Attractive township surrounded by vineyards
and low lying mountains.
Healesville is a flourishing tourist resort
located amidst scenic countryside at the
confluence of the Watts River and Grace Burn
Creek, 60 km east of Melbourne and 81 metres
above sea-level. In recent times the area to the
west of the town has seen a proliferation of
vineyards and the town itself is famous for its
widely publicised Healesville Sanctuary. The
current population of Healesville is 5416, plus
another 1398 at Badger Creek.
The area around Healesville was originally
occupied by the Yarra Yarra or Wurrundjeri
Aboriginal group who were settled at the
Coranderrk Aboriginal Reservation on Badger
Creek, 5 km south of the town, from 1863. This
reservation, and others created around the same
time, became infamous with many Aborigines dying
through disease and maltreatment. In 'The Kurnai
of Gippsland' Authors Phillip Pepper and Tess De
Araugo report that by 1881 'the death rate was
so high on all the Aboriginal reserves
throughout Victoria that there was serious talk
of closing ... Coranderrk ... where there were
not enough healthy men to work on the farms'.
This was confirmed by a letter which appeared
in The Age on 22 September 1886 which was a
petition drawn up the people at Coranderrk and
presented to the Chief Secretary of Victoria by
Barak and Punch, two of the oldest and most
respected Aborigines in the community. It read:
'We wish to ask for our wishes, that is could we
get our freedom to go away shearing and
harvesting, and come home when we wish, and also
to go for the good of our health when we need
it; and we aboriginals all wish and hope to have
freedom, not to be bound down by the protection
of the board ... There is only a few blacks now
remaining in Victoria. We are all dying away
now, and we blacks of aboriginal blood wish to
have our freedom for all our lifetime, for the
population is small, and the increase is slow.'
In 1922, with their numbers greatly depleted,
the mission was closed and the remnants of the
Yarra Yarra people were moved to
Lake Tyers in Gippsland. Today, as far as
can be determined, there are no Yarra Yarra
people left. Barak, referred to by some sources
as 'the last king of the Yarra Yarra tribe' and
a person reputedly at the meeting between
Aboriginal leaders and John Batman in which
Batman 'bought' Port Phillip, died in 1903 and
is buried in the Coranderrk Aboriginal cemetery
in Picaninny Rd (which runs off the
Healesville-Koo-wee-rup Rd) to the south of
The first pastoralist took up a run in the
area in 1839. However, there was no settlement
to speak of when a party from Melbourne,
dissatisfied with the existing route, blazed a
new trail to the booming Woods Point goldfield
c.1860 (see entry on Jamieson). This track
passed by a little to the north of the present
site of Healesville. A few lodging houses, a
blacksmith's and a mining warden's office were
established at a settlement known as New Chum
Creek which served the needs of the peripatetic
diggers. Two hotels were established 8 km
further east along the route, at Fernshaw.
In 1863 a new road to Woods Point was
surveyed, passing through land full of wild
clematis, Christmas bush and eucalyptus trees. A
townsite was surveyed in 1864 and named after
Richard Heales, the Victorian premier from
1860-61 who had died that same year. This
township initially developed on the back of the
Woods Point miners. Shops began to emerge and
timbercutters, who would prove important to the
area's economy in the early days, started to
arrive as New Chum Creek was abandoned.
In 1865 town lots were sold and the first
local pub and sawmill were built. The following
year saw the construction of both the district's
first school and a police station. A small
building constructed of palings was erected in
1869 to serve as an Anglican church. A more
substantial church building was erected in the
early 1870s in the town's main street for the
use of all Protestant denominations.
As returns at Woods Point declined some of
the miners decided to settle at Healesville.
They turned to farming, fruit-growing and
hop-growing. By 1873, 324 ha had been cleared
for grazing and 60 ha for wheat.
With the ongoing improvement of the roads,
Cobb & Co established a coach service from
Healesville over Black Spur to Maryland in the
The arrival of the railway in 1889 enabled
the development of Healesville as a tourist
attraction and the first guesthouses emerged at
this time. The New Chum area was opened for
selection in 1892 and 809 ha of the old
Coranderrk Mission were resumed two years later
for selection. The area experienced a recession
at the turn of the century as a result of
competition from Tasmanian hops and owing to a
ban on the timber industry in the water
catchment area at Fernshaw.
