Explore the heart of
Heathcote this autumn

Pumpkin spice season is upon us, which can only mean one thing – it’s time to hit the open road for autumn’s vibrant display.

And where better to enjoy the crimson and cosiness than in Heathcote? Nestled in the heart of Victoria, the region is teeming with natural beauty, culinary delights – and Shiraz.

Let’s explore the top spots to see, taste and experience the essence of Heathcote this autumn.

Pink Cliffs Reserve

First up – the Pink Cliffs Reserve. Tucked in the outskirts of Heathcote, these soft-hued cliffs are an unmissable sight. 

Formed through gold mining activities in the 19th century, the cliffs have an otherworldliness about them – and stand as a testament to a bygone era. The surrounding trails are easy to navigate, too, making it a perfect outing for nature enthusiasts of all ages. 

Don’t forget to bring your camera – the cliff’s unique colour palette at different times of the day provides the perfect photo backdrop.

Valley of Liquid Ambers

Aptly titled, the Valley of Liquid Ambers is the ultimate spot to witness autumn’s canvas.

A hidden gem within Heathcote, the valley is famous for its vibrant display of autumn leaves. The golden hues of the liquid amber trees create a warm and inviting atmosphere – perfect for leisurely walks and picnics under the canopy. 

It’s a peaceful retreat to immerse yourself in the season’s beauty – and find a moment of tranquillity on your getaway.

Silver Spoon Estate

For those who appreciate the finer things in life, the Silver Spoon Estate is a must-visit. 

This boutique winery, right in the heart of the Heathcote wine region, is renowned for its exceptional wines and just-as-exceptional menu. The estate offers an intimate wine-tasting experience where you can savour the complex flavours of their award-winning Shiraz,
Viognier and more.

Pair your tasting with a selection of gourmet dishes that showcase the local produce, and you have the perfect recipe for an unforgettable gastronomic adventure. 

In Good Spirits Distillery 

Heathcote’s spirit scene is alive and well at the In Good Spirits Distillery

This local distillery – housed at Domaine Asmara Vineyard – opens its doors to those eager to dive deeper into the craft of spirit making. The tasting and meet-the-distiller experience provides a unique opportunity to learn about the distillation process, from selecting ingredients to bottling the final product. 

Guests can sample a range of spirits, each with its own distinctive character, and hear the stories behind their creations. It’s a personal and engaging day out – sure to leave you in good spirits!

Heathcote Wine Hub 

Want to try – and buy – all of Heathcote’s famed Cambrian wines but don’t have the time to visit each vineyard? The good people behind Heathcote Wine Hub have you sorted. 

This wine lover’s paradise offers an unparalleled selection of over 200 Heathcote wines, making it the ideal place to taste and purchase the finest wines the region has to offer. 

The knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you through the tasting experience, helping you discover new favourites and learn about the unique qualities of Heathcote terroir. Whether you’re a seasoned wine aficionado or new to the world of wine, the Heathcote Wine Hub promises an epic exploration of local viticulture.

The O’Keefe Challenge

Fancy a day of exercise in Heathcote’s sublime countryside? Then mark your calendars for 19 – 21 April 2024, as The O’Keefe Challenge offers an exhilarating opportunity to experience the best of Heathcote’s bushlands, fields and lakes. 

This annual event isn’t just a race – it’s a celebration of community, endurance and the region’s bounty. Whether you fancy completing a marathon, half-marathon, walking event or cycling race – there’s a challenge for everyone.

Athletes of all levels are welcomed, from seasoned runners to families looking for a fun and active day out. The trail winds through the countryside, past historical sites and alongside Lake Eppalock. It’s a standout event in the Heathcote calendar.

The Watering Hole

Feel the pulse of Heathcote’s community over a locally grown dinner at the Watering Hole. Here, the focus is bringing people together over great food, refreshing drinks and ripper entertainment. 

The menu is designed to share – think charcuterie boards, pod luck dips and other nibbles. And on weekend nights, you’ll be treated to a themed menu. Fridays are BBQ, and Saturdays are baked potatoes.

With a suite of gigs booked monthly, there’s always a new reason to visit. And ample more reasons to stay.

The Yellow Box Wood

After all this adventuring, you’re going to need a cosy spot to rest your head. And we highly recommend the Yellow Box Wood

The ultimate glamping getaway, the Yellow Box Wood features two large, luxurious safari-style glamping tents – set in 100 acres of natural bush. Every amenity is tastefully designed in a rustic finish, and there are plenty of yellow box trees for privacy. You don’t need to worry about your carbon footprint either, as both tents are off-grid and sustainably crafted.

