Explore the heart of
Heathcote this autumn

Pumpkin spice season is upon us, which can only mean one thing – it’s time to hit the open road for autumn’s vibrant display.

And where better to enjoy the crimson and cosiness than in Heathcote? Nestled in the heart of Victoria, the region is teeming with natural beauty, culinary delights – and Shiraz.

Let’s explore the top spots to see, taste and experience the essence of Heathcote this autumn.

Pink Cliffs Reserve

First up – the Pink Cliffs Reserve. Tucked in the outskirts of Heathcote, these soft-hued cliffs are an unmissable sight. 

Formed through gold mining activities in the 19th century, the cliffs have an otherworldliness about them – and stand as a testament to a bygone era. The surrounding trails are easy to navigate, too, making it a perfect outing for nature enthusiasts of all ages. 

Don’t forget to bring your camera – the cliff’s unique colour palette at different times of the day provides the perfect photo backdrop.

Valley of Liquid Ambers

Aptly titled, the Valley of Liquid Ambers is the ultimate spot to witness autumn’s canvas.

A hidden gem within Heathcote, the valley is famous for its vibrant display of autumn leaves. The golden hues of the liquid amber trees create a warm and inviting atmosphere – perfect for leisurely walks and picnics under the canopy. 

It’s a peaceful retreat to immerse yourself in the season’s beauty – and find a moment of tranquillity on your getaway.

Silver Spoon Estate

For those who appreciate the finer things in life, the Silver Spoon Estate is a must-visit. 

This boutique winery, right in the heart of the Heathcote wine region, is renowned for its exceptional wines and just-as-exceptional menu. The estate offers an intimate wine-tasting experience where you can savour the complex flavours of their award-winning Shiraz,
Viognier and more.

Pair your tasting with a selection of gourmet dishes that showcase the local produce, and you have the perfect recipe for an unforgettable gastronomic adventure. 

In Good Spirits Distillery 

Heathcote’s spirit scene is alive and well at the In Good Spirits Distillery

This local distillery – housed at Domaine Asmara Vineyard – opens its doors to those eager to dive deeper into the craft of spirit making. The tasting and meet-the-distiller experience provides a unique opportunity to learn about the distillation process, from selecting ingredients to bottling the final product. 

Guests can sample a range of spirits, each with its own distinctive character, and hear the stories behind their creations. It’s a personal and engaging day out – sure to leave you in good spirits!

Heathcote Wine Hub 

Want to try – and buy – all of Heathcote’s famed Cambrian wines but don’t have the time to visit each vineyard? The good people behind Heathcote Wine Hub have you sorted. 

This wine lover’s paradise offers an unparalleled selection of over 200 Heathcote wines, making it the ideal place to taste and purchase the finest wines the region has to offer. 

The knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you through the tasting experience, helping you discover new favourites and learn about the unique qualities of Heathcote terroir. Whether you’re a seasoned wine aficionado or new to the world of wine, the Heathcote Wine Hub promises an epic exploration of local viticulture.

The O’Keefe Challenge

Fancy a day of exercise in Heathcote’s sublime countryside? Then mark your calendars for 19 – 21 April 2024, as The O’Keefe Challenge offers an exhilarating opportunity to experience the best of Heathcote’s bushlands, fields and lakes. 

This annual event isn’t just a race – it’s a celebration of community, endurance and the region’s bounty. Whether you fancy completing a marathon, half-marathon, walking event or cycling race – there’s a challenge for everyone.

Athletes of all levels are welcomed, from seasoned runners to families looking for a fun and active day out. The trail winds through the countryside, past historical sites and alongside Lake Eppalock. It’s a standout event in the Heathcote calendar.

The Watering Hole

Feel the pulse of Heathcote’s community over a locally grown dinner at the Watering Hole. Here, the focus is bringing people together over great food, refreshing drinks and ripper entertainment. 

The menu is designed to share – think charcuterie boards, pod luck dips and other nibbles. And on weekend nights, you’ll be treated to a themed menu. Fridays are BBQ, and Saturdays are baked potatoes.

