering Station and these days the Yarra Valley is recognized as one of Australia’s chief cool climate-producing regions.
Many of the region’s wineries have cellar doors offering wine sales and picnic facilities, with some of them also featuring restaurants, cafes, and boutique accommodation, making them complete attractions within themselves.
In addition to vineyards, the Yarra Valley includes bushwalking trails, fruit farms, markets, galleries, and attractions for the whole family including the famous Healesville Sanctuary.The Maroondah Highway north-east of Healesville passes through Black Spur which is noted for its spectacular tall trees and dense forests. Further on in Marysville where natural attractions abound at this gateway to the snow resort of Lake Mountain.
The Dandenong Ranges, also known as simply The Dandenongs spans valleys and hills covered in thick temperate rainforest and dense ferny undergrowth. It is a bushwalking and cycling paradise with extensive trails through lush vegetation.
From the peak of Mount Dandenong are panoramic views of the city, while the surrounding quaint villages offer boutique accommodation, excellent restaurants, unique shopping, galleries, markets, beautiful gardens, plant nurseries, and day spas. The historic Puffing Billy steam train journeys between Belgrave and Gembrook, taking in the surrounding scenic landscapes. It’s a change of scenery, less than an hour from Melbourne, in one of the most romantic areas of Victoria.
Belgrave is a major town located in the Dandenong Ranges, situated between Emerald and Ferntree Gully.
Belgrave is linked to Melbourne via the Burwood Highway. The final 500-meter section of this road is known as Main Street, tightly winding itself through the town’s main commercial center which is home to a selection of eateries, gift shops, and the historic Cameo Cinema, all set against a forest backdrop. Ascend the ramp-up to the Belgrave Town Park, on the north side of the main roundabout, for an elevated view over the town centre.
One of Belgrave’s main attractions is the Puffing Billy steam train. It is the oldest operating steam locomotive in Australia, taking passengers on a picturesque journey through the deep forests and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges. Passengers can enjoy a ride along with any one of the track’s sections, disembarking at either Menzies Creek, Em, Gerald, or Lakeside, or they can stay on board and complete the full 25-kilometer journey to Cockatoo and Gembrook.
Lunch and dinner options including meals in the dining carriage are available. One of the best spots to view Puffing Billy on its journey is just over a kilometer east of Belgrave at the viewing area on Gembrook Road where a long wooden trestle bridge carries the railway line over the adjacent creek and roadway.
South of the town center on Park Drive is Belgrave Lake Park which surrounds a small disused reservoir on Monbulk Creek. The park features walking tracks, BBQ facilities, a playground, and a grassy oval, set within a peaceful and heavily wooded environment.
At the neighboring small community of Belgrave Heights, off Mt Morton Road, is the Birdland Reserve. Monbulk Creek runs through this reserve which includes a system of lakes, wetlands, well-maintained walking trails, and picnic/BBQ facilities.Following Mt Morton Road further south leads to the Baluk Willam Nature Conservation Reserve. It provides a valuable collection of local flora and adjoins the scenic Mount Morton Reserve.
Belgrave is a good base for exploring the neighboring Dandenong Ranges National Park and the attractive nearby local communities of Kallista, Olinda, and the highest peak in the ranges at Mount Dandenong.
Cockatoo is a scenic town located in the Dandenong ranges between Emerald and Gembrook.Cockatoo’s small commercial center is located along a steep section of McBride Street and includes a small supermarket and a selection of cafes and other places to eat.
The Puffing Billy tourist railway line crosses right next to the shops at the base of McBride Street, recreating those days of steam train travel from long ago as it regularly passes through the town center.
Cockatoo has a good selection of sporting facilities. In the town center along the west side of Pakenham Road are bowling clubs, basketball courts, tennis courts, and other recreational facilities. The Cockatoo Sports Complex is located in Mountain Road and consists of an indoor stadium, oval, athletics track, and netball courts.Bushwalkers are well catered for in Cockatoo with Wright Forest. The main access points are off Bailey Road and Wright Road where thereise a network of walking tracks through the native bushland.
Cockatoo’s picturesque location in the Dandenong Ranges means there are several scenic drives one can take. Paternoster Road provides views over lush rolling pastures to the south of town, while a journey along the unmade Phillip Road takes visitors through some of the town’s highly productive farming areas.
Pakenham Road hugs the Cockatoo Creek on its journey southwards through towering eucalypt forests which eventually open up when approaching the small community of Mount Burnett. And a drive north along the road to Woori Yallock passes through lush grazing land with a backdrop of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Emerald is located in the scenic Dandenong ranges between Belgrave and Cockatoo.Emerald has two distinct commercial centers. The larger of those centers stretches along Kilvington Drive down to the Puffing Billy playground and railway station.
A smaller center is located just under a kilometer away, overlooking the Worrell Reserve sports ground between the junctions of the roads to Monbulk and Beaconsfield, and features a few cafes, gift shops, a major supermarket, the town hall, and library.
The town’s major recreational and leisure attraction is Emerald Lake Park. It was originally part of the historic Nobelius Nursery which was planted in the late 1890s with fruit and ornamental trees that thrived on the rich soil of the Emerald area. In 1941, 50 hectares of the original nursery were opened as a public park.
The park is bordered by the Puffing Billy railway line and offers a range of activities for the whole family set within the bush and scenic picnic grounds that surround Lake Treganowan and Lake Nobelius.
West of Emerald, on Wellington Road, is Aura Vale Lake which forms part of a diverse drainage system for the neighboring Cardinia Reservoir. At the Henley, there is Picnic Areas are lawns and picnic areas that extend down to the waterfront, and a boat ramp for the launching of small non-powered boats.
Further along, Wellington Road is the entrance to Cardinia Reservoir Park, situated at the dam wall at the western end of Cardinia Reservoir. The reservoir was completed in 1973 and is a major source of Melbourne’s water supply. A large recreational park was established along the dam wall and spillway and there are several picnic areas – Kangaroo Flat, Crystal Brook, and Duffys Lookout – all with shelters, BBQ, and toilet facilities.
A walkway of almost 2 kilometers runs along the top of the dam wall, linking the lookout car park with the spillway car park, providing fine views over the extensive waters of this reservoir and down to the lawns, parkland, and surrounding bush at the base of the dam wall.
Healesville is located in Melbourne’s scenic Yarra Valley, east of Yarra Glen and northeast of Lilydale.
Growth first occurred in Healesville due to a track being constructed through the area to the booming Woods Point goldfields, with the town first being surveyed in 1864. Farming and timber production were some of Healesville’s first industries, while the arrival of the railway in 1889 transforming the town into a tourist destination and a place for holidaymakers from Melbourne to journey to.
These days, Healesville is still a major tourist destination, located in the famous Yarra Valley grape growing region.
The town is surrounded by mountains, forests and rolling hills dotted with wineries, fruit and berry farms.Enjoy scenic views of Healesville, Mount Riddell and the surrounding valleys by driving along Yarra Glen Road west of the racecourse. The route north along St Leonards Road and Myers Creek Road winds its way past several fruit and berry farms.
The commercial centre of Healesville is situated along the shady tree-lined boulevard of Nicholson Street, which features a large selection of speciality shops, hotels, cafes, and a modern shopping complex built around a major supermarket.
Just north-east of town is the Maroondah Reservoir, which offers colorful gardens, BBQ, and picnic areas, and a path along the elevated dam wall provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Four kilometres south of the town centre is the Healesville Sanctuary which first opened in 1934 and features an impressive collection of birds, mammals and reptiles. Badger Weir Park, located 3 kilometres east of the Healesville Sanctuary, features a weir, landscaped picnic areas with rotundas, and walking trails through fern gullies and forests.A popular scenic drive is a northeast along the Maroondah Highway through the dense forests at Black Spur towards Marysville.
Lilydale is located on Melbourne’s eastern fringe at the northern end of the Dandenong Ranges. It is the main gateway to the rich wine and fruit-growing areas of the Yarra Valley at nearby Yarra Glen and Healesville.Lilydale’s commercial center extends for around one kilometer along Main Street, with most shops set back along parallel service roads which are lined with trees and landscaped garden strips. The Lilydale Village Shopping Centre fronts Main Street while the larger Lilydale Marketplace Shopping Centre is located off Hutchinson Street.
Along shady tree-lined Castella Street are some of Lilydale’s oldest buildings and historic sites. There are Lilydale’s old shire offices (built-in 1889) which are now home to a museum, the courthouse (1876), and the Athenaeum (1888) which now serves as a theatre.
