I’m on the road again. Woohoo!
I’ve waited patiently all year while I’ve watched other people galavant around the globe on my behalf, and now it’s my turn.
This is the week the trippin’ starts.
On Thursday I’m off to Mornington Peninsula for a dip in the natural hot springs, then stop for a spot of wine tasting before lunch at some of the peninsula’s infamous wineries, and finish the day getting lost in Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Garden.
On Friday I’ve got a date with a kayak in Melbourne’s docklands for a night tour, and then on Sunday I will finally, finally – after 15 years of visiting and living Australia – I will get to the Yarra Valley to spend the day touring the wineries, imbibing and consuming some of wonderful Aussie wines and local produce I’ve been itching to get my hands on for a very long time.
Not sure if you noticed, but I may be looking forward to this weekend. All this and not a sprogling in sight. Yay!
Here’s why I’m a little excited:
The Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s best wine and food regions and is only about an hour from central Melbourne. Neat rows of vines snake across the rolling hills as far as the eye can see, with signs to cellar doors pitched every few 100 feet, inviting potential winos in to taste their produce.
If it was up to me I’d stop at every one, but alas even I wouldn’t be able to handle the pace.
Wine Tasting and Tours
Around seventy wineries vie for space in a district that produces some of the best cool climate wines in the southern hemisphere, especially high quality chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir.
A trip to Domaine Chandon is top of most wine lovers list. Built by the infamous French champagne makers Möet and Chandon, Domaine Chandon is one of the more popular wineries in the valley, for obvious reasons, and offers fabulous tasting rooms with views overlooking the Yarra. Other recommended cellar doors are those of DeBortoli and Chateau Yerring, both award-winning wineries, and TarraWarra which has an onsite art gallery.
A number of tour companies visit the area, with tours leaving Melbourne daily. They generally run from 9am to 5pm and have pick-up points across the city.
The Yarra Valley Regional Food Trail criss-crosses the glen and leads to over 100 cafes, restaurants, shops and farms selling local produce, all signposted. On the route is the Healsville Hotel, which is classed as one of the best epicurean hotspots in the Yarra Valley.
The front bar offers regular pub classics, but I’ve been told the award-wining Parisien bistro in the main dining area is the place to go. They also have an extensive wine list, which is good to know … just in case I can’t squeeze in enough during all the wine tastings!
If you plan to head to the Yarra Valley and want to do something other than eat and drink, head to the wonderful Healsville Sanctuary, which is part of Zoos Victoria.
There visitors have a chance to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s wildlife. Covering 32 hectares, the animal sanctuary is home to over 200 species including kangaroos, koalas, birds of prey and the elusive duck-billed platypus.
It is especially good if you’re travelling with kids.
Marysville and Lake Mountain
The beautiful sub-alpine village of Marysville was mostly destroyed in the terrible bush fires of 2009. Known as the Black Saturday bushfires, they razed the area resulting in the highest loss of life from bushfires in Australia.
Although the area is still not back to what it once was, they encourage visitors and have even built a new visitor’s centre on the old site.
Marysville is the gateway to Yarra Ranges National Park where Stevenson Falls, an 84m waterfall, plays centre stage. There are a number of walks through the forest of varying lengths offering glimpses of smaller waterfalls. Keppel’s Lookout offers amazing view across the Yarra Ranges.
I’m not going to get to Marysville this time around, but I sincerely hope it won’t take another 15 years to get back to the region!