24 Hours in the Yarra Valley
Posted by Sarah Thomson on Thursday, March 15, 2018
There’s so much to see in the Yarra Valley and with only 24 hours to spend, prepare to hit the ground running
The Yarra Valley is one of Victoria’s favourite tourism destinations and with good reason! With a stockade of fine wines, gourmet eateries and sweet retreats, the region is bursting with activities and new things to sample. Feel free to start the day hungry because there’s a lot to fit in, physically, visually and geographically. Take your discovery of the Yarra Valley at your own pace, but if you don't know where to start, try out this itinerary for your first day of touring, with highlights from the best on offer as we swap the city's skyscrapers for the Valley's tangled vine-dotted landscape.
If you're making a break-away from the Melbourne CBD, a country adventure in the Yarra Valley north-east to the city is little over an hours' drive away, and the fastest way to travel by car is via the Eastlink Tollway, so remember to register your vehicle before venturing out. Jump onto the Eastern Freeway and travel towards Ringwood. Continue through the Mullum Mullum tunnel, but be sure to stay in the left lane as the turnoff is straight after where the tunnel ends. Turn left after exiting the tunnel towards Ringwood, then left again onto the Maroondah Highway towards Lilydale. Once you’re past Lilydale, the choice yours where in the Yarra Valley to first explore. Unfortunately, there aren't any public transport options, so if you don't have your own set of wheels, sign up with A Day on the Vine for tours departing from Melbourne.
Image: Yarra Valley Vista. Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria.
In 24 Hours
Rise and Shine | 5am
Awake bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with Global Ballooning for an early start to the morning but well worth setting your alarm clock forward by several hours. Give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of the day with an award-winning hot air balloon company for an hours' long sunrise balloon flight. Get a birds-eye view of the rolling hills and vineyard-striped landscapes overcast with orange tones.
Roaming Breakfast | 9am
Take up the option of indulging with a champagne breakfast once your balloon has touched back down on solid ground, or if you've landed on the third Sunday of every month and require a heartier meal, head straight to the Yering Station Farmers Market. It's the one of Victoria's oldest farmers' markets and has stalls offering fresh bread, seasonal fruits and vegetables, plus some sugary treats to nibble on throughout the day.
Wine Time | 10.30am
They say the morning is the best time of day to sample wines before your palate tires, which is why a visit to world-class Yarra Valley wineries often begins before noon. Travel up and eastward to Coldstream Hills Cellar Door for a combination of unhindered views and fine wines. Take the time to be walked through their wine list, paying particular attention to the chardonnay and pinot noir.
Palate Change | 11.30am
Sneak another cellar door in before lunch and make a stop at the ever-popular Oakridge Wines. Sip on a selection of (award-winning) wines and share in the impressive valley views, or book in and opt for the premium opportunity to taste the complete 864 range. If you’re feeling peckish at this hour, order an antipasto platter with bread to accompany the tasting experience. If you're tasting leans towards something sparklings, Domaine Chandon is another winery to get excited for with a newly-renovated cellar door that pays homage to their French roots. Taste a wide selection of remarkable drops, including the partnered favourites of Moet and Chandon and take a free self-guided tour to discover more about the company.
Lunch Hour | 1pm
Weather permitting, settle in with a spot on the lawns at TarraWarra Estate with light snacks from the cellar door. Those ready for something more substantial can book a table at their restaurant, which features a menu boasting creative Australian cuisine. The Head Chef changes the menu on a regular basis, finding inspiration from seasonal produce from the kitchen garden, so even if you’ve visited before, you could be in for a culinary surprise. If you're keen for something a little more low-key, Gladysdale Bakehouse is a hot spot for incredible baked goods worth potentially queuing up for. Pick up sausage rolls and homemade pastries, like the beef burgundy pie or order a coffee to keep you buzzing.
Image: TarraWarra Estate Restaurant. Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria.
State-of-the-Art | 3pm
Don’t leave expansive estate grounds without paying a visit to the TarraWarra Museum of Art and observe the latest feature range in the modern gallery. From when you first enter the Alice in Wonderland-counterpart warren, through to the cellar door, restaurant and winery, this destination is the complete package.
Get Cheesy | 3.30pm
Take a break from varietals and estate blends, and detour towards your next course at Yarra Valley Dairy. Try the selection of French and Italian-style soft cheeses, and on the off-chance you’re still hungry or wish to round off lunch with something velvety, the farmhouse offers a variety of cheese plates and charcuterie items to order. The plates showcase the fresh artisan cheeses from both cows' and goats' milk, but it’s the creamy Persian feta that has become a perennial favourite with visitors.
Image: Yarra Valley Dairy. Roberto Seba, Visit Victoria.
Just Desserts | 4.15pm
Another stop, another meal. This time it is to sate sweet-tooths and dessert-devotees. Swing past Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery before the doors close to satisfy your sugar cravings and browse the shop. Chocolates are made on-site, so peep through the glass and watch how the handcrafted creations are tempered and moulded. Then wander between the shelves, stocked high with edible gifts, chocolates and keepsakes. Don't be surprised if you find yourself walking past the free tasting selection more than once.
Afternoon Pitstop | 5pm
It’s time to slow the pace, relax on a deep couch and nurse a dark spirit over the next while at Atticus Wine Bar. It’s like a mini pub in the quiet corner of the Yarra Glen, and sipping a tipple here is great way to round out an event-packed day. The bar stocks a variety of regional wines, beers and ciders, plus a selection of whiskeys to take home as a souvenir.
Fine Dining | 7pm
Take it up a notch and make a reservation for Ezard at Levantine Hill’s Signature Restaurant on Saturdays and dine in awe of their self-proclaimed avant-garde architecture. An ultimate gourmet degustation experience with classic food styles from Europe, brought to you by hatted chef Teage Ezard.
Stargazing | 10pm
Before turning in for the night to your luxury lodge, end the day on a romantic note by wooing your date with a drive out to Sugarloaf Reservoir Lookout to see the vast margin of stars above the body of water beneath. A slightly alternate way to end the first step in your Yarra Valley tour, but the perfect scenic bookend to your day.
Ready to explore the Yarra Valley? Find your perfect Yarra Valley getaway from our collection of luxury stays. Expect vineyard-toting cottages, quaint guesthouses and homesteads perfect for groups.
Hero image: Global Ballooning Yarra Valley. Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria.