A Travel Guide to Australia’s Yarra Valley, for all Budgets
The Yarra Valley, named after the 150-mile “Yarra” River that stretches from the northeastern most reaches of the valley to Melbourne, Yarra Valley is the type of place that will steal your heart at first glance. Imagine grazing cattle, rolling hills, and some of Australia’s most beautiful vistas dotting the drive up from the bustling capital of Victoria, Melbourne.
Upon reaching the Valley itself you see more of the same with impressive natural forests and diverse soils. However, what many do not know until talking to a local wine grower is just how much those all-important natural forests and ancient soils add to the uniqueness of the Valley’s viticulture.
When it comes to wine, the Yarra Valley is known for its Burgundian varietals including high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Luckily for us wine lovers, the Yarra Valley in all its beauty can be enjoyed on any budget, from the college student to the luxury Winetraveler.
Getting to the Yarra Valley from Melbourne
By Car: Numerous car services offer a private chauffeur for the day originating in Melbourne or the Yarra itself. It is highly recommended to use a service if you are planning on visiting several wineries in one day as Australian driving laws are incredibly strict.
If you plan to drive yourself for a more extended stay, parking is plentiful in the region as are quaint hotels and bed and breakfasts. The scenic drive is only an hour from Melbourne’s central business district. Simply follow the Eastern Freeway from Melbourne until you reach the Burke Road North exit. Follow Burke Road to Upper Heidelberg Road and Metropolitan Route 44 to Eltham, then follow the Main Road through Eltham to Kangaroo Ground and turn right onto the Eltham-Yarra Glen Road.
By Public Transportation: Melbourne’s public transport is arguably the best in the country, so it’s easy to find yourself in the center of Healesville in two hours for less than $10. Simply hop on a train and transfer to a bus to get to your destination.
By Helicopter: Certainly the most fashionable way to reach the Yarra Valley, when money is no object, is to take a 20-minute helicopter ride directly to one of the wineries. While enroute you’ll experience unmatched aerial views of Melbourne and the scenic countryside. Several Yarra wineries (Levantine Hill, Oakridge, Domaine Chandon, Tarrawarra Estate and De Bortoli) have a launch pad and offer this amenity as a package deal with a “winery lunch” for around $1,500.
Where to Stay
Located in the heart of “downtown” Healesville, this hotel is quaint and offers moderately priced rooms with shared bathrooms. The real highlight, however, is the restaurant downstairs. Food here is top notch with reasonably priced local wines.
- Address: 256 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville VIC 3777
- Phone: +61 (03) 5962 4002
- Website: http://www.yarravalleyharvest.com.au/index.php?EXP=278
- Price: Starting at $125/Night
With four rooms, the homestead is perfect for an all-out Hen’s party or similarly lavish celebration. Perched on top of a hill overlooking some of the most prized vineyards in Coldstream, the view is sure to impress and de-stress.
“Each suite comes with astonishing views of the Valley and city skyline, a personal butler, and an estate Mercedes for personal use. The tariff includes air transport from the Melbourne CBD, full use of the Homestead’s facilities, and access to the private 3,500-bottle cellar.”
- Address: 882 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream VIC 3770
- Phone: +61 (03) 5962 1333
- Price: Starting at $15,000/Night
Meletos has 22 guest rooms on a sprawling Valley farm. This is a Tuscan getaway in the heart of Yarra Valley and screams romantic retreat. This property does not allow children, so please plan accordingly to enjoy your escape. They do however, have a highly rated restaurant and a brewery next door where you can enjoy a malted beverage or two.
- Address: 12 St Huberts Rd, Coldstream VIC 3770
- Phone: +61 (03) 8727 3030
- Website: https://www.meletos.com/accommodation
- Price: Starting at $330/Night
This B & B is your most budget friendly option. As it is a shared room in a personal home. Ms. B’s charming home is a walkable distance from Healesville city center. Her standard amenities include a shared bathroom and kitchen.
- Price: Starting at $51/night
Wineries to Visit
Giant Steps was established by Phil Sexton in the 1990’s and as one of the only operating wineries in downtown Healesville. It is walkable from most accommodations. A tasting at Giant Steps is held in the barrel room where the wines are aged and winemaking aromas abound. The specialties of the house are single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from four plus sites which you can taste side-by-side to experience the differences in terroir. Giant Steps is great for groups and will satisfy wine novices and experts alike. The space is also fitted with a large restaurant and outdoor sitting area.
- Address: 336 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville VIC 3777
- Phone: +61 (03) 5962 6111
- Price: No charge for basic tasting, premium option available for a fee.
- Monday – Wednesday 11am–6pm
- Thursday 11am–9pm
- Friday 11am–10pm
- Saturday 11am–10pm
- Sunday 11am–9pm
Yarra Yering was established in 1969 by Dr Bailey Carrodus and helped to revitalize the Yarra Valley for commercial wine production after WWII. Yarra Yering has a quaint, farmhouse-style tasting room, with an adorable vineyard cat greeting visitors. The wines produced here have the ability to age for years and the Yering team is not afraid to showcase their cellared wines to guests! Yarra Yering is a can’t miss for Yarra Valley.
