Natural wonders of Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges
Victoria’s Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges are paradise for nature lovers, foodies and lovers of arts and crafts.
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.
Hide away in spellbinding fern glades and forests, amid rugged bushland and perfect blooms, and encounter iconic Australian animals all in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.
Venture into the national and state parks to behold the signature towering mountain ash and dripping tree ferns, dramatic waterfalls and serene lakes.
Stop at scenic lookouts for views of farmland and vines, and the evocative forests. Celebrate the proximity of the Yarra Ranges National Park to Melbourne.
Swap the bush for manicured nature in both public and private gardens. Witness the riot of colour as thousands of native and rare buds herald spring around the region.
Be captivated by the mimicry of a lyrebird or the waddle of a wombat as you make your way through swathes of unspoilt forest – a haven for native birds and animals.
Get up close to a menagerie of native creatures in walk-through exhibits and “meet the keeper” sessions at the famous Healesville Sanctuary. Watch as sick and orphaned animals receive care at the Healesville Animal Hospital.
Meeting a local at Healesville Sanctuary.
Witness an explosion of colour as flowers burst into bloom throughout the magnificent gardens of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.
Swap the rugged bushland around the region for more manicured surrounds with the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges boasting some of Melbourne's greatest gardens.
Visit during spring to see the riotous palette on display at the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, which contains thousands of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and daffodils.
Seek shady respite on hot summer days in the woodlands of the RJ Hamer Arboretum or the 50,000 square metres of tropical-themed water gardens at Blue Lotus Water Garden.
Watch the autumn colours turn on the deciduous trees dotted around the feature waterfalls in the Alfred Nicholas Gardens, and uncover the clay sculptures hidden under tree ferns in the tranquil William Ricketts Sanctuary.
Celebrate special occasions in the public gardens year-round and peep into private gardens when they open their gates as part of the Open Gardens Victoria program. Visit the Open Gardens Victoria website for more details.
Please your palate and sate your appetite at some of the best restaurants, wineries, cafes and pubs in the stunning Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.
Match the Yarra Valley's fine wines with equally fine foods and an impressive array of fresh seasonal produce direct from the farms.
Linger over long lunches in spectacular winery restaurants with breathtaking views, like the awarded Bella Vedere and Eleonore's, or Oakridge, De Bortoli's Locale Restaurant, Domaine Chandon and Yering Station.
Fill up on wholesome “farm table” fare in friendly cafes around Healesville and receive hearty country welcomes and fine feeds in pubs like the Healesville Hotel or the emporium that is Innocent Bystander.
Gorge on generously proportioned local dishes against the backdrop of towering trees and misty ranges. Indulge in the fresh cream and just-baked scones of the famous Devonshire teas at icons like Miss Marples around Olinda and Sassafras.
Visit Coombe Yarra Valley, set in the Melba Estate that was once the home of world-famous opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, or dine on the go aboard Puffing Billy's dining car.
It's easy to get active in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges with a range of tracks and trails to suit all abilities in the stunning national parks and gardens.
Set out on leisurely walks past tall trees, clear creeks and fern-fringed waterfalls for majestic views of the surrounding countryside and to Melbourne and beyond. Look out for sneak peeks of local wildlife as you unpack a gourmet picnic from regional producers.
If you're after a more strenuous bushwalk or hike, you're in luck, with craggy peaks and rugged escarpments offering solid climbs. Tackle the 1000 steps of the Kokoda Walk at a frenetic pace for the ultimate workout.
You will stumble upon stunning scenery and secluded secrets as you walk through Yarra Ranges National Park, the Dandenong Ranges National Park, Kinglake National Park, Bunyip State Park, the Cathedral Ranges State Park and Warrandyte State Park.
From Warburton, choose between a series of short walks along the historic rail trail, stopping at the old railway station at Yarra Junction or the Sam Knott Hotel at Wesburn, or tackle the whole 38km to Lilydale.
Bushwalking is popular in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.
Rise above the Yarra Valley at sunrise on a silent, scenic hot air balloon flight with Global Ballooning – a tranquil way to experience the wonders of the landscape.
Be prepared to set your alarm clock early, because a sunrise balloon flight means starting just before dawn. Whether you're a morning person or not, you'll appreciate the extra time to look out over the panorama of forests, farms and corridors of vines, whatever the season.
To top it all off, when you set down you're in for a sublime breakfast of sparkling wine and gourmet local produce at a Yarra Valley winery.
Check for the opportunity to purchase photos of the flight so you'll always remember the breathtaking views and once-in-a-lifetime experience.