Winners of the inaugural Top Tourism Town Awards announced

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Over 23,000 public votes have been counted and the tribe has spoken.

After what has been a highly anticipated and toughly fought battle for the title of Victoria’s Top Tourism Town, the Victorian Tourism Industry Council has crowned their winners and its Ballarat and Port Fairy who have taken the top honours for 2021.

Loved by locals and visitors alike for its thriving arts scene, diverse culinary landscape and award-winning attractions, Ballarat has been named Victoria’s Top Tourism Town for a town with a population over 5,000. The regional town was awarded Gold by both a judging panel and public vote at a ceremony in Bendigo and is certainly a sign of Ballarat’s sensational development as a tourist destination.

In the Top Small Tourism Town category (population under 5000), Port Fairy took the gong – a strong achievement for a fishing village at the end of the Great Ocean Road. Its buzzing local art scene, wide tree-lined streets and stunning natural environment make it a favourite amongst city-slickers looking for an escape, and now they’ve got a trophy to prove it.

Both Victorian Gold Winners will go on to contend for the title of Australia’s Top Tourism Town, which will be announced at Parliament House in Canberra on September 2nd 2021.

As for the other honours, Lakes Entrance was awarded Silver and Bendigo was awarded Bronze in the Top Tourism Town category, while Timboon was awarded Silver and Apollo Bay awarded Bronze for the Top Small Tourism Town awards.

30 destinations were nominated for the prestigious award, which recognises and celebrates towns that excel in providing an outstanding visitor experience. After a difficult year for the tourism sector, the achievements showcase each town’s unwavering commitment to tourism and success at creating a wonderful experience for all travellers.

WHAT: Victoria’s Top Tourism Town Awards
WHERE: Ballarat and Port Fairy
WHEN: July 14th 2021
MORE INFO: Victoria’s Top Tourism Town Awards

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

A new 3 week festival is coming to East Gippsland this winter

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One takeaway from 2020 we’re glad to embrace is the backyard getaway. Amidst the uncertainty of international (and at times interstate) travel, there’s never been a better time to explore your own state. From charming small towns, a vibrant arts scene, local produce the envy of many, spectacular coastlines, excellent eateries and much more, there’s one place that has this all wrapped up – East Gippsland.

East Gippsland Winter Festival (June 18 to July 11) is a celebration of all things art, music, wine, craft beer and local produce. Spread over three weeks there will be a raft of activities including interactive art installations, pop-up events, live music, workshops, exclusive dinners and lavish feasts showcasing the best the region has to offer.

With bushfires, drought and Covid challenging many a local business, festival founder Adam Bloem was looking for a way to attract more people to the region. ’I wanted something that encouraged people to stay a bit longer and travel around and explore all of the little towns and villages.’

We now have over 70 events on our festival program and the majority of these have been devised and organised by local businesses, community groups and passionate locals. The response has been overwhelming and we can’t wait to welcome thousands of visitors to East Gippsland over winter where there will be lots of things to see, do, eat and drink right across the region.

From Mallacoota to Paynesville, north to Omeo and everywhere in between, friendly locals can’t wait to share their special corner of the world with you. Kick it off on Friday, June 18 with the official festival opening in Bairnsdale with live music and roving performers, as well as a bevy of food/wine options and art projections throughout the town.

Pencil in the Pinot Picnic and Masterclass on Sunday, June 20 thanks to the acclaimed Sardine Eatery + Bar and Lightfoot & Sons Winery. This not-to-be-missed event salutes Gippsland Lakes District’s exceptional pinot noir at Lightfoot and Son’s cellar door. The winemaker-guided Masterclass will take place in their barrel room with guests enjoying a Sardine Eatery picnic box filled with cheese, charcuterie and conserves.

This year’s winter solstice on Monday, June 21 just happens to coincide with World Bathing Day. Join bathers from across the globe at sunrise for a live-streamed Global Sound Bath. From the new pop-up bathing area on the future Metung Hot Springs site, drink in the beauty of the natural surrounds for a calm and balanced start to your day.


The Lakes Light Festival on Saturday, June 26 promises to be a festival highlight. Watch a mural painting as it unfolds in both a virtual sense and in reality at the former iceworks factory, and now arts hub, in Lakes Entrance.

Is it time to unleash your inner artist? Then don’t miss the lantern making workshop on Tuesday, June 29 in Swifts Creek. This idyllic town in the Tambo Valley is quickly developing a strong reputation for its arts scene and part in the Great Alpine Arts Trail. Experienced local artists will guide you through the process and shine a light on your creative side. Great fun for all ages!