With a suite of gigs booked monthly, there’s always a new reason to visit. And ample more reasons to stay.

The Yellow Box Wood

After all this adventuring, you’re going to need a cosy spot to rest your head. And we highly recommend the Yellow Box Wood

The ultimate glamping getaway, the Yellow Box Wood features two large, luxurious safari-style glamping tents – set in 100 acres of natural bush. Every amenity is tastefully designed in a rustic finish, and there are plenty of yellow box trees for privacy. You don’t need to worry about your carbon footprint either, as both tents are off-grid and sustainably crafted.

To ensure you get a good night’s rest, pop down to the nearby mineral salt swimming pool and take a dip. Then, meander back through the bushland to your slice of paradise.

You’ll leave feeling rested, rejuvenated and – most of all – connected to nature.

Ready to head to Heathcote? Visit the region’s official website for the complete guide.

Your Guide to the Goulburn River and Ranges

The Goulburn River might not have the PR team of the mighty Murray but as Victoria’s longest river it has long been a part of peoples’ daily lives. It is the region’s lifeline of agriculture, a cultural and historic touchstone as well as a magnet for outdoor activities.

Your road trip offers so many waterways to choose from, including one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, enchanting waterfalls and secluded fishing spots. No matter the season, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking scenery, pretty little towns and down to earth hospitality as you wind your way through this special part of central Victoria – all within a short, easy drive out of Melbourne.

Here’s an itinerary to get you started.

Palm Springs chic in the Victorian Alps with the new Hara House hotel

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

With a kidney shaped pool, shady palms, fine dining restaurant and soon to open day spa Hara House opened on the weekend offering resort style accommodation in the Ovens Valley.

It was formerly the Ovens Valley Motor Inn, a mid-20th century court style motel and the original home of the much acclaimed restaurant Simone’s of Bright. Owners Simeon and Shannon Crawley, who also founded bean to bar enterprise Bright Chocolate, have spent several years planning and redeveloping the iconic motel, doubling down on the mid 20th century feel, planting established palms, stripping back the rooms, and refurnishing them with high end furniture, bedding and linen with spacious walk-in bathrooms.

Hotel BrightIt’s also a kid free – adult only offer with snacks and drinks offered in the room as part of the tariff. “We didn’t want people putting their hand in their pocket to pay $8 for a pack of nuts from the mini-bar,” says Shannon.

The star of the show is the new restaurant Pepperberry. It sits in the heart of the main building and showcases local produce with a modern Australian menu. Early reports are glowing and so they should. It’s a crack team with chefs Yasuaki Tokuda and Emma Holberry  behind the pans. Yasuaki is from Japan and was Head Chef at Mario i Sentieri in Tokyo and relocated his family to Australia in 2013. Since then, he has held the position of Sous Chef at Michael Ryan’s Provenance Restaurant in Beechworth.

Emma cooked with Collin McClaren at Villa Gusto, in the Buckland Valley. She went on to be Head Chef at Falls Creek’s luxury hotel, Astra Lodge, before launching her own restaurant Templar Lodge in the Kiewa Valley.

Together they have written a menu that is diverse and intelligent with a sense of fun. They have leaned into the mid 20th century feel with a range of snacks that would have been served when Don Lane was King: devils on horseback, prawn cocktails, devilled eggs and a potato duchess with single serve Vegemite sachet.

A brave dish that is as delicious as it is ironic. The $85 four course set menu continues with entrees such as cured salmon sushi with puffed rice, kangaroo tartar or a Portobello mushroom Kiev. Mains could be local trout cooked in paper, rich beef Stroganoff with handmade pappardelle or a stuffed cabbage rolled that has been gratineed and served with smoked tomato cream. Desserts may include a bombe Alaska or a wattle seed panna cotta.

“Hara House has been developed as a place for people to stay, unwind,” says Shannon. “We offer complimentary bike hire, tennis court yoga classes, lawn games and fire pits come winter. More than a hotel, it’s an experience-rich wonderland, and we believe it will be a unique base to explore our wineries, National Parks and mountain bike attractions.”

