There are plenty of travel destinations just an 90 minutes drive or train ride out of Melbourne for couples, families and friends. In addition to popular locations like Mount Dandenong, the Mornington Peninsula and Ballarat, there are some hidden gems closer to the city. One of Victoria's best kept secrets is the quaint country town of Yarragon.
Jam-packed with friendly locals, specialty shops, art galleries, modern and country fare, quaint accommodations, farms, wineries and rolling green hills framing the town, Yarragon offers more than just a convenient meal stop on the Princes Highway between Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley. It is already being rediscovered by many Melburnians who are choosing to live there. Here are the top things to see and do with your partner, family and friends. Members of the Yarragon Business Association can't be wrong. So relax, wander, browse and enjoy Yarragon.
Located between Warragul and Trafalgar and nestled in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges, it's history dates back to 1877 when construction work on the Gippsland Railway cleared the swampy flood plain of the Moe River. The original name of 'Little Moe' was changed 'Yarragon' in 1884. As a result of the booming timber industry and coal deposits, the bush huts of the 1880s gave way to permanent settlements that finally supported a township by the 1950s. Unfortunately many of the original weatherboard buildings have been destroyed by flood and fires in the 1900s.
The once derelict railway station is the only visible remnant of its golden yesteryear. Built in 1911, the railway station is 103 years old this year. This makes it 2 years older than the famous Grand Central Station in New York. It has been restored and now used by community groups and the Baw Baw Arts Alliance to showcase the work of Gippsland artists. The old Yarragon Presbyterian Church from 1917 was converted into a handicrafts shop currently operating as Chantry Faire.
The timber industry had diminished the primary forest that once covered western Strzelecki Ranges. The Mount Worth State Park is where you can still visit the original tall wet forests of Mountain Ash, Mountain Grey Gum, Blackwood and tree fers. 2 lookouts on McDonald's Track give panoramic views over the Latrobe River valley, the Great Dividing Range and Westernport Bay. Located in the Park is a 300 plus year old Mountain Ash of 7 metres in circumference known as the 'Standing Giant'. It can be reached via the Giant's Circuit walk which follows an old tramline route along Lorkin Creek.
Gippsland Food & Wine is a favourite for gourmet country brekkies from 7.30am to 11am. Open 7 days, this tea room is five-decker sandwich - It is Gippsland's largest deli of locally handcrafted cheese from Tarago, Berry's Creek, Droiun Cheese Company and many others. There is also an extensive range of Gippsland and Australian gourmet honey, jams, sauces, chutneys, mustards and other deli products. It stocks the region's largest collection of national and international award winning wines, beers and ciders from over 30 Gippsland Wineries and Brewers. Finally, it serves as the visitor information centre. Just beware host Alan Larsen. He has loads of stories about Yarragon and is such a delight to chat with. Between him and his gourmet products, you'll be spending all day in the shop.
Check out Sticcado Cafe for lunch where fresh local ingredients and gluten free options take centre stage. Recommendation from her customers include the soups, beef burger, ploughman, savoury tarts and pies. This licensed cafe located in the arcade laneway also offers gourmet products for sale like teas, olive jam, olive paste, honey and many more. It operates between 9am to 5:30pm from Wednesday to Monday.
Yarragon Hotel built in 1926 is not just a drinks venue for watching Footy. Operated by Chris and Renee Kemp, restaurant serves up an innovative lunch and dinner menu welcomed by couples and families. The kitchen transforms local produce into favourites like fish and chips, chicken parmagiana, seafood fettuccine and goat curry. It was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for 2014 and rated the Number 1 restaurant in Yarragon.
The old world charm of the 1917 Yarragon Presbyterian Church can be experienced in Chantry Faire. This gift shop is more of a gift gallery with its extensive collection of decorative pieces, glassware, ceramics, indigenous artwork, jewellery, handbags, accessories and hand-made indoor and outdoor sculptures. It also stocks the largest range of Australian made soaps and wind chimes in Gippsland.
Yarragon is home to one of the region's best art galleries and special art and craft exhibitions and events. The Town & Country Gallery showcases a unique and ever-changing array of original fine art and handcrafted works by local Gippsland, Victorian and Australian artisans. This award winning gallery operated by Jo and John Wolswinkel also conducts exhibitions throughout the year. It is open daily from 10am to 5pm.
The Station Gallery and Community Arts Hub is another member of the exciting arts scene in Yarragon. Run by the Baw Baw Arts Alliance, it is a place to sample local arts and to learn new skills through weekend workshops and weekday drop in sessions. There are also monthly exhibitions by local artists.
There aren't many alpaca and cattle farms this close to Melbourne and even less open to public. Operated by another of Yarragon's friendly residents, Lindy and Bill Smith, the farm breeds black huacaya alpacas and traditional black Belted Galloways. While they welcome visitors, Clifden is a working farm. Therefore it would be polite to call ahead and cross-check schedules with the owners.
Your family is welcomed to visit the farm to learn more about the animals and related products, walk around the paddock, hand feed the animals and enjoy the amazing views of the surrounds from the farm. You can also purchase Lindy's children storybook featuring her black alpaca 'Archie', alpaca fleece and products if available.
You can't get anymore convenient accommodations in town than the Yarragon Motel. Located right in town, this family operated motel is right along the shopping strip, seconds away from shops and food and walking distance to and from the train station. All 14 ground-floor rooms are equipped with modern amenities for short and longer stays and offer disabled friendly options. There is also a 24-hour reception and home cooked meals can be delivered to the room upon request. Previous owners Neil and Kerry Hutchinson have retired and handed the reigns over to Jenny and Peter.
For a view of Westernport Bay around to Mt. Baw Baw and surrounding farmlands, check out the self-contained cottages of Anderley. Located on foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges, each uniquely designed cabin is equipped with modern furnishing, facilities and even a large double spa for couples looking for quiet time and families catching up over BBQ on the expansive deck with breathtaking views both day and night. For more information, speak to hosts Lee Richards and Andrew Sterling.
Clifden Alpacas is proud to announce its new venture, Gumboots - the farmgate in the Village of Yarragon. Gumboots is a regional produce store and cafe, showcasing the best of the region and the season. You might even see the stunning black Clifden alpacas!
Anderley Cottages of Yarragon are now offering an "Extended Weekend Break" with a 4.00pm check-out on the Sunday.(subject to availability). We introduced this package as many of our guests say they just don't want to leave on the Sunday morning! This package gives our guests time to sleep in, pop down to the Village to do some shopping and have coffee/lunch; (or, for the more energetic, a walk in Mount Worth State Park) and have time back at the cottage to chill out before driving back to Melbourne.
More time to relax, browse and discover! Go to our website or give us a call for more detailswww.anderley.com.au or 5634 4276
Yes, lovely little township, only 15 mins past Warrigal. As a former Gippsland girl, Yarragon is a familiar and welcomed landmark on my journey home. My children got to know the lolly shop quite well when they were little, and as teenagers they still enjoy scouring the sweet-lined walls and shelves for takeaway goodies. The jewellery and art in the galleries is exquisite, and the quaint quilting fabric store in the arcade is great fun to rummage through, as are the antique and collectable stores. Beautiful homewares, delicious local produce - cheeses, breads etc - yum. My parents regularly drive the 30 minutes from Churchill to enjoy a weekend wander around the town, and they always lunch at the little café in the arcade.
For city folk, it's definitely worth a drive into the country. Easy travelling on the Monash/Princes past olive groves, apple orchards and green rolling hills - no lights until you hit Yarragon!