Walk and drive in the footsteps of Dame Nellie Melba and explore Coombe Estate (established 1909) and surrounds, the Yarra Valley home of the most famous opera singer in the world.
The Melba Highway, named after this iconic Australian, begins on the outskirts of Lilydale. Stop at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum in Lilydale and start the Melba experience with a visit to the special collection held in the museum.
Then take the left-hand veer onto Maroondah Highway east of Lilydale and travel a short distance to Coldstream. Stop here for some fresh cider, hoppy beer, and fresh produce and notice the agricultural importance of this area. Exploring the Coldstream trail is also a great option.
Through Coldstream, it is less than one minute’s drive to the Melba Highway junction, and this is the intersection where Coombe Estate, Nellie’s home, is located. There’s a whole day of activities to enjoy in Nellie’s company – an extensive garden of 11 hectares has been restored to its former glory, and there’s an art gallery and world-class restaurant. The area is also noted for its established vineyards and the Coombe Estate Wines are highly regarded and worth a cellar door tasting.
Step inside the life and times of this Australian icon at Coombe Cottage, which opens for a short period each (mid)year for tours. Take a glimpse into the extravagant life of this iconic diva and enter a world of luxury and glamour on a tour of Dame Nellie’s private boudoir. Admire her priceless personal affects, elegance and timeless style. See the grand music room where Nellie hosted magnificent parties and where the great soprano sang her favourite arias and played her beloved piano. Imagine driving the same roads that took Nellie to the world.
To round out the Melba experience, take a drive on the Melba Highway to Yarra Glen, a town we can well image Nellie visiting many times as her ‘local’. The Melba Highway will take you all the way to Yea if you continue on (another 68 km or 52 minutes travel time one way.) Keep a look out for Nellie’s favourite’s – Melba Toast and Peach Melba – both created for her and appearing on selected menus at restaurants in the area in her honour.
Fun fact - Melba was a stage name Dame Nellie adopted as a shortened form of her beloved Melbourne.
Stops along the way at: Lilydale, Coldstream, Yarra Glen (Yea if you’re feeling adventuresome)
Distance: approx. 15 km from Lilydale
Time: around 15 mins
Terrain: Sealed roads, easy drive
Note: A short drive that is all about the experience