Melba Highway Road Trip – Lilydale to Yea and Vice Versa

by | Last updated Dec 14, 2023 | Road Trips, Victoria | 12 comments

The Melba Highway is a small highway to the east of Melbourne. It is 64 km long and mostly used by Melbournians heading to the Victorian high country or areas in that direction. It is a very scenic road trip, taking you through rich Yarra Valley vineyards, forest and agricultural land. Even only being 64km (30 miles) long and taking an hour or so to drive, there is plenty to see and do along the Melba Highway. If you are looking for a great day trip from Melbourne or even a weekend getaway, this could be the one. Here are some suggestions how to enjoy this small highway east of Melbourne.

 

Where is the Melba Highway

 

The Melba Highway is east of Melbourne. It starts in the suburb of Lillydale and ends at the town of Yea in the Murrundindi (Dindi) Shire in Victoria’s Upper Goulburn.

 

Melba Highway Map. Melba Highway Is A Small Highway East Of Melbourne, Running From Lilydale To Yea.

The Melba Highway is East of Melbourne, linking Lilydale and Yea

 

History of how the Melba Highway got its Name

 

The Melba Highway is named after Dame Nellie Melba, a famous Australian Opera singer of the early 20th century. Dame Nellie was actually born Helen Porter Mitchell in 1861, and was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician. She took the name ‘Melba’ from Melbourne, her home town. And lived on and off in Australia at her estate, Coombes Estate in Coldstream. The Melba Highway passes by her home and just like Nellie, the Melba Highway takes its name from the abbreviation of Melbourne and its association with Dame Nellie Melba.

 

Places to Visit along the Melba Highway

 

Lillydale

 

Lillydale is where the Melba Highway begins or ends, depending on which way you are travelling. It is a small town some 34 km north-east of Melbourne, now part of Melbourne’s suburbs. It is at the northern end of the Dandenong Ranges and the southern end of the Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine growing regions. To reach the Melba Highway you will drive through the main street of Lillydale, containing a number of historic buildings. If you are in need of a stop, there are a number of coffee shops to visit. Or you can stop at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum and start the Melba experience when you visit the collection held there. It is only small but has a great coffee shop attached. If not stopping, follow the Maroondah Highway to where it splits. Veer left and start your journey along the Melba Highway.

 

Coldstream

 

Coombe Estate In The Yarra Valley Was The Home Of Dame Nellie Melba And It Is Found At Coldstream On The Melba Highway.

Coombe Estate, former home of Dame Nellie Melba on the Melba Highway

 

Heading along the Melba Highway you will reach Coldstream. The town itself is tiny with a few shops but has a great place to stop for lunch or dinner – the Coldstream Brewery. I recommend its ales. You cannot miss the place, with its ‘shivering naked man’ taking pride of place on the roof. Just up the highway from the brewery is Coombs Estate, once the home of Dame Nellie Melba. Now a private residence, it is sometimes open to the public for tours through 11 acres of gardens and the art gallery. You can partake in a meal at the popular restaurant. Step inside the magnificent home for a glimpse of the extravagant life of the Australian singer diva. See her private boudoir, admire her priceless personal items and see the grand music room where Nellie hosted parties. But if not open, you can still stop outside to get a photo of the massive hedge that protects the premises. Book your visit to Coombes Estate here.

 

Yering

 

Yering is an area in the Yarra Valley. There is no town to drive through or stop at, but the area has some fabulous wineries to visit. A favourite of mine is Yering Station. A walk around the estate will allow you to take in the massive wine vats where the wine is made, and the wine cellar where the wine barrels are stored. Next door to Yering Station is Chateau Yering, a heritage listed building with old-world charm accommodation. If you fancy spending a night in a four poster bed and bathing in a claw bath, a night at the Chateau Yering just might be for you. 

 

Yarra Glen

 

Yarra Glen is one of the main towns servicing the Yarra Valley. In 2010 the Yarra Glen bypass opened. It was built to divert trucks and other vehicles from driving through the gorgeous main street. If you decide to drive through the town, rather than around it, you will be treated to typical old country town buildings. Hungry, there are a number of bakeries – including the Yarra Flats Bakery – to enjoy a pie, cake and a coffee. At the north exit of Yarra Glen, where you re-join the Melba Highway, is the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. A great place to see chocolate being made and to stock up on all things chocolate. If you didn’t have a coffee and cake in Yarra Glen then the Chocolaterie’s coffee shop might be calling you. Hot chocolate and a chocolate fudge brownie anyone!

 

Dixons Creek

 

De Bortoli Is A Winery In Dixons Creek On The Melba Highway. Lush Green Vines Growing Grapes For Wine Production.

