Wherever home is, set your GPS for Lilydale where we start The Valley Loop. This drive – one of the longest drives in the Yarra Valley – conveniently loops all the way back to Lilydale to finish where it starts. Take a break at one of the many townships along the way – Yarra Glen, Healesville, Marysville, Warburton are all wonderful highlight towns of the Yarra Valley, each with its own distinct charm and reason for visiting. Start early in the day and ‘dine-and-drive’ all the way with plenty of amazing cafes, vineyard restaurants, and picnic stops for a rest break or to fill hungry bellies with farm fresh local produce.
The road to Yarra Glen is dotted with world renowned wineries, and the famous Coombe Estate is well worth a stop. Between Yarra Glen and Healesville, this drive showcases many top-class vineyards and passes the magnificent TarraWarra Museum of Art. Healesville, home to Four Pillars Gin and plenty of other well-known attractions – when was the last time you visited Healesville Sanctuary? – is a perfect place to spend a couple of hours so be sure to take a break and wander the shopping strip or take a short nature walk.
The section of road between Healesville and Marysville is often called one of Australia’s most picturesque drives – it’s 30 kilometres of winding roads through tall trees and misty fern gullies, and on arrival at Marysville it feels like finding another world.
The drive between Marysville and Warburton eases gently into the heart of the Yarra Ranges National Park with plenty of sights to see along the way, including historic gold mining sites near Reefton, walking tracks and glimpses of the Yarra River, which begins in this area of the region. One of the best places to experience the Yarra River is Big Peninsula Tunnel but driving through to the township of Warburton, the main street is on the banks of the Yarra and there are plenty of swimming and fishing spots with water play in summer offering many hours of fun. Warburton is at the base of Mt Donna Buang and offers many things to do and places to stay for those who have decided they’ve earned a break! The main street has a pretty streetscape and a variety of shops to explore and easy access to a bounty of nature – walks and cycling is a specialty!
The half hour journey from Warburton to Lilydale is an easy drive that reveals some smaller and boutique wineries of the region, including James Halliday’s Winery of the Year 2019, Seville Estate. Smaller townships along the Warburton Highway all have something to explore so stop as you please and enjoy the drive.
To take time to see all of the sights along the way, it’s worth booking a place to stay. Slow the drive (and life) right down with plenty of things to do and turn a road trip into a mini-break.
Stops along the way at: Yarra Glen, Healesville, Marysville, Warburton and many more
Distance: approx. 156 km loop from Lilydale (via B300, C726, B360, C512, C511, B380)
Time: around 2 hours, 36 mins loop
Terrain: Sealed roads, winding sections on the Black Spur and between Marysville and Warburton, other sections highway. Some dual lane carriageways, but mostly single lane in forest areas
Note: Mobile phone reception may be intermittent in mountainous areas