Regional spotlight: Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges
October 09, 2023
The beauty of Victoria’s regional destinations for business events is their convenient proximity to Melbourne. Meeting in nature – whether it be a wine growing region, mountain or coastal location - can easily be done as a day trip or across a few days. One of the most popular regions for business events is the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.
Located only 50km east of Melbourne (a comfortable one hour’s drive), the Yarra Valley is best known as one of Australia’s top wine regions. This has resulted in fantastic venue options for conferences, meetings, team building and incentive groups.
Here are some ideas for how to plan a business event in this idyllic pocket of Victoria – from wineries to wildlife sanctuaries to lakeside mountains venues.
Puffing Billy meeting venues and experiences
The Dandenong Ranges’ Puffing Billy is a steam train tour experience, right?
However, did you know that you can conference at their state-of-the-art visitor centre at Emerald Lake Park? Enjoy breakout experiences such as paddle boating or bike hire? Add a stylish twist to your event with options to charter a train or hire exclusive carriages for a ride and dine experience for up to 80 people?
Here are a few different ways you can meet and connect only an hour’s drive from Melbourne.
The Lakeside Visitor Centre
The Lakeside Visitor Centre’s light-filled event space was designed by renowned architects Terroir to echo the railway’s heritage without compromising on comfort or amenities.
The function space is soundproofed, features the latest AV technology, and includes an operable wall to divide the room. The adjacent Lakeside Hall and alfresco areas are perfect for pre-event cocktails or breakout sessions for large groups.
The Lakeside Visitor Centre is an all-weather facility, accommodating up to 300 guests seated or 540 in cocktail style across its versatile event spaces. The entire centre can be booked for exclusive use in the evenings, providing the freedom to customise your event.
Imagine taking a break from your day meeting at the Lakeside Visitor Centre and jumping on board Puffing Billy’s open side carriage for a serene ride over the hills? Or elevating your conference with a private meal in the steam train’s heritage carriages?
Max: 200 theatre/ 540 cocktail
Nobelius Packing Shed
One of Puffing Billy Railway’s finest hidden gems, the historic Nobelius Packing Shed is located within the grounds of Emerald Lake Park, once home to the largest nursery in the southern hemisphere. This beautifully restored early twentieth century building provides the ideal intimate and rustic venue, with an open fireplace to keep you warm and cosy in winter.
Max: 80 banquet / 120 cocktail
Menzies Creek Museum
Let your guests be truly immersed in some of Australia’s rarest and most unique railway artifacts as they dine and dance the night away at the Menzies Creek Museum. The museum is an hour’s drive from the CBD – or board Puffing Billy at Belgrave for an iconic 30-minute rail journey passing over the historic Monbulk Creek trestle bridge and through the forests of the Dandenong Ranges.
Max: Banquet 100 / Cocktail 300
The Brolga Room at Healesville Sanctuary
The Brolga Room by Sanctuary Harvest offers a versatile event space nestled among the natural bush land setting of the Healesville Sanctuary. With the Brolga Room's dedication to a sustainable environment and wildlife right outside the venue's door, this is a unique location for a small to medium meeting or conference.
Even better, delegates can take a break between sessions to wander through Healesville Sanctuary’s tranquil tracks and meet over 200 species of Australian animals in their natural surrounds.
Min: 10 pax
Max: 100 pax
Rochford Wines is set on 53 acres of stunning vineyard in the heart of the famous Yarra Valley and is known for hosting incredible outdoor concerts, festivals and events. With multiple indoor and outdoor event spaces for use, their venue is perfect for sit down or stand up functions, product launches, corporate events, wine tastings, incentives, and team building days.
Event planners can choose from a number of rooms catering for small board room meetings up to larger events, including their restaurant, Barrel Room, Chardonnay Hall, Pinot Gallery and Conservatory.
Add in a team building experience, wine tasting, gin tasting or dinner to finish off your event to make it memorable. Rochford Wines offers a range of incentive and team building activities, choose from wine blending and other wine games, grape stomping, archery, pizza making or riding Segways.
Rochford Wines is only a ten minute drive from Healesville and Healesville Sanctuary, where you will find plenty of accommodation options for your group, such as Yarra Valley Lodge.
Max capacity: 5000
Set amid the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley and surrounded by picturesque vineyards, Levantine Hill offers delegates a gastronomic partnership between hatted chef Teage Ezard and Levantine Hill Executive Chef Luke Headon.
Their combined food and acclaimed wine offering are unrivalled. And with an emphasis on seasonal menu changes, only the freshest seasonal produce will ever be used, most of which is sourced locally and much of it grown in the kitchen garden.
Event planners can reserve Levantine Hill for exclusive use or hire spaces such as the winery, barrel room, pavilion and more. The venue is ideal for board meetings, conferences and incentive reward experiences, right through to gala events and product launches.
In addition to superb wine and food focused dining experiences and helicopter tours, Levantine Hill offer fun team building activities such as bespoke winemaking experiences and sculpture walks. Their Village Green is also the perfect location for outdoor team building activities.
For added meeting and conference appeal, Levantine Hill is opening a 33-room designer hotel in 2024. The $20 million development will be organic and earthen, with a design by acclaimed Melbourne-born architecture firm Fender Katsalidis (behind Hobart’s Mona). Plus, plans for another 47-room lodge are already underway.
Min: Boardroom for 12
Max: Cocktail 500 / Banquet 330
Ask the Melbourne Convention Bureau for advice and assistance with planning a meeting, conference or staff reward experience in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.