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.

Heathcote in Autumn – Food, Wine and Craft Beer

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

The Heathcote region is most well-known for its Shiraz – and rightly so – with the perfect growing conditions for this grape variety thanks to the red, rocky soils of the surrounding mountains. But! There is so much more to explore, enjoy and discover when it comes to eating and drinking in the area.

Whether you’re wanting to fine dine, winery hop or hole up for a casual afternoon in a beer barn, you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice and will probably need more than just a day trip to pack in all the experiences available.

Start in town and meander along High Street or head for the hills and plan out a driving itinerary. Whatever you decide, make sure you tick off at least a few of our following favourites from your “must visit” list.

Chauncy

Heathcote RestaurantThis fine-dining gem is attracting a huge amount of foodie attention – and earning hats – with the couple at the helm having some big hospitality names on their collective CV.

Parisian-born chef Louis has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and partner Tess is a sommelier who counts McConnell and Grossi as former employers. This combined experience has led to an elegant, intimate restaurant, housed in a sandstone building, that’s steeped in local history.

Expect a traditional, French, set lunch menu – with a sprinkling of Italian influences – that showcases local produce, surprising and delightful wines and superb service that challenges regional stereotypes.

Open Friday-Monday for lunch and it’s essential to book, or it’ll be c’est la vie.

Take a look here.

Palling Bros Brewery

Heathcote BreweryAt the opposite end of the dining spectrum and a couple of doors up from Chauncy, is the working brewery and beer hall of Palling Bros.

Craft beer enthusiasts will find a pleasing array of offerings for their tasting paddles and everyone else will be catered for with softies, wine and spirits also available.

On Wednesday and Thursday, food is courtesy of Derek and his Tonka truck, serving up toasties from midday-3pm and Friday through to Sunday, the full kitchen menu is available, with burgers, tacos, smoked meats and the usual pub pleasers.

Kid and dog friendly, and with live music on weekends, this is an easy and excellent choice.

More here.

Heathcote Wine Hub

Heathcote Wine HubIf you’re not keen on driving around to sample as many local drops as possible, this wine store and provedore is just a stroll down High Street.

Housed in a charming old wooden church, it is deceptively casual because inside you’ll find over 200 Heathcote wines, an ever-changing tasting menu and some of the most knowledgeable service that extends to the beers, ciders and gins that are also stocked here.

Make a booking and make sure you allot a good few hours of your weekend here because once you get chatting, tasting will turn into snacking, which will turn into a long, lazy lunch and then suddenly you’ve had the best day!

Find out more here.

Shiraz Republic & Cornella Brewery

Heathcote WineryWithin the famous Shiraz wine territory, sits Mt Camel, a micro-zone of growing. And the jewel that sits in its crown, is this destination operation that houses a winery, a brewery, self-contained accommodation and immersive experiences.

Visit the cellar door to sample a tasting flight, try one of 20 beers on tap and kick back and enjoy the view and the tunes over a pizza.

For the full viticulture package, book a cabin, rent a row of vines and get your hands and feet dirty stomping grapes and making your own wine!

Get all the info here.

Silver Spoon Estate

Heathcote WineryIf eco-tourism is your specialist subject, a visit to this off-grid vineyard on Mt Camel is a must.

The entire winery is powered by 64 solar panels and large water tanks, and the grapevines are non-irrigated, meaning only natural rainfall is relied upon to provide hardy, intense flavours.

Creepy crawlies great and small, are allowed to live in harmony and keep pests and disease at bay, with a minimum of chemicals needed to keep crops healthy and in Springtime sheep are grazed to keep the weeds in check.

This enviro ethos brings you vegan-friendly wines, gluten-free and vegetarian bistro options and a sense of relaxed fun when your choices are drops with names like “Monster Shiraz” and “Fandango”.

Details here.

Vinea Marson

Winery HeathcoteMario Marson has brought generations’ worth of growing knowledge and his Italian heritage to this slice of Mt Camel.

Imported grape varietals love the soil here and Vinea Marson has been producing Sangiovese and Nebbiolo with them since 2000. Add to that Rosé, Viognier and classic Prosecco and this becomes the winery to visit with a carload full of different tastes.

