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.

The WinterWild program is out and it’s as weird and wild as you would expect

Words by Jay Dillon
Images supplied

Originally created to raise funds and ignite community spirit after the 2015 Colac Otway bushfires, the WinterWild festival (Aug 25-27) has grown into one of the highlights of Victoria’s events calendar. With the first round of the 2023 program just announced, we pull out a few highlights so you can start planning your trip.

The festival will be officially started with a Welcome to Country by members of the Eastern Marr Aboriginal Corporation at 6 pm Friday, August 25. After which the party mode sets in with an energetic performance from Wemba-Wemba rapper RidzyRay (free event).

Apollo Bay Festival

Over in the Mechanics Hall, Indie rock legend Jen Cloher will be headlining with local singer-songwriter Sid O’Neil, along with the body-shaking Zoë Fox and the Rocket Clocks and indie-jazz five-piece Outtatime. Jen Cloher has been a stable of the Melbourne indie rock scene since the early 2000s and has been instrumental in supporting and promoting emerging Australian artists.

On Saturday morning, early risers are invited to join performance artists The Midnight Horrors on the Apollo Bay Foreshore for a surreal and haunting guided ‘bird walk’. Or else rev up your engines by joining Mark Kluwer for a two-hour meditation and cold-water therapy session that is sure to quell the debauchery of the night before.


The Wild Feast commences along the foreshore from 4 pm, where the whole festival community will come together to bond and nourish. Expect to find open pans of seafood and vegetable paella, slow-cooked meats, soups and lip-smacking bao buns. There will be craft beers from Prickly Moses and Apollo Bay Gin Distillery will be mixing up the cocktails.

As dusk descends, watch for the arrival of Dogwatch, a dreamlike performance of fire and light from an eclectic collection of local artists, dancers, musicians and general misfits (free event). For those kicking on through the night, Dane Blacklock & the Preacher’s Daughter will be causing all sorts of chaos at the Mechanics Hall and the Apollo Bay Sailing club will play host to Moongarden, with electronic maestros DJ Harvey Sutherland with Milo Eastwood and Post Percy.

Ease yourself into Sunday morning by joining Qigong  practitioner Dani Cullen who will realign your body’s energy with a Qigong session beside an open fire on the foreshore. Or come along to a coffee roasting workshop with the guys from Hello Coffee. Get your caffeine fill, whilst exploring the process of coffee making from bean to cup.

Festival Great Ocean Road

The rest of Sunday is designed to ease you gently back into reality with a celestial performance by local concert pianist Estelle Shircore Barker in a location only revealed with your ticket purchase. And artist Amy Tsilemanis will give you plenty to think about on the drive home with a creative oral history of the Apollo Bay region that was created as part of her artist residency for the Apollo Bay Museum with support from the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund Fellowship program.


What: 2023 WinterWild
Where: Apollo Bay
When: August 25-27, 2023
More info: WinterWild


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

Savour the flavours of the past at Sovereign Hill’s Heritage Harvest Weekend

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

As autumn sets in, bringing with it auburn leaves and crisp morning air, many of us are looking for ways to warm up — our hearts and our bellies.

The Heritage Harvest Weekend at Sovereign Hill returns on May 27th – 28th, bringing together the community for a celebration of abundant seasonal harvest and heritage craftsmanship. It’s a golden opportunity to journey back to the Gold Rush era and discover how our nineteenth-century ancestors preserved and prepared their produce.

Heritage Harvest Festival

Over 30 vendors, mostly local, will take over the historic Sovereign Hill site for the weekend, showcasing their skills in fermenting, drying, salting, and curing food, as well as distilling. These age-old skills have been passed down through generations, and this event provides an opportunity to experience them firsthand.

But it’s not just about observing these skills in action. This weekend is designed to get your hands dirty, your plates full, and your mind inspired.

Three chefs, including the renowned Tony Tan and Tim Bone will be on-site to provide demonstrations, showcasing their expertise and sharing their culinary tips and tricks.

Tim Bone — Ballarat’s own Masterchef semi-finalist turned professional chef — will put his flair for bold, hearty flavours into gear with a special and intimate Miners Fare Masterclass. We’ve been told he gives the iconic baked bean a modern-day twist — which obviously must be seen to be believed.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration of Gold Rush food without a taste of Asia. Australia’s top Asian cuisine chef and teacher Tony Tan unveils the ancient art of dumpling making in his interactive workshop.