Hara Hotel

The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail passes by the front door of Hara House, which is a 12 minute walk from Bright village. Book before June 17 for a 30% opening discount.


What: New accommodation & restaurant
Where: 2 Ashwood Ave, Bright VIC
More Info: Hara House

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

The promise of transformation at Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa’s new Wellness Villas

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Drive ninety minutes north-west of Melbourne and you’re in healing country.

Quite literally. The Daylesford-Macedon region is home to 80 per cent of Australia’s natural mineral springs, making it the country’s bona fide spa destination.

The Indigenous custodians, the Wurundjeri, Taungurung and Dja Dja Wurrung people knew it. The first settlers knew it. And that’s why they built The Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa there in 1895. To nourish their bodies with the waters rich in magnesium, sulphate and calcium.

Today, visitors can enjoy the benefits of mineral bathing at the eponymous bathhouse. And now an even more luxurious experience is on offer, with the addition of four new accommodation options.

Perched on the hill overlooking the Bathhouse, these retreats — aptly titled Wellness Villas — are no ordinary getaway. In fact, they’ve been remodelled, redesigned and revitalised to extend the therapeutic ethos of the Bathhouse.

Daylesford Spa

A visit to the villas begins with the herbaceous smell of essential oils. Every guest has the option to choose their nightly blend. There’s the ‘Rest Easy’ special to promote relaxation and a good night’s sleep, or the ‘Revive’ for uplifting and de-stressing. The diffuser near the room’s entrance, not far from the enormous marble spa bath, sets the tone. A night here is one of indulgence.

Each villa features a king-sized bed, central bathtub, well-equipped kitchenette, lounge area with a stone fireplace and TV, and one or two leafy balconies. There’s a goodies hamper bursting with treats for each guest. In autumn, the maple trees outside turn a vibrant crimson and cast a reddish hue into the rooms. It feels like you’re inside an opulent cocoon – coaxing the occupant towards physical and psychological well-being.

Air purifiers gleam in corners. A thrilling array of bath salts sits neatly on the edge of the tub. The mattress topper is cloudlike and wondrous. And a central iPad and sound system come pre-loaded with guided meditations and yoga classes. Before bed, you can practice yoga and bathe for an hour, with a full stomach thanks to the chefs at the Pavillion kitchen.

In the daylight, hop over to the Bathhouse and indulge in a massage or facial (or both), soak in the salt-therapy pool, slather your skin with clay inside a Mineral Hammam or cajole the body to release in the mineral pools. Built in 2008, the Bathhouse is an architectural feat with soaring ceilings, glass walls to bring the outdoors in, and a mid-century modern style. There’s public and private bathing, and genderless amenities to welcome all bodies.

Hepburn Springs Retreat

The Pavillion cafe, housed in the original brick Bathhouse, offers fresh, contemporary meals with a wellness focus. Ample well-priced and delicious breakfast and lunch options are available, plus coffee and tea. For those looking to imbibe, the Passing Clouds Viognier is rich and luscious, and perfect over lunch.

The Wellness Villas make good on their promise of transformation, with a space more carefully composed than most. A stay here is a slow-releasing aqua antidepressant; the full effects of which will be felt as you pile your languid limbs back into the car.


WHAT: Wellness Villas at Hepburn Spa Retreat
WHERE: Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, Mineral Springs Reserve Road, Hepburn Springs
WHEN: Now open for bookings

The author travelled as a guest of Hepburn Spa Retreat management.
We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Grampians Edge Caravan Park

As we travel further and deeper into regional Victoria, we quickly realise each region has young upcoming go-getter representatives. For the town of Dadswells Bridge, the designated go-getters are Katey and Dale Exon, the managers of Grampians Edge Caravan Park.

Dale and Katey became managers of Grampians Edge Caravan Park in 2022, after getting a taste for hosting guests in a tiny home that was located on their own property nearby. The successful partnership formed with ‘Tiny Away, Australia’ through this property has continued in this new location with tiny homes of varying configurations installed amongst the existing camping sites and cabins.