When Coranderrk Mission closed in 1922 the
remaining land was subdivided for soldier
settlement. The Colin Mackenzie Sanctuary (now
the Healesville Sanctuary) opened in 1934 and
the first platypus bred in captivity was born
The Healesville Market operates on the first
Sunday of the month in the carpark behind the
main street shops (carparking is available along
River St and on the old caravan park site) while
the Badger Creek Craft Market is held on the
fourth Sunday of each month from February to
November (and most long weekends) in Badger
The Healesville Gateway Festival is held in
early November in and around the township and
the Honda Yarra Valley Grape Grazing Festival is
held at the end of February in many vineyards
around the Yarra Valley.
Things to see:
Chandon vineyard near Healesville
Tourist Information and Historic Lock-Up
Healesville Information Centre is located at 12
Maroondah Hwy, tel: (03) 5962 2600. Adjacent is
the town's oldest surviving building - the
police lock-up - which is all that remains of
the original 1866 police station.
The town's second-oldest extant structure is the
old Mission Church (1875) which originally
served as an all-purpose Protestant church. It
was purchased by the Presbyterians c.1890 as, by
then, the other major denominations had their
own churches. It still stands today behind the
Uniting Church which is located on the Maroondah
Highway, just to the west of the Badger Creek
The Yarra Valley Tourist Railway
The Yarra Valley Tourist Railway operates
motorised trolley rides from Healesville to
Tunnel Hill. They start from the old Healesville
railway station on the Healesville-Kinglake Road
and depart every half-hour between 11.00 a.m.
and 4.30 p.m. on Sundays and public holidays,
tel: (03) 9739 5155 or (03) 5962 2220.
The Hedgend Maze
The Hedgend Maze is a 1200-metre hedge maze with
a treasure hunt, a rainbow maze, 18-hole
mini-golf, frisbee golf, giant draughts and
other games and puzzles. There are tea rooms
with fine views, along with picnic and barbecue
facilities and a kiosk. Group concessions are
available. It is located in Albert Rd, which
runs between Badger Creek Road and the
Healesville-Koo-wee-rup Rd, and it is open daily
from 10.00 a.m. to dusk, tel: (03) 5962 3636.
Healesville Art Gallery
Further south on Badger Creek Road is a turnoff
on the left into Nigel Court. At 11-13 is the
Healesville Art Gallery which is located in a
bushland setting with native birdlife. It
features an ever-changing exhibition of
paintings, jewellery and pottery by local
artists, together with a display of gemstones,
crystals and mineral specimens, particularly
opals. The Gallery is open daily from 10.00 a.m.
to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5962 4147.
At the southern end of Badger Creek Road is a
roundabout. Gleneadie Ave, which heads west off
this roundabout, leads past the entry to
Healesville Sanctuary which was established on
land that was previously part of the Coranderrk
Aboriginal Mission. The reserve was started by
Sir Colin McKenzie who leased the land from the
government and used the area to study native
fauna for medical research. When he moved on to
Canberra the land was handed on to the local
council and the 31-ha sanctuary opened in 1934.
Today it features over 200 species of native
mammals, reptiles and birds in a natural
bushland setting. There is a circular walking
track which leads through a number of roomy
enclosures, wetlands, display centres and
aviaries. The sanctuary's fauna includes
Tasmanian devils, lyrebirds, an 800-strong ibis
colony, kangaroos, emus, wallabies, dingoes,
echidnas, owls, cockatoos, flying foxes,
dingoes, lorikeets, bats, lizards and many
others. There are regular demonstrations such as
snake shows, the very popular feeding of the
eagles and displays of wombats, koalas, pelicans
and the platypus (these 'close-ups' occur at set
times which are advertised at the entrance).
Picnic and barbecue facilities are provided
throughout the park and there are several
kiosks, a bistro and a takeaway. There is also
an Australiana/gift shop.