For those looking for something extra special, a separately ticketed lunch will be available, with a menu designed by chef Julia Busuttil Nishimura — also known as Julia “Ostro” after her bestselling cookbook — in collaboration with the Peter Rowland Group. The menu promises to be a delicious showcase of local produce and culinary talent.

Visitors to the Harvest Weekend can also explore the world of beekeeping, sourdough, cheese, and more at the Harvest Village. A botanical bar featuring gin, as well as a whisky and wine area, will be on offer for those looking to imbibe. And if it’s a taste of life on the goldfields you’re after? Head to the diggings, where you can indulge in damper and stew.

Sovereign Hill Festival

Even the littlest visitors will be entertained at the Harvest Weekend, with a Little Explorers Zone providing a fun play area for kids.

With so much to taste, craft and stock up on, we recommend taking a gander through the Harvest Weekend Program to plan your trip.  Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for a fun day out, there’s something for everyone at this family-friendly event.

WHAT: Heritage Harvest Weekend
WHERE: Sovereign Hill, Golden Point
WHEN: 27 – 28 May 2023
MORE INFO: Heritage Harvest Weekend

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

A set of major light installations are coming to two Murray River towns

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Two Australian towns will be brought to light with a new set of sweeping outdoor light art installations created by renowned visual artist Bruce Munro.

The project, named Light/State, will be one of the country’s newest outdoor tourism attractions, with two awe-inspiring installations approved for Mildura and Wentworth region. The two sites near the New South Wales and Victorian border and both are an easy 35-50-minute drive from Mildura town centre, away from light-filled urban areas, under expansive skies.

The first installation already under construction is Victoria’s Trail of Light, a meandering stream of light comprising 12,550 illuminated ‘fireflies’, 502 ‘pods’ and projectors, and 126 solar units. It will be experienced each evening with a reflective walking journey starting at the main Lake Cullulleraine walking track, with over 301,200 flickering lights guiding the way. Munro says he intends this installation to be a “quieter experience, where people can feel meditative as they walk around and enjoy the nature surrounding them.”

The second installation, Fibre Optic Symphonic Orchestra (FOSO), will be an abstract installation with a light-responsive symphonic orchestra. Eighty-two-meter high, five-meter diameter light installations, in the form of the iconic Hill’s Hoist, will represent the musicians. Visitors can either walk through the light-scape or view from the escarpment as sound is translated into colour and beamed across the landscape.

British/Australian artist Bruce Munro, known globally for producing large-scale immersive, site-specific light installations is designing both works. He has produced more than 45 exhibitions around the world, including the famed Field of Light at Uluru. Each one is inspired by his interest in the human experience and pairs his emotive themes with natural landscapes.

The project is set to open in two phases with Victoria’s Trail of Light premiering in late 2023 and FOSO opening in the second half of 2024. Wentworth Shire Council, in partnership with Mildura Regional Development, secured $4.99 million of final funding as part of the NSW Regional Tourism Activation Fund. In addition, there is $1.26 million from other local contributors, bringing the total project value to $6.25 million. In Victoria, Mildura Regional Development secured $3 million in Victorian Government funding in May 2022 for the Victorian installation at Lake Cullulleraine.

Mildura Regional Development CEO, Brett Millington said “We’re excited to be able to deliver the whole project of Light/State, which we know will add value to our regional economy and build on further cross-border opportunities.”

The project will also provide infrastructure such as roads, site transfers, parking spaces, glamping and increased accommodation options. Hospitality venues will also be a part of the boom, ensuring punters are well-catered for during their stays.

The after-dark installations are predicted to attract 300,000 overnight visitors over the installation’s first two years, significantly lifting Mildura’s profile as a region to live, work and invest. The project is expected to inject up to $150 million into the local economy per annum and will undoubtedly attract visitors from afar, curious to see this iconic land lit up after dark.

WHAT: Light/State Installations
WHERE: Mildura, VIC and Wentworth, NSW
WHEN: Opening late 2023 and into 2024
MORE INFO: Light/State

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

Shepparton Festival uses the arts to dive deep into life’s big questions

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Kristen was 18 years old when she decided to leave her home town of Katunga in the Goulburn Valley and make for Melbourne in search of new possibilities.

As a young woman with a zest for adventure, she knew there was much to discover in the world beyond.

