This drive takes us through a very beautiful part of Victoria, ending up in the gorgeous Yarra Valley.
The Melba Highway, Maroondah Highway and Myers Creek Road form a roughly shaped triangle encompassing a very beautiful part of Victoria The Yarra Valley.
On the drive from Lilydale towards Yarra Glen you will notice antique shops starting to appear. The antique centre there is run by 20 dealers, all with something special to tempt you.
Yering Station, Victoria's first vineyard, was established in 1838 in the fertile valley. Paul de Castella, of French Swiss origin, was attracted to the hills and rivers of the area, and as a viticulturist, recognised the good land. The winery was built from handmade bricks in 1859 and housed French wine-making equipment. The restaurant has beautiful views of the area and as well as wine, features works by local artists.
The Yarra Valley Dairy was once Yering Station's milking shed. It is now a restaurant and its wine and cheeses are legendary, particularly its Persian fetta which has been marinated in herbs and garlic.
Chateau Yering is a luxurious retreat with formal gardens and opulent accommodations. The town has its own racecourse which has excellent country racing, and on the first Sunday of October to June has a market of more than 300 stalls.
Sixteen kilometres of endless views gets you to Healesville, home to one of Australia's best-known wildlife parks. It is also firmly established as an important producer of fine foods and wines. A great place to put that to the test, and maybe spend a night or two, is the Healesville Hotel. All double rooms have fireplaces, so it's cosy even in the coldest months.
Healesville was settled in the 1860s when gold was found at New Chum Creek. Thirty businesses, pubs and a school soon followed and it was a convenient place to get fresh horses for the climb to Fernshaw and Blacks Spur. As the amount of gold being found declined, miners became farmers and timber cutters and established hop gardens. These days it is a centre of viticulture, deer farms, plant nurseries, orchards, logging and horse and cattle breeding, and tourism is on the increase.
Between Healesville and Narbethong is The Black Spur, a narrow road winding through wonderful scenery of towering mountain ash trees and thick ferneries. The ash trees are second in height to the Californian Redwoods, and have been known to reach 100 metres.
Black Spur is known as the gateway to the Mystic Mountains, and when you reach the top of the range you are in the lovely little town of Marysville.
This town has the gentle air of the 1920s and a river from nearby Steavenson Falls runs through its centre. It has four definite seasons, including wonderful leaf colour in autumn and snow in winter.
Attractions in the town include Bruno's Sculpture Gardens and the museum, which is a replica of an early English coach house complete with displays of rare motor and horse-drawn vehicles and memorabilia. There is a golf course and lawn bowling green, bushwalking tracks, gift shops and a gorgeous, old-fashioned sweetshop called Uncle Fred and Aunty Val's which sells goodies that you possibly haven't seen for years. There are galleries, bakeries and a post shop which, apart from selling stamps, sells lace, linen and country-style furnishings.
A must see is Steavenson Falls. Falling from 83 metres, they are a display of water, rocks and gravity with the river creating its own hydro-electricity for spectacular night lighting. There's plenty of parking and visitor facilities.
The Lady Talbot Drive, one of Parks Victoria's great forest drives, loops around Marysville giving access to the Cameron Cascades, Phantom Falls, Keppel Falls and the Beech Forest Cascades. A walk through Beech Forest will take you to 300-year-old myrtle beech trees growing amongst moss and tiny ferns.
The turn-off to Lake Mountain in the Yarra Ranges National Park takes you to Australia's top cross-country skiing resort. It has 41 kilometres of groomed trails and in spring and summer the snow is replaced with millions of native flowers.