Recent bushfires have impacted communities across Victoria and with many regional towns relying on tourism to thrive, now is the time to plan your next trip/visit. The show of support from the community has been huge, so right now we’re encouraging all Victorians to holiday here this year – because a short stay goes a long way to supporting regional Victoria.
Labour Day and Easter are great times to get out to regional Victoria so grab an esky and hit the road! However, if a getaway isn’t on the cards right now, those wishing to help can do their bit by making a conscious effort to buy local. It all counts.
Day 1 - Bright (Melbourne to Bright, 326kms)
Visitors can make the most of a long weekend and head to the High Country, where stunning mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes are perfect places for adventure and relaxation, year-round. Recharge at renowned restaurants and wineries, discover the vibrant craft brewery scene, or fill your basket at provedores and farm gates, all brimming with local delights.
Visit boutique wineries, stock up on stunning produce and taste local ingredients in village cafes and restaurants. Visitors can get their caffeine fix at the family owned small batch coffee roaster and café, Sixpence Coffee. Go for coffee in the morning and stay for a drink in the afternoon when the shared space turns into Reed & Co Distillery – an urban distillery offering a neighbourhood bar feel with gin and tonic flights, cocktails and a snack menu. For those with a sense of adventure can take their lunch to the extreme with Bright Adventure Company’s Cliff Picnics – a private dining experience suspended 300m above the valley floor. For a more relaxed setting, Elm Dining warm country hospitality in a heritage Victorian cottage built in 1857.
From cosy cabins to deluxe eco-retreats, secluded camping spots and romantic bed and breakfasts, Bright has accommodation options to suit visitors of all budgets and preferences. A favourite with families and groups, Big 4 Bright Holiday Park boasts a range of accommodation options from budget cabins to impressive villas complete with spa, Wi-Fi and full kitchen. Aalborg combines Scandinavian design with green building credentials to create a luxe getaway for couples, while Leader Reef provides a luxury environment for families or travelling groups to relax in comfort with a wood fire, swimming pool, deck, and stunning views of Mount Porepunkah. For those wanting the benefits of high attitude without the effort can stay at Altitude 1, Australia’s first commercial property with simulated altitude sleep technology.
Victoria’s High Country is one of Australia’s premier cycling destinations. Cyclists can go it alone, or book in for one of the region’s newest cycling tours. The new self-guided twilight tour, Sunsets & Sombreros kicks off at Bright Electric Bikes where visitors can collect their eBike before cycling to Porepunkah for a Mexican Meal at Rail Trail Cafe – trading a mini sombrero for a life size one on arrival. For some, Bright Brewery is a destination within itself. Located in the heart of Bright, this much-loved brewery does much more than create award-winning ales. The brewery also serves up hearty fare in a casual setting, offers guided tours and tastings, showcases local talent with Sunday live music sessions and provides hands-on brewing practice thanks to the popular ‘Brewer for a Day’ experience. Right in the centre of town, Grape and Grain Bar is a casual spot to sample the best wines, beers and ciders of Bright and its surrounds, including dry alpine cider made with pink lady apples from neighbouring orchards.
Day 2 - Beechworth (Bright to Beechworth, 61kms)
Beechworth is a village with an acclaimed food and wine scene set amid stunning gold rush architecture. Take a stroll through this picturesque township, filled with lush green trees, boutiques and renowned restaurants and cafes. And visit in autumn to experience an explosion of colour as the leaves turn to golden yellows, rich reds and vibrant oranges.
Uncover wealth of a different kind, with Beechworth's abundance of prized eateries. Compete for a reservation at celeb-chef Michael Ryan's Provenance, awarded two hats by the Good Food Guide 2020. Provenance is a Japanese-influenced, contemporary regional cuisine; contemporary in terms of design and textures and regional with an emphasis on local and seasonal produce of the highest quality. Around the corner is the historic Empire Hotel which offers a revamped a la carte restaurant downstairs in the dining room. A hidden oasis on the main street, Eldorado Road Cellar Door Cantina boast a small but quality driven menu and a wine list that reflect their home at the foot of the mountains.
Choose a style that suits your taste and budget, from romantic hideaways and boutique homes to eco-friendly retreats, luxury lodges and picturesque camping spots. For the ultimate indulgent weekend, visitors can stay on-site in the four separate luxury suites located in the private courtyard garden at the back of Provenance. Alternatively, seeking more balance should look no further than the brand new The Spa Beechworth, with boutique wellness accommodation and modern spa.