Many parks and gardens can be found within Lilydale. The largest surrounds Lillydale Lake and extends along Olinda Creek to the Hull Road Wetlands, located near the junction of Hull Road and Swansea Road. Melba Park, located between Market Street and Chapel Street, is an attractive park with expanses of lawn, BBQ areas, shelters, and a playground.
One street back from the Main Street shops along Hardy Street is Eyrefield Park where there is a walking track along Olinda Creek, a skate ramp, tennis courts, a bowling club, and a racetrack for model radio-controlled cars. More sporting facilities, including a football oval and swimming pool, are located at the Lilydale Recreation Reserve.
Yarra Glen is a scenic town located on the Yarra River, north of Lilydale and west of Healesville.The attractive tree-lined commercial center of Yarra Glen along Bell Street includes the prominent landmark of the Grand Hotel which was built in 1888. Further north along Bell Street is the Yarra Glen Shopping Centre which overlooks parkland and lakes near Pinoak Drive.
A recreation reserve is located along the northern bank of the Yarra River, including the town’s showgrounds, sports ovals and picnic areas, and is particularly attractive in autumn. The town itself is set amongst the rolling hills of the fertile Yarra Valley which is home to a large number of vineyards. Yering Station, just south of the town center on the Melba Highway, was Victoria’s first vineyard and features beautiful gardens, a winery complex, and the historic Chateau Yering (built-in 1854) which is now a hotel and dining venue.
Following the Melba Highway north of Yarra Glen and onto Dixons Creek takes travellers to the De Bortoli winery. It is one of the region’s largest with over 240 hectares of vines, a cellar door, a restaurant, and beautifully landscaped grounds. The Sugarloaf Reservoir, located west of Yarra Glen in neighbouring Christmas Hills, includes several picnic and BBQ areas, walking tracks, and lookouts at the dam wall.
Marysville is located within the heavily forested mountains of the Great Dividing Range, a short drive off the Maroondah Highway between Healesville and Alexandra. Due to its scenic and peaceful location, Marysville has long been a popular holiday retreat for visitors, especially during the spectacular springtime blooming season and the colourful autumn period.
Its history dates back to the mid-1800s when gold was discovered in the area, however, it wasn’t long before guest houses were established and the town became a favorite for honeymooners due to its tranquil setting amongst native bush and waterfalls.
Marysville is situated on the Steavenson River, which runs through the town centre and is lined by parks and gardens. The river runs through Gallipoli Park, which features beautifully landscaped gardens, BBQs, shelters, a lake with fishing platforms, a historic water wheel, extensive playgrounds, a sports oval, a community center, and walking tracks.
The town centre of Marysville extends along the shady avenue of Murchison Street which has been landscaped to reflect the surrounding natural environment. Street gutters along one side of the road have been replaced by a meandering rocky streamlined with native grasses featuring bridges leading to shopping doorways.
The town’s supermarket is situated within parkland beside the Steavenson River in neighbouring Darwin Street. 3 kilometres south-east of the town centre along Falls Road is Steavenson Falls. They are one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls with a drop of around 84 metres. A flat and well-formed 350-meter long track leads from the car park to the falls where there are several viewing platforms. The falls are floodlit from dusk until 11 pm each night, powered by a hydroelectric turbine.
Marysville is an ideal area for bushwalking, with many tracks through the surrounding forests having originally been timber tramways that were used to haul logs to local timber mills. Keppels Lookout, accessed by driving along Paradise Plains Road or via a walking track from either the town centre or Steavenson Falls, offers stunning views of the landscape and forests surrounding Marysville. Good views can also be enjoyed from the top of Mount Gordon Road which is accessed from the road between Marysville and Narbethong.
An interesting tourist drive is along Lady Talbot Drive which is accessed via Woods Point Road just east of town. Attractions along this route include the Phantom Falls, Keppel Falls, Taggerty Cascades, center Beeches Rainforest Walk which is a scenic 4-kilometer circuit through ancient rainforests with many trees over 300 years old.
Around 25 minutes drive east of Marysville is Lake Mountain which rises to a height of 1,433 metres and offers fantastic views of the Victorian Alps. During the snow season, the mountain offers visitors cross country skiing, while at other times of the year bushwalking along the scenic ski trails is a popular activity.The village of Buxton, 11 kilometres north of Marysville is set along the Steavenson River and at the southern tip of the Cathedral Range State Park with its huge rocky peak. Buxton includes a hotel, general store, an attractive park along the river and a trout and salmon farm.