The cellar door is steeped in awards and you can gather around the table to enjoy antipasto and foodie collaborations with notables like That’s Amore Cheese, as well as events that pair the vino with fine menu offerings from kitchens such as Ladro.

Get all the details here.


THE DETAILS

Where: Heathcote in Autumn
What: Food, Wine & Craft Beer
More Info: Explore Heathcote

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

Beechworth’s old-fashioned soda bar with a cheeky hidden secret

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images supplied

Bringing back the nostalgia of the local soda bar serving up your favourite ice cream spiders, sodas and milkshakes, Billson’s Soda Bar in the Victorian High Country region of Beechworth is hiding a cheeky secret only accessible with a password.

Soda Bar

What was once a printing press has been transformed into Billson’s Soda Bar, an old-fashioned experience where a bartender serves up all your favourite Billson’s cordials from a selection far beyond what you’ll find in your local supermarket.

The enormous range of cordials is created just a short stroll away at the historic Billson’s Beechworth brewery where pure spring water, filtered through Beechworth granite helps create handcrafted beer, small batch gins and liqueur, a range of cordials including flavours both traditional and not-so-traditional such as Cloves and Peppermint, Pine Lime and Grape Bubblegum, sodas and the hugely popular premixed spirit drinks.

The brewery itself is well worth the visit for the opportunity to take the popular tour and learn about the brewery’s fascinating history and visit their tasting room and taste every drink they make, for free. You can also order from their casual dining menu, or treat your dog to a day out in the beer garden. And while these things alone make the road trip well worth the journey, it’s the Soda Bar’s cheeky cocktail lounge hidden behind a cool room door that’s certain to delight.

Beechworth Bar

Accessible by adults only using the password, (hint: it’s hidden somewhere on their website) the elegant Isabella’s Cocktail Bar is named for the enterprising woman behind the Billson’s name. She and her husband George travelled from England to California and Bendigo in search of gold in the 1850s and began a legacy in Beechworth by building a brewery and brand that has carried through the years.

While you’re visiting, try their signature 50/50 cocktail. Called “a gentle approach to a classic martini” it uses the signature small batch Isabella’s Gin, aged for three months in muscat barrels and sold exclusively at Billson’s cellar door in Beechworth.

Pop in for a cheeky cocktail or book reservations to enjoy dinner courtesy of Chef Douglas Elder’s seasonal menu designed to pair with the drinks list. You’ll also discover a wine inspired by the surrounding King Valley and Rutherglen regions.

High Country Restaurant

The recently launched Billson’s Cocktail Class, is an immersive hands-on two-hour session where groups of up to 10 are taken through the fundamental techniques of shaking, stirring and of course, sipping various spirits, flavours and garnishes. Led by Billson’s own bartenders, you’ll create three fabulous cocktails using your new skills, paired with canapes and cheeses. Afterwards, you’ll want to stock up on cordials to re-create these delicious beauties at home.

Held on Sunday afternoons and priced at $89 per person, it’s also a great group activity that can be booked privately for a special celebration such as hen’s parties, birthdays and corporate events. Don’t drink? Book a $79 ticket and learn how to whip up some incredibly delicious mocktails.  

Beechworth is a three-hour drive from the Melbourne CBD via the M31 Hume Freeway. Take the Great Alpine Road B500 to Tarrawingee and the C315 to Beechworth.


THE DETAILS

What: Isabella’s at Billson’s Soda Bar
When: Open 12 pm – 10 pm, Thursday to Monday, Cocktail classes are Sundays or by private booking
Where: 37 Camp Street, Beechworth, VIC, 3747
More Info: Billsons

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

Bendigo’s Brand New Brewery Pub

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

In the heart of Bendigo, under the shadow of the towering spire of the Catholic Cathedral, is an old Salvation Army hall. For years it was decked in the dowdy attire of a finance office. After over a year of renovations, 50 Short Street is home to a vibrant, fun, rowdy bar and brewery called Brewers Collective.

It is the brainchild of four mates who share a love of beer. For years Bendigo boys Brett Davis, Simon Francis and Neil Towan would meet in the Goldmines Hotel, drink beer and talk about making beer. Brett Davis had been a keen brewer for years and brewed his first batch for his wedding 23 years ago and has been refining his craft ever since. He won homebrewing competitions before gaining his post-graduate certificate in Brewing and Malting from Federation University in 2018.

