What do you get when you combine a Japanese trained chef, a world-class sommelier and a seasoned High-Country proprietor working across two venues… one sleek, sophisticated restaurant and the other a cosy, fun-loving diner? Delicious, never-want-to-leave brilliance, that’s what.
We’re talking, of course, about the freshly minted Elm Dining restaurant and adjacent kick-back hangout spot The Yard, which after lengthy refurbishments and extensions, both swung open their doors on October 29th. And it’s safe to say that Bright is truly glowing with the new additions.
Under the guidance of Rosy Seaton (who is behind the award-winning Astra in Falls Creek, and the revitalised Boat Shed at Lake Hume), Elm Dining + The Yard are focused on delivering world-class sophistication and delicious local fare with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned hospitality.
Elm Dining is pitched to attract locals and travellers looking to indulge in some of the regions finest produce, served with international flair. Getting them there is Head Chef Kaurie Watkin, who cut his teeth at one of Japan’s finest restaurants and has been making mouths water at Astra in Falls Creek over the last year. His passion for local produce and seasonally inspired cooking means the menu features some familiar favourites but always with an exciting twist.
To complement the meals, sommelier Matt Cridge has scoured the world and his backyard for some of the best wines you can drink. His recent years spent in the Yarra Valley working alongside the highly regarded winemaker Mac Forbes, has made him one of Victoria’s most up-and-coming sommeliers – so be prepared to go on a journey of some of the region’s finest wines, beers and spirits.
For a more low-key dining experience, right outside of Elm is the humble, delightful The Yard. Ready for cocktails, finger-licking food and fun by the fire, it’s the perfect spot for an after-work yarn with a friend or weekend hangout. Between the two venues, Bright will never be short of an awesome spot to share a meal and enjoy some of the best produce the region has to offer.
THE DETAILS WHAT: Elm Dining and The Yard WHERE: 98 Gavan Street, Bright WHEN: Open Tuesday – Saturday MORE INFO:Elm Dining
We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
They say life is all about balance, a bit of yin with your yang, so to speak. We all know that getting outside to blow away the cobwebs is not only good for the body, but it’s also good for the soul. We’ve rounded up a host of activities in the Moorabool Valley and You Yangs area to get you out and about and sweetened it with some treats for afterwards.
You Yangs Regional Park
You’ve definitely seen them from across the bay, or perhaps from the city’s outskirts, those hills on the horizon. The You Yangs (Wurdi Youang) are a group of 24km long granite outcrops an hour southwest of Melbourne near the town of Little River. Time to pay them a visit!
Topping out at 319m is the park’s highest point, Flinders Peak. Those who make the 3.2km one-hour return walk will be well-rewarded with stunning views across the volcanic plains back towards Melbourne or south to Geelong.
From the eastern lookout, the eagle-eyed will also spy the geoglyph of Bunjil, creator spirit of the Wadawurrung people, traditional custodians of the region. Artist Andrew Rogers utilised 1500 tonnes of granite and limestone rock to form the wedge-tail eagle geoglyph, in recognition of the Wadawurrung people’s connection to the land.
Iconic Australian painter Fred Williams was known to spend much time painting en plein air in the region. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to create your own masterpiece?
If you’re the type who likes to get the blood really pumping, you might like to bring your mountain bike and hit some of the 50km of purpose-built trails across two dedicated zones. Maybe horse riding, orienteering, rock-climbing, abseiling or bushwalking is more your speed? If so, there are dozens of trails from the family-friendly through to the more challenging to choose from.
If that all sounds a little exhausting, you could always try your hand at some birdwatching or perhaps a gentle stroll to one of the nine designated picnic areas.
The You Yangs Regional Park is open every day from 7am and closing at 5pm (6pm from Daylight Savings). Access to the park from the Princes Freeway is signposted via Lara. Facilities include picnic areas (barbecues, tables and toilets available) as well as drinking water available from the Visitors Centre.
Serendip Sanctuary Wildlife Park
Only 10 minutes further south is the Serendip Sanctuary. Soak in the serenity or explore some of the 250ha of wetlands and grassy woodlands. Experience your own close encounter with some native wildlife on one of the popular and wheelchair-accessible nature trails. Spot a mob of emus, Eastern Grey kangaroos or even a Tawny Frogmouth from one of the many bird hides.
