Three ways to explore the natural beauty of Murrindindi Shire this autumn

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

Proclaimed as Melbourne’s closest natural playground, Murrindindi Shire’s rich landscape is made up of lush national parks and state forests, the iconic Lake Eildon, Lake Mountain and the Goulburn River, as well as some pretty darn awe-inspiring locations right on the city’s doorstep. The gateway to the High Country, the region’s natural beauty is vast and varied – from the Goulburn River flats to the rugged peaks and cool-climate rainforests of the Great Dividing Range.

The Aboriginal word for Murrindindi translates to mountainous, misty place. This in itself should be cause enough to lure in the discerning nature lover. Imagine then such a mountainous place during autumn, where the trees are boasting leaves of auburn, yellow and brown, and the rolling vistas are cast against a temperate background.

While the region’s natural wonders are worthy of exploration any old time of year, there’s no denying that autumn is especially special in Murrindindi. Tree-lined streets in the towns and villages are resplendent with stunning deciduous trees, and many of the highways that connect the townships feature historic plantings of poplars, oak and maple trees

So if you’ve got a few days, a weekend, or even a day to spare, then Murrindindi Shire should be on your autumn to-do. Here’s three ways you’ll be able to tour the region once you’re there as you discover all the hidden beauty for yourself.


Black SpurThe historic and quaint township of Yea is one of Murrindindi Shire’s most-loved and boasts historic buildings, a thriving main street and a strong arts culture. It’s also a key town on the Great Victorian Rail Trail. With a range of award-winning restaurants, wineries and accommodation options on offer, you can start your journey in Yea and reap the benefits of a gorgeous scenic drive while you’re at it – exploring the unique flora and fauna of the Yea Wetlands as well as the historic sites.

Yea is adjoined by a series of hamlets including Glenburn, Murrindindi, Limestone, Highlands, Strath Creek, Kerrisdale, and Flowerdale, each with their own distinct natural charms and landmarks – making the town the perfect base for a weekend of exploration.

Can only afford a one-day road trip? We get you. The cruise along the Maroondah Highway from Alexandra to Marysville offers the perfect scenic Sunday drive. You’ll pass by stately country estates with the imposing Cathedral Ranges, and the Gould Memorial Drive is a most impressive gateway to Marysville with its avenue of brilliant yellow poplars. Both Alexandra and Marysville also offer great dining options, and local produce stores, breweries and cellar doors along the route feature the best of Murrindindi’s autumn harvest so you can stock up for the trip back and the week ahead!

Another option if travelling from Melbourne is to start or finish your journey by cruising along the Black Spur Drive and enjoying views of the tall mountain ash and lush green tree ferns that the region is known for.


Rubicon Trestle BridgeIf you prefer to feel the earth move under your feet, Murrindindi’s cool, misty mornings and mild, sunny days are perfect for gentle riverside rambles, day treks through the rolling hills or more challenging overnight hikes.

Don your hiking boots and wander through historic locations and villages such as Yea and Alexandra; discover the beauty of ancient forests at the likes of the Toolangi Tanglefoot Loop; explore the many majestic waterfalls dotted throughout the shire and the lush fern gullies in the Yarra Ranges National Park and Marysville State Forest or; hike to the Lake Mountain Summit for spectacular mountain views.

If you’ve got young ones in tow, the Beauty Spot Nature Trail at Marysville is a good option, showcasing some of Marysville’s most beautiful flora and fauna – including an abundance of birdlife – as is the Eildon Pondage Walk.


Lake MountainFor the avid cyclists, Murrindindi Shire also offers some fab autumn cycling experiences. For family-friendly riding, jump on the Great Victorian Rail Trail running from Tallarook, through Yea and Yarck, with a spur line to Alexandra, and all the way to Mansfield. Pack a picnic lunch, admire the natural wonders and seasonal colours along the route, and make a day of it!

If you want to get your heart rate up, the region has some of the best cycling trails and mountain bike tracks in the North East region – and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the smooth flowing trails at Eildon, Buxton and Lake Mountain.



WHAT: Murrindindi Shire in autumn

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

Thyme is on your side at Alba Thermal Springs

Words by Amanda Kennedy

Melburnians have become quite used to a cheeky getaway to hot springs on the Mornington Peninsula. And when floating in tranquil luxury is just a one-hour drive away, it’s easy to see why.

