Make a day of it!
There are so many things to do in the Yarra Valley after you’ve had your headshots taken.
I’m Julia, a headshot specialist based in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Most headshot specialists are found in more metropolitan areas, but I wanted to bring specialised headshot services to the suburbs and luckily for me, I live in such a wonderful part of the world.
I focus on corporate headshots, personal branding, actor headshots, model portfolios, and also capture personal portraits for individuals, couples and families too. While I have a lot of information about all of this across my website, I wanted a chance to show you some of the beautiful places you can visit before or after your photography session with me, to really take advantage of your time here.
I love the location of my portrait studio. It’s peaceful and inspiring, with views of the Dandenong Ranges, plenty of outdoor options to explore, and a space that is just easy to be creative in. The parking is free, you don’t have any onlookers, and the city-stress feels miles away. It makes getting your headshots and branding portraits taken an overall nice experience.
Plus, there is just so much to see and do out here!
If it sounds like you’d want to take advantage of your time in the outer east, my biggest suggestion is to book a morning photography session. This means that you can have your photos all finished up, and you don’t need to stress about your hair or makeup getting messed up, so you can just relax and enjoy the area. A photoshoot anytime before 11am will leave you plenty of time to use your afternoon to explore the sights and tastings in the area. Of course, you are more than welcome to spend your day in the valley and finish up with your session in the afternoon too.
Now, let me say, this is not a sponsored post – just places I’ve been to and enjoyed myself. Shoutout to these lovely businesses who have generously provided me with imagery to use here (and I have credited those below each photo).
Have a look at my suggestions below, so you can plan a day of it!
SEE & DO:
Redwood Forest – Warburton.
Drive time: 50 minutes
Address: Cement Creek Rd, East Warburton VIC
The Redwood Forest in Warburton is renowned in the area. This beautiful walk will have you exploring the amazing forest of Californian Redwoods, with endless rows of trees that will have you looking up, down and all-around. You’ll also see manmade artworks (which I think of as ‘nests’), which will make you feel as if you’re in a fantasy world. There is also a beautiful little stream to be found here too – with lush tree ferns and the gentle sounds of flowing water.
Keep in mind that there are no public toilets at the forest – so it is best to stop in Warburton Town centre beforehand. I’d suggest visiting the Redwoods in an ‘off-peak’ time. Weekends are renowned for it to become crazy busy, so if you can find a quiet afternoon after a weekday headshot session, you might be onto a real winner here. The photos below were taken by me in 2016.
Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden – Sherbrooke
Drive time: 25 minutes
Address: 1A Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke VIC
If you love nature and gardens and are happy to go for a walk (there are steps and hills), then you can’t miss Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden. Located in the Dandenong Ranges, this gem will keep you occupied for hours. In glorious Autumn it is filled with colour too.
You might be familiar with photos from this garden. The iconic hut on the lake is located here. It’s just beautiful – with little bridges, stepping stones, and so many walks to take. Bring along your camera, because it is a stunning place to capture some lovely photos. You’ll also likely spot some beautiful native birds while you’re there too! These photos were taken in Autumn by me in 2015.
Tesselaar Flower Farm – Silvan
Drive time: 15 minutes
Address: 357 Monbulk Rd, Silvan
If you’re lucky enough to have your headshot or portrait session in Autumn or Spring, then you might just be lucky enough to visit Tesselaar Flower farm. In April (Autumn), the beautiful Kabloom Flower festival is on. Bring your gumboots, as it can be a little muddy, but there is plenty of colour, activities (especially for kids), and food to delight.
For the springtime, the famous Tesselaar Tulip Festival is on, with primarily Tulip flowers (duhh), and an array of activities, entertainment, music and food vans. Bring along your cameras to capture this stunning scene, and check out their website to see exactly what they have going on. Make sure you look into the dates before heading up this way. They usually hold KaBloom in April, and the Tulips in September.
These photos were taken by me in 2015 and 2019.
SkyHigh – Mount Dandenong
Drive time: 15 minutes
Address: 26 Observatory Rd, Mount Dandenong VIC
If you’re more into relaxation and would like to wind down your day, then SkyHigh in Mount Dandenong is a beautiful place to visit (especially at sunset). It’s not uncommon to see a proposal while you’re there!
SkyHigh is a spectacular lookout from the Dandenongs across Melbourne. You’ll be able to spot the city, see the lights of the MCG (at night), and watch the sunset over the horizon. They also have beautiful gardens, some lovely walks, and a restaurant for you to enjoy – all overlooking the fabulous view.
