Healesville and the Yarra Valley: 5 Reasons to Explore the Country

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To be a cook or a chef you need to get out there and try the food. A large part of knowing what to cook, or coming up with meals each night for yourself or the family, includes knowing what’s out there. You need to open your mind to new possibilities and open your mouth to new tastes. 

And there’s no better place to do that than in a trip to the country. Healesville is less than a 2 hour drive from Melbourne and it’s the perfect place to come to get inspired. And it doesn’t matter what season you visit Healesville because there is always something to see, do and try as it’s an area that’s known for its great produce. And with produce being seasonal, you’re sure to find something you love. Plus, the place looks amazing with all the autumn leaves or when the grapevines are out in spring and summer it’s just so picturesque. 
Healesville is located in Victoria’s Yarra Valley region and it’s well worth the visit. I’ve now been to Healesville and the Yarra Valley area about six times since I moved to Melbourne and it’s an area we take all our interstate visitors to as well. I love to explore and we try something new every time we come. And the locals are friendlier and welcome a chat so you’ll learn something from them and their local knowledge and experiences – this last time I learnt about a new type of radish and got suggestions for the best restaurants from one of the shop keepers. 
Today I’ve put together a collection of foodie places you should visit when you get yourself to Healesville. If you can’t get to Healesville, then explore the country around where you live and keep your eyes, mind and mouth open for new experiences, tastes and ideas for your own kitchen – its what I do whenever I go out and about. 
Healesville Candy Emporium 
The Healesville Candy Emporium shop front
On our most recent visit to Healesville in June this year we decided to walk along both sides of the street and check out each store, one by one. But it was the Healesville Candy Emporium that grabbed our attention for the longest amount of time. The window display was amazing and inside it was even better with walls of lollies and chocolates galore! 
My hubby dressed up as a pirate using the plastic pirate gear they sell along with the treasure chest and gold coins – or rather, the chocolate coins. We explored the wall of boiled lollies and I even found a stash of broken Easter bunnies they were selling (which would be a great way to get some easy to melt chocolate to add to your own recipes – or you could just eat them while you explore the rest of Healesville). We also had a great time chatting to the shopkeeper who let us take a picture of her for our travelling albums, while we all stood next to the giant lollipop tree that stands in the centre of the store.

My husband, the pirate, at the Healesville Candy Emporium
The Healesville Candy Emporium is certainly worth a stop. They sell chocolates and lollies from all over the world so you’re sure to find something that’s a blast from the past or a cherished childhood memory – just like both my husband and I did.

The Healesville Candy Emporium is located at 203 Maroondah Highway, Healesville. If you can’t make it to Healesville, but you’re in Warburton, check out the parent store to the Healsville Candy Emporium, the Warburtons Candy Emporium at 1/3375 Warburton Hwy, Warburton. 

Healesville Organic Farmers Market
Since leaving Canberra a few years ago I just haven’t been able to find a farmers market I really liked, so when I did some farmer’s market research and discovered the Healesville Organic Farmers Market I decided I wanted to visit it on our next visit to Healesville. It’s a small local market with farmers from the local townships coming to share their produce. I happened to go on an absolutely freezing morning so there weren’t many stall holders there, but there are nigger markets at certain times of the year. 
Despite its tiny size I loved the market because most of the stores give you a taste of their products and all the stall holders are knowledgeable about their products and are on for a chat. I tried some homemade goats cheeses run by a brother and sister team, and then we got talking to a farmer about his radishes. He had a type of radish I’d never seen before called a watermelon radish. It’s white on the outside but almost fluoro pink/purple on the inside. 
I bought a single largish watermelon radish for $1.50 and it lasted about 2-3 weeks even though I must have used it in 5 different meals. Its bright colour lends itself well to make less colourful meals more attractive. The taste was that of a radish, but a tiny bit sweeter. For a non-radish fan I didn’t mind it, and my hubby loved it.
Steak sandwich with watermelon radish
The Healesville Organic Farmers Market is on every Saturday from 9am to 1pm at Coronation Park, River St & Wilson Street. There are also larger markets held a few times a year with more entertainment, and even some twilight markets in summer. 

Badger Creek Blueberry Farm

All the yummy jams from the Badgers Creek Blueberry Farm. 

One of our favourite things to do when we’re in Healesville is to go to the Badger Creek Blueberry Farm and to buy some of their yummy jams. They have so many jams, including blueberry, strawberry, fig and boysenberry jam but our absolute favourite is the rhubarb and vanilla jam! It’s just so good! Last time we were there we also found rhubarb, raspberry and vanilla jam and it was just as good, if not better than all the other jams we’ve bought from the Blueberry Farm.

We’ve been to the blueberry farm about 4 or 5 times and we used to go not only to get the jam, but to spend some time on the couch near the fire and enjoying some good food over a coffee. The farm has a great outlook and its such a beautiful place to spend an hour away from the business of the city. They used to have the most magnificent pancakes with blueberries and blueberry swirl ice cream, but we found out recently they’ve stopped doing the pancakes and have focused instead on their fruit ciders. We were heartbroken, but we still love the jams so we’ll be back to the farm before too long. You can taste the jams and ciders, and even buy a pint or two to enjoy as you watch the mountains in the distance.

The Badger Creek Blueberry Farm is open from 10am to 5pm, Thursday to Monday. Its located at 11 Garnook Grove, Badger Creek.

Yarra Valley Dairy
Each time I visit Healesville I also go the 10-15 minutes out of town to visit the Yarra Valley Dairy. It’s a small shop set up on a farm and they make the most amazing Persian feta I’ve ever tasted. They marinate it in oil, bay leaves and peppercorns with a few other herbs. So yum!! 
Check out all that lovely cheese!

You can get morning or afternoon tea at the Yarra Valley Dairy or try a tasting plate of their yummy cheeses. I never ate goats cheese before trying it here and now I love it as its a nice change from my usual feta – but I get the fresh not the matured version cause the matured one is too tangy for me. We also love the Hot Cow mix as its great spread on toast with salmon, poached eggs and avocado, and we just love the name as well. Its a soft cheese mix similar to ricotta or cream cheese.  

The Yarra Valley Dairy is open from 10:30am to 5pm from Monday to Sunday and are located at 70-80 McMeikans Rd, Yering.

Yarra Valley Chocolate Factory
I first found the Yarra Valley Chocolate Factory in 2013 and we’ve been back several times since. Rather than repeat the details of the experience here, check out the post I wrote on it in 2013 when I saw it for the first time. You really can’t go past the entire wall of chocolate! 
The Yarra Valley Chocolate Factory is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Sunday and is located at 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen. If you’re nearby in August 2015 stop in as they are doing 31 days of hot chocolate, with each day a different chocolate flavour. Just quietly, I’m in heaven!

The Wall of Chocolate!

These are just the foodie options in Healesville. There are plenty of vineyards to see, most of which have their own dining rooms open for lunch or dinner. There’s also the Healesville Zoo, the TaraWarra Museum, olive farms and plenty of places to go fruit picking in spring and summer.

Question: Have you been to Healesville? What did you see, find, explore and enjoy? 

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