Image courtesy of Jon Lin Photography, on flickr
The Yarra Valley, less than an hour from Melbourne, is a favourite destination for day-trips and weekend breaks. It’s best known for its wine and food, but you’d be missing out if you visited without exploring the surrounding cool temperate rainforests and their many hidden waterfalls.
If you’re planning to wine and dine before or after your walks, you won’t want to spend too much time on the trails or stray too far from the wineries. Unfortunately, this means missing out on some of the spectacular longer walks, but you can always save them for another day.
You’ll obviously need a car to take on a walk or two and a couple of wineries in a day, but your other option is to skip the walks and getting straight to the food and drinks. In this case, you might opt to check out some of the winery tour options instead.
Maroondah Reservoir Park
Image courtesy of Chris Samuel, on flickr
Healesville is the closest major town to most of the Yarra Valley’s wineries and is surrounded by swathes of incredible forest, but short walking trails are surprisingly not that common within cooee of the township. Maroondah Reservoir Park is your best bet for a walk if you don’t want to drive too far.
While the 41-metre high dam wall is no doubt a feat of human engineering, it’s obviously not a bushwalker’s delight. However, there are some very short (800 m – 1.4 km) walking trails here that take in the true natural beauty of the area. They’re all detailed in Parks Victoria’s Maroondah Reservoir Visitor Guide.
For the prettiest short trails in the area, you’ll have to drive a bit further to Marysville, about an hour up the road from Healesville via the Black Spur. Marysville is a bit more well equipped for hikers and the best short trails are on Lady Talbot Drive, just outside of the township.
There are three trails on Lady Talbot Drive, which could all be pretty easily done in a day trip while still visiting a winery or two. The first of these is Phantom Falls, where a 400-metre track climbs steeply uphill through ferny rainforest to a viewing platform perched beside a picturesque waterfall. The return trip is via the same track and is much easier on the way down, but watch out for leeches.
Drive a little further up Lady Talbot Drive to find the trailhead for Keppel Falls. This two-kilometre return track meanders through similarly beautiful rainforest, with spectacular views of the Taggerty River along the way. Keppel Falls is obviously the main attraction and you will not be disappointed, especially if you visit after heavy rainfall.
Beeches Rainforest Walk
If you on hike one track on Lady Talbot Drive, make sure it’s the Beeches Rainforest Walk. Here you can spend a couple of hours strolling a four-kilometre track through even more spectacular rainforest vegetation including gigantic Mountain Ash and groves of Myrtle Beech, some of which are up to 300 years old.
Start the hike from The Beeches to enjoy the Taggerty Cascades at the halfway mark, where the Taggerty River tumbles over huge moss covered rocks. It’s a photographer’s delight.
The track is easy to follow and this Visitor Guide from Parks Victoria has a map that’ll be good enough to guide you.
Image courtesy of Balgownie Estate
Set amongst vineyard-covered rolling hills in Yarra Glen, Balgownie Estate boasts a cellar door, restaurant, conference centre and 69 spa suites. Between this and their Bendigo property, they produce Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Viognier. All of these can be tasted and purchased at the cellar door.
Balgownie Estate is at 1309 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen. The cellar door is open 10am – 5pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 10am – 6pm on Friday and Saturday. Tastings are $5, which can be taken off the purchase of a bottle of wine (conditions apply).
Image courtesy of Yering Station
The chardonnay and late harvest dessert wine are the standouts at Yering Station, which is no surprise considering it’s set on a former fruit farm. Despite it’s switch to viticulture, fruit is still a big part of what Yering Station do, even offering a crisp and well balanced pink lady apple cider. It’s home to a cellar door, restaurant and wine bar.
Yering Station is at 38 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen. The cellar door is open 10am – 5pm from Monday to Friday, and 10am – 6pm on Sundays. Tasting packages start from $5.
Image courtesy of Dominique Portet
Although Dominique Portet was only founded in 2000, the man behind the operation is a ninth-generation winemaker from Bordeaux. Dominique Portet’s Fontaine Rosé is this family-owned winery’s standout – a berry-driven blend of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Aside from their cellar door, they’re also home to a popular restaurant serving country-style lunches like cheese platters and charcuterie.
Dominique Portet is at 870 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream. The cellar door is open daily from 10am – 5pm.
Image courtesy of Maddens Rise
Made using hand-picked grapes, small batch fermentation, and with minimal oak influence, Maddens Rise have earned a name for themselves with uncomplicated wines like their sparkling rosé. This simplicity extends to their cellar door, a charming and well-designed shed (for want of a better word) where you’ll be presented a handwritten sheet of paper outlining the wines and their prices.
Maddens Rise is at Cnr Maroondah Highway and Maddens Lane, Coldstream. They’re open from 11am – 5pm, Thursday to Monday. Tastings here are free.
Got any other recommendations for short walks or wineries in the Yarra Valley? If you have any questions, comments, updates or corrections, let us know by commenting below.
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