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.

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

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.

The Continental launches stunning new accommodation options

Built by 1800s businessman and comic performer George Coppin, the four-story building was hewn from local rock and has been a local institution for locals and visitors for generations.

The latest addition to the multimillion dollar makeover of ‘The Continental’ is a Victorian era inspired seaside resort from architecture studio Woods Bagot.

The accommodation options include an array of luxuriously appointed rooms or one-and-two-bedroom suites, located either in the original 1875 limestone building or within the recently added wing. High-end penthouses will be made available by the end of 2022.

Guests will have access to the Mediterranean-style poolside deck, replete with cabanas, poolside chaises and a view across Port Phillip Bay. For those with a little more energy, there is a fully-fitted gym with 24-hour access.

Chef Scott Pickett and his team are looking after food and beverage across the different bars, restaurants, and room service. Spend the day at the beach, fishing or exploring Point Nepean then head to the public bar in your board shorts for a beer. Or you could dress up and head upstairs to Audrey.

This is a beautiful upmarket restaurant with velvet banquettes, bespoke hand-woven carpets and exquisite commissioned still-life floral photographs by a Japanese photographer. The room looks out over the palm trees, the Sorrento ferry jetty and across the azure blue waters of Port Phillip.

The set menu is seafood focused with little dishes of spanner crab in rich pastry tartlets, a crumpet topped with creamy whipped cod roe, oysters, yellowfin tuna, and local line-caught squid. The brand new rooms offer five-star luxury including top-of-the-range two-level penthouse suites offering a private rooftop terrace, private plunge pool, and separate lounge and dining area.


WHAT: InterContinental Sorrento Mornington Peninsula
WHEN: Open Now
WHERE: 23 Constitution Hill Road, Sorrento
MORE INFO: Accommodation bookings.

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

Aboriginal Street Art Project welcomes a new inspiring mural

Words: Teyha Nicholas   
Images: Supplied

The Aboriginal Street Art Project has unveiled a new sweeping mural in the regional city of Shepparton.

Nothing gives a city its character quite like street art. A vital part of cultural communication, street art (be that a mural or graffiti) can pop up on a telegraph pole, alongside train tracks and adorn once-government issue grey buildings.  While some of it is fleeting, the vast, visually arresting murals from the Aboriginal Art Street Project are anything but.

Just this month, the project’s newest mural has been unveiled along the length of the Goulburn Valley Water (GVW) building on Welsford Street in Shepparton. The mammoth new piece pays homage to two highly regarded Yorta Yorta elders, the late Aunty Violet Harrison and late Aunty Mary James. Both women played significant roles in their local Aboriginal communities across their lifetimes; such as co-founding both the Rumbalara Cooperative and Bangerang Cultural Centre, among other important community-based work.

The mural comes from the hand of one of street art’s most influential big wall painters, Matt Adnate, which marks his fourth mural for the project. Adnate is well regarded in the local Aboriginal community for his culturally-sensitive arts practice and his incredible craftsmanship. His other murals can be found at GVW walls on Fryers Street and Stewart Street and the Department of Health and Human Services wall on Welsford Street.

An important part of a city’s expression, street art not only transforms the aesthetic of a city, it also leaves an imprint of the zeitgeist. Commissioned and delivered by Greater Shepparton City Council, in collaboration with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, the Aboriginal Street Art Project is making visible the vibrant cultural heritage local to Shepparton – an important gesture of social activism.

The project,  named by locals ‘Dana Djirrungana Dunguludja Yenbena-l’, means ‘Proud, Strong Aboriginal People’ in Yorta Yorta language, is a provoking, inspiring celebration and recognition of local Aboriginal history. Take a wander through the region; there are five murals to be found.

WHAT: New mural for the Aboriginal Street Art Project
WHERE: Welsford Street, Shepparton
WHEN: Open at all times
MORE INFO: Visit Shepparton

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.

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

Words by Teyha Nicholls
Images Supplied

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

Images Supplied

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.