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Experience The Yarra Valley
yarra valley If you are close to Melbourne, you simply must take a drive out to the Yarra Valley because it is the perfect for a getaway to recharge the batteries and enjoy some breathtaking scenery. This region of Victoria is also known as one of the world's great wine growing regions, and is famous for its pinot noir and sparkling champagne.

This area is not just popular with the tourists. It is also where the locals flock to to enjoy a weekend away. The majestic blue ranges, giant trees, rivers and valleys all combine to create an irresistible escape from the hectic city life. You will really need to set aside at least two days here to fully take in the scenery and enjoy the beautiful countryside. Pretty towns are nestled throughout the rolling hills of the valley and are begging to be explored. There are also a great handful of fine foods and wines to sample, making this an area packed with culinary delights.

By following the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, you will arrive at one of the most sought after regions in Victoria, the Dandenong Ranges. This region is ideal for a weekend retreat because it is just brimming with beauty. The majestic forests, amazing gardens and panoramic views of the Yarra Valley will take your breath away and leave you in awe of the beauty of nature. Home of the Rhododendron, the gardens go on and on and will lead you to art galleries and cosy cafés. There is even a local Puffing Billy which will take you on a journey through old villages and past some incredible scenery. There are kilometres of walking tracks also featuring the Thousand Steps and The Sherbrooke Forest.

Further down the range you will come across the town of Healesville, which is known for its thriving Sanctuary wildlife park. It is home to a myriad of birdlife, and boasts over 200 species of animals such as the platypus, Tasmanian devil, dingos, echidnas, koalas, emus and wombats. The ‘Birds of Prey’ presentation will give you a fascinating insight into the peregrine falcon and the wedge tailed eagle, opening your eyes to our country's wide range of wildlife. Healesville is also known for its yearly Grape Grazing Festival and Yarra Valley Tourist Railway, which are extremely popular with tourists.

Another welcoming town is Yarra Glen which is positioned in the heart of the Valley. This is the home of many award winning wineries so it is ideal for couples. There is plenty to do here, such as walk the eighteen kilometre Sugarloaf Reservoir Park, relax at the Immerse Spa and Winery or even enjoy a balloon flight over the valley to enjoy the sunrise.

Not far away is Marysville, a beautiful town which is known as the gateway to Lake Mountain. This town comes alive in every season, especially spring with its picturesque cottage gardens and oak trees lining the streets, and winter when the snowfields beckon avid skiers to enjoy the slopes. Steavenson Falls is another magnificent attraction, as it is known as one of the highest waterfalls in Victoria. Lady Talbot Drive is perfect for a picnic lunch surrounded by eucalyptus forest followed by a rainforest walk. The Cumberland Scenic Reserve is home to the tallest tree known in Victoria, known as ‘The Big Tree’, and the Cora Lynn Falls are also worth a visit.

Warburton would have to be one of the most attractive towns in the entire valley. It is also known as a health retreat and is a welcome treat for all desiring a complete break from the pressures of life. With forests, rivers, wineries and plenty of activities and attractions right on your doorstep, make sure this is on your list of places to see.

The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is ideal for those wanting to get out into nature for cycling or walking enthusiasts, and there is also a shorter walk to Lala falls. The Mt Donna Buang Rainforest Gallery offers a brilliant treetop skywalk which is a great way for all ages to see the beautiful rainforest. There is even a night tour to the Upper Yarra Reservoir Park. There are plenty of walks which begin close to town and into the Mountain Ash forests. You will certainly leave here feeling fit and rejuvenated and back in touch with nature.

The Yarra Valley has something for all. Whether you enjoy watching a sunset with a glass of local wine, or browsing the boutiques and enjoying a visit to the wildlife sanctuary you will be satisfied. However, if getting active is more of your forte, wou will love the treetop skywalk, cross country skiing at Lake Mountain or the abundance of cycling and bushwalking tracks. For whoever is blessed enough to visit this abundant region, the outcome is still the same. They will return home relaxed and more than likely planning a return trip.

For more ideas on where to stay in the Yarra Valley visit Great Places to Stay. This site offers the best accommodation in Victoria, from B&B's and boutique hotels to self-contained cottages.

Christine Barton

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