Midsumma Festival hits the regional road

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

Since debuting in Melbourne in 1988, Midsumma Festival has evolved into an internationally recognised, queer cultural institution, renowned for representing and gathering the best and most diverse LGBTQIA+ artists, performers and audiences as part of their programming.

With the organisation’s renewed strategic focus on increasing engagement across broad sectors of the community, this year’s events extend far beyond the city and the 2023 line-up has been heavily funded to include the Regions.

Some towns have been working on their involvement and projects since November 2022, so now it’s time to hit the road and celebrate LGBTQIA+ communities statewide!


Ballarat Frolic Festival

The Frolic Festival is jamming 12 events, into 4 days, across Ballarat that range from cabaret to Indigenous-led bushwalks, history tours, a warehouse party and much more.

Frolic warmly welcomes youth, ND folk and any solo attendees, as well as organising return transport for locals who want to take part in Victoria’s Pride street party in Fitzroy on Sunday 12th February.

WHAT: Frolic Festival
WHERE: At various locations across Ballarat
WHEN: 9 – 12 Feb 2023
MORE INFO: Frolic Festival




Gippsland Day OutGippsland Pride Initiative Inc presents the first ever, family-friendly, 1-day, outdoor festival Gippsland’s Day Out!

This celebration of Gippy’s LGBTQIA+ community will play host to two stages of live music and DJs, Drag shows, kids’ entertainment and activities, as well as providing an indoor sensory chillout space and food and drink vendors from around the region.

WHAT: Gippsland’s Day Out
WHERE: Gippsland Performing Arts Centre
WHEN: 11 Feb 2023
MORE INFO: Gippsland Pride Initiative Inc



Pride BallIn another first, GV Pride are hosting Shepparton’s Inaugural Pride Ball and with a “Glitz and Glamour” dress code, guests can be sure to enjoy a fabulous and fun night that includes live Drag entertainment, a two-course meal and DJs to help dance the night away.

WHAT: Pride Ball
WHERE: The Woolshed, Kialla
WHEN: 11 Feb 2023
MORE INFO: Humanitix





Midsumma Regional VACCA presents Queer & Koorie: A Showcase of LGBTQIA+ Mob, a multi-generational and family-friendly day of connection and storytelling through art, music and creativity.

This event will create a safe, inclusive, accessible and sustainable space aiming to bring together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal LGBTQIA+ community with wider Community and allies, to enjoy traditional dance and other Cultural activities like basket weaving and painting.

WHAT: Queer & Koorie: A Showcase of LGBTQIA+ Mob
WHERE: Morwell Town Common (Elgin Street)
WHEN: 4 Feb 2023
MORE INFO: Gippsland Pride Initiative Inc 

For the full rundown of Regional events head to Midsumma Festival.

We wish to acknowledge the 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.

Top regional music festivals to head to in February 2023

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

If you’ve found yourself having to work across the traditional Summer break or you just can’t bear the thought of holiday crowds in peak season, save the dates below and book your tickets now for some of the best regional musical offerings in February.


Ben HarperSummerSalt is a touring line-up that takes big-name acts to small-town stages all around Australia and are presenting not one, but two shows in Victoria, across the first weekend of February.

You can choose a beachside backdrop to watch Ben Harper, Angus & Julia Stone, City and Colour, The Rubens and more at the Torquay Common, or kick back amongst the vines at Rochford Wines in the Yarra Valley.

Both locations are family-friendly and will feature a Kids’ Zone with roving entertainment and face painting, food trucks and world-class wines and beers from local suppliers.

WHAT: SummerSalt
WHERE: Yarra Valley & Torquay
WHEN: February 4th – 5th
MORE INFO: SummerSalt 2023


NinchfestCelebrating its 6th year, NinchFest is a community-based music festival run over two days on Boon Wurrung Country, at St Andrew’s Beach on the Mornington Peninsula.

Proudly grassroots, the line-up features homegrown acts from the local area, as well as more recognisable names on the bill and spans genres from hip-hop to hard rock, psychedelic to soul and everything in between.

