Victoria country trips, Heading east from Melbourne

Almost directly east of Melbourne lies the Dandenong Ranges, and to the north of the Dandenong Ranges, the Yarra valley wineries, both popular tourist destinations.
Dandenong Ranges 
Leaving the City you head east on the Kings Way (1), turn left onto Toorak Rd (26), that leads directly onto the Burwood Highway (26) then when the Highway forks, either continue on leading to Mt Dandenong Tourist Road (C415) OR further on to Belgrave where the Puffing Billy Train is located, OR take the left hand fork, Mountain Highway (28) and into the mountains, winding its way up to a T junction with the Dandenong Tourist Road (C415). Turn right and the road goes to Sassafras and then back to Melbourne via the Burwood Highway (26) OR turn left and it goes to Mount Dandenong and Olinda Village (the highest village in the Dandenongs).
Sassafras has a number of tearooms, antique shops and giftware, candles and craft shops as well as B&B places to stay with a true mountain atmosphere and weather.
Belgrave – located where the Burwood H’wy (C412) Monbulk Highway (C404) meet. The small village is where the Puffing Billy Steam train is located, and there are also craft and cafes located here. The Puffing Billy Steam Train runs 24 km through the forest to the tiny town of Gembrook.
Olinda – the highest village has a number of B&B’s to stay over, and some amazing gardens, including the National Rhododendron garden said when flowering to show off more than 270,000 flowers. Olinda and the Dandenong Ranges are home to many craftspeople and artists, with one of the most famous former residents being Sir Arthur Streeton.
Mt Dandenong – just a few kilometres away from the other villages also has lots of gardens and the mountain climate makes it feel quite special. Tall Mountain Ash Trees, tree ferns and interesting craft, tea rooms, and cafes add to the experience.
By travelling along the Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, you will always find new things to see. Locals are very proud of their area, and particularly the gardens.
Locals, Wes Fleming and Phillip JohnsonwonGold at the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show in Londonfor the best show garden, reflecting the passion that the people of Dandenong share for the natural environment.
Yarra Valley wineries 
Directions: From Melbourne take the Eastern Freeway (83) (Eastlink), and turn off at Ringwood onto the Maroondah Highway(B360) via Lilydale heading to Healesville , or turn off the B360 after Lilydale onto the Melba H’wy (B300) to Yarra Glen.
The Yarra Valley is famous for its wines, and there are many, many big wineries as well as boutique wineries located in the Valley in and around the main and smaller roads that connect all the small towns together – Warburton, Seville, Lilydale, Healesville and Yarra Glen.
Travel east from Lilydale to Seville on the Warburton Highway – and you will find a number of wineries sign posted around Seville.
Travel north from Lilydale to Yarra Glen – and then north to Dixon’s Creek – to find many wineries in this area too – de Botoli, Balgownie, Yarrawood and others.
Travel north-east from Lilydale towards Healesville – to drop in to a number of wineries on the way, including Domaine Chandon, and Oakridge.
Smaller roads also connect these main roads, and sign posts help guide you to new wineries that you will discover yourself.
The whole valley is worth exploring, and there are great places to eat, relax and stay over.
In Healesville there is also the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary where you can enjoy seeing Platypus, Koalas, Dingos and other Australian animals and birds.
Further north of Yarra Glen head to the small towns of Kingslake and Castella in the mountains – the scene of the devastating ‘Black Friday’ bushfires in 2009 that killed 173 people and injured 100’s more. On the road connecting Healesville to Castella look for the Arden Tea Rooms and ‘The Singing Gardens’ of the famous Australian poet, C J Dennis.
The whole Yarra Valley is a great place to spend a day or longer in and around the vineyards, but also remember that driving means not drinking, so taking an organised tour may be an option.
We hope you have a great time seeing Melbourne and also the towns and cities in Victoria.
Happy Travelling!

Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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