Hot air ballooning
To make the most of your time, your day begins bright and early with a scenic hot air balloon flight. Watch the sunrise over the Yarra Valley as you float through the air with Global Ballooning, Victoria’s leading hot air balloon operator. The once-in-a-lifetime experience will have you soaring over the rolling hills of Victoria’s most magnificent wine region before you’re treated to a champagne breakfast at Balgownie Estate. The whole experience lasts four to five hours, and hotel transfers can be organised.
Balgownie Estate 1309 Melba Hwy, Yarra Glen VIC Australia + 61 3 9730 0700
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
Only two minutes from Balgownie Estate, the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery is a decadent emporium set on 16 acres among the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley. Chock-full of chocolate, the showroom features over 250 hand-crafted products, including giant chocolate freckles, sumptuous truffles, and decadent rocky road. There’s also a Great Wall of Chocolate, featuring 34 different flavour varieties. Visitors can even watch the masterful chocolatiers at work. If all that chocolate is making your mouth water, you can sit down at the café or enjoy a refreshing ice-cream.
From Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery, take Healesville Yarra Glen Rd 17 minutes south-east to Healesville Sanctuary. Set within natural bushland, the not-for-profit organisation specialises in the conservation of native Australian animals. Spend your afternoon roaming between the animal enclosures, including Kangaroo Country, Dingo Country, and Koala Forest. Be sure to check out the daily shows and talks, including the spectacular Spirits in the Sky and Tales from Platypus Creek. You can also book a variety of unforgettable wild encounters and get up close to platypus, wombats and echidna, and many other incredible Australian animals.
Healesville Sanctuary Badger Creek Rd, Healesville VIC Australia +61 1300 966 784
For dinner, drive seven minutes north up Badger Creek Road to the vineyard, Giant Steps. The privately-owned estate is renowned for producing “consistent, over-performing, varietal wines”. Giant Steps also features a recently redesigned restaurant with room enough for 140 diners. Showcasing the finest produce, Chef Jarrod Hudson’s Thai-Euro inspired menu offers an extensive range of meals for both the peckish and the famished, including wood-fired pizza, Chermoula marinated chicken with baked pearl barley and Pinnacle Angus grass-fed porterhouse with horseradish.
Giant Steps 336 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville VIC Australia +61 3 5962 6111
Take advantage of daylight savings and see the Black Spur at sunset. Linking Healesville with Narbethong, the Black Spur is a spectacular 30-kilometer drive along the winding Maroondah Highway through a lush forest. Roll down the windows and breathe in the fresh mountain air as you drive beneath a canopy of towering eucalyptus and mountain ash trees. The Maroondah Highway eventually connects with Marysville Road.
Marysville Garden Cottages
Stay the night in the heart of Marysville at Marysville Garden Cottages. Opened in spring 2013, these eight charming cottages offer all the modern comforts within a quaint country setting. Designed for relaxation, the cottages feature gas log fires, queen or king-sized beds and private verandahs overlooking the mystical gardens. Some of the cozy cottages even include old-world features such as claw-foot bath tubs, stained glass windows and bow window seats.