‘There is this belief here that young people need to stay (in Shepparton) that I kind of disagree with,’ Kristen says. ‘I think they need to experience other ways of thinking and then be able to return which I think is a much more powerful thing.’

Kristen says life in the city opened up her mind, and she was able to return to Shepparton years later with a deeper appreciation for the region she grew up in and a yearning to drive change – particularly in the arena of the creative arts in which she is trained.

As a visual artist, her return to the region saw her work as a council arts and culture officer as well as a gallery manager in neighbouring Nathalia. This year, Kristen takes the reins as the director of the Shepparton Festival – an annual program of events that combines performance, music, literature, visual arts and food into one melting pot of artistic brilliance.

Kristen says she believes the festival is one avenue for strengthening her town’s creative landscape and to effect change in her ever-evolving community.

Shepparton Festival She says the arts are a powerful medium to explore topics relating to climate, acceptance, equality, equitable living, and she hopes others feel inspired by the festival and feel comfortable to converse openly on such important issues.

‘One of the things I reflected upon before coming (back) here was I was really worried and afraid about conversations around those topics and the divide they might cause. But I was so pleased that the community around the festival meant those conversations weren’t necessarily always negative and often people are discussing similar ways of thinking,’ she says.

‘Shepparton has made huge progress when it comes to certain areas and I believe that has a lot to do with having those involved in arts and culture present. People who make art are generally big thinkers, and them having a place in these communities allows for the nurturing of strong ideas.’

The two-week Shepparton Festival will take place across a number of spaces, with a diverse program that also includes workshops and networking events for local creatives – an element which Kristen says is necessary for artists especially following the challenges of the recent floods and health pandemic.

One of the program highlights is the sound installation OnBelonging which is comprised of musical compositions created from field recordings of the Shepparton area’s environmental resonances and sounds.

The installation is set to provide a connection with place while also leaving the audience feeling that their presence will, in some way, affect their environment.

Kristen says the work plays on the idea that sound can be art in and of itself – something which is is really quite novel.

The program will also showcase the region’s finest artists and creatives including the likes of Yorta Yorta artists Tammy-Lee Atkinson and Brady Jones aka BRICKY B. Along with Dery Theodorus, Rachel Doller and Meg Doller.

‘Shepparton has this quiet achiever thing going on with the arts,’ Kristen says. ‘There have always been artists and creatives around but it’s never been loud and public.

‘I think this is good because it’s a blank canvas every time and there’s no national expectation for the Festival. That might change but I think at the moment, anything is possible here.’

The 2023 program is live and tickets are now on sale.


WHAT: Shepparton Festival
WHEN: March 17 to April 2
FIND OUT MORE: Shepparton Festival

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

A food grower’s haven at Creative Harvest in West Gippsland

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Picture this: rows and rows of straw-tucked vegetable sprouts reaching their way towards the sun. A rusty wheelbarrow bursting with fresh herbs. Fruit trees laden with colourful, plump spheres in a sprawling backyard. All this might sound a little dreamy for an city dweller who, contained to their (approximately) 54 square metre apartment, may aspire only to keep their temperamental peace lily alive.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we knew more? If we could see the possibilities of a functioning, flourishing veggie garden — and better yet, learn the ways of the gardeners that tend to them? Creative Harvest, West Gippsland’s open food garden weekend, is back on 28 and 29 January 2023 to inspire and educate all the hopeful home growers out there, from the beginner to advanced.

The two-day event opens the gates to fifteen private food-producing gardens—from small suburban backyards to large family farms. Creative Harvest is all about sharing gardening know-how and sampling some of the fresh fruit and veg grown by locals. This year, the event’s sixth iteration, 30 local artists and creatives including beekeepers, winemakers, jam makers, jewellers, mosaic makers, painters, printmakers and sculptors, will be dropping by select gardens to share their work.

“Creative Harvest is a celebration of sustainability and community and a showcase for West Gippsland’s creative movers and shakers. We aim to demonstrate how simple it is to start or expand your own thriving food garden – in your kitchen window box, small backyard or on a large lifestyle block,” said Kristy Plumridge, Chair of the Creative Harvest Committee.

And what better timing? Post-pandemic, people are looking to unshackle themselves from the supermarket monopoly and grow their own food. Whether it’s a strawberry or two on a windowsill or a towering tomato plant by the backdoor, any homegrown produce is a step towards self-sufficiency and sustainability. The organisers are expecting their biggest turnout this year, up from the 1000-strong crowd of 2022.

