NO ONE knows Warrandyte like the locals and, sadly, a dated and inaccurate guide by those not in the know about Warrandyte as a travel destination was posted on another large news outlet’s sister publications’ websites last month.
The recycled story was more than 11 years old, it promoted venues that no longer exist and came up with some false info about our beautiful town. Consequently, we took it upon ourselves and the community to set the record straight. In doing so, we’ve spun a negative on its head and come up with a positive, locally recommended travel guide. We put the call out to our people on our Facebook page requesting suggestions for the best accommodation, food, coffee, walks, swimming spots, and anything else visitors to Warrandyte and surrounds should know about.
Of course, Warrandyte has so much to offer that if we made a comprehensive list of all locations we might fill an entire newspaper. So, for the purpose of this spread, we have limited our count to 50 great places, based on the recommendations offered online by our loyal following. Quite simply, it’s a handy little guide for visitors – and locals – so we thank you for taking part.
As one Facebook friend said, Warrandyte is full of “great bushwalks, bike tracks, swimming holes and good damn people.” Together in collaboration with those good damn people, here’s a taste of Warrandyte from those in the know.
STAY THE NIGHT
Accommodation isn’t in ample supply in Warrandyte, but that’s not to say there aren’t some great options. Our friends on Facebook suggested the perfectly central Warrandyte Goldfields Bed and Breakfast, opposite the Yarra River and within walking distance to many great shops and restaurants. Amid a typical Warrandyte bushland setting, Warrandyte Goldfields B&B is fully self-contained and has earned itself a four star RACV rating. Alternatively, Crystal Brook Tourist Park is another excellent option for those looking for something a bit more versatile and spacious. Whether you’re keen to camp, caravan or reside in a deluxe creek-side villa, Crystal Brook Tourist Park caters for all your needs and desires – minus the expensive price tag! And it’s on the fringe of Warrandyte in Doncaster East on Warrandyte-Heidelberg Road opposite Beasley’s Nursery.
Another recommendation that might come as a surprise is travel website, Airbnb.com. Airbnb is a trusted online marketplace for accommodation, allowing users to list, discover and book unique stays across the globe. Simply type ‘Warrandyte’ into the search bar to find at least five fantastic options as local residents open their doors for short or long-term accommodation.
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Although Warrandyte is not usually pinned as party central, the entertainment our town offers still makes for a great night out. The obvious choice, as suggested by many of our Facebook friends, would have to be The Grand Hotel. Friday nights at The Grand never disappoint and the venue makes for the perfect location to catch up with friends and grab a drink. Our much-loved pub cares for its customers and even provides a courtesy bus which will drive you home on those nights that you’ve had a few too many. There’s plenty of fun on Saturdays and Sundays, too, and the tucker is first rate and there’s a TAB facility for those who like a beer and a punt.
If you’re looking for something a little more theatrical, The Warrandyte Theatre Company has got you covered and many locals say the standard is up there with the best around. The WTC has been operating and entertaining for over 50 years, with its annual show The Follies being a highlight for many. The creative individuals behind The Follies never fail to make their audience smile as they perform comedic skits, singing and dancing. The Follies takes place over three weekends throughout March and April, coinciding with the Warrandyte Festival. Of course, The WTC offers more theatrical fun as the year goes on, including the One Act Plays in June/July, the Youth Theatre’s Play in September and the Main Play in November.
Don’t forget the good old Warrandyte RSL, a favourite for many thanks to its laid back atmosphere up high on the hill in Brackenbury St. A beaut spot for a game of pool, a drink and a barbecue on the balcony, it’s also a top live entertainment venue the entire family can enjoy with acts on every second Friday night and the last Sunday of every month. Keep your eye on the Diary for who’s playing in coming months.
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BEST FOR FOOD
There is no denying that Warrandyte offers a feast for all the senses, especially your tastebuds. From excellent rustic bakeries to exquisite fine dining, Warrandyte has something to satisfy your hunger for every occasion when it comes to food.
Start the day the right way with an amazing breakfast at one of the top picks from our Facebook friends. The Stonehouse Café Restaurant captures the essence of Warrandyte as it overlooks the banks of the Yarra River. Source a table in the sun on their atmospheric balcony and enjoy the company of multiple feathered friends (visitors to town will love this).
