A charming racecourse, old fashioned trains and vineyards combine to set the small town of Yarra Glen, 59km or about 55 minutes drive from the Melbourne CBD, apart.
But the district showpiece is Gulf Station, one of the pioneer farms of the Yarra Valley
. The station’s buildings date from the 1850s and have been described by the National Trust as the ‘most complete group of solid, timber slab farm buildings surviving in Victoria’.
The original cottage garden has been replanted by gardeners using old records and accounts to ensure an authentic mix of roses, lilacs, japonica and mulberry. The homestead and its outbuildings, together with the tools and utensils and animals, present a vivid and true picture of mid-19th century farm life.
These days the Yarra Valley is characterised by vine-to-vine wineries, maintaining a tradition begun in 1838 when pioneer settlers, the Ryrie brothers, planted the first vines.
If you are pressed for time, you can absorb a fair measure of heritage and sample the local wine varieties without leaving the township. Built in stucco in 1888, the Grand Hotel is certainly one of grandest old buildings in town and it also doubles as the cellar door for the Yarra Glen Vineyard.
Charming time-warp trains trundle along the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway.
Find out more about the Yarra Valley