An additional four hands-on workshops will take place across the weekend as well. Visitors can buy tickets to learn skills in hot composting, preserving and fermenting homegrown produce, growing veggies from seed or extracting dye from local flora. If you’re looking for more of an informal education, growers and makers will be milling around all weekend for a yarn.

Enjoy a great weekend in West Gippsland; bring the family, or your friends, or your dog. Just don’t forget to bring a basket for the tasty Gippsland produce you’re bound to discover. Tickets can be purchased online and Single, Family & Senior Weekend Passes are also available.

WHAT: Creative Harvest
WHERE: West Gippsland, multiple locations
WHEN: 28 and 29 January 2023
MORE INFO: Creative Harvest

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

The Blues Train just announced their fresh lineup for 2023

After a sell-out season this spring, The Blues Train is set to depart in 2023, with a host of fresh blues and roots talent on board.

Australia’s longest-running dedicated Blues and Roots venue, the iconic Blues Train, which runs along the Bellarine Peninsula, is turning over a new leaf and embracing the future of homegrown talent with their special Next Generation Concert Series, returning in 2023.

The series has been confirmed for several dates in January, February and March—with more to be announced soon—after its incredible success in the latter half of 2022. It’s the first time The Blues Train has turned its gaze towards up-and-coming local musicians, providing a platform for both established and emerging acts to play alongside one another; albeit it in separate carriages.

The Blues Train founder and curator Hugo T Armstrong said, “I was amazed at how quickly the Next Generation Concert Series sold out, proof of the appetite there is for Blues Train regulars and contemporary blues and roots lovers in general to hear emerging artists in the scene perform.”

Throughout 29 years of Blues Train rides, some of the best local and international blues musicians have played in the region, many of whom will be returning to accompany the fresh faces. Established artists back on the tracks for 2023 include Jimi Hocking, George Kamikawa, The McNaMarr Project, Damon Smith, Anna Scionti and Brian Fraser.

This season, however,  is all about the newfangled. Billed to perform are 2020 International Blues Challenge Finalist Aaron Pollock, Ocean Grove’s family of musicians The Von Robertsons, duo Miss Lou’s Blues, blues singer/songwriter and guitarist Jonno Zilber, blues guitarist and singer Jarrod Shaw and the mesmerising Willie J & the Bad Books.  For some artists, like blues guitarist Kathleen Halloran and Texas born/former New York local Bret Mosley, it will be their first time plucking strings on the Blues Train, though it’s unlikely to be their last.

“Finding the right balance of high-profile artists, while still providing the opportunity for emerging artists to gain employment and profile, combined with valuable gig experience is a real challenge – and I am so pleased to know that we have hit the mark,” Armstrong said.

Kicking off it’s journey in Queenscliff, the Blues Train meanders in it’s classic, steam-train style across the Bellarine Peninsula, skirting edges of the coast and through the country brush. As per tradition, four different acts—a soloist, a duo, a trio and a full band—bring their blues grooves to the carriage. Punters can sit, stand, or boogie as the iron horse journeys onward. Pit stops at stations allow the patrons to shuffle into the next carriage where the next act awaits.

It’s a full evening—the train pulls back into Queenscliff station at 11.30pm—so a layover is necessary. Just a short drive from Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula has plenty of quality accommodation options for a weary head. Why not make a weekend of it and discover all that Bellarine Peninsula has to offer: from tasting trails to panoramic views of the ocean. 

Tickets for the Blues Train shows are available now, and are strictly limited. The inspector is blowing their whistle; better hurry!

WHAT: The Blues Train: Next Generation Concert Series
WHERE: Queenscliff
WHEN: April 2023 now on sale (more dates to be announced soon)
MORE INFO: The Blues Train

The Victorian flood recovery is underway — here’s how you can help

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Heavy rain has caused major flooding across Victoria in the last week, with large amounts of rainfall in the catchments of the Loddon, Goulburn, Campaspe and Avoca rivers, along with a number of creeks in the region.

Over 11,000 residents have already applied for emergency relief payments. While conditions appear to have stabilised in some parts of the state, residents in Echuca, Kerang, Shepparton and others are bracing for the Murray River to peak in the coming days, which is likely to cause more havoc in already flood-affected communities.