The tiny homes really are a work of wonder. That something so compact can also be so luxurious is cause to reconsider the nature of high-end accommodation. There are nine of these tiny homes in the park presently, including one two-bedroom cabin with a loft. All have an ensuite, split system air conditioning and a kitchenette. Many of the original cabins have also received a makeover recently and for those who prefer to bring their own accommodation, the campsites throughout the park are of a generous size.

The park was founded in the 1970s by Cleve Krause, who had a vision for attracting guests to this idyllic bushland environment with views across the Grampians/Gariwerd ranges. The site is just walking distance to the town of Dadswells Bridge for supplies, takeaway food and even an Indian restaurant.

Between the park and town is the Mt. William Creek Nature Trail, an easy 1 hr loop through the beautiful grass woodlands that curb Mount William Creek. It’s a haven for wildflowers at the start of spring and if you are very lucky, a chance to see a platypus in its natural environment.

The park is the perfect home base for exploring the entire region. Situated on the northern edge of the Grampians National Park, it is a short drive to the magnificent lookouts, hiking trails and waterfalls across the ranges. The starting point for the Silo Art Trail is just a 30min drive away and the internationally recognised wineries of the Pyrenees region are very accessible for the willing designated driver.

Thank goodness for go-getters like Dale and Katey who can deliver such a high-end accommodation experience in a natural bushland for us all to escape to.

Learn more about the region here.

It’s time to return to the Murray

Words by Anthea Riskas
Photography Jay Dillon and supplied

Seeing towns along the Murray River endure the flood events of 2022, was devastating. But now that the waters have subsided, and the arduous cleanup and repairs complete, these resilient communities still need your help. And what they need you to do is visit!

House Boat Murray RiverWith approximately 2,700km of winding river and waterways to explore, pristine landscapes, rich Indigenous culture, a thriving arts scene, museums, top notch tucker and accommodation options that range from under-the-stars to 5-star, there’s so many reasons to head to the Murray for your next getaway.

The obvious place to start planning is along the river itself, and one of the most well-loved ways to enjoy it is by skippering your own houseboat. Fire up the group chat and get a bunch of your favourite pals together to share costs and make memories on your own floating holiday house. You can set sail from Echuca, Moama, Yarrawonga, Mulawa, Mildura or Wentworth. Throw a fishing rod over the side, slowly watch the world go by and moor along the way to explore smaller towns. All you need is a full driver’s license and a sense of adventure, the captain’s hat is optional.

Camping Murray RiverMore of a coastal lover? Well so you thought because there are beaches here too! Some of the best stretches of sandy inland beaches can be found near the towns of Cobram and Tocumwal and are perfect spots for camping, kayaking and water skiing.

Perry Sandhills is a spectacular series of sand dunes that have been formed by wind erosion over thousands of years. Traditional owners once camped and hunted here and evidence of their activities, as well as skeleton remains of mega-fauna, are still being revealed as the sand dunes shift over time. It is a stunning landscape to walk through and explore with the family. Kids will love to tumble down some of the steeper dunes. The dramatic site has been regularly utilised as a backdrop to a number of popular films including The Man from Snowy River II.

The Sandhills are also one of many sites of the region that hold deep cultural and spiritual significance to local Indigenous peoples, and another must-see stop on this side of the border is the Aboriginal culture centre Barkindji Wiimpatya Murra Centre (Bmeet), in Dareton. Here you’ll find artworks ranging from traditional carvings and painting to jewellery and more.

Things to do Murray RiverAt the more contemporary end of the art spectrum, and at the complete opposite end of the river in Albury, is another noteworthy Indigenous stop – the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk. Here you’ll find 15 sculptures installed along 5km of the sealed Wagirra Trail path, that will wander you past playgrounds and parks, and finish at the Wonga Wetlands.

One of the most extraordinary artistic ways to plan your Murray River journey is by mapping out a tour of silo art along the way. Larger than life murals can be seen literal stories high, painted on the sides of wheat silos in towns like Rochester, Colbinabbin, St James and Picola. This outdoor “gallery” has to be seen to be believed!

