by James Ridenour
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Melbourne Private Tours – Yarra Valley and Dandenongs Tour

One of the biggest trends in travel now a days is ‘bespoke travel’, simply put individualised travel and tours custom tailored to your needs.  Melbourne Private Tours is one of the leaders in personalised day touring in and around Melbourne.

Like all Melbourne Private Tours our day out was unplanned other than the destination and we were able to choose where we went based on our interests.  Should you choose to take a Melbourne Private Tour your tour will also be tailored to your interest, simply put you control the itinerary!

Our tour started from the InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto in the city.  We met our tour host Jeff who spent a bit of time chatting with us about some of the options available to us for our chosen tour of the Yarra Valley.  Needless to say we chose to start our day the Melbourne way with a coffee.  What better place to start than the iconic and world renown Brunetti’s in Carlton.  Caffeinated and ready for our adventure we decided to make a stop in the trendy suburb of Fitzroy to view some of the best graffiti art there is in Melbourne.  Here we viewed what can only be described as masterpieces of contemporary urban art.  Melbourne is brimming with world-class examples of this art form.

Next was the drive to the Yarra Valley which we completed via the back roads rather that by taking the freeway.  Here we saw suburban Melbourne slowly fade into the well healed country side filled with luxurious homes on acreage.  I was impressed with the manicured gardens and rambling driveways and was surprised with how extensive this area of homes is.

Arriving in the Yarra Valley we meandered through the country roads visiting wine estate after wine estate.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Kellybrook Winery is a family fun business with some of the most picturesque vineyards in the valley.  The wines are excellent and the tasting room is basic with friendly staff who will be more than happy to tell you the history of their winery.

Dominique Portet is a family run winery with roots to the Chateau Lafite-Rothschild winery in France where Dominique’s family worked as the vineyard managers.  Dominique is a 9th generation wine maker and now his son Ben has taken up the family business.  There are not too many wineries in Australia where you can find 10th generation wine makers.  Dominique Portet produces some of the best value bolder reds in the Yarra Valley.  All his wines are great value and created in the French style.  As a special treat we are able to taste a few wines directly from the barrel.  Dominique is often at the cellar door and is a charming and affable character.  This is one of my picks for great value wine that will easily equal the quality of much higher priced wines.  Just let your palate guide you.

Oakridge Wines was our stop for lunch.  I loved the wines and was impressed with the renovation of the tasting room and dining room.  Lunch was of the highest quality and the presentation and flavours were excellent.  The dining room looks out over the valley and the vineyard and provides one of the nicest back drops in the valley.   The proof is in the photos and I highly recommend the winery as an excellent stop for lunch.

Next was the famed Yarra Yering.  Here wines all the wines are hand-made and all the grapes are grown on the estate.  Interestingly the winery is in the best location in the valley and irrigation is not required for the vineyards.  These wines are pricey but well worth it.  For a bottle of something truly exceptional a stop here is a must.  The tasting room is tranquil and inviting.  We lingered and chatted about the winery, food, travel and more. We had an exceptional visit and I look forward to my return.

From the Yarra Valley we took the quick trip over to the Dandenong mountain ranges.  The area has long been popular with artists and we went to visit the famed William Ricketts Sanctuary.  The sanctuary was William Ricketts retreat and eventually became his home.  Quiet and secluded it gave him the tranquility needed to create a large number of kiln fired sculptures which have been ingeniously integrated into the forest.  William Ricketts was fascinated by the indigenous population and the majority of the pieces are inspired by Aboriginal Australians.  The artwork is unusual, tranquil and beautiful.

Our last stop of the day was the Sky High Mt Dandenong Lookout which has an unobstructed view of Melbourne.  On a clear day you can see Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne and even the You Yangs mountains on the southern horizon.   This spot is a great place to take in the vast area that Melbourne covers.

Our experience with Melbourne Private Tours was exceptional.  Jeff was the perfect host taking into consideration our preferences while using his expertise to guide us to some undiscovered treasures.  If you are looking for a truly exceptional experience Melbourne Private Tours will surely provide it.

Melbourne Private Tours can be contacted on:

Office (Australia):                 (03) 95293212
Office (International):     +61 3 9529 3212

Mobile (Australia):                 0419 571 800
Mobile (International):  +61 419 571 800

Tell them James sent  you!



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