Australia’s wine regions are known around the world, and Victoria’s Yarra Valley makes the state stand out for both domestic and international visitors. Offering visitors more than just wine, the Yarra Valley features a range of experiences that will turn your simple winery trip into the ultimate holiday with something to suit the whole family.
Offering visitors more than just wine, the Yarra Valley features a range of experiences that will turn your simple winery trip into the ultimate holiday with something to suit the whole family.
See our top 10 picks for things to see and do in the beautiful Yarra Valley in rural Victoria.
10. Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail
Location: 171 Maroondah Highway, Lilydale
One of the most iconic trails in the country, the Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail travels from the Dandenong Ranges through to the Great Dividing Ranges. Stretching 38 kilometres, the trail is perfect for keen cyclists looking to explore the region. With grades varying from easy to moderate and relatively good conditions, those planning to take the journey will be treated to spectacular views throughout the duration.
The trail itself is something of a highlight, with a rich history dating back to the 1900s. The railway line was used to service the local agricultural industry for many years, now instead of bins full of crops, the trail is followed by cyclists, walkers and horse riders.
There are various highlights along the way that will act as great rest stops. One of the highlights of the trail is at Yarra Junction’s old railway station. The station has been converted into a pioneer museum offering visitors insight into the region and how it has evolved. If you’re chasing a cold drink to break up the journey, the Sam Knott Hotel in Wesburn has its doors open serving up a range of cold beverages and has been doing so since its licensing in 1863.
The entire trail is complimented by breathtaking views of the Yarra Ranges National Park and its surrounds and curious wildlife.
If the whole trail is a bit too much for you, you can opt to complete just parts of it. See the breakdown of the trail below and the distances for each.
- Lilydale to Mount Evelyn: 6.9km
- Mount Evelyn to Wandin: 5.4km
- Wandin to Seville: 3.4km
- Seville to Killara: 3.3km
- Killara to Woori Yallock: 4km
- Woori Yallock to Launching Place: 6.4km
- Launching Place to Yarra Junction: 2.1km
- Yarra Junction to Millgrove: 5.2km
- Millgrove to Warburton: 3.3km
9. Kokoda Track Memorial Walk
Location: Dandenong Ranges National Park, Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Ferny Creek
Keeping the active theme going is the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. Often referred to as 1000 steps thanks to the number of steep stairs, the Memorial Walk is located in Ferny Creek in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Designed to give visitors a small feel into the challenge Australian soldiers faced following Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Trail in World War II. Stretching 5 kilometres and taking around 2 hours to complete, the steep trail is often used as a training ground for locals and a challenge for visitors.
Surrounded by the luscious greenery of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, you’ll pass various types of flora including tree ferns, manna gum and blackwood, and if you’re lucky, some local wildlife.
Along the trail, you’ll see various plaques depicting the lives of those who put their lives on the line for Australia in 1942. This journey is educational, emotional and exhausting, and is not recommended for those with medical conditions.
8. Tarrawarra Museum of Art
Location: 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Tarrawarra
Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, Tarrawarra Museum of Art is a great way to break up the monotony of vineyards and cellar doors (not that you can ever visit too many of the beautiful wineries).
Opened in 2003, the museum features a range of contemporary pieces and exhibits that will get you tilting your head to make out pieces and nodding in agreement (or disagreement) all while enjoying breathtaking views looking out over the Valley.
Housing personal collections of the founders Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO, the museum also hosts various travelling exhibits throughout the year.
If you want a little more out of your visit to the Museum, you can book yourself into an organised tour around the exhibits. The tours will take visitors around to explain the different pieces on display, to provide a more in-depth look at the museum’s current exhibits. All tours must be pre-booked at least two weeks in advance to ensure availability.
The museum is open to the public Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm and is also open on public holidays with the exception of Christmas Day.
- Children (16yrs & under): FREE
- Student & Pension Card Holders: FREE
- Adults: $5
7. Segway Tour
Location: Rochford Winery, 878-880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream
An alternative way to explore a winery, a Segway tour will take you out of your comfort zone while also providing the chance to roam around a vineyard and taste the goods.
The two-hour tour takes you around the famous Rochford Winery grapevines under the leadership of an experienced guide. You’ll be given all necessary training to master the control of the Segway so you can safely drive around the vineyard. Along the journey, you’ll learn about grape growing and wine production while also getting a little background about Rochford Winery.
After you’ve explored the vineyard it’s time to put the product to the test with a delicious lunch perfectly paired with one of Rochford’s wines.
This is an exciting way to explore a vineyard in the Yarra Valley and is sure to create some laughable moments for those who might not have the best balance. To take part in this tour, all members of your party must be 12 years or over (the glass of wine will be left out for the underage tour members).
- Child (10-15yrs): $125
- Adult: $145
6. Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa
Location: 1309 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen
If you’re looking to stay overnight in the Yarra Valley and are willing to splurge a little, then the Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa is the way to go. This 4.5-star boutique resort is Yarra Valley luxury at its finest and offers everything from accommodation and fine dining to a day spa and on-site activities.
Encouraging people to stay another day in this beautiful region, you’ll most likely never want to leave once you’ve arrived at the resort. Offering a variety of room options you can choose from the Standard Queen, Directors Suite, Privilege Spa Suite and Garden Terrace.
If you’re looking to grab a bite to eat at this gorgeous establishment, then Rae’s Restaurant is where you’ll want to book. Offering settings for breakfast, lunch and dinner you can purchase anything from barista made coffees to decadent dinners. The restaurant is in addition to the cellar door, which you can visit to taste some of the Estate’s best creations.