To ensure you get a good night’s rest, pop down to the nearby mineral salt swimming pool and take a dip. Then, meander back through the bushland to your slice of paradise.

You’ll leave feeling rested, rejuvenated and – most of all – connected to nature.

Ready to head to Heathcote? Visit the region’s official website for the complete guide.

A spring time tour of Manningham

Recently the team at One Hour Out were invited to explore Manningham in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. What we found was an incredibly diverse mix of residential suburbs and verdant riverside parklands.

The region includes some of Victoria’s most engaging art experiences and the eclectic mix of cafes, restaurants and boutique shopping is second to none. The northern edge of Manningham is marked by the Yarra River that winds its way down from the Yarra Valley towards the city, with endless walking trails, picnic locations and playgrounds.

Come and join us as we explore this outstanding region.

Your Guide to the Goulburn River and Ranges

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.

Here’s an itinerary to get you started.

Choose your own adventure: Exploring the You Yangs & Moorabool Valley

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

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.

Walking MelbourneYou 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?

Bike Riding MelbourneIf 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

Melbourne wildlife
© Barbara Dawn

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

National Parks MelbourneDrive 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.

As with any visit to the great outdoors, best to check forecasted weather as well as location conditions. Visit Parks Victoria for more information.

Reckon you’ve earned a reward or two?

Farmers Market MelbourneFortunately, 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.

Clyde ParkBread 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.

Mt Stapylton Wines

Farming is a hard business, it’s usually something you are born into rather than decide to take up by choice. The desire to stay with it comes from growing up within the landscape, its spirit creeping into the sinew of each generation. For Robert Staehr, continuing with grain and sheep grazing on the family farm set in the Wartook Valley was always a given, winemaking however was a matter of serendipity when the neighbouring vineyard came on the market.

The established rows of Shiraz were complimented by the planting of Grenache, and under the guidance of winemaker Leigh Clarnette (Seppelt, Taltarni, Clarnette Wines) bottling commenced under the Mount Stapylton brand, named in honour of the iron-rich sandstone cliffs that overlook the vineyard.

The vineyard is the most northern of the Grampians region, with the extra warmth resulting in a vigorous canopy and early picking without the loss of acidity while maintaining plenty of flavour. The results are an easy-drinking, approachable wine, and with extra fruit brought in from regions close by, the winery portfolio now includes a Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

At the end of 2021, the old cow shed was converted into one of the tiniest (and cutest) cellar doors you are likely to come across. The bar is surfaced with pressed metal sourced from the property homestead, and here visitors can indulge in a wine tasting and gain deeper insight into the winemaking process and philosophy.

When things get chilly, the fire pit will likely get fired up, where visitors can soak in the views across the property and chat about all things farming. We love these down-and-dirty encounters with farmers that are void of pretension and rich in connection.

More details about the region can be found here.

Raise a glass to Gippsland’s newest winery, Carrajung Estate

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

What makes a fantastic winery? Is it what’s inside the glass – a crisp drop of Chardonnay or zesty pour of Pinot Noir? Is it about the environment – a warm interior design, a room with a view? Or does it come down to the people – knowledgeable staff with a healthy dose of passion?

For Ivy Huang and Rebeka Morgan, the co-founders of Carrajung Estate, it’s everything. Both women have left no stone unturned in their mission to create a world-class winery and accommodation offering. 

Here, cocooned in the forests of the Strzelecki Ranges, guests can leave the bustle behind and escape to a space of simple pleasures.

Carrajung Winery

The 40-hectare property, formerly the home of Toms Cap Winery, has been entirely renovated and repurposed under one simple guideline: make it feel like home. Huang and Morgan, a builder and founder of BuildHer Collective, alongside John Morgan have remodelled the vineyard restaurant, cellar door and their two-bedroom cottage accommodation called The Nest. 

Each space is cosy, intimate and uncompromising in quality. In the vineyard restaurant, guests are invited into a rustic, open setting overlooking the hills dotted with farm animals (the alpacas, pigs, chickens and goats can all be patted, too.) 

And the beauty continues on the plate. Fresh, seasonal and local ingredients are the heroes, and in the experienced hands of Head Chef Pat Haney, make a sumptuous feast – for the eyes and stomach.

