Taneesha Davis is a writer and editor living on the Mornington Peninsula. Visit girlbossmag.com.au for more.
Published September 23rd 2018
A family holiday without the expense
School holidays are here which means most families are scrambling to find activities to do that won't break the bank. A weekend away might sound nice, but the idea of the added expenses that come along with a family getaway can turn you off. Lucky for you, we've found perfect budget-friendly holiday spot for families.
Nestled right in the Yarra Ranges, with the Yarra River flowing through, Warburton is your new favourite place.
Probably the biggest tourist attraction of Warburton is Mt. Donna Buang. Having a good amount of snowfall every snow season (probably not enough to ski on, however) helps set this as a great place to go for winter activities without venturing into one of the main snow towns. Great for younger children who want to get a feel for snow first before spending a small fortune on a weekend trip to a snow town. Even when it isn't snow season, it makes an amazing spot for a picnic, an adventure and a full day out of exploring.
Situated on the way up Mt. Donna Buang, the Rainforest Gallery is a half hour round walk, with a viewing platform above the trees as your start and finish point. Take in the views and try and spot some animals in the rainforest.
On the other end of town, you will find a forest not quite like any other. Taking the windy and off road car trip to get there, you will be greeted by a coffee van (with fantastic coffee!) before making your way on foot into the spooky and alluring forest. The Californian Redwood Trees have been planted in a way that is spectacular to the eye but also has an eerie, haunting feel to it. Kids can pretend they're on a 'bear hunt' as they wander through the silent forest.
A one and a half hour round trip that is fairly steep can be a little bit of a challenge with younger children, but the sight is definitely worth it. The falls itself has a viewing platform/bridge and seating area, which you will be wanting to utilise to get some much-needed rest. There are seats on the way up sporadically if needed too.
The Yarra flows through the town so you can pick your favourite place and have a picnic on the Yarra, or take a walk on the Yarra River track. The track is flat (though not paved) but still suitable for prams. Walk the length of town or further, the choice is yours!
Where To Stay
The Warburton Holiday Park is perfect for families, it has a playground and an outdoor pool (fair warning - not a heated pool!) and our two bedroom family cabin was right on the Yarra River. The only way you could be closer to the river is if the cabin was floating on it. It was perfect for children as they spotted animals on the riverbank as we sat on the deck. The location was almost in the middle of everything you needed to go to, our longest drive of the weekend only being the 9 minutes to Redwood Forest. The cabin had a fully equipped kitchen with fridge, stove, oven, microwave, kettle, toaster, etc. Which helped keep the food bills down as we were able to purchase food at the local IGA and cook at the cabin instead of dining out all the time.
Where to Eat
That said, if dining out IS your thing, the Riverbank Restaurant was our favourite, situated on the Yarra with standard 'pub' meals and fantastic kids milkshakes.
If you take a walk down the main street you will also find the cutest ice cream shop that has a fairy garden out back, where your children can have a kids ice cream cone in one of the many, many flavours to chose from.
Oscars On The Yarra is also a rave-reviewed dining establishment, but is a high scale restaurant so we took a pass with our children in tow, but would be great for a couple looking for a child-free evening!
Warburton is a great all-rounder of a getaway, for a family looking to get away from the city and into nature on a budget!
You can find out more information on visiting Warburton here.
Most of the many previously empty shops in the quaint main street have now been filled and have rejuvenated the look of the town to tourists to such a degree that it is now almost impossible to get a park down by the river on weekends unless you arrive very early. Great bakery too and don't forget to take extra in your picnic for the many ducks that patrol up and down the river bank delighting visitors.
Also beware of the most frequently changing absurdly low speed limits I have ever seen that you will encounter on the way there.