Balgownie Estate’s spa, Natskin Day Spa Retreat, is also a viable option for visitors to the region looking to put their feet up (quite literally) and relax while being pampered. Offering spa and body treatments, facial and skin therapy, hydrotherapy, waxing, tanning and steam rooms to name a few.
The estate offers a handful of other activities perfect for those looking to just visit for the day or who have booked a room for a night or two.
5. Healesville Sanctuary
Location: Badger Creek Road, Healesville
One of the state’s best animal attractions, Healesville Sanctuary is home to over 200 native Australian animals; you’ll see the likes of kangaroos, emus, dingoes, koalas, wombats and platypus. An ideal destination for a day trip from the capital, Melbourne, Healesville Sanctuary has enough to keep you and the kids occupied for the whole day.
Healesville Sanctuary is an ideal destination for international visitors looking to get their Aussie animal fix and even locals searching for something fun and exciting to do.
The sanctuary also features daily presentations and feeding sessions to teach you about the animals and their habits. With a full schedule throughout the day, you can watch as the park’s keepers showcase some of the animals including parrots, wombats, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils and more!
If you’re looking to add a little extra on to your visit to Healesville Sanctuary, you can book a platypus encounter. This additional experience will see you don waders and hop into the water with these adorable animals as they swim around you. You’ll want to get in early with this experience as the encounters are limited to two people a day so the platypus isn’t overwhelmed and can get the right amount of rest.
The park is open on a daily basis from 9 am to 5 pm.
- Child (4-15yrs) Mon-Fri (outside VIC holidays): $16.20
- Child (4-15yrs) Weekends & VIC holidays: FREE
- Student: $24.90
- Adult: $32.40
4. Tandem Skydiving
Location: Lilydale Airport, 13 MacIntyre Lane, Yering
If simply admiring the beauty of the vineyards isn’t enough then why not face your fears and try a tandem skydive over the valley? Connected to an experienced instructor you’ll rise to 14,000ft above the Yarra Valley before jumping out and plunging towards this beautiful part of the country.
Australia’s highest legal jump, this tandem dive is perfect for visitors to the region looking to add a bit of adrenaline into a visit to a wine region. The skydive features up to 60 seconds of free falling where you’ll reach speeds of up to 220km/h before enjoying 5 to 7 minutes of gliding back down with the parachute.
Providing breathtaking views of the Yarra Valley region, this is one of the most scenic tandem skydives in the country. Upon completion of the dive, you’ll be issued a certificate to commemorate your adventure. All jumpers must be older than 12 years of age.
- $214 per person
3. Vintage Tiger Moth Flight
Location: Lilydale Airport, 13 MacIntyre Lane, Yering
A vintage twist on the usual scenic flight, this authentic 1930s Tiger Moth plane will make you feel as though you’ve journeyed back in time. Complete with vintage flying gear, you’ll feel on top of the world as you soar over the Yarra Valley dressed in a leather jacket, helmet, goggles and scarf.
The flight lasts for 20 minutes and passengers will have the chance to take the controls of the aircraft for part of the flight. Once you have contained yourself from the excitement of the whole experience, you’ll be able to truly appreciate the gorgeous views of the region below.
This is one of the best ways to take in views of the Yarra Valley without the full adrenaline of a skydive but a bit more adventure than your average flight, this is great for visitors of all ages.
- $190 per person
2. Hot Air Ballooning
Location: Balgownie Estate, 1309 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen
Continuing the flight theme, a hot air balloon flight is one of the most relaxing ways to enjoy birds-eye-views of the Yarra Valley. This 1-hour hot air balloon flight floats over the Valley early in the morning to treat passengers to impeccable views of the landscape at sunrise.
A peaceful experience completely different to the two entrants above, a hot air balloon ride is a peaceful and romantic way to see the region. For the duration of the flight, you’ll be in the hands of some of the country’s most experienced pilots, while the ground crew looking after you at take off and landing work to ensure you have a smooth and calming experience.
The option also exists to enjoy a delicious champagne breakfast at the nearby Rochford Wines after the fight. The buffet style breakfast is the perfect way to cap off a memorable morning.
Flights take off half an hour before sunrise from Balgownie Estate (mentioned above) with transfers from the Melbourne CBD available to purchase.
- Child (7-12yrs): From $325
- Adult: From $405
1. Winery Tour
Location: Various locations
With all this mention of the beautiful rolling vineyards, it’s only fitting that the number one thing to do in the Yarra Valley is to embark on a winery tour. There are a number of operators in the region operating day tours to a handful of popular wineries for guests to learn about the wine and the wine making process, taste some of the most popular varieties and dine while admiring the beautiful views of the valley.
In addition to the Segway tour mentioned above, you can embark on a normal winery day tour from Melbourne, which includes lunch at Rochford Wines, a tour of De Bortoli Wines, a taste testing at Yarra Valley Chocolatier and Yering Station Winery to name a few.
This all day tour departs Melbourne at 9 am before venturing into the valley to take passengers on a culinary adventure. A gourmet tour perfect for lovers of good food and wine as passengers will be treated to a full day of tastings mixed with sightseeing.
Other winery tours on offer include a combination winery tour and helicopter flight for the more luxurious wine region adventure.
Families take note, as kids are allowed on the tours, they just won’t be able to taste any of the wines.
- From $124.80
Looking for more things to do in the Yarra Valley? Check out our full catalogue and book your next experience online today!