It’s been a little while since my last visit to Healesville in Victoria. I’ve long had a love affair with the place after being sent there on a fashion shoot a few years ago. We were on location deep in the rainforest of Badger Weir, and as the on-call producer, I spent time fending off leeches in leopard print gumboots, and taking crucial bananas to a very hungry Jennifer Hawkins. Ever since that introduction to Healesville, I have returned every once in a little while when I need to be reconnected with nature, or to slow life the heck down. It’s one of my favourite places in the whole world, and I’ve taken all my favourite people there.
The town of Healesville is just over an hour from the centre of Melbourne city by car, but when you get there, it soothes you into a much slower pace and feeling of lightness. Here are but five of my favourite things in Healesville;
01 | Badger Weir
A ten minute drive from town, Badger Weir will have you transfixed as you breathe in the fresh mountain air, take in the beauty of ancient ferns, and dash across clear mountain streams. We once took a friend who’d stayed up through the night before with other mates, and he was neither well nor dressed appropriately. I think he slid down the slopes a few times, in his deck shoes. It was quite a spectacle. Wear long pants/sleeves and walking shoes at the least, and gumboots to guard against leeches. There are picnic facilities and amenities at the base, but we normally walk for an hour and drive back to Healesville for a delicious country style feast.
02 | Healesville Hotel / Healesville Harvest
On Healesville’s main strip sits Healesville Hotel, alongside the Healesville Harvest Café. Both offer very different propositions, though they are run by the same people. The Healesville Hotel is a beautiful classic, serving traditional pub fare with the country nanna’s touch. On our last visit, we ate the corned beef and cabbage with white sauce and mash. Let me tell you, it won’t be forgotten easily. There are lots of different eating areas, from classic dining rooms to a beautiful open garden terrace, and of course, the all important public bar. There’s also accommodation upstairs, though I have never stayed.
The Harvest Café boasts so much good food. The coffee is beautiful and the food is locally grown and cooked to perfection – everything feels so salt of the earth and genuine, and the flavours in the food are the real deal. Every time I visit Healesville, activities are anchored from these two venues.
03 | Alchemy Yarra Valley
I spotted Alchemy from the car on the way in to Healesville. I think they call it Aesthetic Athletics (‘they’ being me – I just made that up), where you have a speedy eye and instant appreciation for beautifully put together spaces. Alchemy is a relatively new retail space with a hand selected range of luxe homewares and products inspired by a balance between the unspoiled beauty of raw materials and the understated simplicity of Scandinavian inspired design. The shop is merchandised to perfection. Think stunning candles, fine jewellery, fresh flowers and boots from heaven.
04 | Clarence
Clarence is another perfectly put together retail shop with hand picked oddments and pretty details all competing for your attention when you enter. It opened in 2010, and serves as a perfect contradiction to Alchemy – with its bold colours and sense of fun for your home.
05 | The Sweet Olive
The Sweet Olive is a delicatessen and wine bar that can be used as a pantry away from home, or you can dine at the communal table which centres the space. It’s full of all of those gourmet treats that you can get carried away with buying (and spending a small fortune).
Lunch is served from 11.30am-3.30pm Wednesday-Saturday, and their tapas menu is available from 5pm-8pm Wednesday-Saturday and midday-5pm on Sundays. Sunday afternoons are their specialty.
The beer and wine selection is lovingly selected (& I’m sure thoroughly tested) to showcase the best of the Yarra Valley and surrounds.