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Victoria: awesome in autumn

/ 02 May 2017
A sunny summer, followed by good rains and an autumnal cold snap have seen Victoria’s deciduous trees swiftly produce leaves in all manner of vivid reds, oranges and browns. The oh-so-photogenic foliage makes this the perfect time of year to explore the landscapes of regional Victoria, while also sampling some of the best food, wine and events the season has to offer:

What to do

Bright Autumn Festival
The Bright Autumn Festival is a 10-day celebration of the wonderful autumn colours and autumn produce of the valleys of Victoria’s Alpine High Country. This year it takes place from Friday, April 28 to Sunday, May 7. The highlight is the Gala Weekend with a market, music in the streets and a grand parade on Saturday, 6 May.

Grampians Grape Escape
On May 6 and 7, thousands of foodies and wine lovers will flock to the Grampians Grape Escape, a celebration of Victoria’s best artisans of food and wine. Set among ragged mountain ranges, rolling hills and fertile farmland at the base of Mount William in Grampians National Park, the superb weekend includes standout out entertainment featuring cooking demonstrations, wine appreciation panels and master classes showcasing local chefs. Halls Gap Recreation Reserve, 46-72 Grampians Road, Halls Gap.

Kellybrook Cider Festival
May 6 -7 provides the best weekend to enjoy Scrumpy Cider and listen to live bands, under the Great Oak of Kellybrook Gardens. Relax in the Riders Brew Co. beer garden amongst the vines, taste estate grown wines in the festival wine lounge, bring your picnic rug, invite your friends and celebrate the end of apple harvest. Bands to entertain include The Teskeys Brothers, Velvet Lounge and Ginger Pony. Kids entertainment include pony rides, roving dancers, story tellers and more. Kellybrook Winery, Fulford Road, Wonga Park, Victoria.

Where to eat

The historic fishing town of Port Fairy is home to Fen – a newcomer on the culinary scene that is doing impressive things with native bush foods. Fen has a menu that features quintessentially Australian ingredients such as kangaroo, finger lime, warrigal greens, wattleseed and saltbush. An all-Australian wine list puts forward some of the nation’s best drops including pours from neighbouring regions like the Otway hinterland and Mornington Peninsula. 22 Sackville Street, Port Fairy, + 61 3 5568 3229.

Only an hour from Melbourne by car or rail, Igni has fanned the flames of Geelong’s smouldering dining scene since its opening in early 2016. Young chef Aaron Turner has turned a former electrical goods showroom into an intimate 30-seat eatery and the result is spectacular. The kitchen’s beloved charcoal grill is the beating heart of the restaurant, turning locally-sourced meats into masterpieces. 2 Ryan Place, Geelong, +61 3 5222 2266.

Hogget Kitchen
Just 90 minutes from Melbourne is Hogget Kitchen – Warragul’s latest entrant on the dining scene. Offering views of the Strzelecki Ranges, the restaurant merges exceptional wines with amazing local produce. 6 Farrington Close, Warragul, +61 3 5623 2211.

Where to stay

The House at Smoko
This luxurious farm style homestead is nestled in the foothills of the Victorian Alps just 10 minutes out of Bright and 30 minutes from Mount Hotham. Framed by 28 acres of land, the house features chic interior design such as local stone and timber along with corrugated iron that is in keeping with its surroundings. Inspired by neighbouring cattlemen’s huts and tobacco drying kilns, the house boasts stunning views of Mt Feathertop. 1691 Great Alpine Road, Smoko,

Clifftop at Hepburn
This luxury spa-country retreat features breathtaking panoramic views that plunge from the site of an old pine forest down a sheer cliff face and onto native bushland below. The property is appointed with imported French fireplaces, Italian Washplane sinks, Apaiser stone baths, wooden floors, high beamed ceilings and wraparound windows that showcase nature from every room. 209-219 Main Road, Hepburn. +61 1300 112 114.

Rotten Point House
A magnificent property on a cliff top overlooking Johanna Beach. Architecturally a ‘rammed earth’ house design, Rotten Point offers stunning views over the Southern Ocean to Moonlight Head and sits on 100 acres of native bushland adjoining the Great Otway National Park. Floor to ceiling windows allow guests to take in the ever changing views from each room. A private in-house chef is available on request to create meals from fresh local produce. Evans Track, Johanna. +61 3 5237 1098.

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