Just down the road from where I grew up, Warburton is one of the prettiest towns in the Yarra Valley. Surrounded by towering mountain ash trees and rolling hills, the laidback town is a wonderful place to visit for a weekend from Melbourne. I’ve been wanting to put together a guide to Warburton for a while, to allow more people to see some of the best of the Yarra Ranges National Park.
As Healesville’s more casual and hippy neighbour, Warburton (or locally referred to as Warby) has something for everyone wanting to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy some lush nature. With waterfalls and walking trails, and cosy cafes and wine bars, you’ll find an ideal combination for the perfect weekend away. This guide to Warburton will help you plan the perfect day in the valley according to a local.
How to Get to Warburton
Melbourne to Warburton: 75 km or 1.5 hours via M3 and Warburton Highway
Warburton is the perfect place to head for a day trip or weekend getaway from Melbourne. At just over an hour, it’s an easy drive out east of the city to the town at the foothills of the Victorian High Country. Once you hit the Warburton Highway, it’s a nice drive through small towns like Seville, Woori Yallock, Yarra Junction, Wesburn, and Millgrove.
When to Visit Warburton
Just like most of the Yarra Valley, Warburton can be visited all year round. There are reasons to visit the town in each season, depending on what you’re looking to do.
Spring and autumn are the best seasons for walking and exploring the forest. This provides the best weather for hitting the trails, which are also quieter during these months compared to summer.
Summer is by far the most popular season to visit, as this is when the sun is shining and people are looking to get out of the city. On the extra warm days, locals tend to spend it dipping their feet in the Yarra River running through town or taking the kids to the water park. You might want to leave early though, if you plan on completing any of the walks in summer as it can get quite warm.
Winter can get bitterly cold in Warburton. So much so that snow falls in the hilltops above town. For those looking for a winter wonderland, it makes for a nice destination, especially with the drive up to Mount Donna Buang to see the snow. Otherwise, it can be wet and muddy on the trails, so not quite ideal for exploring.
Where to Stay in Warburton
If you’re looking to spend the weekend in Warburton, then check out some of these accommodation options to stay the night.
Warburton Holiday Park | One of the best all round places to stay in Warburton, the local caravan park has something for everyone. They offer a range of affordable cabins from one bedroom to three bedroom, plus camping sites from powered to unpowered on the grassy river banks. It’s also pet friendly. Check prices here.
Warburton Digs | If you’re travelling with a group, you can rent this whole holiday home in Warburton town. The four bedroom, three bathroom house has a beautiful outdoor deck area overlooking the garden. Prices are from $220 per night for two people. Check availability here.
Charnwood Cottages | For a cosy romantic weekend away, these cottages are located just a couple of minutes from the Main Street. They offer one bedroom spa cottages, with a covered balcony overlooking the mountains. They also have a larger three bedroom cottage for families. Prices are from $380 per night. Check availability here.
The Junction | Down the road in Yarra Junction, this unique accommodation is a great spot for a special weekend. The tiny home is the perfect romantic getaway, with a kitchen, bathroom, and double bed located on a beautiful farm property. Prices are from $250 per night. Check availability here.
Best Things to Do in Warburton
No matter how you’re looking to spend your time, here are the best things to do in Warburton.
1. Explore the Redwood Forest
Possibly the most famous attraction in Warburton, the Californian Redwood Forest attracts crowds of visitors. I had to kick off this guide to Warburton with the Redwoods, because it really is unbelievable how popular it has become. Located just down Cement Creek Road, you’ll come across this cluster of over a thousand enormous Californian Redwoods planted in perfect rows.
There is a carpark right next to the forest, from where you can just wonder down into the trees. It’s a pretty impressive place to stand amongst the towering trees which make you feel incredibly small in comparison. Take your time to admire the light pouring through the canopy and the picturesque shadows that the trees create – it’s pure magic.
You’ll also find trails leading down to the back of the forest where Cement Creek runs through. This is also a pretty spot to sit and enjoy the peaceful nature.
Sadly, on weekends, this place is swarming with people. So much so that the 200 spot carpark overflows and people are parked down the Warburton Highway. I’d highly recommend either visiting mid-week or extremely early or late in the day on a weekend to avoid the crowd.
Did you know? There’s also a Redwood Forest down the Great Ocean Road, find out where here.
2. Walk to La La Falls
- Distance: 3.2 km
- Time: 1 hour
- Difficulty: Moderate
In the forest on the south side of town, La La Falls is one of the best walks in Warburton. The 3.2 km return trail begins from a small carpark off Old Warburton Road. Type La La Falls Carpark into Google Maps, and you’ll find it.