While the rain continues to fall, many communities are attempting a return to normal life, embarking on a massive cleanup process which the state government has said will cost a significant sum. Amongst the devastation, stories of communities coming together to help one another have raised spirits across the state — with many locals and non-locals now looking for avenues to assist.

Here’s our non-exhaustive list of options to help out:

Disaster Relief Australia

For those with the time and ability to help out on the ground, joining the colloquially termed ‘Mud Army’ is a great option. Disaster Relief Australia has been commissioned to coordinate the spontaneous volunteers from local communities who are expected to start arriving once flood waters recede to aid in the clean-up. These volunteers include neighbours and ordinary community members who are willing and ready to get stuck into jobs like cleaning mud out of homes, mucking out and clearing debris and rubbish removal.

All members of the Mud Army will be managed, onboarded, inducted and led by DRA to ensure they are working in a structured and safe manner. The initial areas of operation will be in Maribyrnong, Seymour, Rochester, Shepparton and Echuca.


Another hands-on option is joining the volunteer-led organisation BlazeAid which works with rural communities to restore fences and other structures damaged or destroyed by floods. Their efforts were well documented during the Black Summer bushfires, which saw volunteers save countless farm animals and replant charred forests.

The Red Cross

If you’re unable to physically lend a hand but still keen to help, there are also plenty of reputable not-for-profit organisations that have set up funds for affected communities. The Red Cross has set up a disaster relief and recovery fund that will power on-the-ground emergency response teams made up of experts in the field, staff and volunteers alike. Their focus is to help evacuations, relief centres and outreach services, and support people and communities to recover.

Wildlife Australia

Wildlife Australia is appealing for donations to help them continue their integral work rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing flood-affected animals. The organisation provides free veterinary services to native wildlife and has a 24/7 phone assistance hotline for people who have found injured wildlife.

More ways to help:

Other fantastic organisations looking for support include The Victorian Farmers Federation which assists farmers affected by the floods; Bendigo Bank’s Victorian Flood Appeal is directing practical help to people impacted and to aid their recovery over the immediate, medium, and long-term; and Sikh Volunteers—who are already out in force delivering free hot meals to flood-affected communities—could do with your generous donations.

People wishing to support can do so online via the links provided. Monetary donations are encouraged as they are quicker, more effective, and logistically provide far more flexibility than donations of material items or pre-loved goods.


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

Fruit picking in regional Victoria – your questions answered

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

There’s this notion that the task of fruit and vegetable picking is reserved for the backpackers and skilled migrants of the world. A job for those looking to earn some extra dollars while they find their feet in a new country. And while this might be the case in many instances, harvest work is in fact just as rewarding and worthy of consideration for the average joe as it is for the intrepid traveller.

For those who have ever been curious about the ins and outs of the picking and packing world, we’ve put together a list of questions and answers to get you started along your investigative journey.


When does the season start?

This depends on the product – naturally. Obviously, for produce such as apples, pears, grapes and berries it will be during the summertime, while the citrus season will be from May to September and the vegetable season from October through to March.

But one thing is for sure, picking and packing work is a year-round job, so you’re never going to find yourself twiddling your thumbs.

Where will I be based?

Victoria’s main harvest regions across Victoria are East and West Gippsland, Sunraysia, Wimmera and Mallee, Swan Hill, Goulburn Valley, Yarra Valley, the Dandenongs, Mornington Peninsula and a little pocket of orchards around the Werribee region.

Fruit Picking Victoria

Not a bad choice of office space if you ask us.

Bask in the sunshine, breathe in the country air, connect with a gracious community, and experience some hands-on, healthy work.

What does the job entail?

Victorian harvest work needs workers of all ages and skill sets with jobs including fruit picking in the field, preparing and packing the fruit in sheds for distribution, pruning and thinning fruit trees, and driving tractors, forklifts and other machinery.

Most jobs require skills that can be learned on the job while other jobs require training, skills or licences.

There’s no denying the work is rewarding, but it’s tough and can be physically demanding. Often outdoors, some roles require heavy lifting, climbing ladders and operating machinery.

Do I need training?

It’s always going to help your case if you have some training and sets you apart from other candidates. Plus most of the training is free, quick and simple.

The new Seasonal Workforce Group Traineeships in Horticulture pilot program links students with training and on-the-job experience to build their skills and open new career pathways and will be rolled out across key horticulture regions including the Sunraysia, the Goulburn Valley and Gippsland.