More of a history buff than an art lover? Then there’s plenty for you throughout the region, with museums and collections ranging from an historic gaol in Wentworth, to all things automotive at The Depot in Deniliquin, from colonial recreations at the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre to a dry-docked submarine in Holbrook and flying boats at Lake Boga. If this is starting to make no sense, it’s your sign to start visiting for yourself.

Hiking Murray RiverNature lovers are utterly spoiled for choice with National Parks aplenty, ready for you to camp, canoe, cycle, hike, swim and end each magical day around a fire, looking up at the stars and marvelling at how many times you’re going to have to return to tick off all the locations on your list.

And then there’s food! Which we could dedicate an entire article to – and which we will do soon, so stay tuned to uncover a secret speakeasy cocktail bar, hipster-level coffee, fine dining and so much more.

For now though, as the weather starts to cool down south, remember that towns like Mildura have semi-arid climates, which mean they’re perfect winter destinations and all along the Murray River Region you’ll find a warm welcome, so get planning!



Where: Murray River Region
What: Nature, art, history and more!
More Info: Visit The Murray

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Raise a glass to Gippsland’s newest winery, Carrajung Estate

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

What makes a fantastic winery? Is it what’s inside the glass – a crisp drop of Chardonnay or zesty pour of Pinot Noir? Is it about the environment – a warm interior design, a room with a view? Or does it come down to the people – knowledgeable staff with a healthy dose of passion?

For Ivy Huang and Rebeka Morgan, the co-founders of Carrajung Estate, it’s everything. Both women have left no stone unturned in their mission to create a world-class winery and accommodation offering. 

Here, cocooned in the forests of the Strzelecki Ranges, guests can leave the bustle behind and escape to a space of simple pleasures.

Carrajung Winery

The 40-hectare property, formerly the home of Toms Cap Winery, has been entirely renovated and repurposed under one simple guideline: make it feel like home. Huang and Morgan, a builder and founder of BuildHer Collective, alongside John Morgan have remodelled the vineyard restaurant, cellar door and their two-bedroom cottage accommodation called The Nest. 

Each space is cosy, intimate and uncompromising in quality. In the vineyard restaurant, guests are invited into a rustic, open setting overlooking the hills dotted with farm animals (the alpacas, pigs, chickens and goats can all be patted, too.) 

And the beauty continues on the plate. Fresh, seasonal and local ingredients are the heroes, and in the experienced hands of Head Chef Pat Haney, make a sumptuous feast – for the eyes and stomach.

Chef Haney brings over 20 years of industry experience at some of Australia’s top restaurants to Carrajung Estate. He says his philosophy is rooted in a deep respect for the ingredients he uses, and he is a firm believer in sustainable and ethical sourcing practices. 

“With an emphasis on seasonality and sustainability, our dishes feature fresh ingredients sourced directly from nearby farms that celebrate the natural beauty and culinary richness of Gippsland. Through our food, we want to share these growers’ stories,” Huang explains.

Gippsland Winery

Love wine-pairing? The first-ever release of Carrajung Estate’s wines are now rolling out. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are all on rotation. These drops are the fruits of two years of collaborative vine management between Carrajung Estate co-founder Adrian Critchlow, Toms Cap founder Graham Morris, and the award-winning Gippsland winemaker of Inverloch’s Dirty Three Wine, Marcus Satchell. 

And when the day is done, you can curl up by the traditional open fireplace at The Nest, or soak in the outdoor bath. The cottage is available to book via their website – and if it’s booked, don’t stress. Renovations of four new cottages are underway and will be ready by next summer.

From the carefully selected grapes to the state-of-the-art equipment, every detail in this new venue has been meticulously planned. The team behind Carrajung Estate have created a truly special Gippsland experience. So good, in fact, it feels like home.


WHAT: Carrajung Estate
WHERE: 322 Lays Rd, Willung South
WHEN: Fri-Sun 11am – 2.30pm & Dinner Thurs-Sat 5.30pm – 8.30pm
MORE INFO: Carrajung Estate

We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Whether you play golf or not, these stylish Bellarine rooms will lift your getaway game

Words by Danielle Phyland
Images supplied

There is no mistaking the primary purpose here as you round the sweeping driveway and are greeted by rolling greens, sand traps and a perfectly manicured putting green. Curlewis Golf Course is positioned on the Bellarine Peninsula, just a short 15-minute drive from Geelong.

