×

10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges

Located just 35 kilometers from Melbourne, "heading for the hills" of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges is popular with locals and tourists. With rich soil and an agreeable climate, many European immigrants settled in the region during the 19th century, creating what became known as "the food bowl of Victoria". Many of these original farms and gardens are still productive today. For more than a century, the area has attracted artists, nature lovers, and foodies seeking solitude, inspiration, and pure indulgence.

Address: 1402 Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road, Mt. Dandenong

1 Healesville Sanctuary

Healesville Sanctuary
Healesville Sanctuary
Share:

Healesville Sanctuary is the perfect place to check out the full range of unique Australian animals in one compact place. Set in a typical Australian landscape, the 30-hectare park offers tourists the opportunity to see the animals up close and personal. "Meet the handler" encounters include kangaroos, wombats, koalas, emus, dingoes, and platypuses and take place at various times throughout the day. "Spirits of the Sky" offers a chance to see birds of prey, featuring the majestic wedgetail eagle, soar through the air. With several dining options, Healesville Sanctuary is also a great place to take in the best of the regional gourmet delicacies.

Address: Badger Creek Road, Healesville

2 Dandenong Ranges National Park

Dandenong Ranges National Park
Dandenong Ranges National Park
Share:

Exploring the Dandenong Ranges National Park requires time and planning. Covering 3,215 hectares, the park is rich in walking trails, wildlife, and scenery, and the area is extremely popular with tourists. Although the Dandenong Ranges is filled with excellent dining opportunities, many people enjoy packing a picnic. Grant's Picnic Ground is a must do for tourists interested in birds. Located in the heart of Sherbrooke Forest, it's the only place in the Dandenong Ranges where visitors can feed the native birds. Cockatoos and rosellas flock here, and wild bird seed is available from the kiosk.

Another tourist-orientated area is the Sherbrooke Picnic Ground where walkers can experience the easy 2.4-kilometer round trip trail to the impressive Sherbrooke Falls. For a more rigorous walk, the 1,000 steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk is a commemoration of Australian troops in Papua New Guinea during the Second World War.

Address: 1402 Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road, Mt. Dandenong

3 Puffing Billy Steam Train

Puffing Billy Steam Train
Puffing Billy Steam Train
Share:

The romance of days gone by comes alive with a nostalgic ride through the Dandenong Ranges on the century-old steam train - Puffing Billy. Considered one of the best steam trains in the world, it runs every day of the year (except Christmas Day) along a 40-kilometer track under the steam of a large team of volunteers. Traveling from Belgrave to Gembrook, the train chugs through towering indigenous eucalyptus forests featuring the magnificent mountain ash trees, over historic wooden bridges, and through quaint villages. With open air carriages, the heady scent of eucalyptus adds another dimension to this popular tourist attraction.

Address: 1402 Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road, Mt. Dandenong

4 TarraWarra Museum of Art

TarraWarra Museum of Art
TarraWarra Museum of Art Rob Deutscher / photo modified
Share:

Specializing in Australian art, TarraWarra Museum of Art is a stunning example of modern architecture. Blending with the environment, yet breaking new ground, the museum offers tourists the opportunity to view a permanent collection filled with iconic artists such as John Brack, Brett Whiteley, and Russell Drysdale. Temporary exhibitions are held throughout the year, and with views from every window, the space melds the outside with the inside.

Address: 311 Healesville - Yarra Glen Road, Healesville

Official site: http://www.twma.com.au/

5 Yarra Valley Dairy

Yarra Valley Dairy
Yarra Valley Dairy Alpha / photo modified
Share:

As a traditional farmhouse, the Yarra Valley Dairy gives tourists the opportunity to pat the cows, goats, and sheep responsible for a collection of sublime cheeses. Cheese tastings are available, and their signature range includes an Ashed Pyramid goat's cheese, the Hot Cow chilli-based cheese and the Persian fetta. Lunch in the rustic dining room is popular, especially on Sundays.

Address: 70 McMeikans Road, Yering

Official site: http://www.yvd.com.au/

6 Alfred Nicholas Gardens

Alfred Nicholas Gardens
Alfred Nicholas Gardens r reeve / photo modified
Share:

Alfred Nicholas Gardens is the perfect garden for all seasons. Blanketed with rhododendrons and azaleas in spring, hydrangeas and native ferns in summer, vibrant foliage of beech and maples in autumn, and sometimes a dusting of snow in winter, the garden attracts more wedding photographs than any other place in the Dandenong Ranges. The gardens were named after the owner, Alfred Nicholas, the creator of the Aspro, and there are many walking trails winding down to the ornamental lake.

Location: Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke

7 William Rickett's Sanctuary

William Rickett's Sanctuary
William Rickett's Sanctuary Jupiter Firelyte / photo modified
Share:

Hidden from the world in a small garden of ferns, mountain ash trees, and rocky outcrops, William Rickett's Sanctuary is one of the best kept tourist secrets in the Dandenong Ranges. Blending with the natural environment, more than 90 intricate ceramic sculptures representing the Aboriginal culture of the area are creatively displayed among the foliage.

Address: 1402 Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road, Mt. Dandenong

8 Cloudehill Gardens

Cloudehill Gardens
Cloudehill Gardens Chris Samuel / photo modified
Share:

With a history dating back to the 1890's, Cloudehill Gardens are laid out in a series of "garden rooms" separated by stone walls and finely-clipped hedges. Although spectacular in every season, the ancient Japanese maples in autumn lure many tourists. Innovative sculpture exhibitions and musical performances are often held in the gardens, particularly in summer.

Address: 89 Olinda Monbulk Road, Olinda

9 Sassafras Village

Sassafras Village
Sassafras Village Fernando de Sousa / photo modified
Share:

Sassafras is a model village oozing charm and history. Every day of the week tourists delight in the collection of antique shops, cosy cafés, and art galleries. Taking in a morning or afternoon tea at Miss Marple's Tea Room is considered the quintessential Dandenong Ranges experience. Visitors will find a good range of accommodation in the village and immediate surroundings.

10 Olinda Village

Olinda Village
Olinda Village
Share:

In the 'garden belt' of the Dandenong Ranges, Olinda is a great overnight stop for visitors. Situated very near the Cloudehill Gardens and the magnificent National Rhododendron Gardens, the narrow streets are filled with galleries, B&Bs, restaurants, and other attractions.

More on Australia