Intruducing the Dandenong Ranges & Yarra Valley
From Melbourne, take control from the driver’s seat and discover the magnificent Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley.
What to do and see in the Dandenong Ranges
Escape to the romantic hilltop villages, luxury hideaways, colourful gardens and towering forests of the Dandenong Ranges. Then unwind in the beautiful Yarra Valley, famous for its renowned wines, fresh food and breathtaking scenery.
Take to the skies in a hot-air balloon for an exciting view of the Yarra Valley or enjoy a ride through thick forests, fern-filled gullies and past pretty villages on Puffing Billy, Australia’s oldest steam railway.
Indulge in a picnic lunch along the Yarra Valley Regional Food Trail, with the finest of local produce including smoked fish, handmade cheese and pasta, seasonal fruits, organic salads and chocolates.
Just less than 90 minutes drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges region offers a range of accommodation, from elegantly restored B&Bs and luxury cottages to five-star hotels such as the famous Chateau Yering Historic House Hotel or Sebel Lodge at Yarra Valley.
Trip lengthfrom Melbourne 3 days
Total distance 225km
Road conditions All sealed roads
Segment distances: Melbourne to Marysville 1hr 55mins; 100km
Marysville to Olinda 1hr 25mins; 75km
Olinda to Melbourne 1hr 10mins; 50km
Suggested overnight stops Marysville and Olinda
Major attractions along the route, include:
Dandenong Ranges National Park
– With more than 300km of walking tracks that meander through lush gullies and misty ash forests, the Dandenong Ranges is the perfect place in which to unwind and relax.
– Drive through a vista of rolling hills strung with vines, towering trees, verdant valleys, pristine rivers and distant blue ranges, especially around Marysville and Warburton. Pop into one of the more than 55 wineries for a wine tasting, and later enjoy a gourmet meal with a premium vintage.
Discover one of the best hotel accommodations in the Yarra Valley – find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say at TripAdvisor.
– Explore one of the highest villages in the Dandenong Ranges. Noted for its scenic beauty, Olinda’s gardens reflect the annual seasons including colourful spring blossoms and rich autumn colours.
Browse the many local galleries and craft shops: don’t miss the Touchstone Craft Gallery for a range of jewellery, glass, pottery, leather and ceramics, as well as cake and Devonshire tea at one of its quaint tea rooms.
Discover some of Australia’s most beautiful public and private gardens, including the National Rhododendron Gardens, home to 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 250,000 daffodils, native birds and panoramic views of the Yarra Valley and distant ranges. Go hiking through the forest in the RJ Hamer Arboretum or trek to Olinda Falls in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Along the way, look out for wildlife such as emus, wombats, possums, echidna, lyrebirds, king parrots and rosella.
– Sassafras has been a popular weekend destination since the area was first settled in 1894. Discover a range of cafes, restaurants, tea rooms, speciality shops, quality boutique accommodation and antique shops, and explore scenic drives to national parks and gardens.
Hike the 13km Sassafras Creek Forest Trail along the mountain stream to Emerald or visit the Sherbrooke Forest and the Dandenong Ranges National Park for its nature trails, waterfalls, wild life, lush sun-dappled fern gullies and picnic grounds.
In town, browse the award-winning Wise Possum Nature Shop for unique wildlife and nature art and afterwards take tea at Miss Marples tea room and restaurant, an authentic English cottage inspired by author Agatha Christie.
– Surrounded by scenic countryside, Healesville is an important food and wine centre that provides a year-round opportunity to sample local wines: check out Rochford Wines, Domaine Chandon and Coldstream Hills. Visit the award-winning Healesville Sanctuary, home to more than 200 species of Australian native animals. Ride a motorised open-air trolley along the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway; the original trolleys were used by workmen checking the line.
Enjoy a picnic at the tranquil Badger Weir Park then take a short stroll through fern gullies and mountain ash. Get lost within the Hedgend Maze and browse for bargains in antique and local handicraft galleries or the Healesville River Street Market. Don’t miss the annual Yarra Valley Grape Grazing Festival in February.
– Wander through the 30ha natural bush setting and watch birds and animals living in their native habitats. Get up close to more than 200 species of Australian wildlife, including platypus, koalas, emus, Tasmanian devils, lyrebirds, wombats and eagles.
See colourful king parrots and the helmeted honeyeater – Victoria’s bird emblem and an endangered species – in the Flooded Forest Aviary; glimpse a platypus at the nocturnal creek habitat, complete with living ferns, mosses and lichens growing above pools and waterfalls; and catch the spectacular ‘Birds of Prey’ presentation, starring the peregrine falcon as it dives from the top of a gum tree, and the wedge-tailed eagle with its 2m wingspan.
– Nestled in the valley beside Melbourne’s closest ski fields, Marysville is surrounded by waterfalls and forests of mountain ash. Stroll down the main street beneath century-old oak trees and past gardens alive with blossoms of dogwood, azaleas and rhododendrons. Browse the art and crafts shops for locally made products or sample traditional sweets at the old-style Lolly Shop.
Drive along Lady Talbot Drive through a eucalyptus forest and, after a picnic lunch, take a forest trail to see waterfalls and panoramic views. Head out to Steavenson Falls – at 82m, these falls are one of the highest in Victoria. Later admire a stand of old growth mountain ash in the Cumberland Memorial Scenic Reserve.
– The former gold rush town is regarded as one of the most picturesque places in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges region. Surrounded by lush, tall forests of mountain ash, Warburton has also become known for its practise of alternative medicines and therapies. Swim and fish in local rivers or view wildlife on a night tour in the Upper Yarra Reservoir Park.
Cycle the scenic 38km Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail or experience one of the many forest walks from Warburton into forests of mountain ash and myrtle beech rainforest: don’t miss the walk to LaLa Falls. Stroll out into the canopies of giant eucalyptus trees along the treetop skywalk at Mount Donna Buang Rainforest Gallery. Browse handicrafts at the Yarra Valley Showcase or Brittania Creek Glass.
– Discover an ideal base for enjoying cellar door tastings and sampling local produce. Here it’s easy to meet the winemakers of some the state’s best-known and award-winning wineries, including Yering Station, De Bortoli and TarraWarra Estate winery. You can also experience the vineotherapy treatment at Natskin at Balgownie Estate.
Visit the region's only ‘pioneer’ working farm, enjoy a sunrise balloon flight over the picturesque valley or walk the 18km trail in Sugarloaf Reservoir Park. Indulge in a relaxing spa at the Immerse Spa and Winery, experience the Yarra Valley Horse and Harness race meets and find handmade treasures at the Yarra Glen Craft Market on the first Sunday of each month.
William Ricketts Sanctuary
– Discover a place of great natural beauty and tranquillity in a setting renowned for quiet reflection and contemplation. Stroll trails past mystical kiln-fired clay sculptures of Aboriginal figures and animals half hidden among the rocks, ferns and mountain ash trees.
Puffing Billy Steam Railway
– Ride Australia’s oldest surviving steam railway on a 25km journey through thick forests and lush fern-filled gullies from Belgrave to Emerald Lake Park and Gembrook. Along the way enjoy lunch, Devonshire tea and an evening meal.
Discover some of the best hotel accommodation in Sassafras, Dandenong Ranges – find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say at TripAdvisor.