Although the Yarra River is the major natural feature that impacts Melbourne and surrounding area landscapes, it is only a small river compared to other rivers around the world. It runs for around 240 km from the original Mt Baw Baw source to its mouth at Port Phillip Bay. It is not very wide, nor is it very deep.
However, it carries high levels of organic silt, and over the centuries that silt has been deposited across the flood plains of the Yarra Valley, resulting in the rich soils that support a thriving agricultural region.
The history of wine in the Yarra Valley dates back to 1845 and the region enjoys the status of being one of Australia’s premier wine-producing regions. The area has many wine routes providing opportunities for cellar door tastings as well as sampling the local products in any of the many fine restaurants found throughout the region. Guided tours of the wine routes are always available.
The Grape Escape, held in March each year, is the annual Yarra Valley Grape Grazing Weekend and provides a festival of wine, food, and music.
As the Yarra River winds its way through the valley, its waters attract hordes of canoe and kayak enthusiasts. Sailing is popular on Sugarloaf Reservoir and hot air balloons drift over the valley providing an aerial panorama of the region.
The Yarra Valley provides testing bush walks and hiking, rock climbing for the adventurous and fishing for the keen angler.For an insight into the Aboriginal history and culture of the region, the Galeena Beek Living Culture Centre is recommended. The Mount St Leonard Lookout is a much-visited location and the renowned Healesville Sanctuary introduces visitors to the largest collection of Australian wildlife anywhere in the world.With its rugged timbered hillsides and fine golf course, Warburton is the jumping-off point for the gold mining and timber cutting relics of the upper Yarra Valley. This is a popular area for rock climbing and absieling, hang gliding, caving, and eco-tours. The 38km Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is perfect for walking tours, cycling, and horse riding.