Notel, Melbourne
Notel, Melbourne

Ok, while Notel (not a hotel) is actually not one of our tour destinations, it is still a super cool anchor point to have in Melbourne CBD and could actually serve as accommodation for guests wanting to round out their whole US/50s motoring-themed getaway experience. The thing with Notel is their five glorious (and gleaming) Airstream trailers which have been perched above the street line in downtown Flinders Street and kitted out as couture accommodation – the perfect alternative to a standard, boxy hotel room – and they hold functions, events and happenings on the grounds all year ’round.



Giant Steps

Giant Steps, Yarra Valley.

Probably named after the famous John Coltrane album – which is great! Giant Steps is a wine brand in the Yarra Valley that sports a decent sized and lively cellar door, which is as much about food as it is about wine. It’s the perfect end point for a drive to Healesville, or stopping point before heading on to Marysville via the super scenic Black Spur Road.

Photo: David Hannah



Animus Distillery

Animus Distillery, Kyneton.

To be truthful, we have not been there yet. But a reliable friend has – and that’s good enough! Guessing that this tasting bar and cocktail lounge is a great contributor to the ever-growing and popular gin scene in Australia – and a good reason to hit upon Kyneton and surrounds for a day trip.

Update: Fortune saw me drop in to the Animus Distillery in Kynton earlier this winter (2019) and what a fabulous stop it was at the end of a day trip that featured Daylesford and environs. The bar is fabulous and we indulged in a charcuterie platter and some of their splendid cocktails. (The driver took it easy, though, but transported a bottle of their ‘classic’ gin back home to Melbourne for enjoyment over a longer time frame.)




Watson’s, Carlton.

If I had a club, this would be it. A Melbourne institution since the late 50s, Jimmy Watson’s was the first wine bar in Australia and a leader in bringing the idea of ‘table’ wine (not just fortified) to our palettes and habits. Downstairs is a restaurant and bar; upstairs is more seating and club-type rooms for the restaurant; out the back is a super-leafy courtyard; and new to the venue is an annexe bar and roof-top – so something for everyone. The place is always busy with something … and the family define ‘convivial’ for the Melbourne hospitality scene. Situated right at the top of Carlton’s famous Lygon Street, it might be the perfect drop-off point for any tour to the north, east, or south-east.

Photo: Josie Withers




Castlemaine, Victorian Goldfields.

Castlemaine was a central point in the Victorian gold rush and maintains much of the building history from that time. Situated about 120 kilometres from Melbourne it contains a host of interesting stopping points for a one-town destination. And the drives in and out through all directions provide beautiful scenery for leisurely country driving.

Photo: Michelle Jarni


Park St.

Park St. Cafe, North Carlton.

Park St. Cafe (formerly Green Park) is a neat hipster joint lining the popular bike path that runs across the top of Carlton and down to the city. It is the perfect spot for a tour pick-up when a shot of coffee or a decent pot of tea is sought before a drive. (Or convert caffeine for alcohol of it’s the other end of the day!)

Photo: Josie Withers




Assembly, Carlton.
Assembly, Carlton.

It looks like a hole in the wall, but it isn’t – there is a fair bit of seating inside. Assembly is just on the northern perimeter of the CBD off Lygon Street. It has great (serious) coffee, and probably decent tea as well. We flag this as a great collection point for the start of a tour.



Annie’s Provedore

Annie’s Provedore, Barwon Heads.

Google says:

‘Italian brekkie and lunch dishes, plus local wines, in a rustic delicatessen with communal tables.’

If there is a single most favourite place, of any sort, in Barwon Heads, this would have to be it. Legendary.

Photo: Ewan Bell



Healesville Hotel

Folk from Melbourne have been doing this for years: Drive out to the Healesville Hotel (about an hour from Melbourne), eat something, drink something – and then drive back home. A bona fide institution, especially for a lazy Sunday.