Today my dad and I went for a drive around the Yarra Valley to check out a few sites I was curious about. Luckily for me, my dad has a wealth of knowledge about the area as he lived and worked there when he was around my age – so I basically had a tour guide (thanks, dad!). I also have to credit my dad for taking the pictures that have me in them for this blog post (I normally take them alone with timer settings and have done for all my posts so far except this one)- especially my featured image which is spectacular! The first stop on my itinerary is approximately 83km from Melbourne’s CBD.
1. Mount Donna Buang Rainforest Gallery
Our first stop was the Mt. Donna Buang Rainforest Gallery, which has a 40-metre long elevated viewing platform which is 15 metres above the ground. According to Parks Victoria, there are only three platforms of this type in Australia which take you into the forest canopy.
I thought the elevated viewing platform looked really cool from underneath – it kind of looks like a floating crucifix.
There is also a 350-metre long observation boardwalk that goes deeper into the forest floor, taking you to a tranquil stream.
I preferred the view from the lower platform on the ground as I love seeing streams/creeks/rivers/waterfalls within actual rainforests.
Both the platforms are worth checking out, though – it would probably take about 30 minutes or less to check out both at a leisurely pace.
2. Big Peninsula Tunnel
Our second stop was the Big Peninsula Tunnel – a tunnel that was dug out by miners in 1864 to divert the flow of the Yarra River. We checked out both sides of this tunnel.
Admittedly I was quite freaked out by the sign warning us that there had been recent snake sightings in the area. Funnily enough, I have NEVER seen a snake in the wild to this date in Australia despite the fact I have lived here for most of my life – I am hoping that I never do. The only snake I saw in the wild was in Germany and it was dead and looked like a lolly python.
The first side we went to had a picnic table and an area that looked like it would be a great place to take a dip on a hot day. I had to ask my dad, “would there be snakes in the water, though”? He said that there might be and in fact, they move faster in the water…. My skin crawls at the thought of this haha.
To get to the other side of the Big Peninsula Tunnel you can cross over these cool stepping stones, I felt like some Indiana Jones type of character as I stepped over the rocks hahaha and I felt incredibly proud that I didn’t fall in (don’t worry it is an easy crossing in dry weather – I am just like an awkward baby animal for some reason). My dad said you might even spot Platypus in the area if you are lucky as it is Platypus territory, unfortunately, we didn’t. He said you might also want to sit on the stepping stones and dangle your legs in the water on a hot day, as snakes probably wouldn’t be in that area.
I really liked this particular side of the river, with rocky face of the tunnel. I really enjoy visiting places where you have the opportunity to get up close with the attraction – especially when it is water. I would say to set aside about 30 minutes to check out both sides of this attraction.
3. Upper Yarra Reservoir
Our last stop was the Upper Yarra Reservoir, which is a drinking water catchment that supplies water to Melbourne. You can’t enter the Reservoir (for fairly obvious reasons), however, it has a really nice view. I felt like it was like a poor man’s island holiday view and I actually said that thought out loud (I feel like this is my queue to stop typing because I am starting to talk smack LOL ummm…). We checked out two observation points of the reservoir.
There is also a free camping ground at the entrance to the reservoir which looked like a nice place to camp. It also had toilets, showers and is close to a river that you can swim in. I might check it out one day. This stop took us about 30 minutes to view both stops (including the driving time to the second stop). Keep in mind that the Upper Yarra Reservoir opens at 8.30am and the gates shut at 6pm during Daylight Savings according to the Parks Victoria Website. This is important to keep in mind especially if you camp here as the camping grounds are past the gates – so they lock you in overnight.
Make sure you try some of the local produce in the Yarra Valley!
This trip did not take us long at all, we were finished before lunchtime and stopped to have a coffee at the German Clocks & Cafe in Woori Yallock. I would recommend checking out the stops in this order if you are interested in doing a half day trip. I’d recommend getting to the first stop at around 8am or earlier if you want a chance to have these sights to yourself or at a quieter time. Then you could head for lunch or coffee and cake at one of the many cafes, bakeries or wineries in the Yarra Valley.
I hope you enjoyed this post! The Yarra Valley is a very special and very underrated part of Victoria and I highly recommend you check it out.
For more recommendations of places to visit in and around the Yarra Valley check out my other posts:
- La La Falls, Warburton: Exploring a peaceful, luscious green walking trail leading to La La Falls, Warburton. Featuring a short guide to the Yarra Valley.
- Steavenson Falls, Marysville: Steavenson Falls in Marysville is a waterfall that all nature lovers in Victoria should visit. I share some photos and information about the site.
- Seven Acre Rock, Gladysdale: Seven Acre Rock in Gladysdale is an excellent place to go for a peaceful nature walk and enjoy stunning views of Victoria.
- Wirrawilla Rainforest, Toolangi: Wirrawilla Rainforest Walk in Toolangi is an absolute feast for the senses. Explore platypus territory with me on a relaxing walk through one of the most peaceful parts of Victoria.
- Masons Falls, Kinglake: Mason Falls is a large waterfall nestled in the forest of Kinglake National Park. I share my adventure to the falls.
- Olinda Falls, Olinda: A short walk to two small waterfalls in Olinda.