Puffing Billy – Belgrave
Drive time: 30 Minutes
Address: 1 Old Monbulk Rd, Belgrave VIC
Puffing Billy is an icon of the outer east! Travelling from Belgrave to Emerald Lake, this beautiful steam train is a fantastic way to enjoy the day. You’ll journey through beautiful ferns and towering trees, across the iconic Monbulk Creek Trestle bridge that adds to that ‘going back in time’ feeling. It’s a popular attraction for kids and adults alike. So you can bring your family along, or enjoy it with your partner or friends. At the end of it all, you’ll find yourself in beautiful Emerald, at the Emerald Lake, where you will find BBQs, walking trails and picnic tables.
If it is to your fancy, you can aboard the first class dining carriage for a bite to eat while you journey. There is an offer of a Steam and Cuisine Luncheon or Steam and Cuisine After Dark. They also have special events, like Mothers Day Luncheons that you can plan ahead for. Check out their website for a list of upcoming events and pricing!
Thousand Steps – Tremont
Drive time: 35 minutes
Address: Tree Fern Gully Track, Tremont VIC
Are you an active person? The Thousand Steps in Tremont isn’t far away! The Thousand Steps is a Kokoda Track memorial walk, where you will climb the steps through lush ferns and beautiful forest. It is 3km and 1.5 hours return (according to the website), but you might enjoy relaxing at the top with a picnic while you’re there.
Healesville Sanctuary – Healesville
Drive time: 30 Minutes
Address: Badger Creek Rd, Badger Creek VIC
As one of three Zoos Victoria Parks, Healesville Sanctuary is not to be missed. Filled with Australian Animals, this park is smaller than its Melbourne and Werribee counterparts, making it an easy day to walk around and see all the exhibits. They have a wonderful Birds of Prey show (which you can’t miss). It’s called Spirits of the Sky, and is on daily at 1 pm and 2.30 pm (as of writing).
You’ll also find many other animal talks throughout the day if you hit them at the right times. Wombats and Platypus talks, Kangaroos, Koalas and Dingos. These talks are all free. If you’d prefer to get up close and personal, book a personal encounter in advance. I attended A Wombat Pat and Play in 2014 (photos below), although this does not seem to be on offer at this stage (check back on their website to see current encounters offered). You can also wade with the platypuses, meet the kangaroos, and meet the echidnas too. These experiences aren’t free activities, so you need to plan and book ahead to avoid missing out.
The photos below were all taken by me in 2014.
Melba Tour & Morning Tea at Coombe – Coldstream
Drive time: 15 minutes
Address: 673-675 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream VIC
If you have ever driven out into the Yarra Valley, you may have passed Melba Estate. The home of Dame Nellie Melba, you might recognise the giant, well-tamed hedges that surround the property. Dame Nellie Melba was a famous opera singer who built Coombe cottage in 1912. It is now a beautiful venue for Weddings and events, with sculpted gardens, beautiful grounds, and an award-winning restaurant.
You can visit Coombe Estate and have a tour of the gardens, paired with morning tea (beautiful scones and jam). These tours only run during the summer months (closed for Winter), so if this is something you would like to do, book ahead via their website. You can dine at the restaurant for lunch, morning tea, or even a lovely high-tea if you would prefer these options. Refer to their website for up to date opening days, times and pricing!
Round Bird Can’t Fly Cafe – Lilydale
Drive time: <10 minutes
Address: 170 Main St, Lilydale VIC
Round Bird is a beautiful Cafe on the Main Street of Lilydale. What I love about this cafe is its dedication to offering local produce, and you’ll find a selection of beautiful produce for sale in the cafe itself. From homemade preserves, milk, cheese, meats and bread. You’ll even find tea, chais and spices to take home.
The food itself is just beautiful. It’s all made with the finest local ingredients. They have a dedicated vegan menu, which offers burgers, curries and even pho. And if your diet allows it, you can also enjoy selecting from a range of other meat and vegetable-based dishes. For the latest menu, visit their website roundbird.com.au/menus/
Mount Evelyn Bakery – Mount Evelyn
Drive time: 6 minutes
Address: 14-16 York Rd, Mount Evelyn VIC
The Mount Evelyn Bakery is one of my go-to places to get beautiful desserts. They have an amazing range of homemade biscuits, slices and cakes (their vanilla slice is a big favourite amongst my family), as well as savoury items too. I can always stand by their Cauliflower and Cheese rolls and their sausage rolls. For sweets, I’ve never been disappointed! I love grabbing a few things from here to take away, and then enjoy either at home or on a picnic.
