My sister and I had a day free in Melbourne. We had the perfect combination of no children & nowhere to be (unheard of for us) so we decided to take the Girls Road Trip Edition of the Getting Lost Game and explore the Yarra Valley.
Neither of us had been before but we decided to do only one search to determine a starting place and the rest we would leave entirely to chance.
With an extensive shopping list from the kids back at home involving “Australian animals” and “chocolate we don’t have here” we decided to make our starting point the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. Our combined six children would have been exactly like the children madly tearing around from one chocolate creation to the next (including a meter long chocolate bar which I somehow managed to get in my luggage for my 3 kids).
We were incredibly thankful to be leaving without chocolate fuelled children and instead to our peaceful car, our freshly opened Girls Road Trip Edition and a whole bunch of unexplored roads.
We wound our way through the Yarra Valley - our route being decided by the direction of a red car, how many pieces of makeup we had, the length of our relationship, the number of sisters and exes we had and a few other random directions. We kept the stop for a drink or food cards (hello, vineyards!) but took out some of the other activity cards - like stopping at an op shop and dressing each other - we had some serious exploring to do.
We wound our way through beautiful rolling hills before coming across TarraWarra Estate - conveniently just after getting a card to stop for a drink.
Knowing absolutely nothing about it before we arrived we weren’t entirely sure what we had stumbled upon. It was absolutely stunning and looking slightly out of place at the entrance was a dilapidated old house. It looked like it had been shot at and was covered with graffiti and the ground around it was unkempt - in contrast to the other immaculately manicured grounds.
We of course went to explore and found a sign outside telling us that this was actually an art installation called Valhalla. The outside depicted the artists childhood home in Afghanistan - clearly damaged and crumbling. We were warned that inside we would find an anxious space. On opening the door we found a pristine corporate foyer - with 3 lifts. Of course I pressed a button. Then began 3 minutes when Jo and I were plastered to the wall wondering what was going to happen next as lights turned on and off, screams rang out and we prayed that the lift doors would not open when it all stopped and the familiar lift bell rang out. The artist did an incredible job of transporting to us a place where we had no idea what was happening and making the familiar strange. It was utterly not what we expected to find.
Walking up the hill we literally walked through and on more art installations as we made our way to the wine tasting at TarraWarra Estate. It feels like walking into a cave on the side of the hill. Moody and dark, with wine barrels visible through a glass door.
Moving on from there we wound our way down country lanes - each more impossibly perfect than the last. God rays from the clouds spilled out into the undulating hills, making the little ponds on farms glow amber as we drove through.
Another stop card and we found ourselves this time at Chateau Yering. We were visiting on a Thursday in August - definitely the off season so we found ourselves at this almost 200 year old chateau with no one else around. I always find this is the utterly perfect time to explore an old house like this so you can soak up every bit of the history. We went through the Library and the lounge - still with their original 1854 fittings - and through the dining room and drawing room. Peering down to the cellar from the 1840’s.
Outside we strolled through the gardens. Their creation was assisted by the world-renowned botanist who founded the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne ad include a Chilean Wine Palm that was planted in 1867.
Just next door is Yering Station. With the first vineyard planted in 1838 this place has some serious history too. And again, modern art, history and fine wine are paired seamlessly.
We passed Kangaroos in the aptly named Kangaroo Ground and they posed while we took their picture. My only regret is not stopping in the beautiful winding path that we took through the forest. It was raining and the tree trunks were all white creating an other worldly feel. I thought it would go on but by the time we realised we were out of it we had no time left to stop. But I guess that’s why you always leave something to come back and explore next time.