At the start of the year I decided it would be our family’s year to #exploremore. To get off the couch on the weekends, hit the road and discover some of the unique destinations right on our doorstep.
Turns out we didn’t get away as much as I’d hoped – work, family commitments, and bathroom renovations all seem to have gotten in the way.
But as it turns out, some escapades don’t require too much forward planning, and at about 8pm on Friday night I decided it was time to get out of town for the weekend and breath some fresh Spring air. With no real idea of where we wanted to stay, I jumped onto Bookings.com with only a couple of criteria in mind – no more than a 2 hour drive and a room for under $200 a night.
As I expected it was slim pickings, but I discovered a little gem, the Warburton Motel, nestled in the hills of the Yarra Valley right on the Yarra River. I’ve never been to Warburton so it was the perfect opportunity to do some exploring.
It was a lazy start on Saturday morning, after a little sleep in, we threw some warm clothes into a bag and hit the road. After a quick stop in Emerald for a late breakfast, and to wave to Puffing Billy, we made our way to Warburton and checked in.
The Warburton Motel reminded me of the 70’s style motels we stayed in as kids on our family road trips. It’s recently been taken over by new management and is in the process of being refurbished. The accommodation was basic but very clean and great value at only $155 a night for a triple room.
To be honest my expectations were pretty low, but as soon as I saw the beautiful gardens, I knew this place was special.
It was fitting that on the first weekend of Spring we were surrounded by glorious magnolias, camellias and rhododendron. We barely have room for a few succulent plants at home, so the sight of all these blooms gave me major garden envy.
Emma had a ton of fun playing with the fallen flowers while I ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the gorgeous display. I must have taken about a hundred photos of the magnolias, a sure sign I’m turning into my mother.
The new motel owners have a pretty cool vintage VW Kombi van which I imagine as a great moving billboard to advertise the motel. It gives the place quite the retro vibe, and comes complete with a dancing hula girl on the dash. Now I have car envy too.
After we settled in to our new digs, we took a stroll along the river walk into the town. Melbourne’s famous Yarra river starts right here in the Yarra Valley fed by small mountain creeks and melting snow from nearby Mount Donna Buang. The river walk is really lovely with several interesting bridges that criss cross the water, lots of ducks and birdlife, and shady fern groves.
It was a bit chilly for a swim, but I imagine that in summer, the locals have a few favourite spots where they cool off. There were lots of great picnic spots too.
After dinner we grabbed some marshmallows and choc wheaten biscuits from the local supermarket and fired up the outdoor fireplace at the motel. I’d spotted it earlier and the manager said that we were welcome to light it if we wanted, so I thought Emma would enjoy making some S’mores.
Instead of having dessert at dinner, we had a ton of fun making our own by toasting marshmallows and squishing them between two chocolate biscuits. It’s my cheats version of a S’more because you can’t get Graham crackers here.
With bellies full of marshmallowy goo, and stinking of wood smoke, we headed too our room to grab some shut eye. Not a bad start to our Spring escapade, and we had another adventure in store in the morning.
Read about our visit to the Warburton Redwood Forest.
Visit the Yarra Valley in Autumn for a stunning display of Autumn Leaves – Read my guide to the Best Places to see Victoria’s Autumn Colour.
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Just so you know – This post was not sponsored, We paid for our own stay and I have no personal affiliation with the property mentioned.