Weekender Guide to the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges

Published on 23 January 2018

Photo: Visions of Victoria

Escape from the world in the picturesque Yarra Valley. There's plenty to see and fo from premium food and wine expereinces, hot air balloon rides, and the lush green landscape of the Dandenong Ranges.



From Melbourne, take the Eastern Freeway and continue onto the Eastlink tollway. Take the Ringwood Bypass exit, turn left onto Maroondah Highway and follow the road through Ringwood to Healesville. At Coldstream, leave the Maroondah Highway and turn onto the Melba Highway to Yarra Glen.

Public Transport

Take a train to Hurstbridge, Lilydale or Belgrave. Various bus companies run services between towns and villages in the region. For detailed timetable information, contact Public Transport Victoria on 13 16 38 or visit PTV.

We sat down with Andrew Marks, owner of Melbourne Gin Company and Gembrook Hill Vineyard to find out the best spots of the region. His knowledge of the region stems back to 1983 when his parents, Ian and June Marks established Gembrook Hill vineyard. Since then, Andrew now has his own wine business, The Wanderer Wines, opened in 2005, and most recently in 2013, he launched The Melbourne Gin Company based at Gembrook Hill.



  • Forest Edge – The wood fired pizzas on a Sunday are a must.
  • The Healesville Hotel - Roast Dobson potato gnocchi, spring peas, local squash, Persian fetta, mint & lemon.


A lazy weekend drive followed by a lunch or dinner is a relaxing way to get away from the city. While you grab a bite to eat, make sure to enjoy a drink from The Independent Gembrook, The Ranges Hotel Gembrook and Forest Edge.

Gembrook also has some great spots for coffee and cake. Spencer's Store on the main street is a popular spot.

Here's some other great places to grab a drink from and the best time to go: 



  • Gembrook is the end of the line for Puffing Billy which is great for the kids and just across the road from the Independent and the Ranges Hotel.
  • A visit to Kurth Kiln is always worthwhile. Located in the middle of the forest, it isn't far from Gembrook and has a picnic and camping ground and a number of walks.
  • Gembrook Markets run on the fourth Sunday of every month. Open next to the Puffing Billy Railway Station, promoting sustainable living as well as local arts and crafts.
  • Puffing Billy - Just at Main St, Gembrook, jump on the iconic century-old steam train for a ride. 



  • Carinya Park - Located in the Hills of the Dandenongs east of Melbourne, a great self contained B&B accommodation. 
  • For the adventurous, the camping site at Kurth Kiln is well off the beaten track and gives you the     opportunity to come in contact with some of the great wildlife to be found such as lyrebirds, echidnas, wombats and more.