Picnics, picnic rugs and all-ages are encouraged to enjoy the tunes, and there will be free shuttle buses to and from Rye foreshore, as well as the best food and drink vendors from the surrounding beaches.

WHAT: NinchFest
WHERE: St Andrew’s Beach, Mornington Peninsula
WHEN: February 10th – 11th
MORE INFO: NinchFest

OK Motels

Regional Victoria FestivalsCult favourite OK Motels is heading back up the Calder freeway in February to host the Charlton Pool Party, after the October 2022 shows were cancelled due to the huge impact of flooding in the area.

This post-modern take on a 70s-style “dinner and a show” except with bands, has grown since its inception in 2018 and the entire town now gets involved with extended op-shop opening hours, garage sales, CWA Devonshire teas, farm visits, lawn bowls, pop-up shops, exhibitions and lots more.

In addition to the musical line-up – CIVIC, Party Dozen and Frente to name a few – the Charlton Motel also hosts a Locals Vs Blow-Ins Pool Competition, a disco, friend speed-dating and a secret headline act.

Past OK Motels shows have become the stuff of rock’n’roll legend, and this year the town’s economy is eagerly awaiting visitors, so be prepared to buy a ticket before the main draw card is even announced.

WHAT: OK Motels
WHERE: Charlton
WHEN: February 17th – 19th
MORE INFO: Charlton Pool Party

Riverboats Music Festival

Riverboats Music FestivalFlooding has also meant that the annual Riverboats Music Festival has had its decade-old location turned into a natural wetland in Echuca-Moama, but the 2023 show will go on!

Victoria Park Reserve will now host this award-winning weekend of acts, with organisers promising lots of shade, incredible food and drink and top-notch tunes, including Marlon Williams, Spiderbait, Alice Skye, Bones & Jones and The Whitlams amongst others.

Head to the mighty Murray with the whole family for what promises to not only be a great time but a huge support for local businesses and accommodation who are looking forward to welcoming tourists again after years of challenging conditions.

WHAT: Riverboats Music Festival
WHERE: Echuca-Moama
WHEN: February 17th – 19th
MORE INFO: Riverboats Music Festival

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

Our guide to exploring Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images Mike Emmett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting There:

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



Appearing in videos:

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

Sydney’s iconic Italian eatery Totti’s is coming to Lorne

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Sydney hospitality group Merivale has announced they are bringing their beloved Italian restaurant Totti’s to the Surf Coast.

In what may one day be known as the act that ended the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, Totti’s Restaurant is set to open on the ground floor of the Lorne Hotel in February 2023, bringing their famous woodfired pizzas and house-made pastas to Victorians for the first time.

At the helm is Surf Coast local chef Matt Germanchis, who is no stranger to fine dining, having worked at some of Melbourne’s top restaurants and with partner Gemma Gage ran the much missed Captain Moonlight in the Anglesea Surf Club. His knowledge of, and knack for, championing local produce will see Totti’s menu tie together its lauded Italian classics with local fare.

The “classic” half of the culinary team is kept in style by Merivale’s Executive Chef Mike Eggert, who is responsible for making all of Totti’s four outlets such successes. He says that Totti’s in Lorne will maintain the same vibe and signature dishes that Sydneysiders have come to love, while also paying homage to its new southern oceanic locale.

“It is an amazing opportunity to bring Totti’s laid-back style and signature dishes to one of the most iconic coastal locations in Australia that is Lorne. Totti’s is a restaurant where you can walk off the beach for a quick bite and glass of wine or stay for a long lunch with friends and families, which fits Lorne to a tee and pairs perfectly with the ‘choose your own adventure’ nature of the menu,” Eggert says.

Lorne’s prime position for seafood will be celebrated across the menu, with the region’s finest local produce on display; from calamari, mussels, and crayfish to King George Whiting. The drinks offering will be filled with crowd-pleasers and a focus on local Victorian vineyards and producers. All to be enjoyed with panoramic views of Louttit Bay and the coastal bush no matter where you are seated in the venue.

This breezy, downtempo atmosphere makes Totti’s the perfect spot for an idle lunch, weeknight dinner, or celebration amongst friends. Both booking and walk-ins will be available.

