Professional footy players, Richmond Tiger's AFL superstars, Jess and Sarah Hosking are also avid fans of exploring the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. Following a recent mid-week visit, they explored some of the region's best things to do in winter. Keep scrolling to discover what they found.
Rug up for the winter weather and it's all aboard Australia’s oldest and best-preserved heritage steam railway, Puffing Billy, situated in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges.
Departing at 11 am, expect to see lush fern gullies brush past and Mountain Ash trees towering overhead. Discover wonderful wildlife and spectacular landscapes made for adventure as you sit on the carriage sill of Puffing Billy’s open-side carriages. This truly iconic experience cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Puffing Billy’s new state-of-the-art Lakeside Visitor Centre is located adjacent to Lakeside Station. Featuring a modern café, a fascinating artifact exhibit on the history of this iconic train and more. Here you can also grab a picnic lunch for some time along the lake, enjoy the walking trails, hire a bike, or jump on a paddle boat in the calm waters of Lake Treganowan.
You can also bring along your favourite four-legged friend when Puffing Billy hosts their Dog Express days. Learn more by clicking here.
Located in Kallista, the sisters explored Epoche, an enchanting Steiner-inspired gift store specialising in sustainable, eco-friendly and aesthetically beautiful products.
A curated emporium of ethically made and artisan treasures, books and heirloom toys that nourish, nurture, ignite the imagination and respect the Earth. Bring your shopping bag and indulge in some retail therapy.
Only Mine Gourmet Chocolates is set in the heart of Olinda and is the perfect spot to indulge your sweet tooth. Their range of hand-crafted chocolates is stunning to look at and taste out of this world.
While in store, you can enjoy a range of delicious desserts, coffee and must-try signature hot chocolate.
Stock up on some sweet treats for the trip home too.
You'll love yourself later.
Also, in Olinda, Emma Jennings Gallery is designed to make viewing and purchasing artwork and gifts a warm and inspiring experience. Here you'll find not only Emma’s original art but many beautiful gift ideas. Emma believes art should be accessible to everyone and has made a warm and inviting space that is an inspiring feast for the eyes.
The sisters visited Emma in the gallery working on new paintings, chatted to her about her materials and process, and were inspired by the beautiful views of the forest through the large light-filled windows. You can too.
It's all about the gorgeous thing at Tall Trees Studio, the home of jeweller, gold and silversmith Helene Campbell. Discover one-of-a-kind pieces that are not just beautiful, but unique.
Each piece created in-house has a story, from the materials being used in the piece, to the techniques used, encompassing both the traditional and modern techniques and styles.
The studio also,
actively promotes and supports a number of Victorian independent artists, makers and creators, showcasing a curated collection of their
beautifully designed and created pieces.
Shop for a special one (that includes yourself!)
Located in the heart of the highest village on picturesque Mount Dandenong, this character-filled boutique showcases curated collections from over 35 local stall holders. Find gorgeous handmade ceramics, macrame, pottery, artwork, toys, clothing, jewellery and much more.
It's an ideal spot to buy a gift for that special someone who has everything. Here you'll find gorgeous pieces you simply can't get everywhere.
Walking into Olinda's Mangana feels like a journey through the old-world. Sourced from India, France, The Americas, and other remote pockets, each piece has been carefully selected for its beauty, charm and timelessness.
This unique family business that has grown and developed over thirty-five years to become one of Melbourne’s favourite homewares and lifestyle stores and is housed in two of Olinda's original buildings, circa 1900.
Ever-changing, it's a beautiful place to explore and you'll never know what treasure you'll find.
The sister took time for a wine (and wind down) at this replica of a 19th-century bluestone English Flour Mill and bluestone Carriage House is also a boutique accommodation bursting with character and charm.
Loft In The Mill is perfectly located opposite Olinda Village at the top of the picturesque Dandenong Ranges, making it the perfect location for an overnight or two where you can easily access all of the best parts of Olinda Village.
It's cosy, comfortable and a great location for a mid-week (or weekend) getaway.