Yarra Valley Dairy – Yering
Drive time: 20 minutes
Address: 70-80 Mcmeikans Rd, Yering VIC
The Yarra Valley Dairy in Yering is a beautiful stop if you’re wanting to explore the Yarra Valley. Here you can enjoy a unique cheese tasting, where the staff will tell you a little about each of their cheeses and the flavours. You probably won’t want to leave without buying some to take home, but it is comforting to know that their cheeses are now stocked in supermarkets – so they’re widely accessible (check out their stockist’s page).
While you’re there, you can have a look at their store of beautifully handmade homewares and giftwares, as well as wine and other produce for sale from the Yarra Valley region. If you’re not hungry and inspired yet, just take one look at their Recipes page on their website. I will admit that I definitely went away to cook their Mac and Cheese recipe after writing this! Check it out at: yvd.com.au/recipes/
Innocent Bystander – Healesville
Drive time: 30 Minutes
Address: 316-334 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville VIC
Innocent Bystander serves more than just their award-winning wines (more on that in the Drink section). With gourmet Pizzas and flavoursome Paella, Innocent Bystander is the perfect stop in Healesville to have a bite to eat and a glass of wine.
There is a lot more on offer than these two beautiful staples though. You can order yourself a sharing board with meat, veggie, and cheese options to choose from (or a mix!). They also have a range of smaller bites if you’d prefer a tapas-style lunch. Let’s not forget dessert. With offerings of Brioche and butterscotch pudding, waffle cones, sorbet ice cream and churros, you’ll want to make sure you leave enough room (or, just skip straight to dessert!). Make sure you check their website to view their most current, up to date menu though. I’ve picked a few things off the menu at the time of writing (April 2019).
Mary Eats Cake – Montrose
Drive time: 5 Minutes
Address: 13 Leith Rd, Montrose VIC
Only a 5 minute drive away, Mary Eats Cake has all your high tea cravings sorted. You can book a high tea experience in Montrose from Tuesday – Friday at 1pm, or on Saturday and Sunday at 10am, 1pm or 4pm (at time of writing, April 2019). Be sure to make your booking online ahead of time though. But why listen to me when Mary Eat’s Cake have put it so eloquently themselves:
“Mary Eats Cake is all about the celebration of High Tea served with urban sophistication, local rustic charm, delicious decadence and a dash of fabulous. Founded by Tea Sommelier, Sarah de Witt, and French Pastry Chef, Jess Hillbrick, these ladies know good tea and cake. The seasonal High Tea menu brings a modern fresh twist to High Tea while keeping with old fashioned traditions such as vintage teaware and classic desserts. Mary Eats Cake specialises in High Tea parties including bridal showers, baby showers, and birthday celebrations. She has two quaint venues in Melbourne, a gritty glam tea house in Brunswick and a charming cottage in Montrose at the base of Mount Dandenong.“
You can view their current menu and make a booking on their website: maryeatscake.com.au/montrose
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery – Yarra Glen
Drive time: <30 Minutes
Address: 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen VIC
A must-see for those heading into the Yarra Valley, the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery in Yarra Glen is a favourite. Despite their name, you’ll find more than just chocolate and ice cream here – while it is certainly its main feature. Heading here for breakfast or lunch will give you a huge range of savoury meal options, including healthy salads, baguettes and pizzas. You’ll also have a selection of handcrafted cakes in the cabinet to drool over, beautiful macarons (you can take a few of these home for a special treat), and of course a whole bar of boutique chocolates. On top of this, there is a wide selection of drinks on offer. From hot chocolates and mochas, to fresh juices, coffee, milkshakes and spiders.
If you plan it right, you might even come across one of their festivals. Such as the Rocky Road festival (coming up this May, 2019) where you can delight in tasting 31 different rocky road varieties (you can book a tasting experience too!). They also hold annual hot chocolate festivals, and ice cream festivals where they’ll have changing flavours and tastings each week. It’s all a bit of fun! If you do want to participate in a tasting, book ahead on their website, as they do fill up.
Four Pillars Gin – Healesville
Drive time: 30 minutes
Address: 2A Lilydale Rd, Healesville VIC
I first discovered Four Pillars Gin in 2016. It was highly recommended to me, and the fact that it was made locally in Healesville really won me over. Four Pillars only launched in 2013, and since then they’ve smashed goals, and have really gone global. Don’t worry though, these guys are loyal to the Yarra Valley, and plan on sticking by in their beautiful Healesville Distillery.
If you’re in the area and love gin then I suggest going in for a cocktail (or few), or even a gin tasting. They sell all their gins on-site too – so if you fall in love with what you taste you can pick one up right there and then. You may as well check out the other things they have for sale there too. Unique gin marmelade, gin chocolate, and thoughtful giftboxes are some of the options on offer. If you really love gin, then you might be interested in checking out the Four Pillars masterclasses. Choose from: A maker class, a gin masterclass and a cocktail masterclass.
