Firstly … this place is so hard to describe. The first thing? It’s HUGE! But also just as important to say first is that it’s CRAZY. And also at the top of the list is that it is not where you would expect such a place! So, a bunch of guys have an idea for a craft beer that goes well – so well that they open up a brewery venue in Abbotsford, the beer heartland of Melbourne (if not Australia). But that place ends up getting too small, by way of popularity, so they take over a former industrial site in the middle of the ‘burbs that is about a million square meters in area. And to fill it they add a lagoon, bars with 72 taps total, playground, a tiki lounge, sun decks and so on. This is the perfect corner stone for a Melbourne craft brewery tour.
On occasion, the smaller and more off-beat places are the ones remembered best, and Quealy Wines can definitely find itself in that category. It can also find itself, quite rightly, in the category of ‘excellent wine makers’ at the same time, championing the growing and producing of some signature Mornington Peninsula varietals. Visitors go there primarily for the wines, as that is what the owners focus their attention on – and it’s a fun and enlightening experience to be there, being taken through their encompassing lists of white, red and speciality bottlings. Located just on the north side of Balnarring, it makes an easy addition to a tour itinerary.
Cherry Hill Orchards
Melbourne is blessed with many day-trip distanced orchards in all directions from home. Travel east and you will encounter Cherry Hill Orchards nestled between the lower parts of the Yarra Valley and the feet of the Dandenong Ranges – both stellar places to explore in their own right. Cherry Hill is expansive, and significantly larger than many neighbouring hobby farms and market gardens, and this gives it all the momentum it needs to host annual events that coincide the blossom season and harvest. Look at the calendar each year for late September festival and late November fruit picking dates – and keep an eye out for bottled produce in the way of ciders, spritzers and wines, and also the various food trucks that grace the lawned areas when the action is on.
Radio Springs Hotel
Resting on the intersection of Main St. and the Centre of the Universe (honestly … that’s what the street signs give us!) is the charming, unusual, and sometimes kooky Radio Springs Hotel, named after the crash of an outer space … well … no, I’ll let the fellow behind the bar tell that story. In terms of location, the hotel is just off the country road that ambles from Woodend to Daylesford, about 60 minutes from Melbourne. It can be a destination all by itself or part of a larger itinerary.
It’s a VERY big day out, but Phillip Island represents on of the great tourist destinations out of Melbourne, with enjoyable driving there and return, with a host of interesting and enjoyable stops to make once there. Think: beaches, wineries, townships, animal life, headland views, GP race track, gentle walks, historical locations along with lots and lots of changing scenery in between.
Alchemy Distillers, Healesville
The Alchemy Distillers lies in the heart of Healesville, which itself is the heart of the Yarra Valley, approximately 45 minutes drive from Melbourne’s CBD. (We won’t tell you what Melbourne etc. is the heart of!) The nice thing about this rambling place, which flows up from the main street through various rooms, passages and paths, is the variety of spirits they distill (for drinking, tasting and buying) – whiskies, gins, bourbons etc., and all with most interesting flavour profiles. Also on location is a neat food room with quick-serve fried chicken, burgers and similar comfort food. And the setting is pleasantly quirky, retro and all ’round fun to be in.
On the other side of the Mornington Peninsula from Dromana lies the small haven beachside village of Pt. Leo – a welcoming short stop for a tour through the area. With a headland dividing the area, it provides for a multitude of varied water activity for locals, visitors and holiday makers alike: sailing, surfing, swimming, SUP, snorkelling and anything else that makes you wet, really! d’Luxe tours to the location are often brief at 20 minutes length or so, enough to stretch legs, touch the same and maybe throw a Frisbee – and wonder about calling a local real estate agent to see about a summer holiday booking.
Heading north out of Melbourne and past the airport you quickly come to the countryside. From there drive another 10 minutes and turn right and drive for a further 20, with beautiful changing rural landscape through ‘granite’ territory until you come to Tooborac. At that point you will find a quaint hotel that is also a brewery that is also a bakery (lovely meat pies!). This is a perfect first leg for a Goldfields tour which can encompass Kyneton, Daylesford and other similar Victorian towns.
Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes
Without question, the most popular outdoor place around Melbourne to visit for international travellers is Brighton Beach and the iconic bathing boxes. It is the perfect place for a quick tour stop as part of a drive along the scenic roads around Port Phillip Bay – kick the sand, takes some all-important photos, grab an ice cream from the van and soak in the views back up to the city.
Central to the Mornington Peninsula area, the Montalto Winery in Red Hill South is a favourite stop for d’Luxe guests, offering wine tasting (and sales, of course!), fine dining, indoor/outdoor trattoria for drinks, light meals and coffee, picnics, as well as a glorious sculpture gallery (and walk) across the vineyard grounds. Yes, it’s very easy to spend a chunk of time here. And to keep coming back!