With an emphasis on education, the sanctuary offers a Junior Rangers Program for families during school holidays as well as downloadable DIY activity sheets. Discover how some of Victoria’s most threatened species are being protected at the sanctuary’s education facility, old school and screen-free.
Serendip Sanctuary is open every day except Christmas Day & Good Friday from 8am until 4pm. Facilities include picnic areas, barbecues, tables, toilets and drinking water.
Brisbane Ranges National Park
Drive half an hour west and you’ve arrived at Brisbane Ranges National Park and Steiglitz Historic Park. Ten points if you time your visit for spring’s magnificent wildflower displays including the rarely seen Velvet Daisy-bush and Brisbane Ranges Grevillea.
But first let’s start the adrenaline racing with some rock-climbing, abseiling, horse riding, kayaking/rafting or bushwalking (trails range from a couple of hours to several days). Camping areas with tank water and pit toilets available, bookings required. Picnic areas include wood barbecues, tables and toilets.
Fortunately, an area so rich in outdoor activities is also blessed with a cornucopia of food and drink choices.
Golden Plains Farmers Market is held the first Saturday of every month and is the ideal place to begin. If you miss that, no matter; the region is well placed with a slew of farm gates and providores.
Moorabool Valley Chocolate Pick up some handmade truffles made with the freshest ingredients from this family-owned small business.
Meredith Dairy The Cameron family have been responsibly and sustainably farming sheep and goats since the early 1990s, creating one of Australia’s most iconic farmhouse cheeses which are now exported to the world.
Inverleigh Bakehouse An old-school country bakery is a thing of beauty and this converted 1868 homestead doesn’t disappoint with artisan breads as well as tempting pastries and cakes.
Bread cheese and chocolate – tick! Now you need something to drink. Thankfully this cool climate wine region offers boutique wineries, renowned cellar doors and winery restaurants both large and small, so you’re sure to find one to suit.
Clyde Park Vineyard and Bistro Step into the cellar door and secure a spot by the fire before tasting through their award-winning wines whilst taking in sweeping views over the Moorabool Valley. This family-friendly bistro is open daily offering everything from a quick nibble through to a three-course meal.
Del Rios Wines Enjoy a long, lazy lunch centred around their estate-grown produce (including Black Angus beef) complemented by an extensive wine portfolio.
No doubt this has whet your appetite to explore the region. You’ll only wonder what took you so long.
We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
It’s not often an offer like this comes along. A kilo of dry-aged Furu Ushi (old cow) wagyu and a bottle of Moondarra Nebbiolo delivered to your door in metro Melbourne, Drouin, and Warragul for just $90.
To make the deal even sweeter, the pack is hand-delivered by one of Victoria’s food and wine greats – Neil Prentice from Moondarra Wines and Wagyu. A former punk, he poured chardonnay in a St Kilda footy vest at the Dog’s Bar in St Kilda when it first opened in 1989. He opened a sexy, funky bar/restaurant/club in The George, St Kilda building called the Birdcage specialising in sushi and textural white wines. Over the past 20 years, he has concentrated on developing his wagyu herd and vineyard on his farm at Moondarra in the foothills of Mount Baw Baw.
The Furu Ushi range of dry-aged beef from older cows has been a long time in the making. When Prentice’s breeding cows reached a point where they were too old to have calves, at around 10 years of age, they used to be sold off for pet food.
A crying shame in Neil’s eyes, he wanted to follow the Spanish Basque country tradition of nurturing older breeding cattle, turning them into prime steak. Although incredibly well cared for throughout their lives, the animals are fed on prime pastures and a little extra grain in their last weeks. Their meat is then dry-aged for 30 to 90 days, an essential step to tenderise the meat of older animals.
The beef is beautifully full-flavoured with the marbling you’d expect from wagyu, with intramuscular fat interlacing lovely ruby-red flesh. You will need a sharp steak knife, but it’s also juicy and deeply, earthily flavoursome. The cuts will vary from flatiron steak to ribeye to rump, depending on the aging process.
The Nebbiolo Neil has chosen to go with your steak is macerated on skins before fermentation retaining about a third as whole bunches. Neil ‘dances’ in the wine three or four times a day through ferment (more traditional winemakers call this pigeage) to extract colour and flavour. It is a delicious dry but aromatic medium-bodied wine that pairs beautifully with the beef grown on the same soil as the wine.