The soon-to-open Alba Thermal Springs and Spa will no doubt become a sought-after destination for all things relaxing when it finally opens its doors in winter 2022. Located at Fingal, near Cape Schanck, the 15-acre water wonderland will boast more than 30 bathing options from geothermal, cold plunge through to herbal-infused botanical pools, as well as a plethora of spa services to revitalise both the body and the soul.

Now, if only there was somewhere to eat after all this bliss? Enter Thyme – a 120-seat restaurant with an all-day menu (remember those) serving up fresh, wholesome dishes with a signature Mediterranean twist, thanks to Melbourne legend Karen Martini. A staple of the restaurant scene (and television screens) for more than 25 years, the chef, writer, and restaurateur was officially appointed a Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Legend in November 2021.

As director of the culinary program, Martini has created a menu rich in plant-based dishes, making the most of the kitchen garden’s herbs and vegetables.

We will also be supporting local growers and suppliers, seeking out seasonal produce from sustainable farming practices, and choosing organically-grown wherever possible.

A well-curated beverage list will draw upon the region’s prolific wineries as well as local tea blends, excellent coffee and fermented drinks. In line with the project’s healthful ethos, those with special dietary requirements will also be well catered for.

The venue itself has been designed to capture the stunning vistas the unique coastal location provides, complete with an outdoor terrace to take in spectacular sunsets, no matter the time of year.

We know you don’t need any more convincing to visit the Peninsula with its wealth of wineries, luxury accommodation, outdoor activities and spectacular coastal walks but it looks like you’ve just added one more to your must-do list.


WHAT: Thyme at Alba Thermal Springs
WHERE: Fingal, Mornington Peninsula
WHEN: 7.30am to 9.00pm daily, opening winter 2022
MORE INFO:  Alba Thermal Springs

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

Mornington Peninsula is getting another Hot Springs! Meet Alba.

Images Supplied

Just when you thought you’d heard the last of the good bathing news, we’re here to serve you another scoop. The Mornington Peninsula is going to be home to another luxurious thermal springs and spa, and her name is Alba.

Launching in winter 2022 to coincide with World Bathing Day (June 22nd), Alba Thermal Springs and Spa is the newest state-of-the-art bathing destination designed to wash away all your worries. Offering a wide selection of outdoor and indoor thermal bathing, spa treatments and wellness therapies, Alba has a vision of being Victoria’s most sought-after place to relax.

The baths are set on 15-acres of land and construction is already underway under the guidance of renowned architecture practice, Hayball. The development will be low-impact with a progressive design that works in harmony with the natural environment. If the prototype images are anything to go off (which they are), Alba is looking equal parts zen and impressive, and a must-do for any Victorian.

Alba Thermal Springs and Spa is located in Fingal, just a hop skip and a jump away from countless wineries, luxury accommodation and other indulgent activities. The Mornington Peninsula really is bringing it these days.

WHAT: Alba Thermal Springs and Spa
WHERE: Fingal, Mornington Peninsula
WHEN: Winter 2022
MORE INFO: Alba Thermal Springs and Spa

Hit reset at the Fire and Spice Wellness Retreat

Images Supplied

If lockdown 4.0 hit you hard, the itch for a vacation is turning into a rash, and you’re scrolling through the explore feed on Instagram, you’re probably in need of a little reset. We’ve done some digging for antidotes and discovered the Fire and Spice Wellness Retreat – your ultimate weekend getaway to zen out and hit that reset button.

Hosted by Masterchef alumni Dani Venn, the wellness retreat is inspired by fire and spice and designed to get you totally blissed out on good food, good vibes and good company – all within the luxurious Lon Retreat and Spa in Point Lonsdale on the Bellarine Peninsula.

The three-day retreat will see you learn the art of cooking with spices in a Masterclass run by Dani herself, soak the winter out of your bones in the warm mineral springs, stretch out on the mat in a few yoga classes, and have your fill of local gin or wine by the fire at night.

In keeping with the spirit of ‘me-time’, guests have the opportunity to take part in each activity or take things at their own pace. With two nights accommodation at the exclusive venue surrounded by stunning farmland and ocean, relaxation is guaranteed.

Dani, who is best known for lighting up our screens on Masterchef in 2011, 2012 and 2020, will join guests in activities and share her encyclopaedic knowledge of spices and cooking delicious meals along the way.

“After running wellness retreats in Bali and Sri Lanka, I am thrilled to bring my one-of-a-kind retreat closer to home at one of the most relaxing places on earth. I cannot wait to cook for you, laugh with you and create unforgettable memories you will hold onto for a lifetime,” says Dani.