Purchased in July 2015, by renowned local hospitality business operators, Lyndsay and David Sharp, whose CV includes Bellarine’s Jack Rabbit Vineyard and Flying Brick Cider Co, there have been some significant improvements to elevate the food experience alongside the quality of the golf course. Curlewis Golf Course now comfortably sits in the top 100 course rankings in Australia thanks to the new owners’ investment both on and off the green. Casual players and club members take to the course which is ranked #21 in Golf Australia magazine’s Top-100 Public Access Courses for 2022 -2023. The coastal landscape offers glimpses of Corio Bay from some of the fairways and where the wind can often shift the degree of difficulty of the course on any given day.

Curlewis Golf Club

Guest check-in takes place in the multi-purpose Clubhouse where friendly staff provide detailed instructions and map out the stay. The building is designed in such a way that it compliments the natural surroundings, heavily featuring stone and wood on the interior and exterior. The fully accessible Clubhouse is also home to the Pro Shop, Ivor’s Spike Bar and the Claribeaux Restaurant.

Once checked in guests enter the spacious dining room lined with floor-to-ceiling windows that immediately draw the eye to the expansive views across the golf course, particularly stunning as the sun sets. As its name indicates there is a strong French influence at The Claribeaux Restaurant, whose chefs focus on using sustainable local ingredients to offer a high-quality dining experience. A meal here is the perfect reward after a day of chasing a golf ball (or two) around the fairways or simply a lovely dining experience upon arrival. The restaurant takes its name from Alfred Claribeaux Curlewis, son of the European settlers who came to Australia in 1824 and established the local township. Guests choose from a succinct menu of leading dishes that hero local produce aligned with the seasons. The wine list is littered with creations from the Sharp Group wineries (Jack Rabbit, Leura Park, Yes Said the Seal) plus plenty of other wines, beers, ciders, gins and more from both local and international makers.

Golfing Bellarine Peninsula

Overlooking the golf course is a series of one and two-storey modular accommodation blocks containing sleek, stylishly finished rooms collectively sleeping up to 120 guests. Entering the room guests are greeted by the fresh, monochrome space complete with lux furnishings including Marimekko cushions, crisp linens, velvety bath robes and Sealy custom-made beds. Australian artist Eleanor Millard’s work hangs uniformly above the bed, their simple subjects complement the minimalist furniture and layout of the space. The Australian theme continues in the amenities with shower products by Orana featuring Australian essential oils, to help create a sense of place and revive body, mind and spirit.

Golfing Bellarine Pninsula

Eager golfers gather for breakfast in the dining room and excitedly chatter about the day ahead on the course that stretches out just beyond the windows of the dining room. The neat breakfast menu fuels guests for the day ahead with generous dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. For ongoing grazing, Ivor’s Spike Bar offers casual drinks and snacks during the day plus a selection of sundown snacks which are best enjoyed on the outdoor deck with a chilled glass of bubbly as the sun sets.

Curlewis Golf Club is conveniently located close to many attractions on the Bellarine Peninsula including Ket Bakery, Flying Brick Cider Co, Bellarine Smokehouse and numerous wineries not to mention the protected bayside beaches. The Bellarine Rail Trail is a great all-access path for running, walking and cycling conveniently situated at the rear of the Curlewis site.


What: Golfing on the Bellarine
Where: Curlewis Golf Course, 1201 – 1345 Portarlington Road, Curlewis, Vic
More info: Curlewis Golf

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Kryal Castle adds BIG4 Holiday Park — just in time for the school holidays

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Ever wished you could go to bed at night, gaze out your window and see a medieval castle haloed by the moonlight? What was once regaled to Lords and Ladies of the Dark Ages is now a contemporary, affordable opportunity with the opening of BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park.

Set to officially open on Friday, April 7th—just in time for the autumn school holidays—the new BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park will expand the attraction’s current accommodation offerings to include 57 powered campsites, 16 one-bedroom cabins, and four luxurious two-story loft tiny homes. With modern furnishings and comfortable proportions, these sleeping quarters are a far cry from those of a bygone era.