The beautiful walking track takes you through the mountain ash forest filled with ferns. It’s a moderate incline for most of the walk, until you finally reach the stone path and steps which lead to the waterfall itself. While not overly impressive, it’s appeal is that it feels like a hidden oasis amongst the trees.
It’s best viewed after decent rain, as it can slow to a trickle during the height of summer. But the trail can also get muddy, so definitely pack good walking shoes.
Read next: Ultimate Day Hike Packing List
3. Discover the Rainforest Gallery
- Distance: Less than a kilometre
- Time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
On the drive up to Mount Donna Buang, it’s worth stopping at this hidden gem. The Rainforest Gallery is one of the prettiest spots in Warburton, and is worth some of your time. There is a small carpark with toilets just off the side of the road.
From there, you can do the easy walk along the 40m long elevated platform, which stands 15m high above the rainforest below. Then, I highly recommend taking the stairs down onto the boardwalk that traces its way underneath the platform and around the forest in a loop.
On the way, you can admire Cement Creek and Myrtle Beech trees that are estimated to be around 300-400 years old. It’s another peaceful spot to sit amongst nature and absorb its beauty and fresh air.
The Rainforest Gallery walk is perfect for families, although the stairs can be a little steep for some.
4. Drive up to Mount Donna Buang (or hike up!)
If you continue on your drive up to Mount Donna Buang Summit, there’s another wonderful spot that is a must visit on any guide to Warburton. At an elevation of 1245 metres, one of the highest points of the Yarra Ranges National Park, the summit is a popular winter destination.
The summit area sees snow during the peak of winter, and families head up for a free winter destination where tobogganing is possible on the gentle slopes. But it’s still worth a visit at any time of year.
There is a 21 metre high tower with a viewing platform offering a panoramic view of the Victorian High Country. You can see across to Lake Mountain, Cathedral Ranges, Baw Baw National Park, Dandenong Ranges and even towards the city of Melbourne on a clear day.
There are barbecues, toilets and picnic tables, if you want to stay for a picnic lunch. However, you’ll be surprised to find that the temperature is much cooler up there than down at Warburton, even in summer.
If you’re an avid hiker like me, then you might be interested in walking to Mount Donna Buang. This is one of the toughest hikes in the Yarra Valley, so it’s definitely a must do if you like full day hikes. The 15 km return hike via Mount Victoria starts from the end of Martyr Road in Warburton. It’s a rough track, so definitely ideal to complete it outside of winter.
5. Take a stroll along the O’Shannassy Aqueduct
- Distance: 34 km
- Difficulty: Easy-moderate
The O’Shannassy Aqueduct is another opportunity to enjoy the forest around Warburton. The shared path is perfect for cyclists or those who just want a stroll. The full trail follows the O’Shannassy Aqueduct from Don Valley to East Warburton which is about 34km in total one way.
However, there are various access points where you can jump on and off and complete just a section of the trail. In Warburton, the nearest access point and carpark for the trail is Yuonga Road, just up from the Main Street.
It’s mostly flat, making it great for the whole family to enjoy the mountain ash of the valley.
6. Ride part of the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail
- Distance: 40 km
- Difficulty: Easy
One of the original rail trails in Victoria, the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is around 40km in full length and passes through several small towns on the way, including Wandin, Seville, Launching Place, Yarra Junction and Millgrove.
It’s a popular way to explore the Yarra Valley, as it allows you to see some of the iconic landscapes, including vineyards, farms, mountains and towering mountain ash forest.
It’s relatively gentle for much of the way, making it perfect for families or novice cyclists.
The iconic spot at the end of the trail in Warburton is Cog Bike Café. This little spot focuses on locally sourced Australian brunch style food with excellent coffee. But it also doubles as a bike hire and repair shop. This means you can turn up and decide to ride some of the trail on a whim.
7. Have lunch at Three Sugars Cafe
The most iconic cafe spot on the Main Street is Three Sugars. This cafe has been a long-standing favourite for both locals and tourists alike. They have a delicious menu filled with Aussie brunch favourites, including vegan and gluten free options.
There’s plenty of seating available, both indoor and outdoor tables with some suitable for large groups. You won’t get a bad meal at Three Sugars, which is made obvious by the crowd circling around on weekends.
8. Watch a film at the Arts Centre, Warburton
For a rainy day activity, you can head to the Arts Centre on the Main Street, which is a community centre for events and films. While it’s the home of the annual Warburton Film Festival, they also have regular and indie films available at limited times during the week and weekend.
They also showcase art exhibitions and other local events there. Check out what’s on here.
Where to Next?
If you’re looking for nearby places to visit around Warburton, then check out some of my following posts:
- Day Trip to Noojee in West Gippsland
- 10 Best Walks in the Yarra Ranges National Park
- Lake Mountain Walks to Do in Summer
- Local’s Guide to Marysville