Rolling through the towering mountain ash trees and wide green ferns, a visit to Lady Talbot Drive is a must do in Marysville. This stunning scenic drive takes you along the Taggerty River in the Yarra Ranges National Park, as you explore both the raging waterfalls and calming cascades hidden amongst the rainforest.
After being closed repeatedly for years, the road has now reopened, and we quickly raced up the Black Spur Road to spend a day within the lush greenery of the forest around Marysville. If you’re looking for weekend road trip ideas from Melbourne, then take this as a hint to head to Marysville and Lady Talbot Drive. Here’s everything you need to know about the scenic road, including the walks and waterfalls to see.
What is Lady Talbot Drive?
Lady Talbot Drive has been a mainstay on the Marysville tourism scene for generations. However, despite having visited Marysville many times, I’d never managed to do the drive and explore the waterfalls myself. After being closed for literally years, the road has now reopened (as of March 2023) which means we quickly drove up from Healesville for a day to see it.
After a long while of seeing the road blocked, I was so relieved to finally get to turn down Lady Talbot Drive and see what all the fuss was about. The stunning road takes you through a scenic part of the Yarra Ranges National Park, below the towering Lake Mountain alpine region. Hidden amongst the mountain ash trees and green ferns along the Taggerty River, are waterfalls and hidden pockets of natural beauty that can be explored on foot from the road.
With picnic spots, short walks, and viewing platforms, it’s the perfect day out in Marysville and a great day trip from Melbourne.
Who is Lady Talbot though? The road was named after the wife of Sir Reginald Talbot, who was Governor of Victoria from 1903 until 1908.
How to Get to Lady Talbot Drive
Melbourne to Marysville: 97km or just under a 2 hour drive via Maroondah Highway and Black Spur Road
Lady Talbot Drive can be reached on a turn-off on the Marysville-Woods Point Road northeast of Marysville. The road is unsealed but in good condition for a 2WD when it’s dry. The most popular stops are along the first section of road from Marysville to The Beeches. After The Beeches, the road winds its way up to Mount Margaret Gap, from where you can then take Mount Margaret Road back down to the Buxton-Marysville Road to complete a full circuit.
When we raced up to do the drive, however, the road had only been opened up until The Beeches, so we just did this section out and back. We had previously driven the Mount Margaret Road earlier in the year, on our way back from Rubicon State Forest anyway.
If you’re travelling to Marysville to do Lady Talbot Drive from Melbourne, you’ll also get to drive the Black Spur Road from Healesville to Narbethong – another incredibly scenic drive.
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Where to Stay in Marysville
If you’re planning on a weekend in Marysville, then here are some suggestions for places to stay in the pretty town:
Marysville Garden Cottages | Nicely designed, cosy cottages just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Main Street of Marysville. Perfect for a romantic weekend away, starting from $250 per night. Check availability here.
Amelina Cottages | Just a 5-minute walk from the Main Street, this property offers a variety of cottages from adult only one bedroom cottages to larger two bedroom family cottages. Starting from $250 per night for two people. Check availability here.
Marysville Caravan and Holiday Park | This caravan park has cabins ranging from family riverside cottages to smaller double studio cabins. They also have powered and unpowered sites for vans and camping setups. Check prices here.
Lady Talbot Travel Tips
- The road is often closed. It sees seasonal road closures in winter and over the past few years it has been affected badly by bushfires and storms. Always check the road status before heading out
- Stick to the designated walking trails and roads, and don’t go off track. This not only keeps you safe from unstable terrain but also protects the fragile environment
- Mobile phone coverage is limited on the drive but there is strong signal in Marysville
- It’s often much cooler in the forest around Marysville than lower down, so pack accordingly with warm clothing
- While water runs all year round in these parts, the waterfalls are best seen in spring and after rainfall
- The road is part of the multi-use Bicentennial Trail, so be aware of horse riders and mountain bike riders while driving
- You can purchase a map and walking brochure called Marysville Trails from the Visitor Centre in Marysville for a few dollars which can be helpful
- Leave no trace and pack all your rubbish out with you, read more about how to be respectful in the outdoors
Read next: Ultimate Day Hike Packing List
Things to See on Lady Talbot Drive
Most of the main sights are within the first 14 km of Lady Talbot Drive from Marysville. Prepare to stop at each one as you make your way up to The Beeches. Here are the best things to see and do on the drive:
- Distance: 2.7km or 4.3km loop options
- Time: 1 hour
- Difficulty: Easy
Beginning right at the start of Lady Talbot Drive, you’ll see the trailhead just to the left as you’re about to turn onto the unsealed road. You can simply park off the side of the road there to complete this nice walk through the forest to an old trestle bridge and lookout.
