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.

Highlights of the
Diamond Creek Trail

Winding its way between Eltham and Hurstbridge, the Diamond Creek Trail is popular with bike riders, joggers and walkers of all ages, who come to explore the wonderful mix of playgrounds, wetlands, historic sites and cafes that make the trail so endlessly fascinating.

The trail is approximately 20 km in length with the northern end of the trail starting just near the Hurstbridge railway station. The trail mostly follows the flow of the Diamond Creek, diverting at times past the railway, bushland reserves and football ovals to end at Eltham Lower Park, just a 30min drive or train ride from the Melbourne CBD. 

There’s so much to see and do along the Diamond Creek Trail, so use our guide to plan your own trip along this wonderful treasure in the north east of Melbourne.


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.

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

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

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.

It’s time to return to the Murray

Words by Anthea Riskas
Photography Jay Dillon and supplied

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Our guide to the best of West Gippsland that’ll have you loving it as much as a local

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images supplied

Full of small communities with big hearts and naturally beautiful stretches of farmland, forest walks, waterfalls and locally-made gourmet food and wine, the West Gippsland region is full of incredible experiences.

Pack up the car for an unforgettable adventure. Here’s our guide to some of the best local experiences.

Where to Eat

Eating Out West GippslandFor the last 100 years or more, the region has been predominantly used for dairy production making it a natural evolution to become a tasty destination for cheeses, locally grown produce and winemakers. All this equates to gourmet goods and chefs utilising some of the finest hyper-local ingredients.

Keen on something a little fancy? The hatted Hoggett Kitchen in Warragul specialises in nose-to-tail dining where you can enjoy a wide array of the region’s best produce in one location with views that are equally as special. The decked dining area at Brandy Creek Estate offers a quiet place for a drink and a bite with equally impressive views.

If it’s the casual fare you’re after, Frankies is a local fave amid brunchers with killer coffee, fresh breakfast rolls, toasties and more. If the timing is right, hit up the Warragul Farmers’ Market at Civic Park on the third Saturday of each month where you can gather up the gourmet goods from cheeses to olive oils, fresh bread and so much more to enjoy later.

Outdoor Adventures

West Gipplands WalksLace up the hiking boots, take the stairs up and walk the 21-metre-high boards of Victoria’s tallest wooden trestle bridge. Cycle or hike through gorgeous bushland on the 6-kilometre (return) Noojee Trestle Bridge Rail Trail from the town of Noojee to the Noojee Trestle Bridge. The mostly flat trail is great for families, beginners or those looking for a leisurely ride.

The walk around Toorongo Falls is pretty spectacular with places to picnic with the birdsong overhead. The 2.2 km return walk takes roughly 40 minutes but no rush, you’ll want to take your time here.

Want something more heart-pounding? Take the Blue Dirt shuttle to the top of Mount Baw Baw and mountain bike your way down. There are three difficulty levels for the three-kilometre descent; each one is nothing short of thrilling.

Melbourne’s closest downhill ski resort, Mt Baw Baw is incredibly popular during the snow season when skiers, snowboarders and snow revellers flock to the destination. Visiting during the off-peak green season offers the option of mountain biking and hiking.

History and Culture

WalhallaIt’s hard to visit and not appreciate the history and culture here, so make it a point to visit the mining town of Walhalla where you can explore the ghost towns and historic villages.

Following the discovery of a three-kilometre gold vein running through Walhalla in the 19th century, it surged to house thousands of gold seekers, but today this quiet town is home to roughly 20. Here you can learn about the life of miners, pan for gold at Stringers Creek, explore the old buildings including hotels, shops and churches as well as take a tour down into the long gold mines. Fancy a scare? The ghost tour at the old cemetery might be right up your alley.

The Walhalla Goldfields Railway also runs through some incredible scenery during the 60-minute ride crossing over several trestle bridges. If you stand on the outside platform at the front of the train, you can also get incredible photos.

Wine Down

Wineries West GippslandThis region does pinot noir pretty well, but the cool climate here means there’s much more varieties to enjoy. With a huge array of cellar doors to choose from, you won’t be stuck for options.

Make it a point to visit Ripplebrook Winery, bringing a bit of Sicily to West Gippsland. Giuseppes, the cellar door and restaurant named for the owner’s father, is open on weekends and features some seriously tasty drops that pair well with their shareable menu.

Another worthy stop is Cannibal Creek Winery. Despite the dubious name, the beautifully designed winery and cellar door (open daily) has a beautiful bar to enjoy guided tastings with a cheese and charcuterie board or an indulgent creamy pasta dish.

For those seeking a brew, Five Aces Brewing Co and Bandolier Brewing are your go-to spots for cold ones. Family-owned Bandolier Brewery’s range is inspired by breweries from around the globe, which is why you can enjoy a Belgian Blonde, a Mexican-style lager and an Irish Cream Porter all in Warragul. In Neerim South, Five Aces is also family-owned and operated, serving small-batch craft beer and a menu that pays homage to Gippsland’s quality produce. Their standard brews are always at the ready with a ‘random ace’ tap always pouring a new recipe/style to try.