Kryal Castle BIG4

Families looking to drop anchor within arms reach of entertainment will be well-catered for at the holiday park. An onsite games room comes equipped with Xbox consoles and bean bags, and a large playground will keep the kids amused for hours. Grown-ups can seek refuge with a local drop on the lounge-style deck overlooking the stunning Ballarat cityscape. Even better, your four-legged furry friends are also welcome to stay with you.

For the first month of its opening, guests will receive a 50% discount on entry to the theme park. From jousting tournaments to archery, quirky characters, Knight School, and magical potions, Kryal Castle can fulfil (almost) every medieval desire.

The BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park is conveniently located just a quick 15-minute drive away from Ballarat town centre. Not only does this freshly minted holiday park fulfil the growing demand for more accommodation options in the area, but it also aims to restore tourism to its pre-Covid levels. Upcoming hot ticket items on the Kryal Castle event calendar include the Unicorn Festival from 7th-21st April and the Smashing Pumpkins The World Is A Vampire Tour on Sunday 3rd of April.

Kryal Castle

“We’re thrilled to open the holiday park and hope that its unique location will attract more visitors to experience Kryal Castle while also increasing the accommodation offering in Ballarat. Our aim is to encourage visitors to explore all the region has to offer,” said Kryal Castle CEO Bart Hamilton.

The holiday park is part of a $5.6 million initial development, privately funded by Kryal Castle, with the option to expand a further 119 sites on the eastern side of the castle grounds.


WHAT: BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park
WHEN: Friday, April 7th
FIND OUT MORE: BIG4 Kryal Castle Holiday Park

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Modern Indian-Australian fusion dining experience opens on the Great Ocean Road

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

First came the accommodation, then the day spa and now the team at Sunnymead in Aireys Inlet have revealed the final piece of their coastal experience puzzle – their restaurant Santara.

This intimate, warm-hued space is tucked between reception and the guest rooms and invites diners to sample the fusion menu that takes subcontinent classics and gives them an overtly Australian twist.

To start why not try a traditional Indian snack, pani puri? A golden, hollow dough ball, that in this instance is filled with prawns, Yarra Valley caviar and a pop of yuzu to make the crunch and seafood really sing as it breaks open with a single bite.

Great Ocean Road Restaurant

Moving on to mains, your eyes do not deceive you when you read “King Oyster Mushroom and Vegemite Butter”. When they say “fusion” they really mean it, and this dish is silky, unctuous, salty and satisfying. You really ought to try it before you knock it.

The Chicken Ruby curry is tender, sweet and textured courtesy of the addition of pomegranate and the beef of the Sticky Shin Taco falls straight off the bone and into your mouth, just like it should because you simply must eat this dish with your fingers.

The absolute savoury standout for us though, is the Onion Bhaji. This side dish may seem simple, but it’s deceptively hard to execute well and Santara have nailed it. Perfectly sized and sliced, crispy and light and oh to have been a fly on the wall when Executive Chef Adam Cooke (we know right?) announced to the kitchen he was going to sprinkle chicken salt on it. Delicious!

Yes, you want to leave room for dessert, Indian spices line up against European classics, but the Chai Roasted Peaches is our pick, with cream ice cream and honey from local hive Apiary.

Nearby producers also feature heavily on the drinks menu, wines are well-priced by the bottle and the cocktail list is as playful as the food, with a nod to a secret nearby surf break created with neighbours Great Ocean Road Gin and an absolute belter by Chef Pratik who’s mashed up vodka, white rum, cucumber juice and garam masala.


By Springtime the Santara team plan to be trading 5 days a week, but for now, all are welcome to book dinner on Friday and Saturday nights – whether you’re staying at Sunnymead, exploring the Great Ocean Road or are lucky enough to call yourself a “local”.


Who: Santara
Modern, Indian-Australia fusion and fun cocktails
Sunnymead Hotel, Aireys Inlet
Open: Friday & Saturday for Dinner
More Info: Santara

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.