Montrose is the northern gateway to the Dandenong Ranges National Park, situated at the start of the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road which then commences its scenic ascent into the mountains at Kalorama. The commercial centre of Montrose is a compact shopping precinct located at the large roundabout which marks the very start of the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.
The towering peaks of Mt Dandenong and Mt Corhanwarrabul provide a stunning backdrop to this shopping area. Smaller shopping strips can also be found on neighbouring Leith Road and within a residential area on Stradbroke Road.
On the northern side of Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, between Leith Road and Swansea Road, is the Montrose Town Centre. It consists of a public library and a hall where concerts and stage performances are held. The Montrose Town Centre is surrounded by landscaped gardens that feature a war memorial and Robert Riddett’s cottage which was built nearby in 1877 and relocated to its present site.
The Montrose Brickworks Heritage Trail extends through the gardens and commemorates the town’s only main industry in the 1920s – the brickworks. Bricks originally manufactured there have been used to create a series of educational signs along the trail.
Montrose has an extensive array of parks, reserves and sporting grounds, providing ovals, tennis courts, bicycle tracks and horse riding trails. The residential areas of Montrose are situated along undulating roadways lined with established gum trees and native vegetation. With its scenic mountain backdrop, plenty of open space and the feel of a mountain community, it is easy to forget how close Montrose is to Melbourne’s populated eastern suburbs.
A few minutes drive north of Montrose along Swansea Road is Lilydale, which is the gateway to the rich grape growing areas of the Yarra Valley.
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Yarra Valley & Dandenong Ranges
Take an early morning balloon flight, meet passionate food and wine producers, and encounter a platypus at Healesville Sanctuary in the Yarra Valley. Wander the walking trails, meander the villages and discover the hidden delights of the Dandenong Ranges among its scenic winding roads, abundant artist studios, craft stores and renowned gardens.
Yarra Valley wine region
From architectural statements to rustic tin sheds hidden among the vines, the Yarra Valley has a wonderful range of cellar doors, all reflecting the diversity of styles and approaches in this beautiful, cool-climate region, a stone’s throw from Melbourne.
Stunning scenery with wines to match
Snap up new vintage cool-climate masterpieces from over 70 wineries around Healesville and the beautiful hill country of Nillumbik, Hurstbridge and Kangaroo Ground. Visit the cellar doors of stalwarts that continue to innovate like DeBortoli, Fergusson and Yering Station to newer favourites like Punt Road and Mandala Wines.
The wine region that started it all
Sample the grapes and marvel at the harmony of diverse soils, temperate weather, and the dedication of generations of vignerons in the pioneering region that kick-started Victoria’s wine industry in 1838. Match the superb estate wines with a meal at a winery restaurant in the region that boasts multiple hatted chefs.
An Australian wildlife experience just one hour from Melbourne in the stunning Yarra Valley wine region. Wander tranquil tracks and see iconic Australian animals including koalas, kangaroos, platypus, dingoes, wombats, emus and more. Discover majestic birds of prey and magnificent parrots in the spectacular Spirits of The Sky bird show.
Take a visit to the Australian Wildlife Health Centre to meet the vets and nurses as they care for sick, injured or orphaned wildlife in need of care.
Children under 16 years of age receive free entry every weekend, during Victorian Government school holidays and on Victorian public holidays. Healesville Sanctuary is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day of the year.
Please note: All Sanctuary visitors and members must book a ticket online in advance. Zoo and Sanctuary visitor numbers are capped and all visitors (including babies) and Zoo Members are required to book a ticket online in advance. Zoo Member tickets will be free but must be booked online in advance. Please note that even 0-4-year-old children require an online ticket.
- Indicative prices: $19.00 – $38.00
Adult: $38. Concession: $29. Senior: $34. See the website for details of full ticket terms and conditions.
Child: $0.00 – $19.00
Child weekdays: $19.00 (note: 4-15 years enter free on weekends, public holidays and school holidays). Children receive free entry on weekends, Victorian public holidays and Victorian Government school holidays. Children three years and under receive free entry every day.
- Daily: 9:00am – 5:00pm
- Disabled access available, contact operator for details
- Car park
- Coach parking
- Conference/convention facilities
- Interactive center
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