An hour's drive east of Melbourne, the tall trees and ancient mountain ranges of the Dandenong Ranges meet the vine-strung hills and rolling farmland and world class wineries of the Yarra Valley.
A sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley takes in the Healesville and Yarra Glen vineyards and the green valleys and pristine rivers around Marysville and Warburton. Back on earth numerous cellar doors beckon for laid back tastings and meals in their acclaimed restaurants, where fresh local produce and regional wines are the stars of the show.
There's also the opportunity to get up close to Australian wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary, home to dingoes, kangaroos, wombats and the elusive platypus.
Neighbouring Dandenong Ranges is a verdant realm of fern glades, towering trees and eclectic and artistic villages. Climb aboard Puffing Billy, Australia's much-loved historic steam train, for an alternative perspective of secluded bed and breakfast cottages, sun-kissed gardens and vast national parks.
Villages such as Belgrave, Sassafras and Olinda bustle with activity around their quaint shops and blend of contemporary and traditional cafes serving up decadent Devonshire teas and more. All of Melbourne lies before you when you look out from the Sky High Observatory.
The Yarra Valley is less than an hour by car from Melbourne along the Eastern Freeway and Eastlink tollway, exiting at Ringwood Bypass for the Maroondah Highway. The Dandenong Ranges are also less than an hour from the CBD, along the Eastern Freeway and Eastlink tollway, exiting at Burwood Highway for Upper Ferntree Gully, or Canterbury Road for Montrose and the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.