While incredibly popular for high tea (and for good reason) the sisters popped in to enjoy the equally remarkable dinner menu.
It's the perfect location to relax in the architecturally designed, modern and environmentally sustainable building and enjoy all the peace and tranquillity nature has to offer. The Asian fusion dining menu is incredibly unique, from its presentation to its flavour combinations.
The Olinda Tea House is set amid 17 acres of gorgeous gardens and towering ash and offers a sensory experience you’ll never forget.
It's the most important meal of the day, so it's essential to do it right, which is exactly what Jess and Sarah did when they started their day at Ripe Cafe Sassafras.
When Victorians do breakfast, we don't mess about, which is why their chefs use local,
fresh and ethically sourced produce to create a breakfast and lunch menu that includes plenty of vegan and gluten-free options.
The same goes for coffee as they serve a double ristretto for a standard cup, roasted by Melba Organic, nine-time winners of the golden bean coffee roasting competition.
Love your cuppa? At Tea Leaves, you'll experience fun and exploration and an opportunity to discover and learn about the many different types of tea.
Their online tea variety is among the largest in Australia, so you'll never be without even after your visit.
Geppetto’s Workshop is Australia’s finest puppet and toy store, not just for kids but for anyone young at heart. Located at Sassafras, the sisters could experience traditional toys peppered with plenty of laughter and surprise.
Known for their immense collection of puppets and marionettes, the Geppetto’s Workshop range includes items from countries worldwide. Their store offers a unique range of specialty wooden toys, spinning tops, kaleidoscopes, and more!
An incredible experience for kids of all ages or the perfect place to find a joyful gift, it's well worth exploring.
Staying at Yering Gorge Cottages provides a stunning natural setting where bushland intersects with the Yarra River against the Christmas Hills and Dividing Ranges backdrop. You might even have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with some of our most iconic wildlife during your stay.
With 13 self-contained and beautifully appointed, one, two and four-bedroom cottages, groups and couples alike can relax on their balcony watching the kangaroos grazing whilst enjoying a glass of local Yarra Valley wine.
While you're staying, take advantage of the range of outdoor experiences and recreational activities available, including golf, tennis, bush-walking, and mountain biking - all undertaken within the club’s 120-acre private nature reserve, which is also home to Eastern Grey kangaroos, platypus, echidna, wombats and 80+ species of native bird.
Guests of Yering Gorge Cottages have priority access to The Eastern Golf Club, designed by Greg Norman; this 27-hole championship standard course features two Golf Australia Magazine '2020 Top 100 Golf Courses in Australia'.
Meletos brings Tuscany to the Yarra Valley, Meletos is world-renowned for its expansive grounds, amazing Euro-Australian-inspired food and stunning views onto the Great Dividing Range.
Visitors can follow Sarah and Jess's lead and enjoy an incredible dining experience created from fresh, locally-sourced produce or a drink and casual meal at The Meletos Brewhouse, a boutique brewery and restaurant space offering delicious food and ales.
If you're keen to make a night of it, The Farmhouse offers a luxury accommodation option. Plan early and book a dine and stay package.
Located in Healesville, the TarraWarra Museum of Art is a perfect place to recharge and connect with nature and art.
With an ever-changing roster of stimulating and innovative
exhibitions set within an award-winning building amid the rolling hills of
the natural Australian landscape, it's truly spectacular every time you visit. It is recognised as a regional cultural icon, providing
visitors with an enjoyable, inspiring experience that combines
stunning architecture with the very best of modern and contemporary art.
Wander the grounds, explore the sculptures and gallery space, and shop inside. There's something new to enjoy every time, making it a must-visit destination.
While the twins were exploring the region, they took the time to enjoy the David Noonan Exhibition: Only when it's cloudless.
This hatted restaurant is led by manager Darren Fraser and head chef Joel Alderdice who together create an unforgettable dining experience for every guest at TarraWarra.
As picturesque as it is delicious, it's the perfect place to enjoy a meal overlooking the rolling vineyard views.
Learn more about their incredible food ethos and their head chef Joel Alderdice through our People Behind The Plate Series