Rolling hills and scenic drives. Fern forests and walking tracks. Cycling routes and incredible food. Getting lost in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges isn’t just a possibility, it’s a requirement.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.



  • Towering gums and lush rainforests
  • Friendly locals
  • Sunsets and sunrises over the hills and mountains


As the source of the mighty Yarra River, it’s no surprise that this stretch of Victoria has a lot going for it. Barely an hour from Melbourne, the air feels just that little bit fresher, the birds chirp just a bit louder and the sun shines a notch or two brighter. Whether your preferred mode of exploration is boots on the track, two wheels on the trails or even a harness and ropes halfway up a cliff, the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges have got it all.

With so much to do, see and eat, it’s the tree change you didn’t know you needed until now.


Rainforest Gallery

It’s not every day that you get to walk amongst giants, but the Rainforest Gallery walk gets you damn close. Just out of Warburton, the elevated treetop walkway sits 15m off the ground amid temperate rainforest of monstrous Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beach trees. The trees reach up to 65m tall and are thought to be over 400 years old.

It’s only a short walk (a few hundred metres) but you’ve got about 100 steps to climb, giving you a nice workout.

Olinda Falls Circuit

The Olinda Falls Circuit is only a short 10 minute walk through the shady trees from Olinda Falls Picnic Ground. Similar to Sherbrooke, you’ll want to hit this one up between the end of winter and early summer for the best chance of catching it before it dries up.

If you’re looking to make a day of it, try out the Olinda Falls and Valley Circuit, a 16km loop that starts at the Woolrich Lookout and works its way through Olinda Forest to the falls and then back around to the lookout again. It takes 4-5 hours if you’ve got a good set of legs on you and includes about 1,000m of climbing.




Redwood Forest

Also just out of Warburton, the Redwood Forest is only a 15 minute drive and well worth it. Featuring almost 1,500 giant Sequoias in neat rows as far as the eye can see. These bad boys were planted in the 1930s as part of a non-native tree experiment and have grown up to 55m tall. While you’re there, wander through the trees down to Cement Creek (it’s deceptively green and peaceful despite the name).

Arriving before 10am offers a better chance of getting the forest to yourself before the crowds show up.

Sherbrooke Falls Loop

These might not be the biggest falls you come across in your life, but with such a stunning walk there I don’t think you’ll mind. The Sherbrooke Falls Loop wanders along the 2.4km track through the towering and shady ash trees and fern forests and is certain to put you straight into a state of zen.

The best time to visit the waterfall is around the end of winter, spring or early summer, that way you’ll catch it while it’s still flowing! And the icing on the cake – this walk is accessible by public transport! Just jump on a train to Belgrave Station and follow Terry Ave down to the start of the track.


Devil’s Elbows

If your idea of a good time is a serious cycle workout with incredible views, then the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges have got something special for you. Devil’s Elbows is an absolute punisher with a 377m climb over 5.5km and an average gradient of 5.7%.

It’s well worth it though, as the route takes you up Mt Dandenong from the 1000 Steps car park in Upper Ferntree Gully. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views and an absolute belter of a ride back down. 


O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

To get the legs spinning but not risk blowing a gasket, the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail has your name all over it. The 30km trail is a mixed cycling and riding track following the aqueduct through forest and ferns. With its beautiful views over the Yarra Valley and gentle gradient, it’s the perfect trail for all abilities.


The walking and cycle trail from East Warburton to Don Valley runs parallel with the Warburton Rail Trail, however, the O’Shannassy Trail is set into the mountain ranges, and provides a different perspective to the environment. With both an East Loop and a West Loop, you can enjoy it more than once. 

There are also a bunch of points for jumping in or out so you don’t have to commit to the whole thing, just pick a section and get peddling.


Hey Hey My My – Mind Crusher

Packing a punch, this weapon of a mountain bike trail really leads up to its name. Hey Hey My My – Mind Crusher is a challenging 4.1km single track loop featuring some solid uphill and downhill. It starts with 2.5km of solid switchbacks to get your heart beating, and then you can let loose with 1.6km of flowy descent. 

There are plenty of jumps and spicy sections of track to keep you on your toes, but most of the more difficult bits have B-lines which I’ll gladly be taking. 

Road Tripping

Black Spur Drive

Hot damn if this isn’t one of the best drives in Victoria then I don’t know what is. The picturesque Black Spur Drive is a 30km drive that winds its way from Lilydale to Marysville through some absolutely stunning forest. This one is best for those who don’t get car sick, with plenty of switchbacks and tight corners through the Mountain Ash and ferns.

Heads up, it can be a pretty busy road on the weekends and if you’re taking it slowly along there, please for the love of god use the slow vehicle turnout to let others pass.


