Latin American cuisine is now cooking in the heart of East Gippsland

Words by Teyha Nicholls
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East Gippsland has never been known for its Latin American dining scene, but there’s a new restaurant setting out to change all that.

Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant is busting open the repertoire with authentic Peruvian, Argentinian and Colombian dishes for lunch and dinner. Charcoal-grilled meat plates and tapas with traditional spices have been flying out of the kitchen for one month now, something owner Mark Wheeldon couldn’t be happier about — both professionally and personally.

“I left [Gippsland] at 19 and returned at 54. I was sort of semi-retired when I saw this venue and contacted my friend, Arturo, who is a Peruvian chef. I said to him, “c’mon we’re going to start up a restaurant,” Mark explains.

Arturo, who emigrated from Peru six years ago, was cooking in the RACV City Club kitchen before the pandemic hit. But like many other venues, customer shortages during 2020 meant several staff were forced to find other work so Arturo found a job in a factory.  Fast forward two years and the duo are breaking new ground by building one of Gippsland’s finest Latin American restaurants.

We don’t call it a restaurant, we call it a venue. It’s somewhere people come to experience some nice food, to chat with friends. There’s a certain sort of ambience to it.

That ambience was designed by Mark’s niece, an interior designer with an intimate knowledge of what makes a venue sing. The team completely renovated what once was an uninspired 1960’s brick shopfront into a modern, glass-fronted restaurant with subtle homages to Latin America. The space feels bright yet warm, spacious yet cosy and, of course, the lake view is the hero.

“Arturo’s is all about helping out a friend, giving me something to do and also doing something unique in Paynesville. And that’s what we’ve done.”

WHAT: Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant
WHERE: 59 Esplanade, Paynesville
WHEN: Thursday – Sunday 10:30 am –9:00 pm
MORE INFO: Arturo’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant

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

Raise your glass, Sparkling Saturdays launches at Arthur’s Seat

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If you had to think of the best way to spend one hour, it might look something like this: soaring above a state park in an aerial gondola, sipping on sparkling wine with a couple of locally sourced nibbles in tow. Up until this month, that perfect hour didn’t exist. But the guys at Arthur’s Seat have changed all that. 

One of the Mornington Peninsula’s most unique experiences, the Arthur’s Seat Eagle is back in operation, adding a showstopping Sparkling Saturdays to their roster. From 5pm to 6pm over three weekends this February (the first was on the 6th, while the other two are on the 13th and 20th), the experience allows guests to soak up sweeping views of Port Philip Bay and the city skyline in their own private aerial gondola.

The first experience of its kind in Australia, the aerial glides are perfect for any dynamic duo: couples, friends, strangers with a passion for great views. The Swiss-designed gondolas have space for prams, wheelchairs and are fully equipped for any weather, so whatever your accessibility needs, you’re catered for. 

Inside, you’ll also find a grazing platter for two featuring goodies from local producers, including fresh fruit from D’Alia’s Fresh Produce, honeycomb by Medena Honey and handmade cookies from The Sweet Mum. 

For those with a proper thirst, fear not; you can request a top-up when you pass through the station. And if alcohol isn’t your beverage of choice, the team have options for you too. Just imagine raising your glass as the sun dips below the tree canopy… The romance is strong.

Tickets are just $130 for two people, including a glass of T’Gallant sparkling wine each and the gourmet grazing board. Limited space is available, so make sure you book soon to not miss out.


WHAT: Sparkling Saturdays at Arthur’s Seat with a special ‘Cupid Cabin’ available for Valentine’s Day

WHERE: 1085 Arthur’s Seat Road, Dromana
WHEN: February 6th, 13th and 20th
MORE INFO: Arthur’s Seat Eagle


Sedona Estate

The Yea Valley is a wine region you might not have heard of. Technically it’s “Upper Goulburn”, but that really doesn’t adequately encompass the uniqueness of the Yea Valley.  It’s just a short drive on from the Yarra Valley, though some of the most stunningly beautiful high country in Victoria. Sedona Estate sits perched on a hillside overlooking the rolling hills of the Yea Valley, where Paul Evans and Sonja Herges have built a winery, cellar door, and a livelihood crafting wines to write home about.

