How much can you fit into twelve hours? A helluva lot, as I discovered recently.
Our intentions were to visit the Blue Water Gardens in Yarra Junction but somehow, along the way, we also managed to do some wine tasting, climb a lookout tower, visit a rainforest gallery and almost get lost in a forest of Giant Redwoods.
Feeling a tad like Thelma and Louise, my friend Lily and I headed north, ready for some adventure in the Yarra Valley.
Blue Lotus Water Gardens
For once I did no research so I had no idea what to expect. And what a surprise it was. A place magical beyond words.
The Blue Lotus Water Garden is one of the world’s most spectacular seasonal floral display gardens. I can’t believe it’s only an hour from home and I’d never heard about it.
I wrote about it in my last post, Blue Lotus Love. Thousands of lotus, waterlily and other exotic flowers are spread over 12 acres of landscaped grounds and lakes. In short, this is a garden of Eden with ornamental gardens and ponds, walking trails and fountains and so much more.
Just the facts
Blue Lotus Gardens is at 2628 Warburton Highway, Yarra Junction, Victoria
Open every day until mid-April
Garden Admission: $18 adult
There’s picnic and barbeque facilities and a cafe and kiosk on site overlooking the ponds and gardens.
Great gift shop and nursery for those who want to start their own water garden!
The Redwoods, East Warburton
Beyond Yarra Junction is Warburton, nestled at the foot of the mountains, a town lined with cafes and riverside walks. My sights, however, were set on showing Lily the Redwood Forest out of town. I hadn’t counted on the rough side road or the fact that we were almost out of petrol and her worn tyres were dodgy.
Out there (yes, we made it!) giant Redwood trees tower like giants above us. It’s misty, moody and it feels like we’ve stepped into Sherwood Forest. It’s a place to let your imagination run wild. You probably won’t run into Robin Hood but you can do the next best thing and hug a tree.
Just the facts
The Redwood Forest is located off Cement Creek Road, about 7kms from Warburton. The road is unsealed and a bit rough but it’s not too far to the parking area, and voila, the forest beckons!
Beyond the forest there are also some great walking tracks along the river.
Don’t forget your camera!
The Rainforest Gallery
After refuelling both the car and ourselves back in Warburton, we set off again. There’s no walls in this gallery which has two main attractions. The first is a 15 metre high, 40 metre long aerial walkway named the “Skywalk” and the second is a boardwalk that descends into the Myrtle Beech Rainforest. It’s like a massive natural open air gallery with interpretative signs along the way and a soaring ceiling that never ends.
Giant canopies of lush tree ferns, elevated walkways and boardwalks immerse you in the rainforest. It’s a place to relax as you breath deeper and savour the sweet smells of this pristine environment.
Just the Facts
The Rainforest Gallery is on Acheron Way at the start of Mt Donna Buang Road about ten minutes from Warburton.
The loop walk is 350 metres, with steps, several levels and takes about 20 minutes. The 40 metre long observation platform takes you into the rainforest canopy 15 metres high above the ground.
The look out tower at Mount Donna Buang.
This one wasn’t actually on our list but we missed the turn to Healesville and ended up at the summit. Suddenly summer felt like winter.
The wind was cold yet the look out tower beckoned, at least it did to Lily. I wasn’t so keen to climb it but like any true friend (even a vertigo challenged one) I agreed to scale it with her.
My legs felt like jelly melting on the way up and my vertigo threatened to overwhelm me but, yay, woo-hoo, I did it. And what a view from the top. I even took a photo looking down. Gulp.
Just the facts:
The lookout tower is on Mt Donna Buang Summit Road Warburton. The tower is 21 metres high at an elevation of 1245 metres. Down below the picnic area has gas barbeques, fireplaces and toilets.
This is the start of many walks in the area and in winter the summit area turns to snow play with three tobboggin areas open.
Wine tasting in Healesville
The Yarra Valley is synonymous with wineries and wine tasting and, over the years I’ve visited many cellars. Healesville was on our radar after our round trip to Warburton however we’d already had our glass of wine over lunch.
Still, at 6.30pm that night, strolling down the Main Street of Healesville we found ourselves in a cosy wine bar adjacent to the Hotel. An hour and four delicious wines later (only the equivalent to one glass we were told by our affable waiter Tim) plus a few teary D and M conversations we were ready to move on. It was getting late.
Just the facts
Healesville is a great base to explore the Yarra Valley. It’s close to dozens of wineries and landmark dining establishments like Innocent Bystander and The Grand Hotel as well as the Healesville Sanctuary, Hedgend Maze and hot air ballooning.
You can make a day or even a weekend of it in the Healesville area.
Dinner at The Grand Hotel Yarra Glen
It was after 8pm by the time we reached Yarra Glen and tiredness was (finally) setting in but it was tinged with a heady feeling of contented bliss after our huge dose of nature. And hunger. The Grand Hotel in the centre of town was the obvious choice for a pub meal.
Dinner, coffee and shared tiramisu ended our delectable day out
Just the facts
The Grand Hotel is at 19 Bell Street Yarra Glen www.yarravalleygrand.com.au
A landmark hotel in the area, built in 1888 and classified with the National Trust
Provides pub food, accommodation & entertainment
There’s so much to enjoy in the Yarra Valley (including the delicious Chocalaterie in Yarra Glen) but as for Lily and I, we ran out of time! Still, I guess we need to save something for next time. Plus, hubby would not have been impressed!
The Yarra Valley is only one breezy hour from Melbourne yet it has the ability to transport you to another world.
Who says we need to go far to have some adventure. The key is making time to do it, whether it’s a night away or simply spending twelve hours with a friend.
Here’s to following our bliss and doing what we love. Life is beautiful, if we see it that way.
Keep enjoying the journey.
In love and light.
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