Totti’s will be taking over from MoVida, who have moved on from the downstairs outpost after Merivale acquired the iconic Lorne Hotel in May 2021. The opening of the relaxed, yet sophisticated Italian restaurant marks the first step in the 150-year-old pub’s new era, which—under Merivale’s experienced team—is set to be defined by the same easy-breezy elegance.

WHAT: Totti’s Lorne
WHERE: The Lorne Hotel | 176 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne VIC 3232
WHEN: February 2023
MORE INFO: Merivale

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.

A micro flower farm in Trentham to launch the latest book from Sharon Flynn

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Bestselling author and founder of The Fermentary Sharon Flynn isWild Drinks Sharon Flynn set to launch her second book Wild Drinks – once again sharing her incredible knowledge about fermentation with the world.

Dubbed “the definitive book on infusing, brewing, and fermenting delicious things to drink”, Wild Drinks is the perfect companion for anyone who’s curious about conjuring unique drinks – whether it’s the perfect sake or carrot ale, ginger beer or fruit vinegar, rose water kefir or kombucha.

Following on from her debut book Ferment for Good, Sharon says she’s excited to share a read which she thinks many people will find more “appealing”.

“Drinks – and the gorgeous, natural bubbles we all love – are appealing to so many more people,” Sharon says. “We can get bacteria into our bodies and lives very easily this way and most drinks don’t take that long to make.”

The Fermentary is the culmination of a life-long passion for Sharon.  Since 2014,  her business has (primarily) produced award-winning sauerkraut and kimchi, supplying some of Australia’s best restaurants and shops.

Having originally set up base in Daylesford, Sharon and her daughters opened up a space in Fitzroy North following the pandemic – a space which has now taken on a life of its own and is dedicated to education, creation and the sharing of some of Sharon’s favourite ferments from around the world.

“We ferment in small-batches, naturally culturing food and drinks, slowly and with minimal intervention,” she says.

“I will always be in love with connecting food and the simple, everyday things we do to our near and distant past. Fermentation brings a quiet magical transformation, traditional techniques – a relationship with the invisible – and (in the right environment) when left to its own devices, it will not only preserve, but make the flat bubbly, your dough chewy and light, most things more delicious, and bring life into your kitchen and body! What’s not to love?”

The Trentham Wild Drinks book launch will be held at Acre of Roses, the space where all the images from the book have been shot.
Acres of Roses

“The Fermentary was based in Daylesford for almost 10 years so Trentham and the surrounds hold a very special place close to our hearts,” Sharon says. “All of the images from the book were also shot at Acre of Roses and we would love to share this stunning location with you.”

The launch will feature small-batch brews, ferments and infusions from the book to taste, including Jamu, Tepaché, Kombucha and Shrubs.

Acre of Roses will also open up their garden, making it a perfect picnic-worthy event.

“There will be a scavenger hunt in the apothecary garden, where we grow many herbs and veggies that we use for our wild drinks and ferments (and) we will also demonstrate making our award-winning rose water kefir using the roses from the garden.”

Sharon says she hopes her work continues to raise awareness about the rare artform that is fermentation and the wonders inherent within.

“This is a lost artform – mostly done in a very practical way in a rustic environment,” she says. “Many people now imagine they need more experience, more equipment, less germs, so to share and connect – and inspire people to think a bit further about what they are buying and where we have come from – (that’s my aim).

“Also to comfort people in a sense – that we’ve only been out of touch for a few generations and we can bring back good flavour, real food and our connection to that really easily. There is enough food for everyone if we are allowed to tap into our ancient, pre-industrial knowledge.

“Not only are our guts depleted of the wide variety of life required for good health, but so is the soil.  Naturally fermented foods and drinks are really the easiest, very delicious and natural way to get a wide variety of wild bacteria and yeasts into our bodies now. We are now in a time where we are told that we need to get ‘pre-, pro- and post-biotics’ made in a lab into our guts and a lot of people don’t realise that the bacteria we’ve relied upon is stronger and better than any of that.”


