This Sleepy Town Outside Melbourne Is Like Stepping into a Fairytale of Redwood Forests

Just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne is the Warburton Valley, an enchanting town where life’s rhythm is in harmony with nature, and the idea of the slow life is taken to the extreme. Draped in evergreens, tall redwood forests, and glass-like streams, this sleepy town is the ideal weekend escape from Melbourne’s CBD, especially for those looking for a cosy escape in nature.

On a recent trip to Warburton, I discovered a food heaven secret, snow-capped peaks, and enchanting forests. Here’s everywhere I went and, more importantly, ate at.

things to do warburton
Photo: The Common Wanderer

Getting There

If you’re visiting Melbourne, leaving the city limits poses a challenge for you, but don’t let that stop you. Hire cars are easy to come by in Melbourne, and if you’re looking for a premium option that also happens to be easy on the environment, we would recommend visiting your nearest Hertz and hopping into a Polestar 2 for your road trip. It handles the mountains you’ll be climbing smoothly, and you can feel good about your eco-footprint, especially when passing through small farm towns. Not to mention, many vineyards have electric chargers, so it’s the perfect excuse to stop in for a tasting or bite to eat while your car charges.

After you’ve secured your ride, ask Google to plot a course to Warburton because, yes, it’s voice-activated. The road trip winds through the verdant Yarra Valley, where you can stop into a few wineries for a tasting or award-winning lunch. We would recommend Yering Station, TarraWarra Estate, and Levantine Hill Estate, but it’s up to you. Set your own adventure. After securing some wine and maybe a few pots of quince paste, jump back on the road and follow it through the Dandenong Ranges, stopping for a visit to Puffing Billy Railway or one of the charming villages for a snack at a local cafe.

From here, it’s not long until you’ll start to wind your way through forests and follow a clear river to Warburton, which has a total population of 2,000 people. The main town is a long strip of bakeries, cafes, and shops, background by towering mountains and lush rainforest.

things to do warburton
Photo: Yarra Ranges Tourism

Things to Do

Warburton caters to an outdoors crowd, with several hiking and cycling trails, as well as the mesmerising Californian Redwood Forest, where you can come face to face with some of the world’s tallest trees. Here are a few more things you can do:

Mt Donna Buang Summit

Mt Donna Buang Summit is the closes snowfield to Melbourne, and in winter, when the temperatures drop, you can drive to the tip top of the summit and lay around in the snow. Even when it’s not snowing, the views are worth the drive. Set up a picnic or explore the short hikes around.

La La Falls and Other Hikes

As mentioned earlier, Warburton is an outdoor lover’s playground. Some say it’s home to the best hikes in Victoria, but that also encompasses the Yarra Ranges. Regardless, when in Warburton, venture to La La Falls, a relatively easy 3.2km stroll through dense forest. The Yarra River Trail is also a popular walk that takes you through the centre of town and alongside the flowing river. The other adventure we recommend is the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail, a 30km walking and cycling trail that runs parallel with the Warburton Rail and takes you on an adventure through rainforests, tall tree forests, and historic sites. There’s a lot to see along the way, so make time to stop.

Redwood Forest

Get lost in the magic of the Redwood Forest, where rows of towering Sequoias line the forest. Most travellers flock to Warburton to take photos and wander through the forest, so depending on the time of year, there might be crowds. To avoid them, go early morning or late afternoon when the light is at its best.

things to do warburton
Photo: Seville Estate

Where to Eat and Drink


While Warburton might not have the same recognition as its neighbour, the Yarra Valley, some impressive drops are still squeezed out of the rich, red volcanic soil here. At Seville Hill, you’ll get the best views in the valley and a tasting of sumptuous reds, including the famous Shiraz. At Killara Estate, find vineyard views, Italian-inspired pizza and a lineup of great wines, or if you want to explore Lambrusco (sparkling red), head to Brumfield Winery. They also have a locally brewed cider and homemade biodynamic sourdough.

Baked Goods

It’s a well-known fact the best pies are often found in regional towns. Don’t believe us? Visit Gladysdale Bakehouse, where they’ve mastered the art of pie making. There’s also a scrumptious vanilla slice that holds its own reputation in town. Another baked goods destination is The Flying Apron Patisserie, a local gem tucked away but easy to find if you know the name. You can get just about anything here, from cannoli to profiteroles, sausage rolls and almond croissants.


Little Joe is the only name you need to know for all your pizza cravings. The menu features a long list of classics, but every day, a special board is updated with the latest chef creations. Don’t leave without trying the lemon curd doughnut.

things to do warburton
Photo: Yarra Ranges Tourism

Things to do Nearby

Thirty minutes down the valley is Healesville, another regional town, not as sleepy but still as charming as Warburton. Here, you can stroll along shopping strips, picking up locally made goods from clothing to spices and jams. Be sure to stop into Cheesemonger Sophie for a gooey, delicious cheese toastie or pick up some specialty cheeses to take back to your accommodation.

The iconic Four Pillars Distillery lives here. Wander in for a tasting paddle in Jude’s Gin Garden before walking across the way to the bar and restaurant for Mexican jaffles and cocktails.

Related: 5 Yarra Valley Wineries to Visit So You Can Truly Say You Ticked Off Yarra Valley

Related: Mountains, Valleys and a Pink Lake, Oh My! 6 of the Best Road Trips in Victoria

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