by James Ridenour
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Gray Line Tours – Yarra Valley & Healesville Sanctuary

One of the great things about visiting Melbourne is the chance to get out into the countryside and visit some of the spectacular regions near the city. The Yarra Valley is one of the best. Predominantly known for is well developed wineries the Yarra Valley also offers visitors a chance to get up close with nature at the Healesville Sanctuary.

Taking a day tour is a great way to enjoy the wineries without having to worry about drinking and driving. The first stop on our Gray Line tour was at Dominique Portet winery. Here we sampled some of the valley’s best wines and learned how Dominique moved from France and now runs his winery along with his son Ben, who is the 10th generation of wine makers in the Portet family. The wines are of great quality and their Shiraz 2008 Yarra Valley has received a sought after 94/100 from James Halliday. We were also treated to one of the best baguettes I have had in Australia along with wonderful coffee. It was just like being back in Paris and enjoying breakfast in a Parisienne Cafe. Manifique!

Our second stop was the Healesville Sanctuary which is a refuge for Australian native animals. The sanctuary has an extensive breeding program along with an animal hospital. The goal of the sanctuary is to provide injured animals time to recover and then to be released back in the wild. If this is not possible they can stay on in a natural environment. The entire site is dedicated to conservation and education. The sanctuary is without a doubt the best place to have an experience with Australian native animals. You will find every native animal here and you can even have a “magic moment” experience with some of the animals allowing you to get up close and personal with your favourites. The highlight of the day was the birds of prey show where the birds fly around an arena and give the spectators and up close look at some of Australia’s most beautiful birds. Shows are at noon and 230 sharp and are well worth seeing. You can also watch animal surgeries and check ups in the hospital. This is without a doubt the best place for locals and tourists to enjoy an Australian native animal experience.

All in all a very enjoyable day hosted by Tanya Farrell from Gray Line. Thank you for such a wonderful experience and I highly recommend this tour for a wonderful escape from the city.

Gray Line can be contacted at – Telephone 1 300 85 86 87

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