Then there’s the free Horticulture Farm Worker Induction Program that is being delivered by SuniTAFE and can help get you job-ready for harvest work as well as a number of other free TAFE courses and dairy industry training too.

For more information about free training opportunities, make sure to check out the Training for Harvest Work page.

What do I get paid?

Ah! Now to the all-important question!

Depending on your classification, those working in horticulture can earn anywhere between $21 to $25 per hour (minimum full-time rate – ordinary hours) with the minimum ordinary full-time weekly rate currently sitting at $812.60 for a Level 1 classification and $940.90 for a Level 5 classification.

Note that this is not taking into account afternoon and late shifts, public holidays and other allowances. And of course, this is only the minimum amount as set by the Fair Work Ombudsman. More here.

It used to be that fruit pickers were paid by piece, but luckily that’s not the case anymore, as many labourers found themselves being grossly underpaid. While piece rates are still able to be used, pieceworkers must still get a minimum wage guarantee.

Where will I stay?

Some farms provide accommodation on-site and some charge a fee. Either way, wherever you find work, make sure to reach out to the relevant council area and seek further insights regarding relocation and accommodation assistance.  

The Department of Health and Human Services has also been working closely with industry and accommodation providers in the different regions to ensure COVID Safe accommodation is available to workers, with limited public transport also available to farms. Some accommodation providers can also assist with travel to and from farms, so it’s worth checking with them individually.

Final points to consider

Embarking on this new journey can be daunting, especially if you’re new to Australia or the horticulture industry in general. But to be able to work outdoors in some of the most serene and awe-inspiring regions of the state is really a bounty worth pursuing.

Before applying, ensure the job and employer are reputable and read about the produce, harvest process, and industry on the Horticulture Industry and Local Government Websites.

Jobs are often listed by labour-hire companies, which source workers for farmers, and you can check if the company is a licensed labour-hire provider on the Labour Hire Authority website.

You can also find a harvest job by:

For all this info and more, visit Agriculture Victoria. And have yourself a very happy harvest!

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

Get ready, Victoria, the next Big Thing is coming

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images Supplied

We’ve seen The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, The Big Prawn in Ballina, and The Big Potato in Robertson. There’s The Big Gumboot in Tully, and The Big Easel in Emerald… And soon, Victoria’s favourite getaway town of Daylesford will be the home of another impressive landmark. Say hello to The Big Rainbow.

Designed with members of the LGBTQIA+ and First Nations communities, The Big Rainbow is the first “big” landmark dedicated to regional LGBTQIA+ communities. It stands at a whopping six metres high and twelve metres wide; a beacon of inclusivity, diversity, and pride.

After counting 16,000 public votes, Daylesford was chosen ahead of three other shortlisted towns: Broome in Western Australia, Hay in New South Wales and Katherine in the Northern Territory to home the installation. It’s a fitting decision as Daylesford, the Traditional Land of the Dja Dja Wurrung people is known as the rainbow capital of regional Victoria.

“Daylesford is the home of the ChillOut Festival, the longest-running regional LGBTQIA+ festival in Australia, and home to many rainbow families. Council will soon initiate a period of community engagement to tap into the community’s local knowledge and perspectives about the best-suited location for the Big Rainbow which will celebrate our vibrant and inclusive community,” Hepburn Shire Mayor Cr Tim Drylie said.

The project has been initiated and funded by the online dating app Tinder Australia, who have also pledged $100,000 to community organisations working tirelessly for regional LGBTQIA+ representation, diversity and inclusion. The company will be announcing the full list of Australian organisations soon.

Tinder Australia director Kirsten Hardeman said they are “really looking forward to working closely with the passionate people of Daylesford to bring The Big Rainbow home over the coming months.”

“We are so grateful for the support that people across the country have shown us in voting for Daylesford to be the home of The Big Rainbow. We have a long history of supporting our LGBTIQA+ community and visitors to our town, and we hope that The Big Rainbow will be an example of what it means to show love and support to everyone,” Hepburn Shire Mayor Cr Tim Drylie said.

As the weather warms, and the new LGBTQIA+ festival Victoria’s Pride kicks into gear, it’s certain Daylesford will have a few extra visitors this summer. And a little bit more to celebrate.

WHAT: The Big Rainbow Project
WHERE: Daylesford, Victoria
WHEN: Summer 2022
MORE INFO: The Big Rainbow

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.