One of the festival standouts has to be the Sailors Grave Deep Winter Festival on Saturday, July 3. Sailors Grave is a darling of the craft beer scene for good reason. Their complex beers (and idiosyncratic branding) tell the story of their unique region, their terroir. None more so than their recent release Dark Emu Dark Lager, a collaboration with Uncle Bruce Pascoe honouring indigenous culture and knowledge.

The Deep Winter event kicks off at 6 pm at the home of Sailors Grave brewery, a 100-year-old butter factory on the banks of the Snowy River. Music will be provided by post-punk Oz rock band Shepparton Airplane and other special guests, with food by Melbourne butchers Meatsmith. Co-founders Gab and Chris Moore can’t wait to welcome you.

By now you’re thinking it might be a great idea to plan a little exercise and thankfully the area has some of the most scenic trails in the state. Little River Gorge Walk will certainly get the blood pumping but also rewards that effort with a stunning view over one of Victoria’s deepest gorges and the mis-named Little River. Of course, a leisurely stroll around one of the area’s many lakes might be more your pace. Check out some of the options here.

So many activities – both day and night – means you’re going to need somewhere to stay. With accommodation options from traditional B&Bs, luxe glamping or maybe a waterside retreat complete with mooring for your boat, there’s no excuse not to head east this winter.


WHAT: East Gippsland Winter Festival
WHERE: Various locations around East Gippsland
WHEN: Saturday 19th June – Sunday 11th July 2021
MORE INFO:  Register for program updates at the East Gippsland Winter Festival website.

Learmonth Cider branches out

Images by Café Sidra & 321 Cider

With this year’s bumper harvest, it’s all happening for Learmonth Cider. Maybe it was something to do with Covid-19’s enforced dormancy but this year is already bearing plenty of fruit.

You’d think they’d be busy enough with this season’s cider production. Well, they’re also about to launch classes in orchard management and cider-making. Sign me up!

Kingston Black, Michelin and Yarlington Mill are only some of the genuine cider apple cultivars grown at the nearby picturesque Spring Vale Farm. These apples are then picked, juiced and processed into three different cider styles. It is these UK and European traditional varieties, as opposed to reconstituted apple concentrate used in some ciders, that gives the finished cider its complex flavour profile.

‘The fruit will now go through processing, that is juicing and cider-making, to produce our Cuvée, Traditional and Heritage products,’ explains Philip Comrie of Learmonth Foundation, the organisation that governs Learmonth Cider. ‘The other thing that’s happening is we’re also doing community cider.’

Local residents can also bring in their own homegrown apples to receive the cider treatment and raise funds for local projects along the way. This ‘community cider’ is only part of Learmonth Cider’s commitment to the region.

Words like innovation get thrown around too easily but this is one time it sticks. Plans are afoot to transform the old primary school and surrounds into a multi-use destination featuring an education, research and training centre, brewing facility, plantings of experimental varieties of apples and pears as well as an upgrade of buildings and gardens.

Pretty soon you’ll be able to visit their cider hall for a tasting, a slice of pizza and a game of pétanque. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


WHAT: Learmonth Cider
WHERE: 322 High St, Learmonth
WHEN: Tuesday to  Saturday 8:30am – 2pm
MORE INFO: Learmonth Cider


The Great Nillumbik Picnic is here!

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If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the value of a picnic. Friends and family gathered under shady trees, setting up checkered rugs on the grass, sharing snacks and other delicious goodies… Maybe even some music and fairy lights, if you’re feeling fruity.

The Shire of Nillumbik, the home to some of Melbourne’s lushest parklands, are keeping the family-friendly outdoor gathering vibes going with one epic day of picnicking. This Sunday, March 28th, they are hosting The Great Nillumbik Picnic (say that three times fast); a day dedicated to everything we love about the humble picnic, and then some.



In partnership with Nillumbik Council, we are giving away a fully catered picnic in a location of your choice within the Nillumbik Shire. A professional photographer will also attend to ensure your big day out is captured forever.

To enter, simply leave a comment on Facebook or Instagram.


Punters – whether local or from further afield – are encouraged to celebrate the amazing parks and open spaces throughout Nillumbik while supporting local businesses hit hard during COVID-19. The idea is simple; pack a picnic rug or a couple of camping chairs, pick up a grazing platter or takeaway pizza from a shop nearby and set up camp in one of the stunning parks within the community.

There are four key parks/outdoor spaces picnickers can choose to set up, with each of them featuring roving entertainers throughout the day and a COVID-safe setup. In Hurstbridge, Wattle Place is the place to be. Plenty of picnic tables and close proximity to Hurstbridge train station as well as restaurants and local cafes make it ideal for those catching public transport.