To find out more about Four Pillars and the distillery, check out their website at: fourpillarsgin.com.au
Innocent Bystander – Healesville
Drive time: 30 Minutes
Address: 316-334 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville VIC
I mentioned Innocent Bystander in the ‘Eat’ section above, because I couldn’t really just talk about their wine and dismiss their food. So now I’ll focus on the ‘drink’ side of Innocent Bystander, because truth be told, they’re excellent at both.
You can pop into Innocent Bystander in Healesville for a wine tasting – from Moscato to Pinot Noir. You can choose to do a tasting at the bar, or order your own wine tasting paddle to have with a meal – they come in cute little flasks too! Don’t fret if you’re not a big wine drinker either. Innocent Bystander offer a range of spirits, beer, cider, cocktails, soft drinks and coffee/tea/hot chocolate as well.
You might also want to try the Innocent Bystand Flight Club – an opportunity to experience your choice of three different tastings in their lounge. This experience is all about exploring the flavours in the wine when paired with cheeses and/or chocolate. Your choice of a just wine, a wine and cheese (photo left) or a wine and chocolate pairing experience (below), or you can indulge in all three! Read more here.
Coldstream Brewery – Coldstream
Drive time: <20 minutes
Address: 694 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream VIC
Coldstream Brewery is always worth a stop. If it’s for their well-known beer, cider or a bite to eat too. The story behind the Coldstream Brewery is heartwarming and relatable. It was started by friends Mike and Rohan, who grew up together in the countryside. You’ll see the pub has a statue on the roof and a symbol in their logo. It’s called ‘The Shivering Man’. This represents the plunge that they took to dive into doing something they loved (I can relate to this for sure!). The two friends still own and run the brewery, and it’s popular amongst the Yarra Valley locals (and for good reason).
With the feeling of a delightful country-style pub, you’ll be happy to spend a few hours of your afternoon here. If you can’t pick a drink, you can order a tasting paddle and pair it with some favourite pub classics. The pizza’s are always a popular choice here. You can also order staples like a Chicken Parma, gnocchi, burgers and pork ribs. Or some smaller entrees to share like calamari, wedges, nachos and sliders. It might have the classic favourites, but the food here is truly above and beyond simple pub food. Make sure you check out their current menu on their website: coldstreambrewery.com.au
The best part: if you find a beer or cider that you love, their range is widely available in Dan Murphys and BWS.
Above are my top suggestions. I’ve been to all of these places, and I can confidently recommend them to you.
If you’re feeling stuck with too many options and you’re not sure what would work the best, here are a couple of itinerary ideas you can explore (or, message me if you want further guidance).
1 – Picnic at the Tesselar Tulip Festival (in Spring):
Start with a trip to the Mount Evelyn Bakery to pick up a few things for a picnic (make sure to pack a rug, in case there are no tables available at the festival – it does get busy).
Head up to Silvan to see the beautiful blooming tulips at the Tesselar Tulip Festival, and enjoy the entertainment and the stalls while you are there. Don’t forget to bring along your camera to capture the beautiful flowers in bloom.
2 – Taste of the Yarra Valley
Stop in at the Yarra Valley Dairy to see some amazing things in their store, and of course, taste some cheese too!
Next up, try the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie for some lunch (they serve beautiful savoury dishes there too), and check out some of the incredible chocolate creations they have. Both of these beautiful places have an abundance of gifts – so you can take the chance to get organised for upcoming birthdays or other celebrations while you’re here!
3 – Eat, drink & explore Healesville
Grab a bite to eat at Innocent Bystander, and pair it with a wine tasting while you are there. They have beautiful food, and a great selection of wine (my favourite being the Moscato, as a sweet-lover).
While you are in the area, head to Healesville Sanctuary to see the beautiful exhibits of Australian animals. You can book an encounter with some of the animals (best do this in advance), or head in at the right time to see the amazing bird show and other animal talks throughout the day.
If you’d rather take it easy, perhaps check out Four Pillars Distillery if you’re a gin fan, or simply wander the streets to see the boutiques that Healesville has to offer (one of my favourite stores is Country Smart – a lovely small business with great customer service).
Want to know more about how to best plan your day in the outer eastern suburbs?
Just get in touch before or after you book, and I’d be more than happy to make some suggestions!
We can plan your session date and time so you can have a lovely day out before or after, and really take advantage of what is on offer in this beautiful part of the world.
Or if you’re interested in what I do, check out my session info for actors, corporate or personal photography sessions.
What are your favourite things to do in the Yarra Valley and outer east? Leave your recommendations in the comments below: