We have just gotten home from a magical 48-hour mini break in the Yarra Valley and Yarra Ranges with my best friends and sister.
We stayed at In The Valley, boutique luxury accommodation in Yarra Glen which features five stunning luxury suites and was the most perfect base for our staycation.
We had the BEST weekend ever and returned home feeling so refreshed and ready to take on the week ahead and resume our mum duties.
Just in case anyone is planning a girl’s weekend in the month's ahead - or is interested in planning a getaway during this current health scare - I thought I would share our full itinerary below! The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges is very much open for business - all businesses are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure they are safe to visit and it really could not be a more relaxing place to retreat to, amongst the current chaos.
Day 1 - Friday
Stop 1: Cloudehill Garden & Nursery
At 10am on Friday we departed Hawthorn after school drop offs and headed straight to Cloudehill Garden & Nursery, the most stunning garden and nursery in Olinda.
We had a tour of Cloudehill with owner Jeremy Francis who was such a wonderful guide and we learnt all about the history of the property and the gardens. These pretty-as-a-picture gardens are absolutely magical and are a must-visit when visiting the Dandenongs.
We left Cloudehill with a copy of Jeremy's beautiful book 'A Year In The Garden'.
Stop 2: Olinda Tea House
Cloudhill is directly opposite theOlinda Tea House, so following our delightful tour of the gardens we arrived at Olinda Tea House for the most stunning Asian-inspired High Tea.
We sat on the balcony overlooking Olinda Tea House’s exquisite gardens and enjoyed their signature Oriental Fusion High Tea, which included delicious savouries, Scones and Asian-inspired desserts including tartlets and adorable macarons. The food was outstanding!
Olinda Tea House will be holding Easter Egg Hunts on Easter Sunday (14th April) at 10.45am and 12.45pm for families booking for lunch (seating times are 11am and 1pm). The Easter bunny will be roaming during egg hunts and I can not think of a more gorgeous spot to spend Easter!
Olinda Tea House also has gorgeous private dining suites for groups up to 12 guests and also offers take away to locals and guests at local accommodation. It really is such a peaceful and tranquil setting, we felt like we were a world away from Melbourne and it was only a 50 minute drive from Hawthorn.
The sweetest little pineapple desserts at Olinda Tea House.
Stop 3: Mandala Wines
Following High Tea it was time to head to the Yarra Valley and our first stop was to Mandala Wines for an extended wine tasting with Cellar Door & Marketing Manager, James. We sampled around 8 delicious wines and learnt all about the family-run estate.
Mandala Wines is owned by the Smedley family who first planted ten acres of Pinor Noir rootlings in the Yarra Junction in 1999. 7 years later they expanded and moved to Dixon’s Creek.
Family is a strong theme across the wines with the Compass label reflecting Charles’ four children.
The Yarra Valley is famous for its cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but Mandala also have established Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot vines too.
There is a restaurant on-site too and next visit we will definitely stay for a meal to enjoy with Mandala’s delicious wines.
At 3pm, it was time to check into In The Valley, a luxury country retreat in Yarra Glen. In The Valley is nestled in the peaceful Steels Creek Valley and is surround by wineries, plus is just a short minute drive away from Yarra Glen’s antique shops and restaurants.
There are five luxury guest suites at In The Valley and we had booked three of these for our group; Hillside Studios 1 & 2 which are separate studios adjacent to the main guest house which boast large balconies overlooking the gardens, and also Wisteria Lane which is in the guest house but has a private courtyard overlooking the beautiful manicured lawn and gardens.
On arrival we were met by the lovely property manager Rob who showed us to our rooms.
The suites are stunning and the owners have thought of absolutely everything to ensure you have a relaxing stay – from the in-room spas and bathroom amenities, the fireplaces, the luxurious bedding and the breakfast basket packed full of local produce and condiments.
The other two suites were occupied during our stay, however the property is so expansive that we didn’t cross paths with any other guests, it literally felt as though we had the entire estate to ourselves.
We had such a wonderful stay at In The Valley and highly recommend this property for a relaxing girl's weekend away!
We had such a gorgeous welcome at In The Valley - some delicious local bubbles were waiting in our room to enjoy with the girls.
This was my room - Hillside Studio One. It was just stunning and such a peaceful setting with beautiful views over the garden.
Pictured above and below is the Wisteria Lane suite which is part of the main guest house.
The manicured gardens at In The Valley are just spectacular.
In The Valley is designed for relaxation and we were lucky to start our mini-break with a massage from Tegan at Relax & Unwind Massage.
Tegan arrived not long after we had checked in and set up a massage bed on the balcony of Hillside Studio One suite. Over the next 2 hours we all enjoyed a heavenly 30 minute relaxation massage and it could not have been a more delightful way to begin our time at In The Valley.
Tegan offers massage therapy and beauty treatments in her clinic or in your own home (or accomodation).
(We had to get a photo in our matching pajamas - these gorgeous pjs are from Bride & Co who has the sweetest range of personalised pajamas and robes. I organised the PJs as a surprise for the girls and they absolutely LOVED them! www.brideandcoau.com.)
Stop 5: Yarra Valley Grand Hotel
After our massages it was time for dinner and we were excited for a (child free) night out at theYarra Valley Grand Hotel. This historical hotel was built in 1888 and is a five minute drive from In The Valley.