WHAT: Moondarra Furu Ushi old cow wagyu and Nebbiolo delivered to your door WHEN: Until December 2021 MORE INFO: Email email@example.com
We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
The Goulburn River might not have the PR team of the mighty Murray but as Victoria’s longest river it has long been a part of peoples’ daily lives. It is the region’s lifeline of agriculture, a cultural and historic touchstone as well as a magnet for outdoor activities.
Your road trip offers so many waterways to choose from, including one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, enchanting waterfalls and secluded fishing spots. No matter the season, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking scenery, pretty little towns and down to earth hospitality as you wind your way through this special part of central Victoria – all within a short, easy drive out of Melbourne.
Central Victoria was sometimes seen as a drive-through rather than a drive-to area; a place where you’d stop to use the restroom facilities, grab a coffee or fuel up the car. Our Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip proves otherwise.
It is a place that is filled with a rich history, both recent and more ancient. A place of sweeping landscapes, enchanting waterways and stunning scenic drives, all within an easy drive out of Melbourne.
Head north-east from Melbourne firstly to Marysville and Eildon then on to Yea. From Yea it’s over to Trawool and Tallarook before heading north to Seymour, Avenel then Nagambie and finally arriving at Euroa.
On the edge of the Yarra Valley is the (in)famous Black Spur Drive. Marvel as the road twists and turns beneath towering eucalypts and movie-worthy mist. Soon enough you arrive in Marysville, a pretty little town with a big heart. It is also a convenient jumping-off point to visit Lake Mountain, with plenty for adventure seekers no matter the time of year.
If you want to stretch the legs a little further, Steavenson Falls (Victoria’s tallest with a drop of 84m) is just the ticket. Be well-rewarded for an easy 250m walk from the carpark with sensational views of one of the region’s most iconic waterfalls.
Next up is the town of Eildon and one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, with a whopping 500km coastline. Lake Eildon was created in the 1950s with the damming of the Goulburn River for supply of drinking water, hydro-electricity generation and irrigation.
Naturally this makes it a popular spot for all the water recreational activities you can think of: boating, fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, sailing and house boat hire. It’s also an ideal place to just kick back and watch the changing reflections of the clouds and hills on the water.
Our next stop is Yea – yay! A perennially popular stopping-off point to refuel both the car and the driver, Yea easily recalls the grandeur of the area’s gold mining past with historic buildings and graceful wide streets. It is also where the Goulburn River meets the Yea River and the Yea Wetlands, a treasure trove of flora and fauna.
Yea’s historic Gothic-styled railway station is beautifully preserved with its red brick façade. It’s a great place to pick up The Great Victorian Rail Trail or allow the kids to let off some steam at the playground.
A short drive and it’s on to the district of Trawool, for there is no township as such. It is here that the Goulburn Valley Hwy plays cat and mouse with the Goulburn River and its lagoons. Holiday makers have been visiting Trawool Valley from the early 1900s to take in the area’s scenic charms and it’s easy to see why. A visit to the iconic Trawool Estate will not disappoint.
Next stop is Tallarook and the start of the 134 km Great Victorian Rail Trail connecting Tallarook to Mansfield. Whether you choose to explore the trail by foot, by bike or by horse it certainly offers a unique way to take in some fresh air. Like so many townships along this great drive, a weekend trip to the farmers’ market is a great way to sample local produce and stock up at the same time. Since 2009, locals and visitors have been filling up their baskets and supporting producers and makers alike at Tallarook Farmers’ Market on the first Sunday of the month.
A short drive from Tallarook is Seymour, located on the banks of the beautiful Goulburn River. Very much the platonic ideal of a country town with its wide, welcoming streets and riverside parks, Seymour has always been a major stop on the Melbourne-Sydney route. The area has also had strong military connections since the establishment of a nearby training camp prior to WW1 and then later Puckapunyal Army Base.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during blueberry season (summer) a stop-off at Blue Tongue Berries needs to be top of the list. The Brewer’s Table is your best bet for quality local food, craft beer and cider. While your wine needs are all taken care of with a visit to Wines By Sam, Sam Plunkett’s cellar door in the expertly refitted old Seymour dye works building.
The historic township of Avenel was established in 1849 as a stop-over point between Melbourne and Albury. It is also known as the place where Ned Kelly’s family lived in the 1806s. Ned is now known as a bushranger and outlaw, but he was once hailed a hero after rescuing a young boy from drowning in a local creek. Fowles Wines is the perfect lunch spot; after all who can resist a wine with the name Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch?
Nagambie calls and it’s our next stop. It is little wonder wineries are a great drawcard of Nagambie and surrounds. The cool climate (influenced by the Goulburn River and Lake Nagambie) combined with the area’s red sandy loam soil adds up to a distinctive wine region.
Look no further than the historic Tahbilk Winery and Mitchelton wineries for evidence. Situated within the Mitchelton estate in a disused underground wine cellars you’ll find the Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art, regional Victoria’s largest indigenous art gallery, celebrating the art of Australia’s First People, including local Taungurung people.
Our last stop is Euroa at the foothills of the Strathbogie Ranges. You’re definitely in Kelly country now – Ned Kelly and his gang bank robbed a local bank here in 1878. These days the town is a good base to explore the nearby Strathbogies, take a scenic drive to the Gooram waterfalls or perhaps take a quick dip in one of the popular swimming holes if weather allows.
Whether you are seeking a nature-lovers paradise, a taste of the region’s best restaurants and wineries or a relaxing getaway full of country hospitality, a Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip has it all. Murrindindi, Mitchell and Strathbogie regions are an easy drive out of Melbourne with no end of things to experience whatever the season.
We suggest you plan to stay a while.
DOWNLOAD GOULBURN RIVER & RANGES ROADTRIP MAP
Discover the huge variety of attractions across the region with this printable map. Download here.
Or use our helpful itinerary to plan your trip around the region.
We wish to acknowledge the Taungurung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
This is a gin as beautiful and unique as the collaboration that made it. Muscat grapes macerated for eight weeks in gin made with Australian botanicals. On the nose, it is aromatic, floral, and rich, the clean, lean juniper dancing around old-fashioned blousy roses. On the mouth, it is luscious and full-bodied, the unfermented sugar from the grapes clinging to the lips, the dryness of the strawberry gum and peppermint gum like a bush track on a hot still day.
Muscat Gin is a 50/50 collaboration between Lee Attwood from Backwoods Distilling Co. in Yackandandah and Rowly Milhinch from Scion Wine in Rutherglen. Milhinch’s brown muscat grapes were trucked to Yackandandah and allowed to steep in Atwood’s gin for 56 days.
Backwood’s gin is itself a beautiful creature, made with premium, resinous juniper berries and gum leaves, which are native to the region. Alongside these are classic gin botanicals like orris root and angelica for body and sweetness, the dusky spiciness of cardamom, high notes of coriander and a little citrus tang from lemon myrtle, which appears long after the gin has been swallowed. After two months the grapes were basket pressed, and all that ruby muscat colour, sweetness, and complex floral notes became one with the gin.
That the muscat and gin work so well together comes as no surprise, as the men who made them are now great mates. Attwood and Milhinch met at the clearance sale of historic Mount Prior Estate in Rutherglen. They were trying to outbid each other on old oak barrels in which tawny port had been aged. At the end of the day, packing up the spoils of the auction in the backs of their utes, they started talking. That conversation has not stopped, and the result is this Muscat Gin, marketed under the Still & Stem brand.
Still & Stem Muscat Gin has enough natural sugar from the grapes, around 100g per litre, to give it great body and balance to enjoy it neat on a large block of ice, perhaps a few drops of water to help liberate the aromatics. Rowly also recommends pouring a few fingers of the gin over ice, dropping in a slice of dehydrated orange, and topping up the glass with Capi tonic to your taste, long or short. Get in quick as only 1100 bottles were made.
While Covid lockdowns have paused the restaurant side of things, wineries still need to go about the job of producing wine. Vines still need to be pruned, soil health needs to be maintained and wine still needs to be bottled. We spoke with Tony Lee co-founder and winemaker at Foxey’s Hangout to see how things are faring on the Mornington Peninsula.
“Our work hasn’t changed much. All our full-time staff are continuing to come to work because we are working in vineyards. It’s just that we don’t have any customers. We went through last winter pruning our vineyards with our full-time restaurant staff, so they’re getting pretty good at it. The difference is last year we had JobKeeper.”