Visitors won’t go thirsty in Beechworth. A stop at Feathertop Winery on the drive from Bright to Beechworth is a must for visitors to pick up a Sparkling Shiraz or a bite to eat on the stunning lawn terrace. Once in Beechworth, the iconic Bridge Road Brewers is a must. Located in a 150-year-old Coach House and stables, the tap house offers 20 house-brewed beers on tap and amazing pizzas. Up the road, quietly tucked away, is Billson’s Brewery. Founded in 1865, the landmark has received a new lease on life with an expanded offering now includes small-batch cordials, traditional and natural sodas as well as craft beers, premium spirits and mixers, including a turmeric tined gin to reflect the town’s historic goldrush past. A visit to Beechworth wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the famous Beechworth Honey, which combines retail, with a fascinating honeybee encounter and a tempting honey-tasting-station with more than 30 Australian honey varieties to enjoy.
Day 3 – King Valley (Beechworth to King Valley Prosecco Road, 110kms)
Live la dolce vita with fine food, wine and accommodation in Milawa and King Valley Prosecco Road, one of Australia's oldest gourmet regions made famous for its world class Prosecco.
Genuine Italian hospitality is at the heart of the experience in the King Valley. Enjoy lunch perched overlooking the beautiful valley at the beautiful Chrismont. The award winning Chrismont Cellar Door, Restaurant and Larder boasts contemporary interior and sleek, sophisticated architecture that offers spectacular views with a menu inspired by northern Italy. Set amongst beautiful established gardens, and surrounded by Jessie’s Creek, the Mountain View Hotel offers a European influenced menu, along with four fully refurbished units to stay overnight. The Trattoria at Dal Zotto is popular for simple antipasto combinations to delicious handmade pasta. The restaurant at Gracebrook Wines, located in the Upper King Valley, offers traditional country style and modern Australian using local and estate grown meats, seasonal vegetables and fruit. Guests can enjoy fine dining at Patricia's Table Restaurant at Brown Brothers or relaxed sharing plates of seasonal, local and own-grown produce prepared on site. at Sam Miranda.
Stay amongst the vines at Lancemore Milawa, a tranquil country house hotel brimming with elegance and style – the perfect base to experience a rich bounty of the King Valley. Recognised as one of Australia’s best regional hotels, the property offers 40 elegantly designed and spacious guest rooms opening onto manicured gardens, vineyards and the alpine peaks, and Merlot restaurant. Casa Luna Gourmet Accommodation offers stylish accommodation and beautiful food in stunning, architect-designed buildings. Breakfasts and dinners at Casa Luna are served in the stunning glass-walled dining room, or in the alfresco wood-fired dining kitchen - La Piazza. Visitors can get close to nature without sacrificing creature comforts at Valley View Glamping, where each bell tent includes quality linen and Prosecco flutes, along with breakfast at a local café.
A unique Prosecco experience that captures the heart of the King Valley, Prosecco Road is an exciting food and wine trail that includes intimate tastings with the makers. Dal Zotto were the pioneers of Prosecco in the region when they planted the first Prosecco vines in 1999. It didn’t take long for the variety to sparkle with Brown Brothers, Chrismont, Pizzini and Sam Miranda following suit. Visitors can jump in the kitchen with Katrina Pizzini, who runs a cooking school at Pizzini, including gnocchi and pasta classes, while Politini hosts Cannoli and Salami making classes. Beer lovers can get their fix at King River Brewing. Alternatively, grab a map, hop on a bike, and pedal between small producers in welcoming villages, filling basket with cheeses, nuts, trout, honey, wine and olives.
Day 1 – Paynesville (Melbourne to Paynesville 294kms)
Set out for adventure on Gippsland's waterways from lively Paynesville – a charming village surrounded by lakes on three sides, with canals and inlets providing plentiful sheltered moorings for boats. This waterfront favourite town boasts unrivalled access to the water-playground, enhanced by its system of water canals. Anglers, windsurfers, jet skiers, and water skiers flock to the town to take to the water.
With direct access to the ocean, Gippsland is a place for seafood lovers to get their fill of some of the freshest catch in the country. Overlooking Raymond Island in Paynesville, Sardine Eatery and Bar’s menu showcases Gippsland’s finest produce by award winning chef, Mark Briggs and Pier 70 in Paynesville is another one not to be missed. On route make sure to stop off in Lindenow for lunch at Long Paddock, an old café house in a historic bakery that plates up exquisite food using local ingredients.
