Choose your own adventure: Exploring the You Yangs & Moorabool Valley

Words by Amanda Kennedy
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They say life is all about balance, a bit of yin with your yang, so to speak. We all know that getting outside to blow away the cobwebs is not only good for the body, but it’s also good for the soul. We’ve rounded up a host of activities in the Moorabool Valley and You Yangs area to get you out and about and sweetened it with some treats for afterwards.

Walking MelbourneYou Yangs Regional Park

You’ve definitely seen them from across the bay, or perhaps from the city’s outskirts, those hills on the horizon. The You Yangs (Wurdi Youang) are a group of 24km long granite outcrops an hour southwest of Melbourne near the town of Little River. Time to pay them a visit!

Topping out at 319m is the park’s highest point, Flinders Peak. Those who make the 3.2km one-hour return walk will be well-rewarded with stunning views across the volcanic plains back towards Melbourne or south to Geelong.

From the eastern lookout, the eagle-eyed will also spy the geoglyph of Bunjil, creator spirit of the Wadawurrung people, traditional custodians of the region. Artist Andrew Rogers utilised 1500 tonnes of granite and limestone rock to form the wedge-tail eagle geoglyph, in recognition of the Wadawurrung people’s connection to the land.

Iconic Australian painter Fred Williams was known to spend much time painting en plein air in the region. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to create your own masterpiece?

Bike Riding MelbourneIf you’re the type who likes to get the blood really pumping, you might like to bring your mountain bike and hit some of the 50km of purpose-built trails across two dedicated zones. Maybe horse riding, orienteering, rock-climbing, abseiling or bushwalking is more your speed? If so, there are dozens of trails from the family-friendly through to the more challenging to choose from.

If that all sounds a little exhausting, you could always try your hand at some birdwatching or perhaps a gentle stroll to one of the nine designated picnic areas.

The You Yangs Regional Park is open every day from 7am and closing at 5pm (6pm from Daylight Savings). Access to the park from the Princes Freeway is signposted via Lara. Facilities include picnic areas (barbecues, tables and toilets available) as well as drinking water available from the Visitors Centre.

Serendip Sanctuary Wildlife Park

Melbourne wildlife
© Barbara Dawn

Only 10 minutes further south is the Serendip Sanctuary. Soak in the serenity or explore some of the 250ha of wetlands and grassy woodlands. Experience your own close encounter with some native wildlife on one of the popular and wheelchair-accessible nature trails. Spot a mob of emus, Eastern Grey kangaroos or even a Tawny Frogmouth from one of the many bird hides.

With an emphasis on education, the sanctuary offers a Junior Rangers Program for families during school holidays as well as downloadable DIY activity sheets. Discover how some of Victoria’s most threatened species are being protected at the sanctuary’s education facility, old school and screen-free.

Serendip Sanctuary is open every day except Christmas Day & Good Friday from 8am until 4pm. Facilities include picnic areas, barbecues, tables, toilets and drinking water.

Brisbane Ranges National Park

National Parks MelbourneDrive half an hour west and you’ve arrived at Brisbane Ranges National Park and Steiglitz Historic Park. Ten points if you time your visit for spring’s magnificent wildflower displays including the rarely seen Velvet Daisy-bush and Brisbane Ranges Grevillea.

But first let’s start the adrenaline racing with some rock-climbing, abseiling, horse riding, kayaking/rafting or bushwalking (trails range from a couple of hours to several days). Camping areas with tank water and pit toilets available, bookings required. Picnic areas include wood barbecues, tables and toilets.

As with any visit to the great outdoors, best to check forecasted weather as well as location conditions. Visit Parks Victoria for more information.

Reckon you’ve earned a reward or two?

Farmers Market MelbourneFortunately, an area so rich in outdoor activities is also blessed with a cornucopia of food and drink choices.

Golden Plains Farmers Market is held the first Saturday of every month and is the ideal place to begin. If you miss that, no matter; the region is well placed with a slew of farm gates and providores.

Moorabool Valley Chocolate Pick up some handmade truffles made with the freshest ingredients from this family-owned small business.

Meredith Dairy The Cameron family have been responsibly and sustainably farming sheep and goats since the early 1990s, creating one of Australia’s most iconic farmhouse cheeses which are now exported to the world.

Inverleigh Bakehouse An old-school country bakery is a thing of beauty and this converted 1868 homestead doesn’t disappoint with artisan breads as well as tempting pastries and cakes.

Clyde ParkBread cheese and chocolate – tick! Now you need something to drink. Thankfully this cool climate wine region offers boutique wineries, renowned cellar doors and winery restaurants both large and small, so you’re sure to find one to suit.

Clyde Park Vineyard and Bistro Step into the cellar door and secure a spot by the fire before tasting through their award-winning wines whilst taking in sweeping views over the Moorabool Valley. This family-friendly bistro is open daily offering everything from a quick nibble through to a three-course meal.

Del Rios Wines Enjoy a long, lazy lunch centred around their estate-grown produce (including Black Angus beef) complemented by an extensive wine portfolio.

No doubt this has whet your appetite to explore the region. You’ll only wonder what took you so long.

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

The whimsical foodie-haven St Andrews Collective is now open

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Lovers of local produce (and cottagecore), prepare to be delighted. There’s a new fairy tale-esque provedore gracing the bustling township of St Andrews. It’s focus? All the interesting, unique products you won’t find anywhere else.

