I'm a curious Londoner living in Melbourne. You can check out what I'm eating here: www.melbournemash.wordpress.com
Published May 9th 2015
The best of the Yarra Valley in 5 short hours
Although Melbourne is an incredible city, if you have friends visiting town it is a great idea to show them some of surrounding Victoria, particularly the breathtaking Yarra Valley. There is no better time to do this than in Autumn, when the trees shine with reds, yellows and oranges and the crisp weather forces you into the many cosy cafes for a steaming cup of tea. But no fear if you're pushed for time, here is how to enjoy the best of the region in just an afternoon.
It's great if you can get a car, and if you don't have your own then rentals don't come cheaper than the cheekily named 'Rent-a-Bomb.' We picked up a much loved red Mazda for just $38 for the day, and arrived in Sassafras at midday. Sassafras is a cute little township whose sole purpose seems to be providing quaint tearooms and kooky shops for visitors. Spend half an hour exploring these unique stores, particularly the slightly creepy Gepetto's Workshop puppet store and the unique Smits & Bits where every Sunday visitors are invited to roast delicious marshmellows on a large outdoor fire. Perfect for those chilly autumn afternoons. You can then carry on driving 3km to Olinda to enjoy their variation of shops- make sure you find the slightly hidden Treasures of Istanbul shop with their colourful rugs and painted china. The charming Olinda café is a perfect spot to replenish with lunch, a cup of tea or delicious scone, and hopefully the weather will allow you to relax in their garden.
Once you manage to tear yourself away from this picturesque hamlet, you can continue towards Healsville to discover another of the Yarra Valley's greatest offerings: wine! Our choice was a great one, the Domaine Chandon vineyard, thoroughly recommended for its sweeping valley views and sense of grandeur. We settled onto our barstools and took part in their wine tasting, fantastic value at $5 for 6 wines (and if you're lucky, they might throw a sneaky seventh in!) What better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than by sipping on a $90 sparkling wine in one's most famous wineries?
The beautiful mountain backdrop of the Chandon Domaine vineyard / Image appears courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Still off from fulfilling our daily booze quota, we planned a trip to the White Rabbit brewery on our journey back to Melbourne. This large beer-making facility has their own brew on tap and serves awesome pizza, so is definitely worth dropping by for an hour or so. It has become such a popular beer that the guys are moving to Geelong to expand, so make sure you experience what they have to offer whilst they are still around.
Our last stop before returning to the city was the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, and we were thrilled when we walked in and were faced with self serve chocolate samples- yes, that's self serve! There was a huge selection of flavours and types, and you can easily wile away time picking which varieties you will be bringing home with you for friends and family (or yourself!).
By this time it was 5pm, and we began our drive back to Melbourne still taking in the glorious autumn views. We had explored the cute villages and tried delicious wine, beer and chocolate all in the beautiful surroundings of the Yarra Valley in a single, unrushed afternoon. If you're visiting Melbourne and are short on time then don't fear, you can still experience some of the best that rural Victoria has to offer and be back in the city in time for dinner.