Around a 50-minute drive north-east of Melbourne’s CBD, you’ll find yourself in the beautiful bush surrounded suburb of Mount Evelyn. Nestled in a bend of the Olinda Creek between the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges, it’s an area flanked by flame trees, bustling with native birds and frequented by families on weekends.

Mount Evelyn attracts artists, cyclists, hikers and horse riders for its wild natural beauty and stunning mountain scenery. The perfect pitstop for lovers of exploring and outdoor picnics, Mount Evelyn also accommodates plenty of browsing and buying, with everything from cafes and clothes shops, to boutiques and farmers markets.

So, if you’re looking for your next family-friendly adventure that won’t take too long to get to and won’t break the budget, come and experience some of our favourite things to do in Mount Evelyn…

Flora and Fauna

Mount Evelyn is home to more than 60 varieties of birds, including Australia’s largest, endangered nocturnal bird, the Powerful Owl. Keep your eyes open when wandering through Owlands Reserve and especially now in Mt Evelyn Recreation Reserve, as four baby owls were just born there in October!

Over the years, bird watchers and enthusiasts have spotted everything from wedge tailed eagles, willy wagtails, tawny frog mouths, rose robins, galahs and corellas, to king-parrots, wood ducks, brown thornbills, black cockatoos, grey currawongs and yellow-faced honeyeaters.

The Olinda Creek is where many walkers have discovered many other species of wildlife, from wallabies and wombats, to echidnas, platypus’ and turtles. To guarantee an up-close and personal encounter with a native animal, be sure to stop by the Yarra Valley Nocturnal Zoo. They house over 450 different animals, including koalas, kangaroos and dingoes.

If plants are your thing, you’re in luck, as beside a beautiful tulip tree is the Mt Evelyn Garden Centre. Open 7 days a week, the nursery is stocked with a wide range of indoor plants and garden maintenance products, as well as décor pieces and ornaments including wall art, wind chimes, windmills and statues. If you’re interested in native plants in particular, Kuranga Native Nursery has a great collection – even their café has bush ingredients on the menu!

Three Australian Powerful Owls sitting in a tree

Walking Trails and Waterfalls

If you’ve brought along water bottles, packed lunches and comfortable shoes, you would be crazy not to get a bush walk in. With so many different tracks and trails to choose from, there’s sure to be a route to suit your family’s fitness levels– and they’re all free!

You’ll pass through various types of terrain, from dry open forest areas to fern-filled gullies brimming with the sights, sounds and smells of the Aussie bush. One of the most famous walks is The Warburton Rail Trail (call it “Warby Trail” to impress the locals). The track follows the old railway line from Wandin to Warburton. The station at Yarra Junction is now a pioneer museum and worth a stop, and most areas are wheelchair and pram accessible. It's also a fairly easy bike ride for little ones and families.

Spoilt for choice, you can also hike the 2.5hr Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Trail, (if you don’t have a tired toddler in tow), taking in steep climbs, gravel paths and busy main roads, or go further into the foliage and amble the Olinda Creek Walking Trail (see map here).

Horseshoe Falls in Quinn Reserve – although not big – is a pretty place to pull up, and you can always explore Olinda Creek nearby.

Parks and Playgrounds

Mount Evelyn has nature’s own playground on its doorstep, but it’s also got quite a few man-made ones too that are just as good.

Close to the shops and with toilets nearby is the Mount Evelyn Playground. Featuring a central climbing structure, balancing challenges and a sensational seesaw, it’s perfect for kids of all ages and abilities. Alongside it is a skate park, with a flat top level for basic tricks, and down a hill, a more advanced zone. There’s also an asphalted area with basketball and netball rings plus a bumpy BMX track.

The Morrison Reserve Park & Playground is country farm themed (with a windmill, tractor and wagon) and comes with a slide, small maze, flying fox, fireman’s pole, balance beam and swings. Complete with BBQ area, picnic tables and a rotunda, it’s a spot the whole family can take advantage of – plus it has a great panoramic view of the Yarra Valley. 

Mount Evelyn main playground

Coffee and Cake Shops

Once you’ve seen all the sights, it’s time to find a good place to eat and rest. Like so many other small towns, Mount Evelyn boasts award-winning bakeries, cafes and restaurants, and even a gourmet cake shop.

The Trail Cafe not only serves great food and drink, it also has a playground, places to lock up your bikes and horse yards to park your horse (of course!). Their menu is a mix of classic dishes, with everything from chicken and chips, to toasties, sausage rolls, scones and sandwiches.

The Storehouse Roastery is another eat-in or takeaway option, with great organic food and a big focus on their famous in-house coffee blends – and they run barista classes too!

Billy Goat Hill Brasserie is known for its big breakfasts, European style dishes and wine lists, Harry’s Bakehouse for its craving inducing cakes, croissants and catering café, Heart & Soul Coffee Lounge for its wood fire pizzas and live music Friday and Saturday nights.

And if you’re staying overnight or longer, be sure to get your groceries from the Organic Empire Food Store if you’re after vegan or sustainably sourced options.

But Wait – There’s More!

Eastern Regional Libraries’ Mt Evelyn Reading Room is open from Mondays to Thursdays 10am-4pm, and Fridays 12pm-4pm, facilitating the browsing, borrowing & returning of books, magazines, DVDs and CDs (it’s also got free wifi). It also plays host to story time for kids and offers lots of classes and workshops.

And of course, if you’re in the area, you must visit us here at Nurture Tribe. Come and bring the family in to explore our extensive range of toys and activities, clothes and accessories, homewares, décor and things for mums and their babies - and let the kids test toys out in our playroom! We’re located at 6 Station Street and open Monday - Saturday.

Street view of the Nurture Tribe shop