If you’ve been looking for a short break or regional escape that covers all bases, then say hello to the scenic villages and rolling hills of Victoria’s Yarra Valley.
Visit for the day, or take time out for a weekend escape so you can fully explore the Yarra Valley to sample local produce, hike scenic mountain trails or explore vegan wineries along the way.
Eating vegan is one way you can reduce your impact on the local environment during your travels. Here are our top picks for a planet-conscious weekend in the Yarra Valley:
Where to stay
Set amongst the forested hills of the Yarra Ranges, Warburton might just be one of Victoria’s best kept secrets. Just 90 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD, ‘Warby’ offers the ideal quick getaway for road-trippers, nature lovers and foodies alike.
Warburton Motel originally opened in 1966. Now, under new ownership, the motel has been refurbished with modern plant-based furnishings and fittings as well as eco-friendly toiletries. You can choose from a selection of different-sized rooms, like a room in the Tree Tops Suite complete with lush mountain views.
Then, simply sit back and take in the forest surrounds before choosing from some of Warburton Motel’s fun activities. You can also book winery tours through Warburton Motel. The motel works with Wine Compass, wine tour experts that can tailor a Yarra Valley wine tour designed by you.
Eating & drinking
Walk or ride into town and refuel with local vegan food
The Warburton Bakery isn’t exclusively vegan but a decent selection of vegan options await. Once you’ve grabbed your choices, enjoy them on the deck that overlooks the Yarra River Walk. Another go-to for vegan options is BT Dubs Café that has a vegan section on the menu from vegan burgers to vegan French toast, cacao muesli and pumpkin fritters.
For a casual dinner, try the vegan pizzas at Warburton Village Pizza Cafe, or head to Symphony 36; a tapas bar and restaurant with live music and delectable vegan main meals and smaller bites. For a sweet treat, The Rainbow Ice Cream Shop serves a selection of vegan gelato flavours.
If you’d like to sample the region’s freshest produce, visit The Healesville Organic Farmers’ Market. The market operates each Saturday from 8.30am to 1pm. Fresh locally grown fruit, vegetables and herbs are on offer, as too local makers of breads, chutneys and kitchen staples. Buying from local suppliers means your dollars stay in the area (and your food travels less distance, too!).
Take a sip of the Valley, too
Travelling sustainably means you’re tapping into the local makers and producers. The Yarra Valley is famously known for its world-class wineries, but there’s a plethora of local breweries and distillers doing tasty things in the vegan space. The Yarra Valley stretches from Wonga Park to Healesville, so your road-trip can take the scenic route to Warburton.
Need to treat yourself or celebrate a milestone? Then book a table at TarraWarra Estate for the plant-based version of their four-course tasting menu. TarraWarra is one the region’s older wineries, and its restaurant has its own kitchen garden plus sources ingredients from local suppliers. TarraWarra’s Michelin star head chef Mark Ebbels also hosts special all-vegan degustation events a number of times a year (with or without matching vegan wines). Bookings are essential.
For more vegan choices in wine, make a visit to Seville Hill. The winery’s entire range of red and white wines is vegan. A bespoke part of the Yarra Valley for all-vegan wine is Steels Creek Estate, the smallest winery in the Yarra Valley that makes, matures and bottles all wines onsite. Steels Creek approaches its soil to bottle process thoughtfully; insecticides are not used and all prunings are mulched. Another stop for vegan wine options – Yileena Park Winery – uses a drip water irrigation system and organic fertiliser.
For vegan cider, Kellybrook Winery in Wonga Park who also make the Kelly Brothers cider range. If you’re searching for more local cider, travel to Coldstream Brewery as their Coldstream Cider is also vegan.
Toast award-winning gin in Healesville
What’s exciting for the Yarra Valley is that Four Pillars Gin in Healesville, has been named International Gin Producer of the Year for the second year in a row. You can book in for tastings and drinks on weekends, and walk-ins are welcome during the week.
Four Pillars uses local native botanicals to make their gins; all their gins are vegan (except their Australian Christmas Gin).
Make a vegan pitstop at Lilydale
Lilydale is the gateway to the Yarra Valley. If you’re looking for a place to stop along the way, then a pitstop at Round Bird Can’t Fly is a must. While it isn’t strictly vegan, there’s a separate vegan menu featuring delicious meals like house-made bircher or a chipotle jackfruit burger with slaw, chips and vegan aioli.
Another great option is The Lilydale General. It has a delicious all day menu with some healthy vegan options that are full of delightful flavours. Vegans and vegetarians will rejoice at creative options like house-made beetroot falafels, spiced pumpkin mash or their vegan nourish bowl.
Things to do in Warburton
Walk the Warby Trail
The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is one of Australia’s iconic Rail Trails which meanders through the Yarra Valley between the Dandenong Ranges and the Great Dividing Ranges. The 38km recreation trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders follows the path of the historical railway line which was established in the 1900s to service the agricultural industry of the time.
Take the time to enjoy the spectacular views of the Yarra Ranges National Park, pass through beautiful bushland, wineries and farmlands.
Float along the Yarra River or explore the Redwood Forest
On a warm day, you can hire inflatable tubes from Warburton Motel and float along the Yarra River or take complimentary bikes and ride along the Warburton Rail Trail. Or, why not take a forest walk or bike ride to the spectacular California Redwood Forest or Lala Falls? Both locations are only minutes away from the motel.
If you need an extended tour of the area, book in a Bike & Hike self-guided eco-adventure, including transport and hire.
Hike Mount Donna Buang summit
You’ve made it this far, so why not go all the way? You can explore further afield by hitting the summit of Mount Donna Buang (“body of the mountain” in local Indigenous language). Here you’ll find a 21-metre high lookout tower offering panoramic views of the alps, Yarra Valley, Melbourne and Dandenong Ranges. This is absolutely worth the hike or drive to the top, especially in the cooler months.
Check the restrictions
Restrictions are still in place in Victoria and may affect your travel plans. This includes limits on home visits, public gatherings and accommodation. Prepare to be flexible as restrictions may change during your time away.
Ensure you check the current restrictions before you leave home, or call the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hotline on .
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