There are two loop options, the shorter one has you going up to the trestle bridge, crossing over it and returning. Whereas the longer option continues past the bridge to the Taggerty River Lookout and then looping back past the bridge again.
It’s a relatively flat and easy walk on a wide trail and is also popular with bike riders. Horses aren’t permitted.
- Distance: 1.5km return
- Time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty: Moderate
As of the time of writing (March 2023), this is still closed for bridge repairs, but it should be open in a few months (fingers crossed). This is the first stop on Lady Talbot Drive on your left. There’s a small carpark off the road from where the short walk starts.
The trail crosses the Taggerty River and heads uphill. It then crosses over Phantom Falls Creek and heads up to a viewing platform over the waterfall. Return the same way.
- Distance: 2km return
- Time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty: Moderate
This is easily the highlight of Lady Talbot Drive for waterfall chasers. The long cascading waterfall along the Taggerty River riushes down large boulders and collapsed mountain ash trees. It’s named after the Keppel brothers who saw the falls in the 1880s.
The waterfall drains the snowmelt from Mount Margaret, so it’s incredibly impressive in spring, but when we were there, it was still pumping after a wet year. The short walk has recently been cleared of trees (March 2023) and is a beautiful walk through the riverside forest to a lower viewing platform where you can gaze up at the falls. Return the same way.
- Distance: 300m return
- Time: 15 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
Opposite the Taggerty Cascades carpark, you’ll see this signposted trail as it disappears into the dense rainforest beside the bridge. It’s a short but very pretty walk along the river to some spots which look like they’d be beautiful summer swimming holes.
The Beeches Rainforest Walk
- Distance: 1.3 km return to Meeting of the Waters currently open (usually a 2.2km one way walk from The Beeches to Taggerty Cascades or a 4km loop)
- Time: 30 minutes (longer if the rest of the trail reopens)
- Difficulty: Moderate
This is only partly opened, but still worth a visit. From the Taggerty Cascades carpark and picnic area (nice spot for lunch), the walk heads down some steps towards the cascading water of the Taggerty River. You’ll cross a bridge and then climb up, before descending down to the Meeting of the Waters where the river is met by a creek.
This is a very pretty spot to just admire the natural greenery completely surrounding you. From here the walk used to continue to The Beeches, but it’s currently closed (March 2023). So, I just returned the same way back to the carpark.
Note: There is evidence that they’re currently working on the section between the Meeting of the Waters and The Beeches, but it may be some time before it’s reopened. From what I could see it’s very overgrown and covered in fallen trees, so it will take some work to get cleared. I’m unsure if they’ll ever clear the whole 4km loop again, so I suspect it will just be a one way walk from The Beeches to the Taggerty Cascades in the future.
Things to Do Nearby
If you’re looking for other places to explore in the area around Marysville, including some great hiking destinations, check out my suggestions and posts below:
Just 20km from Marysville up above Lady Talbot Drive, Lake Mountain is one of the premier cross-country ski resorts in Victoria. However, in summer it’s become one of the most popular mountain biking destinations.
I’d also argue it’s got some great walks to do too. If you’re interested in getting up to the highest point in the Yarra Ranges National Park and experiencing some alpine walking, then Lake Mountain is an underrated place to visit.
Check out my post on the best walks to do at Lake Mountain.
Cathedral Ranges State Park
The rugged and raw Cathedral Range State Park is just 25km north of Marysville. Rising up from the flat farmland, this spectacular range is one of the best hiking destinations in Victoria. Boasting some incredible trails and great car camping spots below, it’s the best place to head for some weekend adventures.
Check out my guide to hiking in the Cathedral Range State Park.
Yarra Ranges National Park around Healesville and Warburton
If you’re looking to do some other walks in the Yarra Ranges National Park, then back down the Black Spur Road to Healesville and beyond to Warburton, you’ll be able to complete some really challenging hikes like Mount St Leonard and Mount Donna Buang.
Check out my post on the best walks to do in Yarra Ranges National Park.
Looking further afield, Mount Buller is 158km northeast of Marysville. This popular winter snowboarding destination also turns into an underrated hiking (and mountain biking) spot in summer. From river strolls similar to Lady Talbot Drive up to alpine hikes to Mount Stirling and Craigs Hut, it’s the perfect introduction to hiking in the Australian Alps.
Check out my post on best hikes to do at Mount Buller.