De Bortoli, just one of the world-class wineries in the Yarra Valley along the Melba Highway

 

Dixons Creek isn’t really a town, more an area that is home to many of the Yarra Valley’s famous wineries. Some notables include DeBorteli, Balgownie Estate, Mandala, Immerse, Millers and Fergusson Winery. If you like visiting cellar doors then you will want to stop at one, or two, along the Melba Highway.

 

Gateway to Kinglake National Park

 

Leaving Dixons Creek the landscape changes from vineyards to forest. Flat vined land is replaced with tall trees. This part of the Melba Highway takes you through some of the Kinglake National Park. To truly appreciate the beautiful Kinglake National Park with its waterfalls, walking tracks, secluded camping spots and native flora and fauna, turn off the Melba Highway and into the park. By the way, there is no lake at Kinglake. It got its name after the British historian and travel writer Alexander William Kinglake. Much of Kinglake was destroyed by the Black Saturday fires in 2009, but thankfully, the area has regenerated.

 

Kinglake National Park Is Home To Tall Trees, Native Flora And Fauna, Waterfalls And Walking Tracks.

Enter another world in the Kinglake National Park

 

Glenburn

 

If you blink, you might miss Glenburn as you travel along the Melba Highway. I don’t mean that rudely but you are so busy looking at the surrounding grazing land that you might miss the couple of buildings that make up town. A census from 2016 advises that Glenburn has 415 residents..

 

Yea

 

Yea, pronounced ‘yay’ is at one end of the Melba Highway. It is a very interesting little town. Originally inhabited by the Taunaurong People it was first visited by Europeans in 1824. Soon the land was taken up by graziers. The town is now a thriving centre for those who live in this beautiful part of the world. Main street is long with a small park running through the centre of it. Parking, like most country towns is at a 45 degree angle. Yea has all the major services and a number of fabulous bakeries to enjoy. There are a number of beautiful parks to visit including the Yea Wetlands and the Y Water Discovery Centre which shows the importance of water resources and wetland ecology. Yea is also a key town on The Great Victorian Rail Trail – an old railway converted to a bicycle trail. There are also many heritage sites around the town to discover lie the railway station buildings. Plus  Purcell’s General Store and the Yea Flora Fossil Site, where ancient leafy foliage was discovered.

 

Yea Is A Country Town. Yea Has A Wide Main Street With Lots of Shops Including A Bakery. Typical Country Town With A Wide Street, 45 Degree Angle Parking and Lots of Shops.

A typical Victorian country town is Yea with a wide main street

 

So, as I said, the Melba Highway is only a short highway. Even so, there are a number of things to appreciate as you travel along it. However, like many roads, the Melba Highway will take you places. If you turn left at Yea, you will head toward Seymour and the Hume Highway – a major link between Sydney and Melbourne. Turn right, you can end up at Mansfield and the Victorian High Country for great skiing and snowboarding during winter and mountain biking during summer. If looking to top up your travelling fund, you may get a seasonal job in the Victorian ski fields. Have you driven the Melba Highway – I’d love to hear!

 

Melba Highway sign east of Melbourne PIN.

12 Comments

  1. Maryanne

    So nice to read about somewhere that is in my ‘backyard’. I live in Ringwood so this is very close to me. I have driven the Melba Highway before but after reading this post I think it’s time to visit the area again. So much lovely countryside and so many interesting stops along the way. Sometimes it takes us a read someone else’s perspective for us to appreciate our own regions. Thank you so much for reminding me of this wonderful area.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, The Melba Highway is a secret road in Melbourne – only us locals know about it and use it!

      Reply
  2. Sue

    Ok, now I have a new bucket list item to visit the town pronounce “yay”! ???? it sounds like such a cool town too!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yea is a cute town – definitely add it to your bucket list to see the ‘true’ Australia.

      Reply
  3. kmf

    This Melba Highway road trip between Lilydale and Yea looks like a great way to explore this area. Appreciate your roadside attractions and stops along the way.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      The Melba Highway is a cute road trip – cute because it is short and sweet and if you take the time very interesting. I hope you get to drive it!

      Reply
  4. Becky

    Saved this post for the future. I’m hoping to visit in the next couple of years.

    Reply
  5. Jan

    Melba highway sounds like a great idea for a weekend or a half-day trip from Melbourne. We have done Mornington Peninsula. It is good to hear that there are scenic places to stop at. Yarra valley and glen sound like a beautiful place. 🙂

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      The Melba Highway is an interesting little highway and a great backroad to miss many of busy roads in Melbourne, including the beginning of the Hume Highway.

      Reply
  6. Sue

    Great info! I really want to go to the town pronounced “yay” someday!! Looks like a cute town 🙂

    Reply

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Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Sign shaped like a big white wave with Sharyn McCullum On the Great Ocean Road.

G’Day! Sharyn here, an Aussie loving discovering Australia. Let me show you around so you can discover Australia too.  Read my story here.

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