Chef Haney brings over 20 years of industry experience at some of Australia’s top restaurants to Carrajung Estate. He says his philosophy is rooted in a deep respect for the ingredients he uses, and he is a firm believer in sustainable and ethical sourcing practices. 

“With an emphasis on seasonality and sustainability, our dishes feature fresh ingredients sourced directly from nearby farms that celebrate the natural beauty and culinary richness of Gippsland. Through our food, we want to share these growers’ stories,” Huang explains.

Gippsland Winery

Love wine-pairing? The first-ever release of Carrajung Estate’s wines are now rolling out. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are all on rotation. These drops are the fruits of two years of collaborative vine management between Carrajung Estate co-founder Adrian Critchlow, Toms Cap founder Graham Morris, and the award-winning Gippsland winemaker of Inverloch’s Dirty Three Wine, Marcus Satchell. 

And when the day is done, you can curl up by the traditional open fireplace at The Nest, or soak in the outdoor bath. The cottage is available to book via their website – and if it’s booked, don’t stress. Renovations of four new cottages are underway and will be ready by next summer.

From the carefully selected grapes to the state-of-the-art equipment, every detail in this new venue has been meticulously planned. The team behind Carrajung Estate have created a truly special Gippsland experience. So good, in fact, it feels like home.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Carrajung Estate
WHERE: 322 Lays Rd, Willung South
WHEN: Fri-Sun 11am – 2.30pm & Dinner Thurs-Sat 5.30pm – 8.30pm
MORE INFO: Carrajung Estate

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

Heathcote in Autumn – Food, Wine and Craft Beer

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

The Heathcote region is most well-known for its Shiraz – and rightly so – with the perfect growing conditions for this grape variety thanks to the red, rocky soils of the surrounding mountains. But! There is so much more to explore, enjoy and discover when it comes to eating and drinking in the area.

Whether you’re wanting to fine dine, winery hop or hole up for a casual afternoon in a beer barn, you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice and will probably need more than just a day trip to pack in all the experiences available.

Start in town and meander along High Street or head for the hills and plan out a driving itinerary. Whatever you decide, make sure you tick off at least a few of our following favourites from your “must visit” list.

Chauncy

Heathcote RestaurantThis fine-dining gem is attracting a huge amount of foodie attention – and earning hats – with the couple at the helm having some big hospitality names on their collective CV.

Parisian-born chef Louis has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and partner Tess is a sommelier who counts McConnell and Grossi as former employers. This combined experience has led to an elegant, intimate restaurant, housed in a sandstone building, that’s steeped in local history.

Expect a traditional, French, set lunch menu – with a sprinkling of Italian influences – that showcases local produce, surprising and delightful wines and superb service that challenges regional stereotypes.

Open Friday-Monday for lunch and it’s essential to book, or it’ll be c’est la vie.

Take a look here.

Palling Bros Brewery

Heathcote BreweryAt the opposite end of the dining spectrum and a couple of doors up from Chauncy, is the working brewery and beer hall of Palling Bros.

Craft beer enthusiasts will find a pleasing array of offerings for their tasting paddles and everyone else will be catered for with softies, wine and spirits also available.

On Wednesday and Thursday, food is courtesy of Derek and his Tonka truck, serving up toasties from midday-3pm and Friday through to Sunday, the full kitchen menu is available, with burgers, tacos, smoked meats and the usual pub pleasers.

Kid and dog friendly, and with live music on weekends, this is an easy and excellent choice.

More here.

Heathcote Wine Hub

Heathcote Wine HubIf you’re not keen on driving around to sample as many local drops as possible, this wine store and provedore is just a stroll down High Street.

Housed in a charming old wooden church, it is deceptively casual because inside you’ll find over 200 Heathcote wines, an ever-changing tasting menu and some of the most knowledgeable service that extends to the beers, ciders and gins that are also stocked here.

Make a booking and make sure you allot a good few hours of your weekend here because once you get chatting, tasting will turn into snacking, which will turn into a long, lazy lunch and then suddenly you’ve had the best day!

Find out more here.

Shiraz Republic & Cornella Brewery

Heathcote WineryWithin the famous Shiraz wine territory, sits Mt Camel, a micro-zone of growing. And the jewel that sits in its crown, is this destination operation that houses a winery, a brewery, self-contained accommodation and immersive experiences.

