The Yarra Valley is home to some of Australia’s finest winemakers whose roots reach back to the very earliest days of settlement. The pioneers in the area were the Ryrie brothers who not only drove stock from NSW into the area, but who carried the odd vine cutting in their saddlebags.
The brothers, in fact, planted the first Yarra wines in 1838. History does not record what happened to those original vines, but these days the valley produces wines which range from world-class champagne-style sparkling wines through classic chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. The grapes grow in a grand setting of spectacularly rolling hills at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges.
To balance the lure of wine, the Yarra Ranges Shire also offers the visitor Bulleen's Heide Museum of Modern Art, the National Rhododendron Garden, the William Ricketts Sanctuary and magnificent national parks and reservoir parks.
The Heide complex tells the saga of modern art in Australia through the bequest to the nation by founders John and Sunday Reed. The Reeds took up a farmhouse they called Heide in 1934 and, over the years, nurtured the talents of such celebrated artists and writers as Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester and Danilla Vassilieff.
Their private art collection became the rock on which the permanent collection of the museum and landscaped park at Bulleen are based.