Paul has an impressive resume (Chandon, Oakridge), but that’s not what’s important here. You’ll get lost in the moment, the gorgeous surrounds, and the impeccable wines. Yes, there’s a shout to his past  experience with some stunning sparkling wines, but he’s so passionate about what their piece of dirt is capable of producing that you’ll soon get lost too in the heady peppery cool climate reds produced from this estate. The Sangiovese was a highlight, weighted like a coastal pinot noir, but packing flavour like a cabernet. Sangi has to be the next up-and-coming thing in red wines. It will be if it keeps showing up and winning awards like the Sedona version. It’s just so drinkable.

Kinglake National Park

The 2019/20 bushfire season has been horrific for vast areas of Australia. But if you want a close-to-home reminder of how the bush recovers after a catastrophic fire season, you’ll find the well-managed Kinglake National Park an uplifting experience. The bush here was devastated by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. It’s now ten years in to its regeneration cycle, and you can see it going through a transition stage, with dense undergrowth now dying back and falling to the ground under the taller re-grown large tree species. The die-back forms floor compost that retains water and provides composted nutrients for the further growth of the larger trees. This mid-stage regeneration is fascinating. It’s a great reminder of the natural order of regeneration, and despite the magnitude of our summer just gone, also a visual pointer of hope to the mighty come-back we hope to see.

Mason’s Falls is just one of many parks and picnic facilities in the National Park. It has some terrific walking tracks, including wheel-chair accessible ones. There are tracks that are a decent run for the training-minded visitor. The walk to the falls is relatively easy, and well worth it for the view up the gorge to the actual falls. There are several walking loops that take in longer routes, for those who like a challenge. Most importantly, the BBQ facilities are excellent.

Basils Farm

The Bellarine Peninsula is home to some amazing little finds, most of them set away from the main roads and found by local knowledge or that article you read once somewhere. Basils Farm is a vineyard and restaurant at the end of a spectacular driveway, through the vines, and almost on the beach overlooking the water to Queenscliff. Getting out of the car and discovering where you are is just the start of a beautifully surprising adventure.

With an almost Royal Mail–like attention to the provenance of their produce, they are crafting tasty dishes with veg from their extensive garden (a small section of which you are free to roam). The wines made on the estate are equally as fine and detailed. Two styles of chardonnay are particularly interesting, as is the maritime influence seen in the pinot noir.


Bomboras has an enviable spot overlooking the beach at Torquay, and has the daytime vibe of a lazy beach party. It’s pretty chill here, nothing too fancy, nothing too cerebral. Local beers on tap, a menu of snacks and simple dishes. Good for a quiet recovery late breakfast or lunch the day after the night before. Do the Bloody Mary special it’s got a kick from fire tonic that we loved. Speaking of the night before, that’s when Bomboras goes off. When the lights go down, it’s a buzzy summertime bar with great cocktails, great tunes, and a cool vibe.

Bomboras has other locations on the foreshore and at Point Roadknight (hip coffee kiosks), on the surf coast highway (rooftop bar), and look out for their pop-up beach bar in summer months.

Yering Station

There’s something lovely about plated single dishes from an à la carte menu, and professional, attentive service. In contrast to the ‘all dishes on the table, share the love’ approach, there’s an almost quiet, contemplative joy in studying the menu, ordering for yourself, and then talking with your company about all the elements in your meal as it comes out.

The Rathbone family have been custodians of this vineyard and property since the mid ’90s, though there has been wine made here before then. Very good wine, in fact. The Ryrie brothers, then the De Castella family, made some impressive red wines here. Sadly, with the destruction of the wine industry from a little bug called phylloxera, the property moved to other agricultural practices. The vision of a few pioneers in the 1970s and ’80s saw the first returns to grape growing and winemaking.