Lake Mountain Drive

Once you’ve made your way to Marysville, don’t stop there. Lake Mountain Drive is another 20km up some beautiful winding roads that’ll get you to the top of Lake Mountain.

In summer, ‘green season’, there are beautiful bush with mountain biking and hiking trails. Head there in winter to take a drive through an enchanted winter wonderland and maybe even get some turns in on the skis. Regardless of when you choose to make the trip, you won’t be disappointed!


Test out your fear (or fearlessness) of heights with Warburton Adventure Co. on an abseiling adventure in the Yarra Valley. They’ve got a whole range of options available to cater to anyone from first-time abseilers to seasoned pros. If you’re asking for my pick, I’d take the Donna Double, which includes an abseiling and mountain bike adventure on Donna Buang.

Where to Refuel & Stay

Where to eat?

The Micawber Tavern in Belgrave, home to classic pub meals and cold beers, is a local favourite. Kick back to live music on the deck, cosy up by the fireplace inside or soak up the sun in the beer garden. However you like to enjoy your meal, the Tavern has an option for you.

Bam Bam Italian in the Dandenong Ranges is a great option for adventurous families. They’ve got fantastic modern Italian food with great pizza and pasta, a playground for kids (or adults if that’s your thing) and are pet friendly. They also take dietary-friendly to the next level with a separate vegan menu, garlic-free and onion-free menu and gluten-free options. If you’re looking for a meal on the run they also do takeaway.

Head to Yarra Valley Dairy for a dose of local cheesy produce paired with good wine. The Farm Cheese Shop and Cafe have a wide range of cheeses made onsite at the farm and offer tasting experiences too. If you don’t have enough subscriptions in your life already, they also offer a cheese subscription service. With how good their cheese is, I almost considered cancelling my Spotify for it.

Where to drink?

Four Pillars is hands-down one of Victoria’s, nay Australia’s, best gins. So surely it’s no surprise the Four Pillars Distillery in Healesville makes the list. They’ve won a smattering of local and international awards and you won’t be disappointed by a visit straight to the source. Alongside a delicious G&T tasting session, they also offer cocktail workshops and a distillery masterclass.

Hidden amongst the vines with views out over the Yarra Valley, Steels Gate Winery is a treat for wine lovers. The boutique winery has a cellar door and restaurant attached offering a range of estate-grown wines along with non-estate wines, all poured alongside delicious food.

They do lunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and dinner on Saturday evenings. With only one sitting available, make sure you book ahead if you want to steal a spot.


Where to stay?

Close off your day of exploring Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges with some luxury at Larnook at Sherbrooke. With views all the way out over Port Phillip Bay, the converted off-grid shipping container nestled in the hills at Sherbrooke, is perfect for a little romantic getaway. Whether it’s a summer evening out on the deck or a cosy winter night next to the fireplace, odds are you’re probably not going to want to leave.

Some would say an escape to regional Victoria isn’t complete without a country hotel stay, and if you’re one of those people then the Warburton Alpine Retreat Hotel is for you. The vintage rooms have been recently restored and you’ve only got to make your way downstairs for a great pub feed and a beer. With the Lilydale Rail Trail at the rear of the building, it’s a great choice for anyone planning a cycling trip.

If your choice of adventure normally involves a caravan, or you’ve got a couple of mini Explorers with you, then the Big4 Yarra Valley Park Lane is a great option. They’ve got powered camping sites for tents, vans or caravans, cabins, glamping and quirky (but luxe) converted tramcars for Explorers seeking something more unique.

Finally, for a pet-friendly option, Wiggley Bottom Farm is your go-to. This farm has got a lot to offer aside from one of the best names I’ve ever seen. The 15 acre farm has an option for everyone, with The Apartment looking out over the rolling hills and great sunsets, The Cottage being a cosy little getaway for two, and The Tiny House being, well, a tiny house.

As it’s a farm stay, you’ll also get the benefit of sharing your stay with a whole bunch of farm animals including baby goats, horses, cows, and geese. If that doesn’t sell it for you I don’t know what will.

Essential Gear

  • A car!
  • Camera
  • Mountain bike, gravel bike or road bike. Pick your weapon
  • A good mate to DJ the drive
  • Water
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen and hat
  • Hiking shoes

How To Get There

The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges are mighty close to Melbourne. An hour in the car will get you from the CBD to Mt Dandenong via the M3 or carry on another 30 minutes to get right into the heart of it all at Warburton.

Leave No Trace

If you’ve made it this far you’ve probably gotten the message that the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges are pretty bloody special. At We Are Explorers, we reckon it’s a good idea to keep it that way, so make sure to take all of your rubbish with you, minimise your plastic use as much as possible, stick to the paths and try not to disturb the area or animals. Mother Nature will thank you for it!

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!


Photography by @ben.savage