WHAT: Wild Drinks book launch
WHEN: Sunday, December 18
WHERE: Acre of Roses, Trentham
MAKE A BOOKING: thefermentary.rezdy.com

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

Everything you need to know about the MFWF Gippsland takeover

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Each year, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival celebrates the produce and the people that make eating in Victoria great. But it’s not just merrymaking in the CBD. As part of this years Regional Edition, the festival is pitching up in Gippsland’s tiny town of Thorpdale for one weekend of food, fun and wonder.

You may not have heard of Thorpdale. Home to just 180 humans (and a few more potatoes), you’d be forgiven. But when MFWF comes rolling in on Saturday 19 to Sunday 20 November, there’ll be nowhere in the state with as much culinary star power. The grassy hamlet will host two very full days of activities, demonstrations and tastings, with some of the biggest and brightest stars in Victoria and Australia’s culinary scene. So strap yourself in for our full rundown of this weekend of indulgence.

The Village Feast

First stop on this extravaganza: The Village Feast. This is the “umbrella event” from which all good things flow. This ticketed event—purchased as individual day passes via the MFWF website—is almost like a country fair, but with next level food and drink. Punters can stroll through the 19th Century town (which we hear has been given a fresh lick of paint), stop by the various pop-ups, markets, and stalls to fill up their tummies and tote bags with top-tier produce.

An exceptional array of Gippsland food, wines, beers, ciders and spirits will be flowing across the day and across locations. Beloved Argentinian-born, Gippsland-championing chef Alejandro Saravia from Farmer’s Daughters and Victoria will be dishing up his deli classics with a twist. Danielle Alvarez, former head chef of Sydney’s Fred’s restaurant, will be slinging her famous choripan, a decadent hot-chorizo-on-a-bun type situation. Tasmanian chef and How Wild Things Are author Analiese Gregory will be cooking up a storm on the grill. While Trout tartare with Baw Baw wild herbs and gaufrette potatoes will be grilling on charcoal under the guidance of Hogget chef Trevor Perkins.

And that’s just for starters. There’ll be desserts and other sweet treats made by the talented Patti Chimkire from Mali Bakes. Gippsland wines will be poured by the experts at a pop-up wine bar inside the former general store. And some of Thorpdale’s homegrown heroes are set to be baking pies and potato bread at the Thorpdale Bakery.

Of course, no day in Gippsland would be complete without sampling some of the region’s famous dairy. Sallie Jones from Gippsland Jersey is at the helm, accompanied by The Fromagerie by Loch Grocer and That’s Amore Cheese to dole out milkshakes, cheese platters and cannoli.

While you let the food settle, you can head off to one of many Meet the Maker booths dotted around the main drag to learn about the region’s produce from the growers and makers including a paint n sip’ express workshops from acclaimed Gippsland artist Lucy Hersey. Or try your hand at creating a bouquet at a flower market setup by the ladies from Pepperberry Flora and Quite Contrary Flower Farm .

The Community Table, hosted by our very own Richard Cornish, will bring together chefs, farmers and special guests to share their knowledge. Hands-on experiences are encouraged.

Live Music

No country fair is complete without live music, so MFWF has partnered with Always Live to corral a hoard of talented acts to play across the The Village Feast.

Saturday 19th features Grace Cummings, a folk-rock musician whose recent album has earned her a global audience. Her set comes mid-afternoon at 2.15pm. Also featured across the day: avant-garde electronic duo Tim Shiel and Mindy Meng Wang, South Gippsland-born singer-songwriter William Blackley, and epic jazz eight-piece Jazzparty.

The darling of Triple j, Mia Wray, whose powerful voice has seen her indie-pop ballads skyrocket in popularity, is playing a mid-afternoon set on Sunday 20 November. Also on Sunday, Melbourne’s cult band Dorsal Fins, now a trio, are playing their horn-infused funk-pop at 2.15pm. They’re supported by Pirritu, proud Wangaaypuwan mayi of the Ngiyampaa clan, whose songs are stories: sad and sweet. And Australia’s answer to HAIM, Little Quirks, is playing a folk-pop set at 1pm.