Bendigo Brewery

The mates started brewing together in Simon Francis’ shed, working out their recipes and doing serious ‘community research’ by putting on hog and hops days where 80 locals would turn up to drink their beer and eat BBQ pork raised on Simon’s wife’s parent’s farm.

Brewers Collective fills the historic building beautifully. The timber floorboards have been stripped back, the brick walls revealed, and the red leather booths used for the Elvis! exhibition have been repurposed for comfortable seating. The team makes eight beers on site, the favourites being the Hazel Junior, a double dry hopped pale ale, the sessional Shorter Street pale ale, and the traditional malty English ale called Uncle Monty.

“Part of our business plan is to support other local businesses, which is why we don’t make and sell food,” says Simon Francis. “Instead, we encourage our customers to order with neighbouring restaurants.” Three popular Bendigo restaurants, namely Jojoe’s Pizza, Mexican Kitchen, and Harpoon Social Club – a fun eatery specialising in modern Japanese dishes.


THE DETAILS

What: Brewery bar around the corner from local restaurants doing takeaway
Who: Avid homebrewers turned pro
Where: 50 Short Street (go to the back of Bendigo’s cathedral, then go down the hill)
When: Opened March 17 and every Thu-Sun
Why: Good beer, good crowd, great city
More Info: Brewers Collective

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.

Meet Meeniyan’s new container bar, courtesy of craft brewer Sailors Grave

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

In befitting oceanic style, Gippsland family brewery Sailors Grave are launching a craft beer bar in a renovated shipping container. This one stays on land, however; right in the breezy community event space, Meeniyan Town Square.

The new outpost sees the brewery join forces with local favourite Italian restaurant Trulli to create a centrally located hospitality and tourism hub. Already home to Meeniyan Pantry & Cellar—a rustic cafe, deli and music venue—and Trulli Outdoors, Bakehouse & Gelateria, the Meeniyan Square is driven by sustainability, family and community, and offers patrons a family-friendly zone to eat, drink, and relax.

 

“We thought what Francesco and the team were building was almost the full package with the Restaurant, Bakehouse and Gelateria; it was just missing us, the special sauce!” Gabrielle Moore, brewer and co-founder of Sailors Grave said.

Sailors Grave, with roots planted further east in the Gippsland town of Orbost, will have eight taps in the container bar to showcase their range of beers: from crisp and juicy IPA to crowd-pleasing draught. It is set to launch February 17 to coincide with the Meeniyan Garlic Festival and will introduce locals and travellers alike to the brand, while giving Sailors Grave loyalists their favourite brews without long travel times.

“We fell in love with the unique, hand-crafted, artisanal beers from Sailors Grave. Quite simply, we’ve never tasted anything like it.
And with each new beer, we seem to keep saying that again and again!” Trulli owner Francesco Laera said.

They make beer like we make food. Subtle, fresh ingredients, and respect for those ingredients.

The creative collaboration is underpinned by a championing of Gippsland produce, with both brands boasting reputations for quality, innovation and collaboration. Trulli has undergone many transitions and additions, from their first days as a small restaurant to their now diverse variety of offerings from cheese and meat to pantry items and a huge wine cellar at the deli, to woodfired pizza, artisanal bread and gelati at the Bakehouse. Meanwhile Sailors Grave’s strength and uniqueness centres around telling the stories of the people, places, and ingredients of Gippsland.

The new joint venture is sure to bring new life to the Meeniyan Square and attract locals and travellers alike. ‘Cause nobody can resist a delicious pizza and beer combination.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Sailors Grave x Trulli at Meeniyan Town Square
WHERE: Meeniyan Square: 94 Whitelaw St, Meeniyan
WHEN: 17 February 2023
MORE INFO: Sailors Grave

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

Follow this trail for the hidden breweries, distilleries and wineries of the Macedon Ranges

It’s the little wine region that could!

Macedon Ranges might not be as internationally well known as the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula regions, but its popularity is growing fast.

