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Road surrounded by trees in Warburton Victoria
Photograph: Mitch Green

You can visit this magical forest just an hour outside Melbourne

Drive into the otherworldly beauty

Written by
Mitch Green

It’s like something straight out of a fantasy film. Towering trunks, prehistoric tree ferns and an eerie fog that winds its way through on a crisp winter’s morning. Just an hour’s drive east of Melbourne, the Yarra Ranges is home to this majestic stretch of native forest. The area holds many hidden gems to explore on a scenic drive and is a world-class location to photograph, too. Here are three things to see while in the Yarra Ranges National Park. 

Black Spur Drive

East of Healesville lies the Black Spur Drive, which forms part of the Maroondah Highway. The road winds through giant mountain ash trees, while the undergrowth is densely packed with vibrant tree ferns – some towering many metres overhead. The forest opens on the many hairpin turns, offering views of the lush gulleys above and below. 

Be careful where you stop to take photos for the gram (because you no doubt will – it’s absolutely gorgeous). There are only a limited number of parking bays located on the side heading west back towards Healesville. If you haven’t been before, we’d advise you to first complete the drive out of Healesville, heading west to east, then turn around and take your time on the return leg to photograph the forest. Safety first, photos second.

Time Out tip: Visit early in the day to beat the crowds and catch the golden morning light filtering down through the forest. 

Google Maps directions.

A white sedan car drives on Black Spur road, a curving road surrounded by towering trees and lush ferns
Photograph: Visit Victoria

Rainforest Gallery

Note: Access to the Warburton Redwood Forest via Cement Creek Road is currently closed due to necessary bridge upgrades. These works are not expected to be completed until March 2023. In the interim, you can access the location by bike via the O’Shannassy Aqueduct trail. 

For those looking to further explore the Yarra Ranges, after driving east along Black Spur Drive towards Narbethong, take the rougher C507 road south towards Warburton. It’s just as scenic as the main drag of Black Spur Drive but offers more opportunities to pull over with much less traffic.

Before arriving at Warburton, make a pit stop at the Rainforest Gallery and wander through the native forest and burbling stream. Full of old-growth mountain ash and ancient myrtle beech trees, the 350-metre walkway winds right through the gully. Rainforest Gallery is best viewed after recent rains when the stream is at its fullest and fog shrouds the canopy above. Pace yourself, recharge and take in the crisp mountain air. 

Google Maps directions.

Redwood forest in Victoria
Photograph: Visit Victoria

Californian Redwoods

After stopping for a bite to eat in Warburton, make time to detour via the giant Californian Redwood forest in East Warburton. Planted in the 1930s and left to grow unhindered, the limbless trunks tower overhead. Bring a picnic or simply stroll amongst the natural columns towering above. Read more about the Californian Redwoods in Victoria here.

Google Maps directions.

Find more of Melbourne's most beautiful national parks or explore some of these gorgeous secret gardens in and around Melbourne

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