Diamond Creek Regional Playspace (in, you guessed it, Diamond Creek) is both a child and adults dream location. There are playgrounds, flying foxes, walking trails, an off-leash dog park, barbecues and even a tram café. Ample shaded areas and parking space mean you’ll be picnicking in ultimate comfort.

Eltham has two main hangouts during the day, Eltham North Adventure Playground and Eltham Lower Park. The adventure playground is also home to Edendale Farm where kids can pet an alpaca, while Eltham Lower Park has a miniature railway because why not. You won’t be fighting for space either; these parks have ample space and facilities.

As for the entertainment, the council has pulled together a talented lineup of local musicians and performers who will be popping up between 11:00AM and 5:30PM. There’ll be children’s entertainment to keep the little ones happy, and some acoustic numbers for the grown-ups looking to kick back, relax and enjoy the vibe.

Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins says the event will help bring the community together as we find our feet after the pandemic.

We have fantastic public spaces in Nillumbik and our Shire is home to so many talented artists and musicians. These events will give us the opportunity to showcase some great local talent and support the regions businesses as we continue adapting to a COVID normal way of life.

The Great Nillumbik Picnic is a part of a series of outdoor community events the Shire is hosting in March and April. Funded by the Victorian Government and delivered by Nillumbik Shire Council, the Outdoor Dining and Entertainment support package, as it is known, is designed to bring people together while enjoying beautiful outdoor spaces, delicious local produce and fantastic entertainment.



Discover the huge variety of picnic locations across the region with this printable map. Download here.



Earlier this month the Shire hosted an outdoor movie night and an afternoon of live music at ANZAC Memorial Park. But the fun isn’t all over yet! On Saturday 27 March, Council and Diamond Creek Traders Association will be hosting a free movie night at Rotary Park, Diamond Creek. Kicking off at 4:30PM, the family-friendly event will play Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Rated G) and then later A Star is Born (Rated M).

If you haven’t ventured to the Shire of Nillumbik before, you’re in for a treat. The vast area, situated on the northern outskirts of Melbourne comprised of Eltham, Diamond Valley and Hurstbridge was named the third most liveable area in Melbourne in 2008. We couldn’t think of a better way to check it out than mingling with the locals under the shade of a eucalyptus.

All events are free and no tickets or registrations are required. All you need to do is BYO best mate or family member – and don’t forget to support local on the day!

WHAT: The Great Nillumbik Picnic
WHERE: Eltham Lower Park, Eltham North Adventure Playground, Diamond Creek Regional Playspace, Wattle Place
WHEN: Sunday, 28 March | 11:30AM – 5:30PM
MORE INFO: The Great Nillumbik Picnic


A new food relief service is planned for Bendigo

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We love a good opening here at One Hour Out, but this one is pretty special. The state government has just announced a $400,000 grant for a brand new food support hub to open in Bendigo.

Bendigo Foodshare, a charitable organisation which collects food that would otherwise go to waste and distributes it across Central Victoria, is moving into part of the former Ice Works on Garsed Street in the Bendigo CBD, breathing new life into the vacant industrial building.

The new home for Bendigo Foodshare comes after almost five years of searching and planning, in which time demand for food relief has been on the rise – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year saw the organisation’s activities overflow from their Long Gully premises into the car park, and local small businesses have been donating storage space to help operations continue. It brings home to roost that in times of need, communities band together to get the job done.

Despite the need for food services rising 40 percent since the start of the pandemic, chair of Bendigo Foodshare Cathie Steele says there is a silver lining; their work has been put firmly on the government’s radar. 

“We are moving very fast, and the government wants it to move very fast,” Ms Steele said.

The site is set to be redeveloped pro-bono by local business Y2 Architecture, and will include space for food storage – from dry to frozen – as well as meeting spaces, amenities and offices. The public won’t be directly served food from the premise (that’s not Bendigo Foodshare’s practice), but it will be an integral HQ to their food relief service to various communities. 

If you want to find out more, and how you can get involved or donate to Bendigo Foodshare, head to their website. 

WHAT: Bendigo Foodshare
WHERE: Ice Works Building, Garsed Street, Bendigo
WHEN: July 2021
MORE INFO: Bendigo Foodshare


Face masks from regional designers and makers

Hear that? That’s the clattering and whining of sewing machines working late into the night right across Victoria.

As a result of the most recent directive from Captain Dan that the whole state must mask up, sewing machines everywhere have been dragged out of dusty hallway cupboards and put to work.

