Yarra Ranges Get Away – Treasures of the Yarra Ranges

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By The Lilydale SKN Team

Casting a morning shadow on the eastern suburbs, tower the Dandenongs, marking the terrain of the Yarra Ranges. A patch quilt of steep mountain forests and endless vineyards curl across the horizon, an attention grabbing sight when you’re in the heartland valley of the Yarra Ranges. Bisected by the Maroondah highway, Lilydale, verdant but with urban quirks, is the perfect hub in which to explore and experience the area’s rich heritage, offbeat culture and total monopoly of the scenery. The Yarra Ranges has something to offer for everyone, in every arrangement. That’s a promise.

Unlike the regular metropolitan hodge-podge, the Yarra Ranges defined backbone is the sprawling vineyards that tattoo the landscape at the foot of the mountains. Most accommodation in the region is based out of these estates, with tall hedges and pure acreage offering a sense of peaceful seclusion and of course the best views of the area.

Vineyards not for you? The ranges mountain forests are a bigger draw, if you want to challenge yourself, explore, or just want a nice walk in peace and quiet; there are enough trails in the area to suit any level of fitness, curiosity or tranquillity. The Warburton trail is an accessible walking trail that snakes through the townships and rural trails in a huge loop. The entire trail is approximately 80 kilometres in length, but there’s plenty of parks, rest-stops and towns to distract you that it’s best enjoyed piecemeal.

The eye candy of the Yarra Ranges isn’t just scenery, within exists nuggets of heritage sites such as the Mont De Lancey Historic Homestead in Wandin; a pioneer home and grounds which functions as a living museum as well as a farmer’s market with art, produce and foods traditional to the region. Another tradition in practice is the Healesville Glassblowing Studio; a folksy establishment that offers glasswork art and classes, it’s an unusual opportunity to live the experience of creation, not just appreciation.

Art in a more conventional setting is displayed at cultural enclaves like Acme Et Al in Yarra Glen. It’s a galleria cafe attached to a commercial art studio with contemporary, local art on display and for sale in all mediums. Burrinja cultural centre in Upwey has a good spread of art and activity events; the grounds specialise in Indigenous culture and the cafe runs karaoke and live music on Sundays.

For an activity that’s more involved, look no further than Hedgend maze, which has plenty to do with enough variety and intensity to choose from. Laser strike is run at Hedgend maze on weekends (bookings essential), but those with a high tolerance for pain and a cool head can dare themselves to try paintball on huge open air battlegrounds down at the Coldstream Paintball fields instead. Those looking for activities for the truly intrepid should direct themselves to Lilydale airport, who run charter flights for skydiving at all levels of experience. Of course, if jumping out of a plane isn’t for you, the airport also runs scenic flights and can take you on a loop around the city.

If you aren’t familiar with the Yarra Ranges, the icons of the region are here to stay. Like the prolific Healesville Sanctuary; a hybrid zoo and education centre with a focus on Australia’s natural fauna and flora. A day dedicated to Healesville Sanctuary will be spent wandering and learning among open enclosures, giving patrons a chance to observe and engage with animals and their handlers for an experience to enlighten yourself about conservation and preservation of the animals and their environment.

Another stalwart of the region is Puffing Billy; a symbol of the rich history and the importance of heritage for the community, a ride on Puffing Billy is a memory that embeds itself in people’s minds for a lifetime – plus it’s the perfect chance to take some holiday photos that are second-to-none.

There’s always something to see or something to do in the Yarra Ranges. Whether you want a relaxing drive with beautiful scenery to delight the eye or to indulge your senses in an array of culinary and artistic delights nestled away in the hills, the Yarra Ranges is well worth a trip. Take a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere to be found in our corner of the state.

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