Great light lunch/afternoon tea options are available at the family friendly The Bakery Warrandyte. With a variety of baked treats, delicious bread and gourmet pies to choose from, The Bakery Warrandyte offers something for everyone. Kids can amuse themselves on the playground or even by feeding the ducks by the river with small bags of food, provided by the bakery itself.
Alternatively, Now and Not Yet offers it’s own unique style and vibe, as customers are mesmerised by luthier Ruben working away in the conjoining guitar studio. Watch guitars and ukuleles come to life as you enjoy your hearty breakfast.
Looking for great quality food but rather eat it in your own home? Our friends on Facebook deemed that Warrandyte’s Thai, Vanilla Orchid is one of the best places for take-away, offering the “authentic taste of Thailand in your own backyard”. Indian Affair, Ming’s Chinese and West End Fish & Chips are also highly praised as excellent take-away options for their incredible flavours, outstanding quality and snappy service.
Alternatively, a sit-down dinner at a restaurant may be more tailored to your needs. Not to worry, Warrandyte’s got your back there, too. The Warrandyte Retreat and Red Fox Restaurant are family favourites, guaranteeing something for everyone at affordable prices. However, you might be looking for something a bit more ‘upper-class’ for that nerve-racking first date or romantic anniversary dinner. Altair certainly rates as one of Warrandyte’s best fine-dining establishments, as does South Warrandyte’s outstanding Italian-style winery, Olivigna.
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BEST FOR COFFEE
When it comes to coffee, Warrandyte leaves you spoilt for choice. Whether you prefer to sit down and sip or grab one as you go, our array of coffee choices is outstanding. Several Facebook friends deemed Cocoa Moon as king of coffee and complemented by beautiful light meals, Belgium chocolates and magical macaroons. Also, charming Roundabout Café is seen as a must-do venue for coffee in Warrandyte, with lovely homemade treats to accompany your beverage. The Warrandyte Café also deserves a mention, having earned a position in the Coffee Army’s renowned 100 best coffees of Melbourne in 2012. Take your dog, cat, goat or horse along and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and rustic feel. Furthermore, The River View Café is a favourite among tradies and others in the southern section of town for its early morning openings, and The White Owl is also recommended for great coffee and friendly service right next to Quinton’s IGA.
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GREAT WALKS & BIKE TRAILS
When surrounded by the beautiful bushland and scenic views that Warrandyte has to offer, the desire to go for a walk or bike ride is almost second nature. Additionally, the hill-filled and vast landscape of our town also makes for great exercise. So where do you start?
The tranquil walk along the Yarra River is probably the most loved and frequently used track that Warrandyte contains. Another family-friendly track is the scenic and isolated Main Yarra Trail, where you can begin your journey from Beasley’s Teahouse and ride or walk your way towards the city.
For keen mountain bike riders however, the fire trails of fourth hill present a greater challenge, in particular ‘Web street wall’ and ‘Gut buster.’ The ride out to the Old Dairy from Jumping Creek is also a favourite of many. See more at:
MUSEUMS, GALLERIES & PLACES OF INTEREST
Warrandyte is famous for its rich history of gold mining, indigenous roots and influential art culture. Thus, our town has many attractions and places of interest that truly make it a special place to live and visit. For those with an interest in Warrandyte’s history, it is imperative that you visit the Warrandyte Historical Society – a small gallery that aims to preserve and celebrate the town’s past. Follow your historical lesson with a venture down Whipstick Gully, the home to the gold mines in their original form. Whilst you’re at it, be sure to be on the lookout for the distinctive Warrandyte listening poles. With a push of a button, listeners are taken back in time through story and song.
In addition, Warrandyte’s Secondhand Bookshop, Yarra Cottage Books, offers a unique, cultural experience as it showcases rare texts and first editions of books – what you might find will surprise you.
If arts and crafts are what you seek, check out LAM Creative Collective – a community-minded gallery that exhibits local art of all shapes and forms. Similarly, the Stonehouse Gallery is another hot spot for quality local art, with a particular focus on fine ceramics.