Throughout the month of April, local businesses will host the Macedon Ranges Autumn Festival and it’s the perfect time to explore every nook and cranny of this burgeoning cold-climate region.

To help you get started, we have created a Tipple Trail – a self-guided journey to discover the huge collection of artisan distillers, breweries and cellar doors hidden throughout the region.

Plan out your trip with the map below and for more details and extra itinerary options, check out the itineraries page on the Macedon Ranges Autumn Festival website.

 

 


The Details
What: Tipple Trail – Macedon Ranges Autumn Festival
Where: Macedon Ranges
When: April 1 – 30, 2023
Getting there: Drive, Train and Shuttle
Where to stay:  Accommodation in the Macedon Ranges
More information

Mega brewery now open thanks to some mega funding and hard work of Lancefield locals

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

The Lost Watering Hole is open in the Macedon Ranges town of Lancefield. The angular design of the venue, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, has been constructed from the ground up to house the Lancefield Brewery, bar, restaurant and function space, and has already built a sense of excitement amongst the locals.

The huge project also carries with it an air of expectation to deliver jobs and tourists to the area, having had a major funding injection of $1.3 million from the State government.

In geology circles, the Lancefield Swamp has been on the world map for over a century, thanks to the discovery of thousands of fossilised bones, and in particular several species of Australian megafauna that include a rhinoceros-sized wombat, a giant kangaroo and an enormous flightless bird.

Taking this rich history and running with it, the Lancefield Brewery core range of beers are already on the market and the first four iterations have been named after these Pleistocene predecessors and include an IPA, Dark Ale, Draught and Pale Ale.

Head brewer Julian originally hails from Bochum in Germany and can regularly be seen on the brewery’s social media channels, breaking down the essence of each brew and proudly explaining that the beers are unfiltered, additive-free and rely on just the four simple ingredients of water, malt, hops and yeast.

The capacity of production though, once fully operational, is set to be just as epic as the creatures on the labels, with the facilities primed to can over 100,000 litres of beer annually and create over a dozen employment opportunities within the town.

You can also sample the beers at Verdure Bistro Romsey, Woodend’s Victoria Hotel or the Lancefield Lodge.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Brewery, bar & restaurant
WHERE: Lancefield
WHEN: Open Now
FIND OUT MORE: The Lost Watering Hole

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

Leading Heathcote producers release three new sparkling summer drinks

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

As summer slowly grinds itself into gear and shakes away the droplets of the wettest spring on record, Victorians are beginning to stock up their esky’s with summertime bevvys. Two Heathcote businesses, Shiraz Republic and Cornella Brewery, have teamed up to release a line of fresh, sparkling drinks fit for the occasion.

Located in the Central Victorian region of Heathcote, renowned for it’s fertile Cambrian soil and award-winning reds, Shiraz Republic and Cornella Brewery are neighbouring businesses with old friends at the helm. Spencer Page owns and brews hazy beers at Cornella, while Matt van Run is a winemaker at Shiraz Republic. This season they have joined forces to release three new canned drinks: the New Tinto de Verano Shiraz & Lemon Spritzer, a Skin Contact White Pet Nat and a Grenache Rosé Pet Nat

Lovers of Spanish cocktails will be familiar with Tinto de Verano Shiraz, a shiraz and lemon spritzer that is lighter than its more familiar cousin Sangria. Brewed to 5% and packaged in a can, Shiraz Republic/Cornella Brewery’s brew sits perfectly alongside a seltzer, beer or fizzer for the Australian summer.

Initially made in small batches for the Shiraz Republic Cellar Door, the Tinto de Verano Shiraz & Lemon Spritzer proved such a crowd-pleaser that Page and van Run began packaging the product at their onsite brewery, initially by hand in bottles. Flash forward a few months and they’re shipping slabs across the country.

“It is the perfect drink to go with a sunny afternoon, at a BBQ, festival or anywhere really. At first, it was a challenge to sell to customers, because it’s a bit out of the ordinary, but once customers taste it, they are hooked. Anyone who has travelled to Spain would recognise Tinto as a classic summery Spanish cocktail. It’s a popular drink worldwide, albeit under the guise of several different monikers and regional names,” said Page.