Paynesville offers accommodation for all styles of traveller. For lovers of a relaxing with a waterfront view, Captains Cove, set on the Paynesville canals on the Gippsland Lakes is perfect. Each apartment has its own private jetty in Gippsland’s’ most protected waterfront mooring and ideal location lends to a relaxing stroll to the local village, cafes and restaurants.
Raymond Island offers some of the best koala spotting around. Jump on a ferry from Paynesville to the Ride the Koala’s trail. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled as there is a spectacular array of native animals including echidnas and kangaroos and coastal birds. The trail can also be walked in approximately 20 minutes so follow it up with a visit to the conservation centre to learn more about the conservation practices on the island. For mountain bike enthusiasts, hire a bike or bring your own and cycle some of the scenic Gippsland Lakes Discovery Cycling trail.
Day 2 – Lakes Entrance (Paynesville to Lakes Entrance 54kms)
Boasting Australia's largest inland network of waterways, Lakes Entrance has long been a popular Gippsland holiday spot. Refresh at one of the swimming beaches, relax over a coffee at a waterfront café with views of a fleet of colourful fishing boats. Stroll across the footbridge from the foreshore promenade to see the vast expanse of the Ninety Mile Beach and soak up the fresh sea breeze.
Fuel your day ahead with an amazing coffee and farm free, free range scrambled eggs on toast at Albert & Co. A large number of fishing trawlers operate in the area that fuel the regions reputation of being known as a seafood capital. It’s the perfect place to try and catch your own fish or head to Off the Wharf and watch the days catch being unloaded and fill your eskie with fish for dinner that night. Dine alongside locals on a classic pub meal at Buchan Pub and head to the Metung Pub for a global menu served in a light-filled bistro with water views & a laid-back vibe.
Combine the fun of a farm stay with modern and luxe accommodation at Jetty Road Retreat. Set amongst treetops overlooking the majestic Gippsland Lakes its quite the hidden gem that’s a memorable setting for your stay in the region. Alternatively, Sandbar Motel and Lakes Waterfront Motel, have a pool on site for those unseasonal Autumn hot days.
A trip to Lakes Entrance isn’t complete without visiting one of the world’s longest stretches of sand, Ninety Mile Beach and ripping your socks off to plant your toes in the pristine sand. Book a Segway Adventures and glide across the smooth sands that’s both exhilarating and relaxing at the same time or cruise the Gippsland Lakes with Lonsdale Cruises in search of the dolphins that frequent the area. Venture Out offer riding and paddling experiences and gear to hire for a self-guided adventure.
Day 3 – Bairnsdale (Lakes Entrance – Bairnsdale 42km)
Bairnsdale is set along the wide, slow-flowing banks of the Mitchell River Bairnsdale is the gateway to the regions natural beauties. The town’s rich heritage can be found throughout the town’s architecture including several of its B&B’s and St Mary’s Church. See first-hand the thriving creative community at East Gippsland Art Gallery or wander the shops and find some local treasures or head down to Mitchell river for a walk along the banks.
The fertile area is known as a “food bowl” producing a bounty of delectable produce. Pop into the farm gates at Fruit Farm, Johnsonville or Picnic Point Farm for cherries, stone fruits, apples and pears bursting with flavour. After a morning of activity, stop by Northern Ground for lunch where the food is both beautiful to taste and eat – and you can feel good about eating it because the menu focuses on showcasing local produce. David Lucke’s Fresh Food Market a great spot to fill your eskie with locally sourced produce to create some fantastic meals at home. The Main Hotel Bairnsdale will have patrons delighted with quality pub meals of generous proportions.
The Riversleigh, positioned in the heart of the CBD, provides the perfect weekend getaway retreat. Dating back to 1886, it’s an East Gippsland icon with original element surrounds. Another magnificent home and stately landmark building in East Gippsland is the Dalfruin Heritage B&B. Alternatively, the Tanjil Motor Inn and Mitchell on Main offer a selection motel and apartment accommodation.
Book a scenic flight with Lakes Entrance Helicopters and take in by air, the dramatic winding waterways, the magnificent silt jetties and the iconic golden stretch of Ninety Mile Beach to the Entrance. Visit Nyerimulang Homestead, set on a clifftop above Gippsland Lake and find the perfect picnic spot to sit back and take it all in or meander along bush and farm tracks and through the East Gippsland Indigenous Plant Garden.
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