Visit the cellar door to sample a tasting flight, try one of 20 beers on tap and kick back and enjoy the view and the tunes over a pizza.

For the full viticulture package, book a cabin, rent a row of vines and get your hands and feet dirty stomping grapes and making your own wine!

Get all the info here.

Silver Spoon Estate

Heathcote WineryIf eco-tourism is your specialist subject, a visit to this off-grid vineyard on Mt Camel is a must.

The entire winery is powered by 64 solar panels and large water tanks, and the grapevines are non-irrigated, meaning only natural rainfall is relied upon to provide hardy, intense flavours.

Creepy crawlies great and small, are allowed to live in harmony and keep pests and disease at bay, with a minimum of chemicals needed to keep crops healthy and in Springtime sheep are grazed to keep the weeds in check.

This enviro ethos brings you vegan-friendly wines, gluten-free and vegetarian bistro options and a sense of relaxed fun when your choices are drops with names like “Monster Shiraz” and “Fandango”.

Details here.

Vinea Marson

Winery HeathcoteMario Marson has brought generations’ worth of growing knowledge and his Italian heritage to this slice of Mt Camel.

Imported grape varietals love the soil here and Vinea Marson has been producing Sangiovese and Nebbiolo with them since 2000. Add to that Rosé, Viognier and classic Prosecco and this becomes the winery to visit with a carload full of different tastes.

The cellar door is steeped in awards and you can gather around the table to enjoy antipasto and foodie collaborations with notables like That’s Amore Cheese, as well as events that pair the vino with fine menu offerings from kitchens such as Ladro.

Get all the details here.


THE DETAILS

Where: Heathcote in Autumn
What: Food, Wine & Craft Beer
More Info: Explore Heathcote

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

Annie Smithers announces month-long festival to celebrate 10 year anniversary

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

Annie Smithers is a force of nature. The author, broadcaster, farmer and chef has been championing real seasonal and local cuisine in Central Victoria for decades. She opened the doors to her Trentham restaurant Du Fermier 10 years ago and to celebrate she is closing the restaurant for the month of May.

Instead, she is holding a month-long mini-festival to celebrate the farmers who supply her kitchen, the winemakers who fill her cellar and the women who have mentored her or supported her in the kitchen during her career.

Food Festival TrenthamThe recipe writer for The Saturday Paper and resident chef for Blueprint for Living on ABC Radio National grows much of her fruit and veg at her Lyonville farm, Babbington Park, 10km from Daylesford. The lamb she cooks comes from a farm she can see from her kitchen garden and is grown by farmer Bruce Rolfe. He and Annie are doing an all-day lamb masterclass on May 18 which includes morning tea and a three-course lunch with wine and loads of dishes cooked with tender, sweet, and beautifully full-flavored Suffolk lamb. Annie is also doing a pork, beef, duck and chicken masterclass.

One of the big ticket events is the Mother’s Day Lunch with Stephanie Alexander on Sunday 14th May. Annie spent her early years cooking under Stephanie Alexander at her Hawthorn restaurant and the two have remained close since. They celebrate Mother’s Day with a four-course meal. Annie’s du Fermier is normally open for lunch, but for May only she is opening her doors for Friday night dinner on 5th, 12th, and 19th May.

Expect candles, shared plates and beautiful evening meals cooked with autumnal produce from the kitchen garden. On May 6th and 13th Annie is baking and making charcuterie for her French-style Petite Marche or little market where customers buy produce direct from Annie’s kitchen. Annie is also throwing an afterparty for the Trentham SpudFest starting at 5.30pm where she’ll be serving up her own rendition of potato cakes and pouring vodka made with Trentham potatoes. Gascony is one of Annie’s favourite regions of France and she is revisiting the trips on which she toured the auberges and taverns tasting the traditional dishes, and the honest food of the farmhouses. On Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st she is holding a five-course Gascon feast complete with wine and a limited-edition book about the food of Gascony.

“Du Fermier is all about cooking exceptional fresh produce from the farm and surrounding farms,” says Annie. “This month of celebrations is about putting the people who support our beautiful little French farmhouse style restaurant in a historic weatherboard shop front and foremost.”


THE DETAILS

Who: Celebrity chef Annie Smithers
Where: Du Fermier, Trentham
What: Thirty days of events celebrating local and seasonal produce with a very accomplished chef
When: Month of May 2023
Why: Exclusive and one-off events
More info: Annie Smithers

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.