Of course, at the cellar door you can sample the excellent wines made on site by chief winemaker Willy Lunn. The cellar door is one of the older buildings on site, formerly the winery from 1859. Now it does triple-duty as cellar door, gallery and produce store. The produce is a representation of the monthly farmers market held in the barn. It’s all local, all lovely.  The gallery showcases artworks from emerging artists and also hosts the annual Yering Sculpture Prize. Money from the gallery’s sale commissions go to the Children’s Leukaemia charity, Larch – a long-standing Rathbone family commitment.

All that makes for interesting conversation over a meal at tables set in a mighty glass, stone and steel structure overlooking the rolling green pastures, vineyards, hills, and skies until tomorrow. When the food arrives at the table, you’ll be tempted to whip out the phone and Instagram it, but resist the urge. Just take in the view, the setting, and the beauty, and re-post someone else’s picture.


Chrismont Winery

The King Valley is home to some of Victoria’s oldest vineyards. Settled by Italian migrants, it’s probably fair to call it ‘The Home of Italian Wine Styles’ – if you don’t count Italy. Chrismont wines boasts a stunning new cellar door and restaurant, with a menu designed for sharing. It’s inspired by Italian flavours, and goes well with the classic Italian varietal wines on offer. The Sangiovese is particularly gorgeous. For those who enjoy the stunning views and long lunches more than most, the option to rent the guest house is an attractive one.

Wye River General Store

Wye River is a tiny hamlet between Apollo Bay and Lorne. Its main feature is a gob-smackingly gorgeous bit of coast where the river meets the surf. Running a close second is the General Store.

A late-ish breakfast at the General Store is a relaxed affair, even with the hubbub of a busy cafe that has the honour of being the only early option on this part of the coast. Sunlight floods the cafe, and on a clear day the view of surfers riding the break and families taking some time together across your avo toast and killer coffee is enough to make your heart a little gladder. If the French toast lulls you into unconsciousness, just order another coffee.

The tiny community of Wye River was hit pretty hard after the devastating Christmas Day fires of 2016. But it’s bouncing back better than ever. The Store and the pub just across the road are something of a focal point for a resilient community getting its stuff back together. There’s a really positive and friendly vibe from the store manager Briony Payten as she tells us how busy it has been, and just how supportive locals, weekenders, and tourists have been too. By the way, if you recognise that surname, yes the wine list does carry the great wines of her brother Ben Payten of Payten and Jones, amongst a strong list of locals.

For warmer days, there’s heaps of outdoor seating, and if children pepper your party, there’s the most epic playground right next door.

Though your focus might initially be on a sourdough toastie and great coffee, once you remember that you have no bread in your B&B and that you forgot your toothbrush, you’ll be glad of the other facet to the business. It’s a true general store, with all the essentials for the weekend visitor. You could easily self-cater from the selection of produce at hand, and all the ingredients for surviving a coastal retreat are available.

Helen and Joey Estate

A winery with a name is not unusual. Most are named for families, properties, or a geographical feature. In France, wines are named for the place – the region, the Chateau (winemaking house) and the quality of the vineyard. It’s refreshing to find a placed named simply for the names of the two people who own it. Helen and Joey have hit the ground running since purchasing the Fernando vineyard a few years back. In short order, Helen has made a passionate lunge at carving out a corner of the Yarra Valley wine industry.

The cellar door is a simple building perched on the hill with amazing views across the valley floor to the ranges beyond. Keep an eye out for a few unicorns between. The focus is squarely on the wines, made skilfully by Meg Brodtmann. The range is extensive, but the core is always the Alena, Layla, and Inara wines, expressing the strengths of the valley in chardonnay, pinot, syrah and cabernet. Take a look at the ‘Wayward Child’ labelled wines, too. The skin-contact pinot gris is rosé pink, and textural.

Simple local produce platters can be taken out onto the deck, and with a few glasses of vino, you can while away an afternoon with friends, watching the light change across the valley.