This post shows you a day or weekend trip to Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges from Melbourne. Tour the wine area of Yarra Valley and return via the Dandenong Ranges, and you get a nice day trip from Melbourne.
This route gives you beautiful scenery, vineyards and tall ash trees. There are pretty hill top villages and the famous Healesville Sanctuary where you can meet with native Australian animals.
Right after the suburbs of Melbourne you can begin enjoying a pretty scenery with rolling hills, after driving just half an hour from the city.
We first followed the main road and then took smaller roads between vineyards in the beautiful Yarra Valley. Our first destination was the pretty tourist town of Healesville where we visited Healesville Sanctuary a few kilometres south of the town centre.
Healesville Sanctuary is a zoo just one hour from Melbourne, showing native Australian animals. The sanctuary is set in bushland. Paths wind through areas with kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, dingoes, birds and many more animals typical to Australia.
We had a nice walk at the zoo and could meet with Australian animals that we could hardly ever see in the wild.
Some of the animals are nocturnal and you don’t see them during daytime. Here in the sanctuary you could look at them in specially-made rooms.
After the Sanctuary we went back to Healesville and took the road towards Marysville. We wanted to see giant mountain ash trees.
The Yarra Valley route on the mapYarra Valley is the area around Yarra Glen, Healesville, Warburton and Mount Evelyn. In Yarra Valley you can choose any route, not just the one marked here and visit local wineries. You can find many wineries right along the main roads.
From Yarra Valley to Yarra Ranges National Park
Driving further you pass a picnic area along a small river. From that picnic area there is a path leading up to Tom Tom Picnic Ground. We instead continued driving along the road up to Tom Tom. We turned back from Tom Tom after walking a bit in the forest with high trees.
The giant mountain ash tree is the world’s highest flowering tree. It gets as high as 1oo metres. It was surprising how high the trees were! You can also see mountain ash trees on both sides of the winding road to Marysville, and elsewhere in Yarra Ranges National Park.
Another popular destination where you can see mountain ash trees is the Toorangi forest further north.
When we walked in the forest up the hill from Tom Tom Picnic Ground we noticed that three happy rosellas were following us. But they didn’t want to come close so we didn’t get good pictures.
Grants Picnic Ground
But at Grants Picnic Ground, which is in Sherbrook Forest, Dandenong Ranges, we could get many photos of rosellas! There were dozens of them and they all came very close. There were other birds too, like cockatoos and rainbow lorrikeets.
In Australia there are public barbeques that anyone can use. You can find them almost everywhere in the country: on picnic grounds, beaches and in parks in cities. And people use them a lot. Even here in the Dandenongs lots of people and families, both young and old, had come for a weekend picnic.
So, from Yarra Valley we headed up to the Dandenong Ranges, following the Dandenong Tourist Road. The Dandenong Tourist Road is a mountain route from Montrose to Upper Ferntree Gully. After the small town of Sassafras we turned off to a smaller road towards Belgrave. The road is very winding on the way to Mt Dandenong. There are pretty villages and rainforest areas along the route.
I love walking in rainforests! They are so special, and they are totally different from forests back home in Finland.
William Ricketts Sanctuary
William Ricketts was a sculptor that lived at Mt Dandenong fro a long time, from the 1930s to the 1990s. He created a beautiful place in the rainforest where 92 of his ceramic sculptures can still be seen. His art work has been inspired by the indigenous desert people of the Pitjantjara and Arrernte.
William Ricketts Sanctuary is absolutely worth a stop on your car trip to the Dandenong Ranges. You get both the statues and a lovely rainforest walk.
Olinda and Sassafras
On the way we visited two charming hilltop villages, Olinda and Sassafras. They have small stores, boutiques and eateries. They also make a good base for walks in the mountains.
From the Dandenong Tourist Road we took a smaller road to the town of Belgrave, where the historic steam train Puffing Billy starts.
You can alternatively reach Belgrave by Melbourne suburban trains. So if you don’t want to rent a car, just take a train to Belgrave and tour the area with Puffing Billy.
Here are some more pictures of the area and the vineyards. If you’re visiting Melbourne you should tour Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs. It makes a nice day out in the nature!
Alternatively you can book a night in any of the small hotels in the area, and you’ll have more time to enjoy the region. There are many walking trails and visiting Yarra Valley wineries requires time.
My Other Day Trip Suggestions from Melbourne:
- It’s a must to make a trip to the Great Ocean Road. Read my post Touring the Great Ocean Road.
- Phillip Island is another popular day trip from Melbourne: Phillip Island from Melbourne
My Posts on Melbourne
- If you want to learn about Melbourne and its sights see my post Sightseeing in Melbourne.
- You can see penguins and possums right in Melbourne: Melbourne Evening Nature Tour
- A post about Melbourne winter: Yarra River walk in Melbourne
- A big event in Melbourne is the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix that’s held each the autumn.
- How does it feel to return to Melbourne and start living there again? Settling in Melbourne
Driving from Melbourne to Sydney:
- I have written three posts that cover the driving route Melbourne to Sydney along the coast. The route description begins with this post: Driving from Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory