Published 11 August 2020, updated 30 November 2020
If you’re yet to discover the Warburton Highway, then make some time for a road trip that will delight your senses. With boutique wineries, charming villages and lots to do in the great outdoors, you will Find Your Self cruising into Warburton ticking all the boxes for the perfect getaway.
Just past Lilydale, take a right on the B380 (otherwise known as the Warburton Highway) and follow the signs for a day of outdoor adventure. The townships of Wandin, Seville, Woori Yallock, Yarra Junction and Warburton all offer something unique. Start early, there’s lots to do.
Pack your best activewear! Your first stop is important preparation for the day ahead. Pop into Seville Hill Winery for a spot of brunch, fresh roasted coffee (and perhaps a cellar door tasting – no judgement!) or enjoy fuelling up at Payne's Rise.
Cycling is a great way to get to know the Upper Yarra Valley with the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail offers almost 40 kilometres of cycling fun. You can bring your own bikes and get started at any number of stops along the way (make your ride as short or as long as you like) or try an organised tour with VineTours who will show you the way and take care of all the details. Cog Bike Cafe and Girt by Dirt also offer bike hire, repairs and accessories (what did you forget?) and a drop off-pick up service.
How about a picnic by the Yarra River? Mary Eats Cake, Montrose, offer a High Tea, brunch or lunch takeaway box (plan ahead and pick up on the way through) and The High Tea Mistress can deliver succulent picnic packs to you that include all the trimmings. The picnic spots by the river in Warburton are especially pretty. If you’d prefer a sit down-serve me kind of lunch, Little Joe is a Warburton institution and has fabulous wood-fired pizza.
Wander the village shops in Warburton. There’s fashion, homewares, homemade lollies and arty treasures and more – you won’t find any chain stores here, just sweet things to take home to enjoy. The Warburton Visitor Information Centre is also on the main street with an art gallery, gift shop and loads of local knowledge. The Great Steps – a community arts based mosaic – is a highlight of the town streetscape.
Across the river is the picturesque Warburton Golf Course. Play 9 holes (or 18 if you are up for it) on this stunning course, which winds up Mt Victoria and has a reputation for hilly holes. Hire a golf cart and enjoy the views.
No trip to Warburton is complete without a drive up Mt Donna Buang. This 25 minute road trip winds up the mountain (which occasionally gets snow in winter) and is a fabulous way to see some local wildlife, especially the elusive Lyrebird. If you time it right, you can enjoy sunset views from the observation tower – another great outdoor activity if you’re into stair climbs. There are several walking tracks at the summit too but we recommend you leave some time to visit the Rainforest Gallery on the way up or back – a suspended walk in the tall trees that lets you ‘walk with giants’.
Stay overnight in Warburton where you can fall asleep listening to the Yarra River and wake with birdsong. Warburton Motel is a laid back motel with a mid-century vibe and jsust 2 minutes from the town's cafes aand shops - an amazing place to unwind and connect to nature and each other.
Other options for overnight stays include Warburton Lodge, which is super close to town, or the Warburton Holiday Park, which also has cabins and camping on the banks of the Yarra. Lilydale Pine Hill Caravan Park (towards Lilydale) is also a great option for no-fuss overnight stays.
Refreshed and ready. Breakfast like a champion and get ready for another active day. Enjoy breakfast at your accommodation or if you want to try somewhere new, Nancy’s of the Valley in Yarra Junction does a super charged healthy menu that is overflowing with nutritious local produce.
Greet the day and climb a mountain. La La Falls is a delightful waterfall that promises a leg workout with its steady uphill path through the forest. A 3.2 kilometre round trip, the destination is worth the journey. You can add to the workout load by walking from town to the main carpark (and add another 2.5 kilometres to your pedometer).
If you’d prefer more time on the bikes, a cycle on the O’Shannassy Aqueduct trail is a perfect way to start the day instead of the La La Falls walk. One little known secret – you can actually cycle east (from Warburton) all the way to Cement Creek and the famous Redwood Forest (leave the aqueduct at Cement Creek sign, the Redwood Forest is 650 metres down the road). The earlier you arrive the more you can appreciate the quiet solitude of this forest and arriving by bike is a truly friendly way to protect and preserve this heritage site. Return the way you came. (Redwood Forest is closed until further notice due to Covid - please check Parks Victoria website for updates).
A brunchy-lunch is next on the agenda and hooray – it’s time for wine and cheese at Taste Yarra Valley on the main street of Warburton. Featuring the locally made Wild Fire Wines and Mill Grove Dairy cheeses you can enjoy a matched wine tasting, light meal and buy plenty of what you love most to take home with you.
If you’re a coffee love (who isn’t?) then a tasting flight at the roastery door with locals Silva Coffee Roastery Door in Wesburn is the perfect way to kickstart the afternoon. With a wide range of beans roasted on the premises, you can taste your way through several counties, and buy beans for your home machine, or just pop in for your favourite beverage. There’s a menu full of coffees that go well beyond the short black, latte and cappuccino!
Blue Lotus Watergarden in Yarra Junction (season typically runs from Boxing Day until Easter weekend) has much to offer your Instagram account and is a favourite destination for photographers. There are more than 14 acres of walking trails in among glorious ponds overflowing with lotus blooms – a spectacular experience and one unique in Australia. There’s a café and a nursery so you can take a little lotus love home with you. Allow an hour or more to wander about.
The rest of your afternoon provides plenty of opportunities for you to be active in a different way – seasonally adjusted. As you meander back up the highway keep an eye out for farmgate sales and orchards as you will be driving through Melbourne’s ‘food bowl’. Rayner’s Orchard has more than 450 different types of fruit with something ripe every day of the year, tasting tour tractor rides and a fabulous nursery, and in summer time, the region is the perfect place to pick your own cherries and other summer fruits such as strawberries and blueberries. CherryHill Orchard, Blue Hills Berries and Cherries, Jay's Berries and Chappies are well worth a visit. There's even a tasting trail for that!
If the only fruit you’re interested in starts with GRAPE, then the afternoon may be best spent visiting a couple of cellar doors (and planning your next trip!). The Warburton Highway region, with its rich soil and cool climate conditions, is well regarded as the new ‘must do’ wine region in the Yarra Valley and the international accolades and wine awards are proof. Your wine goals include Seville Estate, Sir Paz Estate, Seville Hill Estate, Elmswood Estate, Five Oaks and Payne’s Rise. You won’t be able to do them all this trip but you can make a start!
Don’t forget your designated driver and buy them a treat, or if it’s an ‘all in’ kind of day consider engaging a local tour provider so you can cruise the Upper Yarra Valley with ease – Shortlist Private Tours, Driven Indulgence, Tour the Valley and Yarra Valley A2B all provide tours and charters, and local knowledge is guaranteed.