The other pair of beverages, the French Pétillant Naturel’s—which translates to “naturally sparkling”—are additive, preservative and and sulphite light free wines, each with a crisp, tart flavour. The Skin Contact White features yellow muscat, fermented on skins for five days, then fermented to dry and is tart, with notes of pineapple and lemon myrtle. While the Grenache Rosé, pressed directly off the skins and fermented at a controlled temperature until racking into a tank for carbonation, has notes of peach & strawberry with a subtle, delectable funkiness. Both are canned for the ultimate convenience.

Carefully prepared and beautifully designed, these drinks will pair just as well at your backyard barbeque as with a fancy charcuterie board. All are available to purchase online, at the Shiraz Republic Cellar Door, or at select stockists.


THE DETAILS
WHAT: New release of canned alcoholic drinks
WHERE: Shiraz Republic and Cornella Brewery
WHEN: Available now
MORE INFO: Shiraz Republic

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

Our guide to exploring Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images Mike Emmett

From heart-pounding adventures to award-winning wineries, family adventures, natural escapes, culinary indulgences and so much more, visiting Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula is certain to satisfy any type of traveller.

Wander the laneways and tuck into delicious cafes, enjoy a locally made craft beer in the sunshine at Little Creatures or a tasting paddle at the Queenscliff Distillery. Indulge in a bit of retail therapy in Hesse Precinct Queenscliff; a historic street packed with boutique homewares shops, bookstores, clothing, gifts, eateries and more.

Alternatively explore local wineries and fine dining at the award-winning Provenance Wines where head chef Nathan McIver will make your senses explode with his take on modern Australian cuisine featuring considered, local and seasonal ingredients. Likewise, pack your appetite because La Cachette Bistrot is a fine dining experience worth travelling for. If you’ve got a sweet tooth or you’re travelling with kids, make a stop at Scandinavian Ice cream Co for a real treat.

Bring an empty esky and visit the farm gates and gourmet provedores, there’s no way that esky will come home empty.

Feeling outdoorsy? The Portarlington waterfront is an ideal day at the beach with cafes and accommodation steps away. The recreational reserve area here offers a dog-friendly area, picnic spots, playgrounds and the like. Alternatively, Buckley Falls is a scenic spot to stand in awe of the cascading water into the Barwon River.

There are walking trails here with plenty of spots to stop and take in the view. While you’ve got your comfy walking shoes on, take a stroll along the tracks at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse. Built in 1902, the lighthouse is still manned today. Walking tracks circle the lighthouse and extend down the rocky headland to the beach below.

Feeling nostalgic? The Bellarine Railway in Queenscliff has heritage train rides and special events for kids including Thomas the Tank Engine-themed days and serves as the boarding location for the gourmet Q Train dining experience as well as the popular Blues Train.

Why not stay and explore? While both Geelong and the Bellarine are close enough to make for a great day trip, there’s plenty here to keep you discovering something new and exciting every day. Book your stay at any one of the incredible range of accommodation options from boutique B&Bs to serviced apartments suiting couples, families and even your pooch at the R Hotel. It’s also only a 5-minute walk to the beach!

Families might also enjoy the range of options at BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Queenscliff Beacon, it’s perfectly positioned across the road from the beach, at the entrance to Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale on the Bellarine Peninsula. From villas to apartments and campsites, there’s an option for all types of travellers and it features all the facilities Big4 are known for including a tennis court, playground, indoor heated pool, the famous Big4 jumping pillows and more.

Getting There:

Getting to Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula is easy. Geelong is just an hour’s drive from Melbourne and you can continue to the Bellarine just another 20-30 minutes onward along the coastlines, weaving through views of Port Phillip Bay and rolling vineyards.
Alternatively, hop on a V/Line train from Melbourne’s South Cross Station and make your way straight to Geelong. Ferry services also operate between Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula and Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, as well as Portarlington on the Bellarine Peninsula or Geelong Central and Docklands in Melbourne.


 




 

Appearing in videos:

Basils Farm
La Cachette
Geelong Cellar Door
R Hotel
Proveance Wines
The Range @ Curlewis
Ingenia Beacon Queenscliff
Portarlington Grand Hotel
The Bookshop at Queenscliff
Bellarine Distillery / The Whiskery
National Wool Museum
Little Creatures