27 April 2021
27 April 2021
Little more than an hour’s drive north-east of Melbourne, you’re out of the city and beneath the Yarra Valley’s lush canopy of trees.
A range of different altitudes affords this region a wide variety of world-class wines, as well as an opportunity for the Mercedes-Benz GLS to demonstrate its agility on the long and winding roads.
The largest SUV in the Mercedes-Benz passenger range handles like a much smaller vehicle, and certainly feels like one next to the forests of towering Mountain Ash trees shouldering the road. Nevertheless, its cabin is spacious enough to seat seven adults (and their appetites) for a tasting tour of the region in total comfort and luxury.
Our first pitstop is the hilltop winery, restaurant and museum of art at TarraWarra Estate. You’ll spot the impressive stone building atop a hill just off Healesville-Yarra Glen Road. Tap the brakes to take it all in from the meandering driveway that circumnavigates the property.
Book ahead to enjoy lunch by the floor-to-ceiling windows at the TarraWarra Estate Restaurant. A weekend four-course set menu by head chef Mark Ebbels is the best way to sample the region’s finest produce, and a plant-based version will accommodate diners with specific dietary requirements. If a light snack, al fresco, is your desired dining option, the grazing picnic hamper will fuel a wander around the undulating grounds of the estate or through the impressive collection on display at the TarraWarra Museum of Art.
From Tarrawarra, drive 15 minutes north to Chum Creek – via Healesville-Kinglake Road. Here, you can harness a different kind of horsepower with Chum Creek Horse Riding and Huts’ trail ride through the back roads of the Yarra Valley with spectacular views of the Great Dividing Range.
Take in the scenery at a slower pace atop your trusty steed and look out for the wombats that frequent the area. The halfway point of the two-and-a-half-hour trail ride is a wine tasting of local winery Tokar Estate Yarra Valley in the mountain hut. There’s no need for any prior riding experience as the combined knowledge of the guides and placidity of the horses make for an easy-going experience – and it’s a well-known fact that a little wine at the top will make the ride downhill a lot more relaxing.
A word of warning, those unaccustomed to travelling by horseback may be left a little saddle sore, which is a stark contrast to the comfort levels offered by the GLS thanks to its E-Active Body Control.
This active suspension incorporates a camera-based lane recognition system and the active curve inclination function to assess the driving situation, speed and load. Damping and level control are automatically adjusted for each wheel accordingly, delivering total ride comfort.
The afternoon on the trails will have worked up an appetite for Heartswood in Yarra Glen, a 21-minute drive from Chum Creek. This casual dining venue is the love child of chef Matt Binney and partner Bianca, who work closely with local producers to showcase the flavours of the region. Visit on a Friday or Saturday evening for a surprise themed menu from a rotating roster.
Its proximity to the city makes the Yarra Valley a haven for day-trippers, but those wishing to extend their stay could do worse than to bed down at the charming Chateau Yering Hotel. This heritage-listed property was built in 1854 and has been lovingly restored and decorated with antique furnishings. A long soak in the clawfoot bath (if you’re staying in the Melba Suite) is the perfect wind-down from a day of driving and sightseeing. And a special occasion could warrant a night in the Yering Suite – the only accommodation in the original homestead – which boasts a private staircase and gas log fireplace.
In the morning, follow the light to the sundrenched conservatory on the ground floor of the hotel, where you’ll find a coffee kickstart at Sweetwater Café. Before leaving Yarra Glen, stock up on snacks for the drive at Yarra Valley Chocolate.
Delay your return to the city and instead head 20 minutes east to the picturesque town of Healesville where you can load up on local tipples – wine from Innocent Bystander and gin from Four Pillars Distillery. A pitstop at Rayner’s Orchard to fill the boot with seasonal produce and you’ll have gone at least some way to tasting what this region has to offer.
But before you jump in the car for the trip back to Melbourne, take a stroll along the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail – an easy trail that’s accessible for bikes. The towering ferns and native butterflies flitting around will keep the magic of your weekend in the valley alive long after the last bag is unpacked from the car.
Georgia Lejeune travelled to the Yarra Valley as a guest of Visit Victoria.
On the road checklist
On the road checklist
311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Yarra Glen, VIC
Museum, Restaurant & Cellar Door open Tuesday to Sunday 11am – 5pm.
Chum Creek Horseriding & Huts
221 Heath Road, Chum Creek,VIC
25 Bell St, Yarra Glen, VIC
Restaurant open Thursday to Sunday from 8am, Friday and Saturday evenings 5pm – 10pm.
Chateau Yering Hotel
42 Melba Hwy, Yering, VIC
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen
Open every day 9am – 5pm.
316-334 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville, VIC
Winery and restaurant open every day noon – 9pm.
Four Pillars Gin
2A Lilydale Rd, Healesville, VIC
Distillery open Sunday to Thursday 10:30am – 5:30pm and Friday to Saturday 10.30am – 9pm.
60 Schoolhouse Rd, Woori Yallock VIC
Open every day 9am – 4pm.
O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail
Dee Rd, Millgrove
Experience the highlights of the Mercedes-Benz GLS.
By Georgia Lejeune