Aside from the obvious issue of revenue, Tony cites the challenge of maintaining a connection to his customers when they’re no longer walking through the door each weekend.
We work to communicate with them by email, by phone, by social media because when we re-open, everyone from Melbourne is going to want to come back to the Mornington Peninsula. From Christmas till June this year, we were busier than we’ve ever been and that will happen again this summer if we get open.
“We’ve also been talking with our restaurant customers and while last year there was light at the end of the tunnel, there’s not that same view this time. We’ve been trying to cheer them up with a few bottles of new vintages to take home and drink. I think there was more joy last year than this lockdown.”
Tony’s background as a chef is on display when pressed to nominate what it is he’s currently missing most. “I miss the camaraderie of doing service on a weekend. We have a strong connection with our staff. We all start at the same time in the morning, do mise-en-place together, and at 11 o’clock when we open everyone goes to their section. At the end of the day, we all sit down and have a meal together, then clean up and then finish together. It’s the starting together, having a meal together and finishing together that builds that extra-ordinary camaraderie and we all miss that.”
Of course, there are some silver linings to be found in the endless rounds of lockdowns. “We have lots of wine-training sessions, wine-tasting sessions and wine-drinking sessions. We’re constantly thinking and talking about wine and our staff are getting better and better at communicating about wine.”
To close, we share some wise words from a hospitality veteran of 40 years – “It’ll be a beautiful summer down here on the Peninsula when people are let out. All the restaurants will be full which is good because they’ve been closed for a long time. But there are places that are doing it hard and I’d like to encourage everyone to keep supporting a restaurant or winery that you love. Buy some takeaway food or some wine. Some industries are having a good pandemic but hospo is one that is doing it tough and I think it’s the support from loving customers is what’s getting a lot of people through.”
WHAT: Foxey’s Hangout WHERE: 795 White Hill Rd, Red Hill WHEN: Open 7 days 11am – 5pm wine sales and tasting, lunch Friday – Monday MORE INFO:Foxey’s Hangout
Winter is the ultimate season to enjoy a smooth, rich glass of red. Over the first weekend of July, you can taste some of the very finest drops at the Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival; the region’s biggest celebration of all things shiraz.
With 26 participating wineries from Jack Rabbit Vineyard to Mt Duneed Estate, locals and travellers alike will be spoilt with a wide selection of the region’s cool-climate wines, plus delicious food and various tasting experiences at each location.
Across two days and three different sub-regions – Moorabool Valley, Bellarine Peninsula and the Surf Coast – there’ll be winery tours, barrel tastings, degustation dining and best of all, some talented chefs will be whipping up some hearty winter fare to pair with the wines. For those with a penchant for wine education, pop into one of the wine masterclasses or meet some of the makers for a yarn about their winemaking process. We’re certain you’ll be taking leaps and bounds on your journey to wine connoisseur – your friends will definitely be impressed.
So why not put your feet up by the fire, learn the art of wine tasting straight from the horse’s mouth, or just make it a weekend of fun with friends and a good drink? We are certain you’ll come home with a fuller mind, heart… and belly.
If you plan on doing lots of drinking, we recommend booking some local accommodation or an all-included tour (featuring a designated driver). Head over to their website below for more info.
As a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, you know you’re in for a real (culinary) treat no matter when you visit Bendigo. But come time for the Ignite Festival, and the city’s cafes, restaurants and bars put their best foot forward with a whole series of specially-curated events showcasing the best in local food and drink.
Proud Dja Dja Wurrung, Latje Latje and Wotjabulluk woman Raylene Harradine will also be hosting a 6Seasons Dinner along with chef Gina Triolo from Bendigo’s Hoo-gah Cafe. The special degustation-styled event will feature six courses, each focussed on the six Aboriginal annual seasons of Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang.
Hear the tunes and tales
Another sure way to warm up during the chilly months is with some sweet melodies and stories – blues on the Victorian Goldfields Railway train or live at Castlemaine’s Taproom, a two-day festival of Americana bands at Shiraz Republic or a session of storytelling about People and Country at the Ulumbarra Theatre.
Feel the warmth as your hands make and create
The festival program has all the hands-on folk covered too, with workshops and masterclasses that will ignite a passion for cooking, creating, cheesemaking and croissant-ing (don’t mind our love for alliteration).