To turn your attention towards your stomach (you’re welcome), many of our Facebook friends decided that the iconic Warrandyte Berry Farm was the perfect place to grab fresh strawberries, milkshakes and homemade ice cream. Along similar lines, Warrandyte Lollies and Treats also deserves a mention, featuring an incredibly diverse range of sweet treats and ice cream. It’s amazing how much goodness can be squeezed into one tiny shop!
Of course, we can’t have a Warrandyte and surrounds travel guide without mentioning the Information Warrandyte in Yarra Street to find out so much more on what to do and where to go.
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FISHING & SWIMMING
Swimming, fishing and kayaking are the ideal outdoor recreational activities in Warrandyte, given that the Yarra River is practically on our doorstep. The trick is to know the best spots to do so to ensure your safety. In terms of swimming, Pound Bend is a location loves by locals who enjoy a splash. Don’t forget your inflatable tyre and picnic – why not make a day of it?
Great fishing spots on the other hand require a bit of insider info. Try your luck at the end of Alexander Road as there are a plenty of good spots along the river there. Alternatively, you might find success along the river behind Stiggants Reserve, or behind the bakery where the rapids are. If you’re lucky, you can catch Macquarie Perch, Murray Cod, eels and carp – sometimes sized 60-70cm believe it or not! Be careful to remember your crocs (not the reptile variety) or water shoes though, as rocks in these areas can be sharp.
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ONCE A YEAR
Warrandyte’s annual festivities present the perfect opportunity for locals to unite and for visitors to get a taste for our town’s contagious community spirit. To get the ball rolling, the annual Warrandyte Pottery Expo celebrates and exhibits the best pottery and craft from the greatest Australian and international ceramic artists. The expo takes place on the last weekend of February along the banks of the Yarra River.
Arguably the biggest event of the year, the Warrandyte Festival in March, is always a hit and arguably the best community festival in Australia. Don’t miss the extravagant parade on Yarra Street, the much-loved duck race along the river and the tension-filled billy cart derby. Not to mention great quality stalls and excellent live, local music all weekend long.
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DAY TRIPS WITHIN HALF AN HOUR
Warrandyte is central enough that a multitude of great day trips to nearby suburbs are reachable within half an hour. In fact, Melbourne’s CBD itself is only 40 minutes away straight down the Eastern Freeway.
For a more local adventure, however, take a drive to Eltham which is only 10 minutes northwest of Warrandyte. Check out the Eltham War Memorial Park, which commemorates Australians involved in conflict. It is certainly worth a visit to grasp a bit of history, pay your respects and admire the superb views. Along similar lines, Montsalvat of Eltham is a beautiful artist colony where you can take a walk through the scenic gardens, capture some photographs of historic buildings and follow up with lunch at their own café/restaurant. For a slightly different vibe, a fun night out can be had at Wellers in Kangaroo Ground – only 10 minutes north of Warrandyte. A great place to meet friends, have a drink, dine and listen to quality live music.
A trip out to the Yarra Valley is also a must, landing right on the half hour mark from Warrandyte. Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or a chocoholic, the Yarra Valley has something for everyone. The wine region is exceptional, with plenty of outstanding wineries waiting to be discovered. The immensely popular Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery is also recommended, and serves as the ideal location for the kids. Not to forget other commendable nearby wineries, including Rob Dolan Wines. Excellent food and exquisite wines – what more could you ask for?
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To the delight of avid market-goers, there is no shortage of vibrant, atmospheric markets within the area. Naturally, the crowd favourite of our Facebook community is naturally the one and only Warrandyte Market, which takes place on the first Saturday of every month. Check it out for amazing local produce, arts and crafts, plant life, homewares and excellent food and drink.
When the Warrandyte Market isn’t on, there are still plenty of options nearby including the monthly Park Orchards Farmers Market on the third Saturday each month. Popping up every Saturday, the St Andrews Market is certainly worth a visit for its cool, hippy vibes and unique buys.
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Thank you to the following people who made suggestions as well as those who contributed anonymously:
Ashlee Hughes, Cara Harwood, Karin Walford, John Luttick, Angela Davies, Debbie Hodgson, Peta Ann Dibb, Grant Egan, Kaz Meady, Danae Barnes, David Schwarzer, PeteandMel Mac and Wendy Snowball.