Healesville Sanctuary is open from 9.00 a.m.
to 5.00 p.m. daily. Guided tours and package
tours are available, tel: (03) 5957 2800.
Galeena Beek Living Cultural Centre
Opposite the entry to Healesville Sanctuary, in
Gleneadie Ave, is the Galeena Beek Living
Cultural Centre which offers an experience in
Aboriginal cultural heritage, including live
dance performances and guided bushwalks, tel:
(03) 5962 1119.
Badger Weir Park
Badger Weir Park is a landscaped area which is
part of Yarra Ranges National Park. The weir
itself gathers water from the protected
catchment and relays it to Silvan Reservoir (see
entry on Monbulk). The catchment area has been
in use since the late 19th century and the first
Badger Weir was constructed in 1908.
There are several short walking trails
through fern gullies and mature forests of
mountain ash and manna gum. The walk to Badger
Weir (1 km one way) mostly follows the course of
the open-channel aqueduct.
The picnic area has wood barbecues (wood is
provided), picnic tables and rotundas, along
with information boards, hot water on weekends
and toilet facilities. It is usually open daily
from 8.30 a.m. to sunset, although the opening
hours are extended to 9.00 p.m. in December and
January and retarded to 5.00 p.m. from June to
July, tel: 131 963.
To get there, head south of Healesville's
centre on either Badger Creek Road or Don Road.
At the intersection of these two main roads
there is a signposted turnoff into Badger Weir
Don Road continues in a south-easterly direction
beyond the intersection with Badger Creek Road
and Badger Weir Road. About 4 km beyond this
intersection (10 km from Healesville), on the
right-hand side of the road, is Malleson
There is an intersection after about another
kilometre. If you turn left along what is known
as Ben Cairn Road or Mt Donna Buang Road it
provides access to Ben Cairn, Mt Donna Buang
Scenic Reserve and the Cement Creek Walk (see
entry on Warburton). However, this road is
closed in winter owing to snowfall.
Maroondah Reservoir Park
About 4 km east of Healesville, along the
Maroondah Highway, is a turnoff on the left into
Maroondah Reservoir Park which features formal
exotic gardens, native bushland, walking trails,
information boards, scenic views of the
reservoir, picnic areas, water, toilets, camping
facilities and barbecues. The park is open from
8.30 a.m. to sunset, tel: (03) 5962 3663.
Just beyond the turnoff to the park is
Fernshaw Park is a forest area at the foot of
the Black Spur amidst mountain ash and fir
trees. There are walking tracks, a parking area,
picnic, barbecue and toilet facilities. It is
located 11 km north-east of Healesville on the
eastern side of the Maroondah Highway and it is
open daily, tel: (03) 5962 6228.
Dom Dom Saddle
Another 6 km along the Maroondah Highway, atop
Black Spur, is Dom Dom Saddle (732 m above
sea-level) where there is a picnic reserve
amidst large oaks and elms.
Donnellys Weir Park
St Leonards Road heads north off the Maroondah
Highway from the centre of Healesville. After a
little over a kilometre there is a turnoff on
the right into Donnellys Weir Road which leads
to a small nature reserve beside the old stone
weir. There are walking trails through the
forest, picnic-barbecue areas, toilets and
parking. It is open daily from 8.00 a.m. to 7.00
p.m. in summer, closing at 4.00 p.m. in winter.
It is also the starting point of the 5000-km
National Walking and Horseriding Trail to
Cooktown in Queensland.
Mt St Leonard
St Leonards Road continues north as Myers Creek
Road. 12 km north of Healesville is a signposted
turnoff on the right into Monda Track which soon
leads to a carpark from whence there is a 1.3-km
walk to the summit of Mt St Leonard (1028 m)
where there is a fire tower and excellent views,
tel: 131 963.
The Singing Gardens of C.J. Dennis
You can take either Myers Creek Road or the
Healesville-Kinglake Rd north to Toolangi which
is 16 km from Healesville. On the right-hand
side of the road are the Singing Gardens of
Australian poet C.J. Dennis who lived at
Toolangi from 1908 until his death in 1938.
