Heading into Melbourne to celebrate the Spring Racing Carnival? What’s the bet you would love to plan a few extra days break but not sure where to start? Well, Find Your Self in luck because Yarra Valley makes you the winner! Less than an hour away from the CBD and, no matter how much or how little time you have, we'll have the perfect itinerary for you.
Spring is the picture-perfect season to wander about Victoria's first wine growing district. Today, the Yarra Valley is one of the world’s leading cold climate wine-growing regions, with internationally known names such as Domaine Chandon, St Huberts, De Bortoli, Yering Station, Oakridge and Coldstream Hills. While the region is famous for its chardonnay, pinot and sparkling wine you can turn up at any cellar door and learn more about each vineyard’s individual history and featured style. You will find the local producers and farmers are always up for a chat. Then sit back on grassy lawns or an expansive sun deck with a cheese platter or two, and your sample of choice, and drink in the stunning valley vistas.
If you still can’t decide where to start – and let’s face it, it’s a difficult task when there are more than 70 wineries in and around this beautiful region – take all the hard work out of it and join a wine tour. The Australian Wine Tour Company offer daily tours to the Yarra Valley for two or more people and the tour is personalized to suit your particular wishes.
The fun and activities continue right through Cup Week and there is something to suit everyone. You can visit the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery in Yarra Glen (open daily) and see chocolate being made by European chocolatiers. Or watch the platypus at play at Healesville Sanctuary’s world-first interactive display (children under 16 are free during school and public holidays). Set aside some time on a Sunday afternoon to indulge in a delicious high tea at many wonderful venues. A sweet way to spend the day.
For die-hard racing fans, the Yarra Glen Racecourse plays host to plenty of action throughout the Spring Racing Carnival with its first thoroughbred meet on Yarra Valley Cox Plate Day (October 28) followed by Melbourne Cup Day races on November 7. At both events there is a full event line-up including Fashions On The Field, live music and a big range of dining, marquee and hospitality options.
Either side of these race dates on Sunday, November 5, the racecourse site is transformed into a fabulous food and craft market. With scores of stalls in a wonderful country setting you can sample and stock up on the freshest local produce or wines, or enjoy a picnic, live music and children’s entertainment.
For something completely different and if you are feeling a little creative, head to Healesville for a glass paperweight making session at Healesville Glassblowing Studio on Saturday, November 4. It only takes about 10 minutes to make the object out of molten glass at temperatures of up to 1000C and then it is cooled overnight. No experience is required and all materials are provided. Minimum age for participation is 15 years. But don’t forget to book to avoid disappointment.
Also nearby is the TarraWarra Museum of Art, 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Healesville, where visitors can enjoy a stunning hilltop location while viewing the latest exhibition “All That is Solid”. This showcases Australian and international artists and their imaginative responses to precarious histories. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-5pm including the Melbourne Cup public holiday.
So no matter what else you plan for the racing carnival or which horse makes it first past the post on Melbourne Cup Day, the odds are an extra day spent in the Yarra Valley will be a hands-down winner.