If you’ve never explored the Upper Yarra Valley along the Warburton Highway, then pack your water bottles, your bikes and your comfy shoes and jump in your car for a day of outdoor fun, delicious treats and vistas you won’t forget. The Upper Yarra Valley is only an hour from Melbourne, and full of experiences that are out of this world – a day out of delightful discoveries that you can enjoy (with or without children).
Blue Lotus Watergarden
Start your day with a visit to the Blue Lotus Watergarden on the Warburton Highway a few minutes drive past Yarra Junction. During summer, it is lotus season and there are 14 hectares of gorgeous exotic blooms to discover among the serene ponds and gorgeous gazebos. Walking trails meander through endless views of flowers across to the mountains, with plenty of picnic spots and resting places to soak in the full beauty of this unique garden. You may even feel transported to another place! There’s a café and nursery onsite and plenty of activities on offer throughout the day including fairy stories and face painting for the little ones. Arrive early and catch the spectacle of lotus flowers opening to the sun.
Strawberry Springs Strawberry Farm
Mornings are also the perfect time to visit Strawberry Springs Strawberry Farm in Millgrove. By mid-morning, the shop will be brimming with punnets of super fresh strawberries from the morning pick, or you can pick your own. You won’t believe how super juicy and delectable a strawberry can be when it’s just moments between picking and eating. The café is also a great spot for a coffee and a sweet treat before you head off on your next activity.
Cycling is a great way to explore the Upper Yarra Valley and the Warburton to Lilydale Rail Trail is a cruisy ride through rolling hills and beautiful bushland with many villages to stop and explore along the way. You can hire bikes in Warburton or if you’ve bought your own, park your car at Millgrove (there’s plenty of parking space and amenities) and set off towards Yarra Junction. Your ride can be as long as you choose – head out and back at your leisure. (No bikes? No worries – you can also walk the trail.)
There’s plenty to do in Yarra Junction and it’s well worth a stop to explore the township and parklands. The Upper Yarra Museum (Open Wednesdays and Sundays) is brimming with the history of the Upper Yarra and is set by the Yarra River with a fabulous children’s playground and plenty of grass and shade for a rest and cloud watching.
Nancy's of the Valley
Linger over a late lunch at the local café Nancy’s of the Valley in Yarra Junction, which provides a fabulous menu that features the best local produce (local eggs from chickens that are watched over by super cute Maremma doggos, fresh milk from the local biodynamic dairy, home grown valley vegetables, and coffee from local roasters Silva Coffee). It’s fresh, wholesome tasty fare that will reenergise you for your afternoon cycle (or walk) back to the car!
The trip back towards Melbourne need not be rushed and the observant will have noticed the abundance of wineries along the Warburton Highway that offer cellar door tastings and sales – many of which are award-winning. If you want to stretch out your day in the Upper Yarra Valley, a visit to a winery such as Payne's Rise is highly recommended. The blushing beauty that is their ‘Ripple Effect’ Rose is a treat that cannot be missed and a few bottles for the wine rack at home will be hard to resist (not to mention the other single vineyard wines on offer in the range).
Seville Water Park
If you’re also in need of a physical type of refreshment, the Seville Water Park and play space (at the roundabout in Seville) is a great place for anyone of any age to enjoy a splish and a splash. Great for a light spray or a super soak, the Seville Water Park is an experience well beyond the ‘sprinkler on the front lawn’ of childhood and an awesome way to cool down as the sun starts to slip behind the Yarra Valley hills.
As you drive ‘into the sunset’ back towards Melbourne, the pink-gold of the sky will be a super reminder of your day – of blush pink lotus flowers, of sun ripened strawberries, of fresh air on healthy glowing cheeks and that delightful bottle of Rose that you will enjoy at home to finish a perfectly pleasurable day.