The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges must-do checklist

By Bianca Delbao,

Treat yourself to a holiday in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, where world-class food and wine meets adventure. To make the most of your visit to one of the most picturesque destinations in Australia, be sure to keep this must-do checklist in mind:

1. Base yourself in Victoria’s best rated destination – Marysville

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Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, Marysville is the ideal spot to start your Yarra Valley and Dandenong ranges adventure. Being in the centre of the region, Marysville is close to all the top sites and attractions.

2. Get amongst the nature by visiting some of the area’s National Parks

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Check out the 40 metre long observatory platform at the Yarra Ranges National Park’s Rainforest Gallery, and then head to the stunning Lake Eildon National Park for a swim. There are even some action-packed watersports for the more adventurous types.

3. Pay your respects to the most magnificent waterfalls Victoria has to offer

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Find yourself atop one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls, the Steavenson Falls. These falls are a whopping 84 metres high and are a known favourite among the Marysville locals, being just a 3.4 kilometre return trip from the town centre. The Yarra Ranges National Park has the Keppel Falls and Phantom Falls that are also well worth exploring.

4. Take a historic journey along some of the most unique trails in the country

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The region is known to host some lovely trails for walking, cycling and horse-riding. Visit Victoria recommends the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail, which takes you through the stunning Yarra Valley whilst following the historic railway line. They’ve also highlighted the very challenging and very steep 1000 step Kakoda Memorial Trail to experience what was felt by Australian soldiers during World War II.

5. Follow the Yarra Valley food trail to sample the delicious local produce

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From cherries and lavender to salmon and trout, travelling along the food trail can lead you to a number of the culinary hotspots straight from the farms, orchards and roadside stands. Pick your own fruit at the family-owned-and-operated Blue Hills Berries & Cherries, and then head to the Yarra Valley Dairy for a sample of homemade cheeses. Be sure to finish off the day by taking in the aromas of the Warratine Lavender Farm.

6. After nibbling at some of the region’s finest foods, it’s time to sample the wine

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With more than 40 wine cellars to choose from, the Yarra Valley vineyards are internationally renowned for producing premium quality, cool climate wines. The world-renowned Innocent Bystander and the family-owned Buxton Ridge are our top picks!

7. Get up close and personal with cuddly Aussie critters at the Healesville Sanctuary

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Being one of the best-known animal parks to offer a distinct Australian setting for its animals, the Healesville Sanctuary allows visitors to be face-to-face with native wildlife in their natural habitat.

8. Explore your creative side and shop at antique stores, op-shops and boutiques

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Whether it be a one-off design made of salvaged goods in Belgrave, or a souvenir hand crafted by a local artist in in Olinda, the Dandenong villages are abundant with the specialty stores unique to the area. The wooden toy and puppet store Geppetto’s Workshop is well worth stepping into as well as Mangana in Olinda, which has now become one of the state’s most popular homeware stores.

9. Enjoy a winter’s day at Melbourne’s closest and most affordable snowfield

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The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges can be visited year round, with winter proving to be a completely different experience to summer. The region is home to Australia’s top cross-country ski resort – Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, which is ideal for a trip away no matter what skill level. The best way to get there is by using the Lake Mountain Resort Bus, which costs $35 and includes the entry fee to the resort.

10. Indulge in a Dandenong Ranges Devonshire Tea from a range of iconic cafes

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Think fresh-baked scones with a smear of jam and a dollop of cream – the perfect way to wind down after a long day of exploring. Be sure to visit either Miss Marples Tearoom, SkyHigh Mt Dandenong or the trending Wickedly Delicious Pattiserie in Monbulk. Anyone who is still feeling a bit peckish after all that should head to the Marysville Patisserie for a nice big piece of cake.

11. See it all from the sky, just as it hits sunset

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Experience the breathtaking scenery from above, whether it be birds-eye view from a scenic flight or full panoramic views from a hot air balloon. Morning rides booked through Picture This Ballooning are followed by a champagne breakfast at the Yarra Valley Lodge. Could it get any better than this!?

12. Spend the night at one of the best-rated hotels in the area

Here are some of the top-rated accommodation providers in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, in towns hosting excellent rated hotels overall:

Loft in the Mill – Olinda

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Best Western Yarra Valley – Warburton

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Yering Gorge Cottages – Yering

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Chateau Yering Historic House – Yering

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Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa – Yarra Glen

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Yarra Valley Lodge – Yarra Glen

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Are there any other ‘must-do’ experiences you think should be added to the checklist? Let us know below!