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

Getting There

Getting to West Gippsland is easy. From Melbourne, take the South Gippsland Highway from the Princes Highway from Dandenong. By car, the journey will have you at the gateway to West Gippsland in just under two hours and in Walhalla in roughly 2.5 hours.

Alternatively, hop on a V/Line train and make your way to Warragul in roughly the same time.

A new way to explore central Ballarat on two-wheels

Whenever we are visiting Ballarat, we always make sure to start the day with a walk around Lake Wendouree. The track that circumferences the glassy lake surface is the domain of determined walkers, huffing runners, chatty mothers and black swans with attitude. Now there’s a new way to explore the lake with the addition of e-bikes from Neuron.

The new Neuron e-bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis from the Ballarat Railway Station, until the end of summer. Another option for exploring the route, for those who don’t have their own bike, is Ballarat Bike Hire, which need to be booked ahead of time.

The Lake Wendouree Loop Ride is 10km in length, starting off with a winding tour of the back streets of Soldiers Hill before reaching the shared path around the edge of the lake.

The full loop takes about 1.5 to 2hrs, but you will need some extra time to stop off for lunch, take in the Botanical Gardens and get some shots of the extremely photogenic boat sheds. Consider extending the ride with side trails for the Arch of Victory and Victoria Park. See more options for your visit to Ballarat here.

Explore the full itinerary below.

New Dining at Warburton’s Alpine Hotel

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images supplied

Foodies and adventurers, get ready for a road trip along the banks of Yarra River to Warburton’s iconic 1885 heritage-listed Alpine Hotel. Following a ‘labour of love’ restoration of its dining spaces during Victoria’s covid lockdowns, the hotel has been transformed into a destination for both food lovers and adventurers.

Now unveiling an upgraded kitchen and dining options to complement its 32 rooms of accommodation, guests can choose from an overnight stay in a river view room overlooking the Yarra River and Warburton’s picturesque mountains. They also offer rooms with retro-styled ensuites and rooms for solo travellers with shared bathrooms. No matter your style of travel, you’ll find the perfect place to rest your head.

“We now offer two options for diners with our chefs’ grazing style menu which has been developed using local produce from the area,” says owner, Rachael Northwood. “The grazing menu is perfect for sharing. We also offer the classic pub-style meals which are created in our very own kitchen and are all housemade.”

It was our intention to create a dining experience that showcases the very best of Yarra Valley’s produce and wines.

Warburton has long since been a destination popular with family travellers and adventure seekers as it sits minutes away from incredible Redwood Forrest, walking trails, and the very popular Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail at the hotel’s back doorstep. Not to mention Mt Donna Buang is just down the road, La La Falls has a wide range of outdoor activities. It’s also only 20 minutes from a range of wineries, breweries, shopping and more.

For adventurers, the hotel sits along the popular Lilydale Rail Trail, making it a popular stop for cyclists looking to rest overnight and take advantage of the secure bicycle storage, or refuel with a delicious meal or drink in the beer garden overlooking the Yarra with up to 16 beers on tap at any given time.

For those keen on staying overnight over the summer months, the newly launched Warby Nightrider bus service means you can also get out and about without any fuss for just $10 per person and enjoy all the best of the region with a safe transfer service.

“We’re really excited and proud to share the restoration with visitors and look forward to showcasing just how incredible food in our region can be. Whether guests choose the quintessential pub dining experience or a grazing menu with family and friends, paired with a local wine or locally brewed beer, it is our aim to create an ideal atmosphere to experience this wonderful environment.”


WHAT: New dining at Alpine Hotel Warburton
WHERE: 3340 Warburton Highway, Warburton
FIND OUT MORE: The Alpine Hotel

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

Naturally Gorgeous Picnic Spots in Nillumbik

Grab your picnic rug and leave the scenery to Nillumbik. This region, often referred to as ‘Melbourne’s lungs’, is bursting with green, leafy spaces where you can reconnect with nature, breathe in the fresh air and watch the gum trees sway.

Roughly an hour outside of Melbourne’s northeast, Nillumbik Shire not only has ample picnicking spaces but for those looking to get out and enjoy the outdoors, there are loads to choose from.

Take a look at our Itinerary below.

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

Our top spots for a family picnic in Nillumbik Shire

Round up the kids and enjoy the outdoors with a family picnic. It’s a great way to reconnect with nature, enjoy the fresh air, step away from all that screen time and let the kids burn off some steam in the densely-treed region dubbed ‘the green wedge’.

Roughly an hour outside of Melbourne’s northeast, there are a number of family-friendly picnic spots to enjoy in Nillumbik Shire. Pair it with a huge variety of farmer’s markets (ideal for creating a seriously tasty gourmet picnic basket of local treats) as well as diverse boutique shopping, lush green gardens, art, history and welcoming hospitality, and there’s something to suit every member of your family.

Want to bust the boredom blues? These family-friendly parks aren’t just picnic-perfect, they are loaded with activities, amenities and more to make for a great day out. Keep scrolling for a glimpse of picnic patches for a great family day out.

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