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The Yarra Valley in Victoria, Australia is famous for its wineries. But whether you don’t drink, you’re travelling as a family or you’re looking for other activities near Melbourne that don’t involve wine, there are plenty of Yarra Valley attractions that don’t involve visiting wineries.
The Yarra Valley is one of my favourite day trips to take from Melbourne, and I regularly go without visiting a winery. So I hope this article will show you there are plenty of things to see and do in the Yarra Valley which don’t have to involve alcohol consumption.
If you’re looking to plan a day trip to see the Yarra Valley attractions and would also like to include a winery visit, click here for my Yarra Valley Day Trip itinerary.
Planning to stay overnight? Click here to read about my number one Yarra Valley accommodation experience in this spectacular Yarra Valley lodge.
9 Yarra Valley attractions that don’t involve wineries
Visit the regions waterfalls
There are waterfalls dotted all over the Yarra Valley area and my favourite part is that they’re all very accessible for families and children.
La La Falls
La La Falls is in the south of the Yarra Valley near Warburton. The walk starts from the car park and you’ll come back the same way. It’s just over 3km return and took us around an hour. The path isn’t sealed or gravelled but it is well maintained, there are a few rocks and tree branches but nothing unmanageable.
The walk is through lovely lush rainforest and fern canopies and leads to a small waterfall tumbling down the rocks with a bridge crossing the steam.
While this isn’t a huge powerful waterfall, it’s a lovely peaceful walk and a great way to get outside and get moving!
Steavenson Falls are the most accessible, with a very short, gravelled and well-maintained path. The viewing platform is just a short 5 minute walk on this path from the car park so it is accessible for prams, buggies and wheelchairs.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous then there is also a path up to the top of the waterfall where there is a viewing platform right over the drop of the falls. This path is not accessible like the first, it is rocky and muddy in some places with a few steeper sections although I saw plenty of families and children managing it. The hike up to the top takes around 20 minutes and the route is the same back down. The views are amazing from the top and I definitely recommend it.
Toorongo Falls are to the east in Yarra Ranges National Park and getting there involves a 2.2km hike from the car park on a circular walking route which will bring you back to the same car park.
The path is compacted and well maintained. The walk will take you past Amphitheatre Falls and also Toorongo Falls.
Blue Lotus Water Garden
These beautiful gardens in the south of the Yarra Valley really are a hidden gem. They are seasonal gardens, so they only open in the summer months when the flowers are in blooms, usually from December to April.
The gardens are tropical themed, with stunning waterways filled with lotus, water lilies and other stunning plants. There are lagoons, lakes, bridges and garden areas plus attractions for children like the Dragon’s Trail and the Flower Fairy Garden.
Tickets are $20 per adult and children up to 15 years old are free.
This is a beautiful place to spend a summer day with a garden shop, cafe and ice cream kiosk on site too.
Click here for more information.
Did you know there are California Redwoods in Victoria, Australia? No, I didn’t either, but these towering tree giants are located just east of Warburton, so you could easily visit La La Falls, the Blue Lotus Garden and the Redwoods in the same day.
This redwood plantation was planted in the early 20th century and the perfectly straight rows of towering trees really are amazing to walk through and eerily quiet! There are also wood nests built between some of the trees which are fun to sit in and photograph kids and adults!
There is a car park on site or on the road leading to the trees if you don’t fancy driving down the muddy track and parking is free.
There is also a large grass area right next to the trees which is a great spot for a picnic.
Healesville Animal Sanctuary
Who doesn’t love an animal sanctuary?! And Healesville really is amazing as you can get up close to kangaroos which roam freely and learn all about native Australian wildlife in a safe and protected area.
Adult tickets cost $38 and children aged 4-15 cost $19, children under 4 are free. Also if you visit on a weekend or public holiday, all children under 16 are free.
Healesville Sanctuary has great maps and itineraries online which are really worth following to make the most of your trip and to see all the animals the zoo has to offer. There are also keeper talks and daily shows so you can learn more about the beautiful animals there.
Black Spur Drive
This scenic drive is an iconic Victoria drive and a must-do in the Yarra Valley, especially as you can simply drive through it to other destinations like Steavenson Falls. The road links Marysville to Yarra Valley and you’ll find yourself on it if you continue on the Maroondah Highway from Melbourne.
Black Spur drive is a stunning drive through rainforest canopies and fern gullies. The road is winding with lots of turns and hairpin bends so allow 30 minutes to cover this section of road.
Because the road is narrow and winding, there are not many places to stop, I would recommend stopping at the end of the drive at the Dom Dom Saddle Picnic Area if you want to snap a few photos of the road behind you, or stop for a picnic.
There are also some hikes in the area if you want to explore the forest more, although they are difficult walks and not recommended to those without experience. If you are interested, check out Condons Track and Mt St Leonard Track, both are about 8km and the My St Leonard walk has stunning views over the Yarra Valley.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Creamery
Who doesn’t love chocolate and ice cream?! This chocolate and ice cream shop is open every day and you can drop in to the cafe anytime. They also offer daily tasting sessions of chocolate for just $3! These are held every day at 10am, 11am and 12pm. There are also classes and tours, so this is the dream for any chocolate lover!
Find out more information on their website.
Visit the closest ski resort to Melbourne
Yarra Valley is home to the nearest ski resort to Melbourne - Lake Mountain Alpine Resort which is just a short 20 minute drive from Marysville.
The great thing about Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is that there are activities and things to do all year around. During the winter months there are snow sports available, with skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing options available. In the summer you can visit and go hiking and mountain biking on the trails.
Marysville is the place to stay if you’re looking to spend a day or two on the slopes or trails.
Find out more information about Lake Mountain Alpine Resort on their website.
Warratina Lavender Farm
Warratina Lavender Farm is not technically in the Yarra Valley, but it is on the way there when you’re driving from Melbourne and it’s just a 20 minute drive there from Healesville
The lavender farm is open all year around with its beautiful lavender produce shop and tea rooms, but the lavender is only in bloom seasonally during summer. The best time of year to see the lavender before it’s harvested is November-December.
They do have a few winter varieties of lavender that flower throughout the year and in winter but there are just a couple of rows.
Click here for more information on their website.
If you’re interested in more flower fields, make sure you check out Tesselaar Kabloom Festival of Flowers. They have beautiful tulip fields growing in the spring to rival the Netherlands. In the autumn they have other flower fields which you can visit and enjoy too. Find out more here.
Puffing Billy steam train
Did you know there is a narrow gauge heritage steam train in Victoria? Neither did I, but I was so glad I found out!
Puffing Billy is the heritage steam train that runs on a route through the Dandenong Ranges, south of Yarra Valley. Yes, this isn’t technically in the Yarra Valley but it is very easily incorporated into your Yarra Valley day trip as you can drive past it on your way to the Yarra Valley.
There are various parts of the journey that you can ride the train, it runs from Belgrave to Gembrook and tickets are $61 for adults or $31.50 for children to ride part of the journey, or $78.50 for adults and $39.50 for children to ride the whole route. The tickets are an open return. You can find out more information here.
If you’re not feeling like splurging on the train ride though, seeing the Puffing Billy pass over the wooden trestle bridge is just as spectacular and fun for the whole family. Just Google Puffing Billy trestle bridge, and this will take you to a small car park on the side of the road, just near the departure point for the train. Then you can see the steam train approach across the wooden trestle bridge and through the rainforest landscape.
I hope these ideas are useful to help you plan a trip to the Yarra Valley that doesn’t involve wineries! Let me know if you take a trip to any of these places.
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