- Address: 4 Briarty Rd, Gruyere VIC 3770
- Phone: +61 (03) 5964 9267
- Price: Starts at $15
- Hours: Open Daily from 10am – 5pm
Pimpernel Winery is run by a husband and wife team, Mark and Fiona Horrigan. They feature site specific wines from cool climate varietals. Their tasting room feels like a cozy living room and you can typically find one of the owners behind the tasting bar. If you’re craving a more personal experience, this winery is the one to visit as you’ll likely talk directly with the winemaker and winery owners. With groups of eight or more, they invite guests upstairs to a separate tasting room for a personal walk through of the wines (appointment is required for groups).
- Address: 6 Hill Rd, Coldstream VIC 3770
- Phone: +61 (04) 0813 4662
- Price: $5 person for a walk-in tasting, waived with purchase. $10 per person for groups of 8-10 for a private tasting.
- Hours: Thursday – Sunday 11am – 4:30pm
Oak Ridge has one of the most stunning vistas in the whole valley and offers their wines from a large, modern tasting room and restaurant. The wines range from whites to reds and sweet to dry for a wide range of palates. different white wines varying in sweetness and appealing to a range of palates. The winery’s award-winning restaurant also makes a great stop for lunch in the Valley.
- Address: 864 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream VIC 3770
- Phone: +61 (03) 9738 9900
- Price: No Charge for basic tasting
- Hours: Daily 10am – 5pm
Mac Forbes Graceburn Tasting Bistro is located in the heart of Healsville. This tiny urban tasting room and wine bar is a quaint place where people in the industry often gather. Mac is making some very exciting wines with a more non-traditional approach. Graceburn offers both small bites and platters while you taste from the current varietals and vintages. Alternatively, you can also order wine by the glass or a bottle off the wine list. Mac also offers off-label wines which he has personally enjoyed or has a connection to. Graceburn also hosts a chef driven dinner paired with Mac Forbes wines on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- Address: 11a Green St, Healesville VIC 3777
- Phone: +61 (03) 5962 3704
- Hours: Tasting Room: Thursday – Monday 11am – 5pm
- Bistro: Friday and Saturday 6pm – 9pm
TarraWarra, in the northern region of the Yarra Valley, offers beautiful views and the northern expression of the vines in Yarra Valley.
“Feel like Alice down the rabbit hole as you enter our architecturally designed cellar door. Built into a hill, the partly underground room is connected to the Barrel Hall and overlooks the heritage block of Pinot Noir vines.”
This winery is art-driven, housing the TarraWarra Musem of Art with a rotating roster of art exhibits. They have three different dining outlets on the property a fine dining restaurant to an outdoor sun deck for more casual fare.
- Address: 11a Green St, Healesville VIC 3777
- Phone: +61 (03) 5957 3510
- Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-5pm
(Winetraveler tip: For groups of six or more, please call ahead to let any of the wineries above know to expect you.)
Other Activities in the Yarra Valley
A stop at the Four Pillars Gin Distillery in the heart of Healesville is a can’t miss. Their sprawling tasting room is often frequented by locals and you can enjoy a flight of four gin’s with or without a matched Fever Tree tonic on the side. As a bonus, an educated ambassador shows you the special botanicals used to brew each gin.
- Address: 2a Lilydale Road, Healesville, VIC 3777 Australia
- Phone: +61 (03) 5962 2791
- Sunday – Thursday 10.30am – 5.30pm
- Friday & Saturday 10.30am – 9pm
Healesville Sanctuary is a destination in it of itself and only a five-minute drive from Healesville city center. People from all over the world visit the Sanctuary to experience native Australian animals in a captive yet peaceful environment. Koalas, kangaroos, and one of the best bird shows in the country will delight young and old. It’s a great option for families visiting the wine region.
- Address: Badger Creek Rd, Badger Creek VIC 3777
- Price: $37 per adult
- Hours: 9am – 5pm Daily
Habituel Coffee is a necessity whether the morning after a day of wine tasting or as a mid-day pick-me-up. Habituel, owned by the founders of Giant Steps, have put the same amount of care into their coffee as they do their wine. The beans are roasted on-site and they have a full cafe menu including some of the best baked goods around.
- Address: 314 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville VIC 3777
- Phone: +61 (03) 5957 3230
- Hours: Daily 7:30am – 4pm
Yarra Valley is a beautiful destination for wine, culture and amazing people. It is very easy to navigate with a plethora of activities to suit all kinds of Winetravelers. While your experiences will not fall short at our recommended stops, there are countless other wineries and places to see during your time in the Yarra Valley that will also delight. Our hope for you is that you truly enjoy, go with the flow, and allow unexpected greatness to happen.