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



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


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


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.


Cerberus Beach House

Perched at the bottom end of Half Moon Beach on the Bay’s Beach Road is a quaint little building called Cerberus Beach House – so named by the famous maritime wreck that serves as a breakwater, diving destination and general curiosity just a few metres off shore. Upstairs is a great restaurant, while the downstairs hosts counter service for drinks, snacks, ice creams and fish ‘n chips. It’s a perfect place to look back on Melbourne across the water and to stroll around and get some sand between the toes!


The Kiosk by d’Asporto

d’Asporto Kiosk, Williamstown.

This little place is at the end of Williamstown Beach on the famous Esplanade and is something that’s 100% Italian transplanted to a place that’s 100% English, at least by heritage. The sand and beach there are quite beautiful, complete with walking mats across the sand – is that an Italian or an English thing? (Hard to be sure.) Either way, it makes for a fantastic stopping point after a drive along and around the picturesque and history filled Williamstown foreshore and gives a lovely view back across the Bay.


Yarra Valley Dairy

Yarra Valley Dairy.

How many people would think the YVD to be the best thing east of Melbourne? Plenty. This farm yard building in the epicentre of all local produce and has proven popular for years. It begins with their cheeses, and just keeps on going, including wines and plattered charcuterie foods. And the views …

Photo: Roberto Seba


Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne

Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne.

In terms of landscape projects, this place started as nothing, except for the original native terrain, and just keeps on growing! Yes, it is the OTHER botanic gardens for Melbourne and focuses on native flora only. Well worth the excursion time from Melbourne CBD to just the other side of Melbourne.

Photo: David Mitchener