The Village Feast Weekender

If all this excitement has got you thinking “I need to book accommodation in Gippsland and stretch this out for a full weekend” you are in good hands. The festival has organised four extra food and wine adventures to max out your weekend. Breakfast, lunches, dinners prepared by the most celebrated chefs are now available to book.

On the evening of Friday 18 November, Embla x Hogget Kitchen is kicking off the feast with a mighty city-country collab in Warragul. Dave Verheul is joining his country cousin Trevor Perkins to create a fresh, flame-grilled, farm-to-table feast. Enjoyed in stand-up, family-style way, this romp will leave your belly full and eager to enjoy the rest of the festival.

The Gippsland Farmers’ Grazing Brunch will ease you into Saturday morning. A general admission ticket will see you enter the Warragul Farmers’ Market at the leafy Civic Park and sample some of the regions spoils at the hot breakfast buffet and grazing tables.

An epic lunch is set to be served at Thorpdale Town Hall on Saturday, with Provenance, Fire & Wine by Alejandro Saravia. The celebrated chef, whose love for Gippsland produce is evident at his restaurant CBD Farmer’s Daughter, is cooking a five-course menu over a campfire. A scrumptious blend of European technique, his Latin American heritage, and the finest Gippsland produce, this is one not to be missed.

Seize the last day of the festival with Wake Up With A Winemaker where wine from A.R.C Wines, Bandicoot Run, Cannibal Creek Vineyard, Fleet Wines and Lightfoot Wines are poured by the winemakers themselves, alongside a European-style breakfast banquet. Arranged by one of Gippsland’s most charming eateries Meeniyan’s Trulli Pizzeria & Bakehouse, there will be fresh pastries, charcuterie, cheese, bacon and egg burgers, breakfast focaccia, yoghurts and fruit.

Tickets for each event are selling fast and accommodation options are also filling up quickly. You can head to Visit Gippsland or Airbnb to find available spaces.

WHAT: Village Feast & The Village Feast Weekender from MFWF
WHERE: Gippsland
WHEN: Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November
TICKETS: $32 Early Bird price / $45 Full Price 
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

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

Almost Summer Music Festival is kicking off summer festivities in Bendigo

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images Supplied

As the state begins to peel back their layers of duffel down, cast aside the woolly hats, and reveal their vitamin-D deficient skin to the sun, so too is the planning for warmer days ramping up. Musical festivals are often the first cab off the rank in the booking-up of sunshine months and Bendigo has gifted us a new ripper: Almost Summer Music Festival.

The regional festival is exploding into its inaugural year with a huge lineup of local and national acts. Its headliners include Kardajala Kirridarra—the incredible all-female First Nations act from the Red Centre—singer-songwriter extraordinaire Gabriella Cohen, and critically acclaimed Melbourne five-piece Bananagun. Punters can also expect to catch a range of other artists across almost every musical genre: Geoffrey O’Connor, Pookie, PhoebeGo, Cool Sounds, Greatest Hits, Sunfruits, Freeds, Suzi, Carissa Nyalu, Nadia Phillips, Flora, and Aplegate all feature. To keep you dancing into the night, DJs Joey Lightbulb and DJ Friday are on deck with their original mixes of disco, house, funk, and more.

All acts will take to the one outdoor stage, located right beside historic Capital Theatre, across three days. The event is family-friendly and has been curated by experts to keep the vibes high. Plenty of locally sourced food and drinks are available for a pitstop in between boogies, and Bendigo Vinyl will host a pop-up record store throughout the event if you’re hoping to add to your record collection.

Creative Director of Hear Them Holler, the independent agency behind Almost Summer, Lior Albeck-Ripka says, “Curating Almost Summer Music Festival has been a dream come true. We’re getting to put on a festival that we want to go to! We’re beyond excited to have booked Kardajala Kirridarra — a band I’ve personally fawned over and who haven’t played in Victoria for over four years. Whilst we’re all experiencing one of the coldest winters ever in Victoria, we are busy planning this super fun all-inclusive festival of great music and food. We want the experience to be easy, relaxed and fun, and we’re thinking of all the things audiences will want so we have them on the ground ready to go.”