Perched on top of a grassy slope, overlooking the Queenstown Bushland Reserve, the newly minted St Andrews Collective has swung open its doors to locals and travellers alike, selling produce that’s equal parts delicious and delightful.

The storefront is curated and owned by St Andrews local Nicole Milella whose career in hospitality spans almost a decade. After several months of planning during the lockdown period, Milella has brought together a sumptuous selection of nibbles, dry goods and even handmade and vintage homewares to please even the most selective shopper – all from producers less than thirty minutes away.

Lining the wooden shelves are loose-leaf teas from the Yarra Valley Tea Co, artisan cheese courtesy of Jack Holman at Stone and Crow (vegan cheese included), rich preserves and cordials made by Spurrell Foraging, herbs and spices, olive oils and so much more. Milella has even curated her own cheese boards which can be purchased and happily eaten just outside, in a shady spot on the grass.

If you forgot to bring a picnic blanket, don’t worry, Milella has also got a selection of vintage picnic rugs and baskets for sale. There’s even dried native flowers and hand-thrown pottery ready for the picking if you fancy making a really Insta-worthy spread.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the perfect provedore without some kind of wine involved and this is where St Andrews Collective truly shines. Situated right next door is Punch Room Wines, a killer local cellar door, who have teamed up with the shop to create cheese and wine pairings. Guests can grab a cheese board, walk into the cellar door for a glass of red or white and enjoy everything St Andrews has on offer.

For now, St Andrews Collective is open on Saturdays only, but with tentative plans to open on Sundays as well. Occasional fresh produce courtesy of a local market gardener will be available, as well as unique fresh goods from Spurrell Foraging.

THE DETAILS
WHAT: St Andrews Collective
WHERE: 10 Scott Street, St Andrews
WHEN: Saturdays 9am-3pm
MORE INFO: St Andrews Collective


	

Praise Cheesus, there’s a prospective “cheese train” coming for Geelong

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Japan, 1958 – the world’s first conveyer belt sushi, colloquially known as a “sushi train”, opens in Osaka. It is an instant hit and copied in restaurants all around the world.

Geelong, 2021 – the much-loved sushi train model shape shifts into something even more wonderful: a cheese train. It opens on Pakington Street and the locals go wild.

Okay, we may be trying to write history here, but we could be very close to the truth. The Geelong-based cheese dealer Splatters have lodged a planning application with the City of Greater Geelong to open a fully licensed restaurant on Pakington St. Their crowning jewel? Cheese served on a conveyer belt.

In what would be an Australian first, the restaurant will serve a huge variety of gourmet cheeses in exactly the same manner sushi does, as well as contain a restaurant space and cheese garden. If that doesn’t sound like utopia, we don’t know what does.

The bricks and mortar store will be the first of its kind for Splatters, who currently operate as an online catering business and from their food truck “Splattervan.” If plans go ahead, they will be setting up shop in one of the city’s most popular strips: the heart of Pakington Street at the former pharmacy opposite Geelong West Library.

Unafraid of the night-life Pakington is famous for, the cheese train and bar will be a party-starter, with proposed operating hours from 11am to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. On the other days of the week, cheese aficionados can get their fix from 11am til 11pm. And while we haven’t seen any drinks lists yet, we’re sure the wine pairings will be on point.

Late-night cheese and wine? It don’t get any cheddar than that.

THE DETAILS
WHAT: Splatters
WHEN: Opening soon
MORE INFO: Splatters

Say cheese! Long Paddock Cheese shop opens up in Castlemaine

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If there’s one thing we love at One Hour Out more than anything else, it’s cheese. Parmesan, dofenoir, manchego… whatever the shape, style or make, we are here for it. And the good news is, the folks at ‘Long Paddock Cheese’ are here for us, too.

Popping up this week at The Mill in Castlemaine, ‘Long Paddock Cheese’ is offering fresh, artisan cows-milk cheese for all the cheese tragics out there. Oh and milk, yogurt and cream will be added to the menu soon, making it your one-stop-shop for all things dairy.

Lovingly crafted by French cheesemakers Ivan and Julie Larcher, each block, wedge and wheel has been perfected after months of practice at their soon-to-launch “cheese university”. Meaning not only are they honing their skills for our cheesy indulgence, but also for our cheesy education.

In what will be a world first, the crew are set to open a privately funded artisan cheesemaking school, aptly titled ‘The Cheese School’ come January. Under the guidance of the Larcher’s, regular folks and professionals alike can learn the practical and theoretical aspects of cheesemaking. Students will leave with a newfound appreciation for the dairy delights, as well as (you guessed it) their very own cheese.

The team, headed up by director Alison Lansley, hope to tackle the mass-produced cheddar monopoly currently at play in the Australian market and bring back the love of locally crafted fromage. Certainly, sharing the knowledge of good cheese can only be a good thing for both the industry and our taste buds. 

Course guidelines and timetables are set to be released very soon, but for now you can do your research over at the Long Paddock Cheese shop. Buy a couple of blocks, taste a couple more, and you’ll be floating off to cheesy heaven. We’ll see you there.

THE DETAILS
WHAT: Long Paddock Cheese opening
WHERE: The Mill, Castlemaine – 1/9 Walker Street
WHEN: Now
MORE INFO: The Cheese School


	

Movida tour of the High-Country

The Victorian High-country is full of a diverse range of small-scale farms supplying a regular supply of quality produce to Melbourne.

We invited key chefs and sommeliers from Movida group to tour the region with the aim of sourcing new ingredients for their restaurants.