Tickets are selling fast, so head to the website soon before they’re gone.

WHAT: Fire and Spice Wellness Retreat
WHEN: Friday 25 to Sunday 27 June, 2021
WHERE: Lon Retreat & Spa, 25 Gill Road, Point Lonsdale
MORE INFO:  Dani Venn 

Glamping and 24/7 bathing now happening at Peninsula Hot Springs

Images Supplied

Date night just levelled up.

In news that is sure to delight both lovers and lovers of relaxation across the state, the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs is bringing us two very indulgent experiences this year; 24/7 bathing and luxury glamping.

Back after their Covid-induced hibernation, the baths are geared up to bring patrons the ultimate post-lockdown rejuvenation. Say goodbye to stiff limbs and hello to mineral-rich soaking with their new offerings.

The steamy destination, which underwent a $13-million expansion in 2018, has introduced 10 luxury glamping tents throughout the site, each one slightly different to the next. But every one takes comfort to the nines with thermally-heated concrete floors, king beds fitted with luxury linen, generous bathrooms and a private deck.

Not only will guests be able to enjoy the spoils of their heavenly accom, but the experience also includes round-the-clock access to the geothermal mineral pools, so if you fancy a midnight dip, just throw on a bathrobe and head on out. In the morning, breakfast will be served in the Spa Dreaming Centre Dining room — all inclusive of course.

You don’t need to be a glamper to soak under the stars, however; 24/7 bathing is available for those who don’t mind entering after 11pm. Just imagine you and your chosen other under the soothing expanse of stars listening to the late-night hum of crickets… We’re getting relaxed just thinking about it.

It goes without saying that the Peninsula Hot Springs are Mornington’s number one destination for indulgence. Whether you want to bathe, indulge in a spa treatment, join in on wellness activities or practice yoga and meditation, the Springs have got you covered. With the new night-time sessions, you may never want to leave.

Packages for glamping start at $650 per night for two people. 

WHAT: Overnight glamping at Peninsula Hot Springs
WHERE: 140 Springs lane, Fingal
WHEN: Bookings available now
MORE INFO: Peninsula Hot Springs


OHO in ISO: Gail Asbell from Upstate Studios

Images supplied

Gail Asbell is the co-founder of Upstate Studios who offer Pilates, Box HIIT, Power Flow, Yin, HIIT 30 and Power Pilates classes from their centres in regional Victoria. Their philosophy is all about helping you create a positive state of mind.

What is happening with the business at this stage?

We closed our four pilates and yoga studios locations on 23 March and as per Victorian Government restrictions they still remain closed. We have stayed focused on our members during this period and tried to ‘over deliver’ in all areas possible. By offering 75 live-streamed classes per week we have been able to keep our community connected. Every day since closing we have received messages from our members how much they love the live stream classes and feel a sense of connection. This has inspired us to keep moving forward in the most challenging period we have ever faced in business.

What is happening to your staff at this stage and how are they coping?

Our team has been truly inspiring through this period. Everyone has supported each other as well as offering their support to us in any way they could. Our team has stepped up to the challenges and the changes that were taking place on a daily basis. As a result of Covid19, our team is even stronger.

75% of our team were ineligible for job seeker as they are independent contractors.  We have kept as many instructors working as much as we possibly can during this time.

What has the current crisis taught you about the community?

Community has always been the heart and soul of our business and this has been particularly evident during Covid 19. The support, feedback and appreciation from our community and our team has been amazing and motivated us to keep persisting through this challenging time.

It has been amazing to see the local business community come together. We have collaborated with many local businesses to support each other. There is a great sense that we are all in this together and the best way to get through this is to support each other.

How do you stay positive in this time?

Our members are loving the live-streamed classes. Every day we receive the most amazing feedback, which keeps us inspired! Many of our clients are going through a tough time and it’s great we can make their day a little brighter and keep them moving when they need it the most. 

What have you been watching? Listening to? Reading?

I have been listening to podcasts mostly business/entrepreneurial podcasts including The Jack Delosa Podcast, Lady Land, Retreat Yourself Radio and Seize the Yay. I find listening to the stories of other businesses really inspiring and motivating.

I’ve also been reading articles and connecting to businesses through Linkedin.

The Details:

Upstate Studios are based in Geelong, Torquay, Balaclava and Newtown and are currently offering on-demand and live-stream classes.