Almost Summer is a part of Victoria’s celebrated new statewide Always Live program centred on bringing world-class live music events to hungry gig-goers. Other acts include Dua Lipa at the Palais Theatre (sold out), Toro Y Moi at Northcote Town Hall, and many more.

Tickets to Almost Summer are limited to 500 per day to keep the shows intimate and to ensure plenty of dancing room. Punters can choose to purchase a pass for the entire three-day event or to pop in on individual days/nights. The full timeline of acts can be found on the Almost Summer website linked below. Tickets are available now.


WHAT: Almost Summer Music Festival
WHERE: View St, Bendigo VIC
WHEN: November 25-27 2022
MORE INFO: Almost Summer Music Festival

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.

An immersion into nature and the outdoors this spring at Sovereign Hill

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

As the bleakness of the last few months drifts away and the springtime unfolds in its stead, our readiness to shake away the winter blues and embrace all that nature has to offer becomes much more pronounced.

To help sate our yearning to reconnect with our surrounds, Sovereign Hill is hosting a whole suite of activities during the spring which will encourage visitors to explore the beauty of Ballarat’s natural wonders all while discovering the best elements of the award-winning outdoor museum.

Bush Fun Day

Sovereign Hill School HolidaysThis school holiday program held at Sovereign Hill’s Narmbool property is a family-friendly event set to enchant all the nature lovers out there.

Cook some warming damper for morning tea before setting off on an exploration of the 2000-hectare working farm. Narmbool’s expert guides will walk you through the property where native wildlife thrives, and the sights, sounds and smells of Mother Nature abound.

The day will end with lunch and roasted marshmallows over an open campfire. Pure bliss.

Take a look here.

Herbal Medicine Foundations

Sovereign HillThis special workshop will give you the chance to explore what lies beneath nature’s surface as you discover the medicinal properties contained in plants. Concoct your own herbal oils, salves and balms, create tinctures and tonics, and learn how the land can contribute to your health and well-being.

The workshop will be conducted by qualified Ayurvedic practitioner, chef and horticulturist Naomi Ingleton who is currently studying a degree in Western Herbal Medicine. Having worked with herbs from a young age, Naomi grew up on a self-sufficient dairy and potato farm in Gippsland where her grandmother taught her how to use herbs for medicinal purposes.

According to Sovereign Hill deputy chief executive officer Katrina Nitschke, springtime offers the perfect opportunity to explore the wonders of the natural world.

‘Spring is a time for renewal in nature, it can also be a time when we renew our sense of wonder and awe at nature’s capacity to improve our health and well-being,’ she says.

Details here.

Children’s Activities

Ballarat KidsSovereign Hill’s spring calendar of events is also jam-packed with activities to keep the children entertained, so the school holidays don’t need to be so anxiety-inducing!

The Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens will encourage play and creativity, introducing young ones to the beauty of gardens using items found around the grounds of Sovereign Hill, while the 1850s pantomime Blackbeard the Pirate will have the kids and adults in belly laughs.

A new outdoors game has also been conjured up in time for the new season, featuring a map to find clues and hunt for a special prize.

‘Sovereign Hill offers a showcase of new ideas and events designed to inspire and nourish our sense of curiosity and potential,’ Katrina says.


WHAT: Sovereign Hill’s Spring Series
FIND OUT MORE: Sovereign Hill

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

Take our tour of Werribee, the undiscovered bayside destination for food, history and nature

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

Located off the M1 between Geelong and the Melbourne CBD, Werribee isn’t often considered a holiday destination in and of itself.  But as one of Melbourne’s bay suburbs, the area really does have quite a lot going for it if you only take the time to delve in.

Whether you’re looking for your next romantic escape or thinking of  taking the Bay West Driving Trail, here are some of our top recommendations for a getaway well spent in Werribee.

