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Published June 4th 2018
Explore bushland, a stunning lake, and quaint townships
Christmas Hills is 35 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, between Kangaroo Ground and Yarra Glen. The area is hilly and scenic and has several districts including the Christmas Hills township, Sugarloaf Reservoir, and the nearby Bend of Islands.
Christmas Hills and surrounds
The Christmas Hills township has a residential area, public hall, a park and small school. If you want to grab some snacks and cold drinks, it's best to grab them from Yarra Glen or Kangaroo Ground (depending on if you are coming in from the East or West).
If you are after a more substantial meal in the area, one recommendation is The Dark Horse at 765 Eltham to Yarra-Glen Road, in Kangaroo Ground. They are open from Wednesday to Sundays 8.30am to 4pm and offer breakfast, burgers, and pies, as well as a great range of beers and even cocktails. You can book here. Nillumbik Estate is only 7 minutes drive to the North of the Christmas Hills township with wine sales and tasting, delicious pizzas and scenic views. Nillumbik is at 195 Clintons Road (Smiths Gully) and it's open on weekends from 11am to 5pm
Yarra Valley Horse Trails are laid out on a 300-acre property at 35 Osborne Road in Christmas Hills. Part of this area for youngsters is fondly referred to as 'PonyLand'. Trail rides are held daily for riders at all skill levers, and a booking is required. Prices start at about $95.
Enjoy a Horse riding adventure in the Hills. Credits: Yarra Valley Trails website
The area is also home to many emerging artists, and budding musicians with the Christmas Hills Orchestral Players (CHOPs) at the Christmas Hills Hall (787 Ridge Road) on Monday nights from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.
Sugarloaf Reservoir was built in 1981 to supply water to Melbourne's suburbs,and has a dam that is 89 metres high and over a kilometre long. It is a great location for a picnic or a walk along the waterfront. For more details, click here.
Sugarloaf Reservoir. Credits: Wikipedia, User: Lonely Radio
Sugarloaf Sailing Club take advantage of these pristine waters on a regular basis. If you want to be a spectator, you'll find race event details here.
Bend of Islands
West of the Henley golf course there is the Bend of Islands conservation and residential area. The district has a strong environmental focus, and it is located where Watsons Creek meets the Yarra River.
Where to stay in the Christmas Hills area
If there is too much to do in the day, there are a few high-quality accommodation options nearby. Yering Gorge Cottages is by the Eastern Golf Club at 215 Victoria Road Yering (15 minutes drive from the Christmas Hills township). Cottages range from one to four bedrooms, and bookings can be made here. Queenstown Retreat B&B is in Smith Gully (a few minutes from Nillumbik Estate) and offers units with garden views and balconies, at moderate prices They are at 80 Smiths Gully Road.
How to get to and around Christmas Hills
Public transport to this area is difficult with a train to Lilydale, the route 685 bus, and then another 6 kilometres west from Yarra Glen to Christmas Hills (and the area itself is quite large). Hence, it is better to drive the hour from Melbourne.
Map of the Christmas Hills area. From: Google Maps