The food was fabulous, we started with bubbles (of course!) and the Grand Charcuterie Share Platter followed by Gnocchi (for Em), Pizza (for Sophie) and steak with potato gratin for Kate and I. SO good!
There was live music in the bar and there was a fantastic atmosphere in both the bar and courtyard. The venue was pumping and so I would highly recommend booking a table ahead, particularly if you are visiting on a weekend.
After a heavenly sleep in we all enjoyed breakfast in our suites at In The Valley. My sister Sophie and I enjoyed breakfast on our balcony and it could not have been a more delightful way to start the day!
Pictured above is my friend Em outside her suite at In The Valley, Hillside Studio Two.
Our first stop was for a coffee at Sweetwater Cafe at the Chateau Yering Hotel. This Victorian-style property features a cafe, restaurant and boutique hotel and the prettiest gardens.
Stop 2: Yering Station Cellar Door
The next stop was to Yering Station where we enjoyed the most divine private tasting in the Scarlett Room in the Cellar Door with our host, Alistair. We learnt so much about the estate and the wines. Yering Station was Victoria’s very first vineyard and was first planted with vines in 1838!
It is is proudly family owned & operated (owned by the Rathbone family) and renowned for its cool climate wines.
The Cellar Door is housed in the most beautiful, historic building – it was built in 1859 and includes the Cellar Door Tasting Bar, The Reserve Tasting Bench, Private Tasting Pod and Matt's Bar Private Tasting Room.
Yering Station hosts a monthly Farmers Market every third Sunday of the month – with local produce, music and kids activities – it is perfect for sunny picnics with the family and is dog friendly too!
Pictured above is the main Cellar Door Tasting Bar at Yering Station.
We enjoyed a tasting in the private 'Scarlett Tasting Room' which could not have been a more beautiful setting overlooking the gardens.
Stop 3: Mary Eats Cake, Montrose
Following our tasting at Yering Station, Stacey from Yarra Valley Private Transfers was there to meet us and took us straight to Mary Eats Cake in Montrose where we were booked in for High Tea.
Mary Eats Cake is a pretty-as-a-picture tea room, filled with blooms, pretty tea stands, vintage tea cups and glasses and an extensive ‘tea bar’.
We were booked in for the the ‘Fancy Sparkling High Tea’ package which included delicious savoury items, fresh scones with jam and cream, the most gorgeous desserts, house blended specialty teas, bottomlesss French sparkling AND a fruit & cheese board! It was all so delicious and such a gorgeous spot for a relaxing child-free afternoon!
Mary Eats Cake was founded by a local Melbournian pastry chef Jess, who studied at a French Pastry school in London. The venue specialises in High Tea celebrations such as birthdays, bridal showers and baby showers and there's tea rooms available for private events too.
Everything is made fresh onsite and there are vegan, gluten free and vegetarian options.
Pictured above is the gluten free High Tea Board at Mary Eats Cake, it was absolutely delicious.
Stop 3: Yarra Valley Antique Centre
We couldn't visit the Yarra Valley without a visit to an Antique store! So following our High Tea we headed straight to the Yarra Valley Antique Centre. Em from Pretty Snippets was in heaven and picked up a few pieces to add to her collection!
Yarra Valley Antique Centre
8 Bell St
Yarra Glen VIC 3775
Stop 4: In The Valley
After a gorgeous few hours exploring the region we headed back to In The Valley and enjoyed afternoon cheese and wine in the courtyard and in front of the fire in Kate's room (Wisteria Lane), followed by some pampering and Babor Australia face masks. It could not have been a more delightful day!
It wouldn't be a girl's weekend away without a little bit of pampering and these face masks from Babor Australia were sensational!
We ended our weekend at In The Valley with a private yoga class with Zoe from Kindred Warrior Yoga. Zoe is the most incredible teacher and took us through a gorgeous hour of yoga (and even adapted the class for Sophie who is 30 weeks pregnant). It was such a beautiful way to end our mini-break.
Zoe offers classes in her studio in Lilydale or private classes at your accomodation in the Yarra Valley and I can not recommend it more if you’re spending the weekend at In the Valley.
We were going to do the class in the garden, however the ground was a little bit too damp after the cool night, so Zoe set up the class in the guest lounge at In The Valley and it was such a perfect space to enjoy the class.
Zoe encouraged us to try take the ease and freedom we felt throughout our relaxing weekend away home with us as we get back to our Mum duties! (Especially important in our current climate!)
Owners Ian and Leanne expanded the cafe at the end of 2019 to cater for demand. The cafe still boasts fabulous views over the gardens but is now so much more spacious.
After checking out of In The Valley, we finished our staycation with brunch at The Chocolaterie and the food was fabulous. (The new brunch menu is offered between 9am-4.30pm each day.) We started with a chocolate tasting and then headed into the cafe for coffees, corn fritters, smashed avo with Yarra Valley Feta and chilli scrambled eggs. We finished with their signature milk Chocolate Fondue which came with strawberries and banana, macaron shells, honeycomb, chocolate brownies and marshmallows.
We couldn't leave the Chocolaterie without picking up some treats for the kids and husbands too and we were all very popular when we got home after stocking up on delicious chocolate treats!