While at Toolangi Dennis published his first
collection of poetry (1913), The Songs of a
Sentimental Bloke (partially written at Kallista
and published in 1915, The Moods of Ginger Mick
(1916) and The Glugs of Gosh (1917). On the
proceeds from The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke
he built a house (which he called Arden after
the forest in Shakespeare's As You Like It) and
got married in 1917. In 1922 Dennis joined the
staff of the Herald and thence divided his time
between Melbourne and Toolangi.
Dennis's last book, The Singing Garden
(1935), was inspired by his garden at Toolangi.
The house burned down in the 1960s although the
garden he created with his wife remains. They
now cover 1.5 ha and feature rhododendrons and
exotic trees including a copper beech planted by
English Poet Laureate John Masefield who visited
Dennis during the state's centenary
celebrations.This event prompted the composition
of 'The Tree', from The Singing Garden
Devonshire teas and light lunches are served
at the tearooms. They are open every day but
Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. but close in
August and on Christmas Day, tel: (03) 5962
The Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre
On the other side of the road is the Toolangi
Forest Discovery Centre. Set amidst messmate and
mountain ash forests it is essentially an
educational facility providing information on
aspects of the forest and its habitats. School
groups and specialist activities are conducted
and there is a sculpture exhibition, a holiday
program and a shop selling locally-crafted
wooden artefacts, souvenirs and books on local
history and scenic spots in the area.
There are also several walking tracks which
are detailed in information available at the
centre. The Wirrawilla Walk (20 minutes) is a
short and easy-going boardwalk loop track
through local rainforest with wheelchair access.
The Forest Sculpture Trail (one hour) takes in
nine works by sculptors of international repute
and views both of Melbourne and the district.
The Yea River Walk is an easy 45 minutes.
The centre is open daily from 10.00 a.m. to
5.00 p.m. and there is a small entry fee, tel:
(03) 5962 9314.
Just beyond the Discovery Centre, on the same
side of the road, is Cherrys Lane. Along here is
the workshop of David Williams who creates
unique crystalline glazed ceramics which have
been exhibited in the National Gallery of
Victoria. Toolangi Pottery is open daily from
10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5962 9287.
Other Galleries and Antique Centres of
Silvermist Studio Gallery features hand-made
gold and silver jewellery, along with paintings,
sculpture, glass and ceramics. It is located at
136 Maroondah Highway and is open from Thursday
to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel:
(03) 5962 5470.
Jacques Antiques and Collectables are also
located on the highway, between Badger Creek
Road and Crowley Road. They have furniture,
china, glass and collectables and are open from
Tuesday to Sunday (10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.) and
Mondays on long weekends and in the school
holidays, tel: (03) 5962 6393.
The Church Street Gallery and Cafe
specialises in handpainted glass, silk, lamps,
watercolours and furniture. It is located in the
old mechanics' institute at 4 Church St and is
open Wednesday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00
p.m., tel: (03) 5962 2117.
Tuscany Galleries are at 505 Maroondah
Highway, adjacent Maroondah Dam, about 4 km east
of Healesville. They offer a range of Australian
art, porcelain, pottery and sculpture and are
open Friday to Sunday and public holidays from
10.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5962 5917.
The HCP Antique Emporium is a huge undercover
antique centre which is a venue for around 30
dealers. It is open daily from 11.00 a.m. to
5.00 p.m. and is located on Badger Creek Road
opposite the intersection with Airlie Road, tel:
(03) 5962 4433.
Healesville Skin and Spa Day Centre
This spa offers a range of beauty treatments,
including aromatherapy, tel: (03) 5962 1912.
Chum Creek Winery
Chum Creek Winery is a family winery with fine
views and picnic-barbecue areas. It is open
weekends and public holidays from 10.00 a.m. to
6.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5962 5551. To get there,
follow the Healesville-Kinglake Road (aka Chum
Creek Road) out of town. About 7 km north of
Healesville's town centre turn left into
Cheese, a boutique soft cheese maker,
Wineries to the West
On the Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd is Tarrawarra
Vineyard, established in 1983, which specialises
in pinot noir and chardonnay. It is open daily
from 10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. (coaches by
appointment), tel: (03) 5962 3311.
