|The Yarra Valley is close to Melbourne and it's nature highlights definitely merit a family visit. Some of the top attractions are:
Healesville Sanctuary in Badger Creek showcases more than 200 species of Australian wildlife. Get up close and personal to Australia’s wildlife including kangaroos, koalas and amazing birds of prey.
Hedgend Maze in Healesville has a hedge maze which has over 1200m of winding pathways plus other family fun attractions include such as an Australian mural Eye Spy, giant chess, giant checkers, frisbee golf and mini golf.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery in Yarra Glen is the source of all yumminess in the Yarra Valley. There is free entry, free chocolate tastings, premium chocolates and large viewing windows where you can see European chocolatiers at work handcrafting chocolate creations. The café has ice creams, sweet treats and tasty meals. Outside there are extensive lawns, orchard, wetlands area and sculptures which is a lovely place for children to play and explore.
Bruno's Art & Sculpture Garden in Marysville is a rainforest garden with delightful quirky sculptures around every twist of the path.
There is no excuse not to have a delicious trout or salmon for a meal with a school of fishing spots in the area. Try your hand at catching a fish at
Seville Water Play Park is a former swimming pool which has been filled in and landscaped into a water play area with fountains spouting during the summer season. There is also a playground, picnic tables and a dry riverbed area of rocks with an augur for drawing up water from below.
Blue Lotus Water Garden in Yarra Junction is a tropical style water garden spread over 15 acres featuring lakes, dams and dozens of ponds planted with tens of thousands of Lotus flowers, water lilies and other rare, exotic and native plants including the Giant Amazon Lily. The Garden has seasonal opening times (from late December to early April).
Alowyn Gardens in Yarra Glen has five areas within the gardens; a perennial border designed to display colour from Spring to Autumn, a silver birch forest, an edible garden, a parterre garden and a number of display gardens. The formal parterre garden is built along 17th century design principles and leads you through to a series of smaller courtyards and display gardens.
There are a number of Waterfalls in the Marysville area to visit including:
- Steavenson Falls near Marysville is one of the tallest in Victoria, with five cascades and a total descent of 122 metres. The falls can be viewed from a number of viewing platforms at the top and bottom of the falls.
- Cora Lynn Falls (a cascading style waterfall, only a 10 minute walk from the carpark, with viewing areas beside and at the bottom of the falls)
- Cumberland Falls which are also accessible by a short walk and has
panoramic views of the falls from a viewing platform
- Keppel Falls is a spectacular cascading waterfall and is reached by a 2 km return walk through pristine forest.
- Phantom Falls is a smaller cascade style waterfall that is very picturesque and only a 400m walk from the car park.
Other waterfalls are:
- La La Falls near Warburton is reached by a 3.2km return walk through tall Mountain Ash trees and lush tree ferns, before reaching the picturesque falls.
A number of water reservoir parks offer a variety of recreational opportunities including:
- Sugarloaf Reservoir Park at Christmas Hills with bush walking, picnicking, bird watching, sightseeing, sailing and shoreline fishing.
- Upper Yarra Reservoir Park in Reefton has abundant wildlife, walking trails, a Water Wheel, picnic facilities and views of the reservoir.
A range of nature areas with native flora and fauna and walks include:
- The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is a 38 km track which follows the old railway line from Lilydale and passes through the towns of Wandin, Worri Yallock, Seville, Launching Place, Yarra Junction, Wesburn, Millgrove before ending in Warburton.
- Yarra Ranges National Park includes the famous Black Spur drive between Healesville and Narbethong, Lake Mountain and Mount Donna Buang and the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail, a 30km walking and bike riding trail from East Warburton to Don Valley, which passes through mature fern gullies and creeks.
- The Cumberland Walk near Marysville takes you to the Cora Lynn and Cumberland waterfalls, past Sovereign View which has sweeping views of the Cumberland Valley, to Big Tree, one of the tallest trees in Australia and the Sitka Spruce. You can also visit the "Cambarville Historic Township" picnic area.
- Cathedral Range State Park between Buxton and Taggerty has a spectacular ridge with walks ranging from easy to challenging with views of the land far below. You may also catch sight of rock climbers scaling the vertical cliffs.
- Wirrawilla Rainforest Walk near Toolangi is a short walk amongst moss and fern covered Myrtle Beech trees which tower overhead.
- The Toolangi Sculpture Trail is an interesting walk with outdoor sculptures to find along the way.