Wolf on Watton

Werribee Restauarnt
© Bryony Jackson

Positioned along Werribee’s foodie precinct and with the site having been owned by Werribee’s Salvalaggio family for four generations, Wolf on Watton offers visitors a true inner-city cafe experience. Having originally operated as a fruit and veg store by the current owner’s great-grandfather, the cafe is always bustling and serves up everything from classic brunch options to indulgent pastas, grazing boards and sweets. With staff that are ready and raring to serve you with genuine hospitality, and a vibrant atmosphere that will have you prepped to face the day, Wolf on Watton really has the WoW factor.

Made on Watton

Things to do WerribeeSituated across the road from Wolf on Watton, Made on Watton is a specially curated retail space that oozes elegance, calm, charm and poise. Founded by Liz Reyes, the space opened up following the success of Wyndham City’s innovative pop-up retail space of the same name. Showcasing a plethora of handmade goods from makers across Werribee and the surrounding regions as well as a selection of other Australian-made products, Made on Watton aims to empower creatives and highlight the breadth of talent that exists within regional Victoria. You’ll find everything from bedding to candles, infused sparkling water to jewellery, artworks to locally-designed clothing. Liz also stocks her very own polymer clay jewels from her label Evergreen Collective – so make sure to check out her beautiful range!

Werribee Park Mansion

Places to visit WerribeeThe Werribee Park precinct is perhaps one of the areas which the city is best known for. (Apart from the Werribee Open Range Zoo – which also needs to be on your to-do list).  The sprawling green Victoria State Rose Garden, with its abounding serenity and lush landscape, make it an idyllic space for a spring picnic, while Lancemore Mansion Hotel is the perfect spa and hotel option for your Werribee getaway.

Then there’s the Mansion itself – an exquisite 60-room Italianate chateau built in the late 19th century by two pioneering Scottish brothers. While the building was taken over by the Catholic Church in the 1920s, it went through an extensive restoration process in the 1970s once it was acquired by the state government, reinstating to its former glory.

As you step into the mansion, you’ll be struck by its opulence and majesty. Take a turn about the drawing room, peek in the library room, soak up the panoramic views of the gardens from the balcony, get a feel for what a real butler’s pantry would’ve felt like, and take a stroll to the farm where the rustic outbuildings lay. You’ll truly feel like a character in your own storybook.

Shadowfax Wines

Winery WerribeeAlso located within the Werribee Park precinct, Shadowfax Wines is the absolute perfect spot to stop off for your lunch (or dinner) break. Established in 1999, the menu boasts the finest selection of food and drink to keep you fuelled for the day, including some incredible entrees, share plates or even a chef’s selection (if you can’t decide) each incorporating an array of fresh vegetables and herbs from the restaurant’s established Kitchen Garden. The drinks list showcases Shadowfax’s current releases and museum wines from the cellar, as well as a selection of premium craft beers and spirits from local Victorian breweries and distillers. There’s even a list of delightful non-alcoholic options to keep us non-drinkers appeased!

K Road Cliffs

Things to do WerribeeDown the road from the Werribee Park precinct, the K Road Cliffs are a breathtaking wall of red by day and an even more impressive hue during dusk and sunset when they change colour with the light.

Take in the view of the Werribee River from the clifftops or soak up the natural surrounds on the floodplains as you admire the impressive backdrop of the You Yangs.

A perfect place for birdwatching, hiking or just a meditative afternoon, the cliffs are most certainly one of the region’s acclaimed natural wonders.

Beachside Beauties

Things to do WerribeeLocated just off Port Phillip Bay means there are quite a few spots to check out along the shore during your getaway. The Campbell’s Cove Boathouses should be first on your list. These quaint, vibrant, heritage-listed boatsheds not only make a great photo but provide a rare glimpse into the history of Melbourne’s beach culture – remaining relatively untouched since the 1920s.

(Fun fact: Until 2015, this beach was better known as Melbourne’s closet nudist beach. But don’t fret. It has since closed down).

The Wyndham Harbour also provides a calm space for an afternoon stroll with a beautiful view and some great eateries to boot, while the Point Cook Coastal Park offers a great space to picnic with the family, birdwatching, learn about the wetlands, and enjoy the beach at low tide.


WHAT: Werribee and Surrounds
WHERE TO STAY: Various accommodation options
Visit Werribee & Surrounds

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