A local’s guide to entertaining
kids in the Yarra Valley
Trips to the Yarra Valley are great fun for grown ups, with all those fabulous wineries and restaurants to explore, but what about the pint-sized humans also known as children? What’s in the Yarra Valley for kids?
Domaine Chandon’s estate manager Michael Shah (right) knows first hand the importance of keeping kids happy on family trips around the valley. Here are his top 5 kid-friendly experiences, as road tested by Michael’s kids Sienna, 8, Jamie, 10, and Bailey, 12.
1. Pizza at Zonzo
Zonzo, 957 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Yarra Glen, 9730 2500
Zonzo serves beautiful, authentic wood fired pizzas that are great to share. It’s a top spot for the kids with plenty of space for them to run around. For the adults, there are some great bottles of wine from Train Trak.
35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Hwy), Yarra Glen, 9730 2777
This is my go-to destination with the kids. With the free tastings of chocolate and bright colours, it’s like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The kids absolutely love it. There is a big window into the kitchen and the kids love watching the chocolatiers at work. We usually go home with a metre of chocolate – literally – a giant slab which they sell at the store. It also has a wonderful selection of house-made ice creams. I’m an absolute ice cream addict and recommend the salted caramel or mint choc chip.
3. Playground and a pub lunch
Yarra Glen Playground, cnr Anzac Ave and Bell St, Yarra Glen and the Yarra Glen Grand Hotel, 19 Bell St, Yarra Glen, 9730 1230
The Yarra Glen playground is fantastic. It has something for each age group with plenty of space for the kids to run around and have fun. Afterwards, we usually take a stroll up the hill for lunch at the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a lovely, genuine country pub with a great choice of beers (eight on tap and 30 more in the fridge) and a classic menu that’s done really well. I’d recommend the porterhouse steak.
4. Coffee at Healesville Harvest
256 Maroondah Highway, Healesville, 5962 4002
Superb Genovese coffee and the cake selection is to-die-for. Take your coffee outside and sit in the little laneway between the cafe and the Healesville Hotel – you could be in any European town.
Every Saturday from 8am-2pm, Main Road (opposite St Andrews Pub), St Andrews
This is my secret hidden gem. There is so much freshly grown produce, cheeses and crafts, all with a sort of organic lean to them. Make sure you get there early.
Special mention… Warratina Lavender Farm
105 Quayle Rd, Wandin North, 5964 4650
We enjoy taking a trip to visit my friends at Warratina, Peter and Anne Marie Manders. The beautiful scent greets you as you get close. The kids love to walk up and down the rows of lavender. There is a quaint little tea room where they serve a range of items made with the lavender. The lavender scones are my absolute favourite.
And while you’re in the Yarra Valley…
Make a visit to Domaine Chandon and say hi to Michael and his team. The estate’s Greenpoint Brasserie has a delicious new summer menu, with gems like this potato and leek tart (right).
Chandon also packs deluxe picnic hampers for leisurely lunches on the estate’s sprawling lawns. Pre-order a picnic so it’s ready to go on your arrival. The $150 hamper (see right) serves two hungry adults, with treats like pate, Serrano jamon, Kalamata olives and salted caramels.
Yarra Valley Grape Grazing (February 14-16) will be a particularly tasty time to visit Chandon, with loads of activities planned.