We’ve put together a list of those who are sewing masks for the community. Some haven’t sowed in years, and some are well known local designers. All are doing their bit to ‘Mask Up Victoria’.

Fern & Frost

Wattlebank #twohoursout

In 2014 Annebelle van Tongeren walked away from a three-decade Fern & Frost Face Masks    career as a television stylist to seek out calmer climates on average in the Bass Coast with partner Martyn Frost.

Now the couple offer a range of wellbeing products on their store including pure cotton face masks made to order.

View the range here


Kangaroo Jack Tours

Torquay #oneandahalfhoursout

Great Ocean Road tour operator Kangaroo Jack has always had a Kangaroo Jackstrong relationship with the First Nation community of the region.

When tours were put on hold, they partnered with members of the Indigenous community to print traditional designs onto face masks to supply to the local community and beyond.

15% of sale proceeds will go to Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre which provides educational programs for the community.

See the range of designs here


Evie Lala

Healesville  #onehourout

Sarah Miles is a talented illustrator in Healesville who normally Face Masksspends her time making kids and baby toys and clothing accessories.

Head to her Etsy page where you will find she has put her cute design aesthetic to good use with quality disposable facemasks.

See the range of designs here


Lizzie Alsop

Mornington Peninsula  #onehourout

Lizzie moved to the Mornington Peninsula ten years ago and was Lizzie Alsop Facemasksinstantly inspired by the coastal environment. It has since become a central motif for her acrylic painting with overlapping iconography and hues of the land and seascape.

Her designs are printed on the masks with water-soluble inks and are currently only available at Wise & Co Dispensary in Balnarring.

View Lizzie’s website here.


Bettie & Me

Ballarat #oneandahalfhoursout

Lizey Jane has been collecting and selling vintage fabric in Ballarat Bettie and Me Facemasksfor several years. With the pandemic resulting in mandatory face mask for everyone, Lizey is sewing as many masks as she can in between homeschooling three kids.

View designs here and email to place an order



Clare Elizabeth

Bellarine Peninsula #oneandahalfhoursout

Local Bellarine Peninsula artist has put down the brush for the Clare Elizabeth Facemasksmoment to concentrate on sewing masks.

Head to her Instagram account to pre-order a latex-free, breathable fabric mask in your favourite design.

Pre-order here



Mimi the Label

Bendigo #twohoursout

Co-Founder & Director of JIMMY POSSUM & Mimi The Label, Margot mimi the label facemasksSpalding is coming out of her retirement for a limited time to create the much-needed masks for Australia. She personally cuts and makes every mask, these masks are colourful, full of personality, just like Margot herself.

Order with a DM on Instagram



Minnie & Lou

Warrandyte #onehourout

Warrandyte based Minnie & Lou make eco-friendly wheat packs, giftJacinta Payne Facemask stationery and art prints from local artist Jacinta Payne.

Their masks are the recommended 3 layer construction and made entirely from upcycled materials, continuing with our efforts to provide earth-friendly products.

Check out their range of designs here


Amy Jade

Elphinstone #onehourout

Amy makes a range of ethical and sustainable products from her Amy JadeFarmhouse studio in Central Victoria.

Amy’s pleated Facemasks are designed to fold in or out depending on the size you want and are made from organic cotton.

Place an order


Two Brown Bears

Ballarat #oneandahalfhoursout

Sarah learnt to sew from her Mother while on extended maternity Two Brown Bears Facemasksleave with her second son. What started out as a way to dress her two boys, turned into a popular market business with an online store.

Sarah’s masks come in three different sizes with a range of kid-friendly designs.

Place order here



Torquay #oneandahalfhoursout

Fiona McPherson was once the Global Fabric sourcing manager for OkkiRip Curl. A role that became particularly handy when she launched her own fashion label in 2016.

These three-layered masks are made from the companies remnant end of roll fabrics as well as Fiona’s very own fabric stash that she keeps on hand for inspiration.

Choose a size here


Leanne Coates

Kyneton #onehourout

Designer and maker Leanne Coates producers a range of small-Cavaletti Facemasksbatch garments under the brand name CAVALETTI. Her outlet ‘CAVALETTI gallery’ on Piper St, Kyneton also ranges designs from those who share Leanne’s passion for ‘Slow Fashion’.

There are three styles of face masks currently available, animal prints, botanicals and a range of Japanese Textile designs.

Choose your own here



The masks made by these designers are re-usable cloth face masks and satisfy the requirement from the health department to wear a face mask. They are not a replacement for medical-grade masks (and have not been tested or proven to protect against COVID-19).