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7 Days in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges this Winter

Winter

There’s so much to do in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges that it’s worth planning a more extended stay, especially over winter.

Even if you’ve only ever day-tripped to the region, this winter is the perfect time to linger longer – there’s enough to keep everyone occupied for a whole week and all the family will benefit from some crisp country air, a change of scenery, and a home away from home.

Our ‘every day is a fun day’ road trip offers a never-ending itinerary to suit all ages, and you’ll soon be relishing the ‘times in between’ as the scenic journey is as delightful as the destinations.

Choose a gorgeous country cottage or bed and breakfast with an open fire, or change it for a farm stay for the little animal lovers in your life. There are restaurants and takeaway options, an abundance of wine to taste and daily outings just waiting for you!

DAY ONE – VISIT YOUR SCALIEST FRIENDS

Healesville Sanctuary is open year-round, but it's always best to book. Make your way through the wild forest to discover native wildlife around every corner! It’s worth spending a whole day making new friends.

DAY TWO – OUTDOOR ACTION-PACKED

There are so many ways to ride the trails and so many trails; bring your bikes from home or hire on your way through via Ride Time or Cog Bikes Australia you might even find a tandem or Ebike for something different. The Warburton to Lilydale Rail Trail is great for little ones, with lots of short stretches between towns (important for ice creams along the way!). Still, we also love riding the Yarra Valley Trail (from Lilydale to Yering), and O’Shannassey Aqueduct (Warburton) is a lovely elevated ride with plenty of views.

DAY THREE – FAMILY Time Out

Get out and about in the morning with a hike in the forest. Panton Hill Bushland Reserve is 140 hectares of bushland reserves (in seven sections) which are significant for their diverse array of native plants, animals and vegetation communities, important regional habitat
links, the presence of threatened species, the presence of historical and heritage sites, and opportunities for environmental education and recreation. You can even learn some words in the local language! There are more than 200 walks to discover in our downloadable Walks Eguide so you can plan.

DAY FOUR-TIME IN

Make the most of where you are staying and enjoy the afternoon in - light the fire, roast marshmallows, play board games, or stream a movie together. Let the world go by and watch it all from the loveliness of your accommodation. Take a stroll in the neighbourhood just like a local and order takeaway for dinner. Quiet days are good days too.

DAY FIVE – EVERYONE’S FAVOURITE

There’s no sibling rivalry when it comes to this suggestion. A visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie will tick everyone’s happy box.

Enjoy a delightfully chocolate-infused sweet and savoury menu for lunch in the cafe. There are outdoor games, room to run on the lawn, and some sweet treats to take home to your accommodation (for future bribes…we didn’t say that!).

You may or may not drop into Four Pillars Gin (for the adults) on the way past and everyone can enjoy a bite to eat in their onsite restaurant.

DAY SIX – FRUITY AND FABULOUS

They are guaranteed that every child on a Rayner’s Orchard Fruit Taste Adventure tour on the tractor will try a variety of new fruits (and several they have always said were yuk). With more than 400 different types of fruit growing, there’s something new and ripe every week of the year. Winter is a great time for citrus–juicy mandarins and pomegranates, and on tour with Farmer Len, you can try everything ripe straight from the tree.

And you can stock up on a range of local seasonal produce to take home with you, directly from the region’s happiest farmers. Check out the nursery and have a fruity lunch in the café.

DAY SEVEN – WINTER WONDERLAND

You're never too far away from the snow from your base ‘home away from home'! The snow season can vary between mountain destinations (and from week to week), but you will have the winter playgrounds of Lake Mountain Alpine Resort and Mt Donna Buang within an easy drive. Note that some activities are restricted, and there may be restrictions on gear hire.

That’s a jam-packed, happiness express week away together – and if you need some built-in R&R, book a second week and take your time.