- Kinglake National Park has picnic facilities and some short walks which can be combined into a 13 km full day walk taking in Mason Falls and Wombelano Falls. Both offer distant views from a viewing platform.
- Visitors to Lake Eildon National Park can enjoy bushwalking, boating and fishing or try more adventurous pursuits like waterskiing and mountain bike riding.
- Follow the route of an open aqueduct on the is 7.2km in length one way Mount Evelyn Aqueduct Walk
- Wander around Maroondah Reservoir Park in Healesville and enjoy the roses, have a picnic or follow the 3 km track through magnificent native bushland to Donnellys Weir Park and watch out for echidnas and swamp wallabies.
- Little Peninsula and Big Peninsula Tunnels at McMahons Creek were created during the Gold Rush in the 1860's when the Yarra River was diverted to make it easier for gold miners to search for gold in the river bed. It is now a nice spot for picnics, walks and swimming.
- Take a 3.2 km return walk through rainforest to the Ada Tree near Powelltown which is a giant mountain ash that's one of Victoria's largest trees and around 270 years old.
Visit the Donna Buang Rainforest Gallery and Skywalk on the way to the summit of Mount Donna Buang. It features a 40 metre long observation platform which takes you into the rainforest canopy 15 metres above the ground. An elevated walkway takes you through the rainforest gallery with magnificent 65 metre tall Mountain Ash trees, ancient Myrtle Beech trees (many of which are 300 to 400 years old), ferns and mosses.
Mount Donna Buang sometimes receives snow in winter which is suitable for snow play and tobogganing. There is a 21 metres high lookout tower which gives panoramic views across the park when it isn't foggy. There are picnic areas and walks which start from the summit.
Lake Mountain is a year round Alpine Resort with cross-country skiing and snow play activities in winter and in the green season you can walk, cycle or mountain bike around the extensive trail network and enjoy the spectacular lookouts.
During the season U-pick fruit locations are a tasty place to visit. Some places in the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley include:
- Blue Hills Berries and Cherries in Silvan (Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, youngberries, blackberries, loganberries and blueberries)
- Chappies U-Pick in Silvan (raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, cherries and sour cherries)
- Cherry Haven in Wandin East (cherries)
- Cherryhill Orchards in Wandin East (cherries)
- Jay Berries in Wandin East (strawberries)
- Fielderberry Farm in Cockatoo (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries)
- Big Fella Cherries in Coldstream (cherries)
- Yarra Valley Gateway Estate U-Pick in Coldstream (strawberries)
- Rayner's Stonefruit Orchard in Woori Yallock has an orchard walk or a tractor ride where you can taste different varieties of stone fruit.
- Strawberry Springs in Millgrove (strawberries)
- At The Cherry Boys in Wandin North you can rent a cherry tree and all the fruit is yours to pick and EAT.
Visit one of the local markets in the region including
Culture lovers will enjoy a visit to
- The TarraWarra Museum of Art in Healesville is a visual arts museum which displays Australian art from the second half of the twentieth century to the present day.
The Big Bouquet Gerbera and Alpaca Farm in Healesville has an impressive glasshouse filled with over 60,000 flowering gerberas.
Start the day in a magnificent fashion in the Yarra Valley with a hot air balloon flight with companies such as Global Ballooning.
The region has a number of lovely playgrounds. The best playgrounds are:
- Murchison Street Play Space in Marysville which is a beautifully crafted play space set beside a lovely creek. The playground has a range of fun elements including a sandpit where you can dig for dinosaur bones, giant blue-tongue lizard and a super water play area with an auger to draw up water.
- Bollygum Adventure Playground in Kinglake is a magical playground with a theme based around the book 'Bollygum' by Garry Fleming and is located next to Kinglake Skatepark
- McKenzie Reserve playground in Yarra Glen has a large climbing structure, huge pyramid rope climbing frame, big carousel, birds nest swing and sandpit. Look out for the huge dung beetles.
- Lilydale Lake Playground is located beside Lilydale Lake and has a huge expanse of fun playground equipment.
- Montrose Community Playground in Montrose is a community-built all abilities playground which has a circular path which leads past a series of cute shop fronts, two large pyramid rope climbing frames, birds nest swing, sensory garden and animal sculptures. There are picnic tables, BBQs and toilets.
- Morrison Reserve playground in Mount Evelyn has a "Cattle Yard" theme complete with a real windmill, cattleman's hut with tables and seats, full size red tractor pulling a wagon with seats and wooden sculptures of a cattleman's dog and calf.