Melbourne is famous for its laneways, and the same laneways are famous for street art: murals, graffiti and the like. Running right off Flinders Lane towards Federation Square and the NGV Australia is Hosier Lane, the best known of them all. With works perched several floors up and also in mini laneways off the main laneway there are thousands of pieces to consider – and just be enveloped by. With many of our city tour pick-ups we head straight there as part of the CBD exist and cruise VERY SLOWLY down Hosier Lane, trying hard not to attract too much attention away from the artwork and the crowds that inevitably gather there.
On the west side of the Yarra Valley lies Yering Station Winery, part of a destination compound that includes a modern, glamorous restaurant as well as a hotel – it is one of the few places in the area that has everything you might want in just one setting. The wine tasting experience on offer is comprehensive in that it offers selections of wines from three different grades of product, so aficionados of ‘the grape’ can select themselves the kind of tasting they would like – from estate, local and regional grapes. (And yes, there is a helicopter landing area on the grounds, but we reckon getting there in an old Chev is just that little bit better!)
If there was a wardrobe door in the middle of the country just north of Melbourne surely it would lead to Mount Monument, a lovely winery estate established by architect, Nonda Katsalidies and family. Along with the tasting and bar areas there is also a fine dining restaurant inside, with a substantial modern sculpture park paraded from the main entrance courtyard up towards the hill which gives the property its name. As part of a circuit from Melbourne a tour this would also take in the township of Romsey and then a climb from the back of Mount Macedon up, over and down through the picturesque village and back to Melbourne via the Calder Freeway.
Hipsters in the country. Yep, that is sort of what Four Pillars is like – and not just as a transplant from Melbourne … this place could have come from ANY leading cosmopolitan city around the world – it does have a transplanted feel. And international it is, with global distillery awards to its name the array of gins line up with the best of the best and are presented in the smartest of settings along with a terrific bar menu of sharing food. Samplings can take on the form of a flight of different gins from the bar or go straight for the master distillers tour in a private mezzanine setting.
The quaint old chair lift at Arthurs Seat, which many locals would remember from their childhood days as a ‘must do’ on day trips from Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula, nowadays runs the same path as always but in the guise of the Eagle, which offers much better views down the hill and across the bay towards Melbourne. Guests can pick up the gondola at either end for a single 15-minute trip and continue driving as required.
Ok, there might not actually be twelve of them any more, and it might be a right hike from Melbourne to sight, but these statuesque figures from Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road are amazing to behold, along with their ‘sibling’ sights of Loch Ard Gorge, Gibson Steps and London Bridge.
One of the neat things in the Yarra Valley is the ability for niche/boutique growers and makers to do their thing – and smart little buildings at Maddens Rise are the perfect showcase to this. Just off the main road through from Coldstream to Healesville this winery hosts tasting and sales of a number of wines made from tradition stock and methods while adopting modern ecological farming practices.
Coombe is a multi-purpose array of buildings and spaces set on the original Yarra Valley estate of Dame Nellie Melba, Australia’s first real international singing sensation (also party girl and friend to the world’s political, social, business and entertainment elite!). The wine tasting rooms, converted from stables and garages, also offer a comforting place to stop for morning tea, with accompanying scones, as well as short walks and glimpse to the original house, swimming pool area and the impressive gardens. And the hedges … these would have to be the best in Victoria and provide the perfect backdrop for photos.
Nearing the local main road on the eastern side of the Mornington Peninsula, close to Pt. Leo and Shoreham beaches, is the winery and restaurant location of Pier 10, itself a lovely location downhill from the ultra scenic roads and laneways around Red Hill and Main Ridge – so the last stages of getting there are quite the experience. Pier 10 offers two great attributes sought from any bona fide traveller to the area: food and wine, and these two together. The dining room, which boasts lovely locale and views, has a wonderful menu for proper sit-down dining, (and is remarkable quick with its service), while the tasting rooms beside provide for a deep experience of the wines made on site.
Slick, slick, slick is the way to describe this one part of a multi-faceted destination founded on the Mornington Peninsula by young hotel impresario, Louis Li. Perched on the other side of an enormous hare-type sculpture is the site’s cafe and wine tasting area, further on from the more formal estate dining room, bar and boutique hotel. And there one can enjoy afternoon tea, beautiful views over the vineyard valley or a glass of wine in the sun. From where it is located, Rare Hare makes for a perfect last stop of a day tour to the region before heading back to Melbourne.