Before you get to Tarrawarra Estate, the Old
Healesville Rd heads north-west off the
Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd. You will soon come to
a right turn into Long Gully Rd where you will
find Long Gully Estate which is open from 11.00
a.m. to 5.00 p.m. weekends and public holidays
or by appointment. Established in 1972 it
produces riesling, semillon, sauvignon blanc,
chardonnay, rose, pinot noir, cabernet
sauvignon, shiraz, merlot and port, tel: (03)
Further west along Old Healesville Rd, at
no.518, is Yarra Track Winery which makes
chardonnay and pinot noir. It is open weekends
and public holidays from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
or by arrangement, tel: (03) 9730 1349.
Wineries to the South-West (and
There are a number of wineries south-west of
town via the Maroondah Highway. At the corner of
the highway and Hill Rd (5 km from Healesville)
is Eyton-on-Yarra, established in 1993, where
the cellar door is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00
p.m. daily. It specialises in chardonnay and
pinot noir. The award-winning restaurant is open
daily from midday to 3.00 p.m. while a cafe
provides refreshments until closing time. This
architecturally interesting complex, with its
lookout tower and cinema, is used for the annual
Eyton Summer Music Series which is held between
October and March, tel: (03) 5962 2119.
A little further along the highway (at
no.874) is Badger's Brook Winery which is open
weekends and public holidays from midday to 5.00
p.m., tel: (03) 5962 4130.
Just beyond the Badger's Brook Winery is a
left turn into Maddens Lane. A short distance
along Maddens Lane is a left turn into Briarty
Rd where you will find Yarra Yering Winery
which, at this stage, will only be open on the
first weekend in the month of May 2000, tel:
(03) 5964 9267. Chocolate makers Kennedy and
Wilson are also in Briarty Rd. They are open
from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on weekends only,
tel: (03) 5964 9549.
If you ignore this turnoff and continue south
on Maddens Lane, to no.27, you will find
Warramate Vineyard. Established in 1970, this
winery overlooks the Yarra Valley. It is open
from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. daily and produces
riesling, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, tel:
(03) 5964 9219.
At 31 Maddens Lane is Coldstream Hills Winery
which was established in 1985. produces
chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, pinot
gris, a sparkling wine and cabernet sauvignon.
It is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily,
tel: (03) 5964 9410.
Back on the Maroondah Highway, just west of
the Maddens Lane turnoff (at no. 864), is
Oakridge Estate which is open from 10.00 a.m. to
5.00 p.m. daily. It produces cabernet sauvignon,
merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon
blanc. Complementary antipasto is provided and
light lunches are available on weekends and
public holidays. There is a picnic area, tel:
(03) 9739 1920.
Further south-west along the highway, at
'Green Point', is Domaine Chandon which produces
methode champenoise and still wines. A
complementary gourmet platter is provided and
there are guided tours of the winery which is
open daily from 10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., tel:
(03) 9739 1110. Musica Viva Australia is held in
April and a vintage car show in March. The
winery is also a stopover on Go Wild
Ballooning's hot-air balloon trips, tel: (03)
9890 0339 or (0418) 395 867.
15 km south-west of Healesville, along the
Maroondah Highway, is a turnoff on the right
into St Huberts Rd. At this corner is St Huberts
Vineyard which was established in 1862 and
replanted in 1966. It produces chardonnay,
sauvignon blanc, roussanne, pinot noir, cabernet
sauvignon, cabernet merlot, pinot
noir/chardonnay and a sparkling wine and it is
open weekdays from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and
weekends from 10.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. There are
picnic, barbecue and playground facilities and
jazz concerts are held throughout the summer,
tel: (03) 9739 1118.
Yarra Valley Winery Tours offer personalised
tours for travellers, social, business and
conference groups which include lunch, wine
tastings at Yarra Valley wineries, a pick-up and
return service and an on-board tour host, tel:
(03) 5962 3870.
Adventure Tag Along Tours offer canoeing,
caving and abseiling tours, tel: (03) 9761 8445.
Eco-Adventure Tours offer nightwalks at
Maroondah Reservoir Park and Badger Weir, with
an optional barbecue dinner, tel: (03) 5962