The Grampians of my childhood memories was a haven of mountain vistas, kangaroos and sweet eucalyptus air – so idyllic it seemed part-dream.
When I returned recently to discover the region’s luxurious accommodation, world-class wineries and sophisticated food, I found it was even more special than I remembered.
It was a wonderful reminder of the beauty of travelling within Australia.
My entry point to the Grampians (Gariwerd) is the famed Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld. With a reputation for fine dining, its cellar boasts the largest private collection of Burgundy and Bordeaux in the Southern Hemisphere. The cellar offers tours and we’re able to browse (and taste) the extensive collection of 30,000 bottles.
Enjoying a local shiraz as you sit on tractor seat stools overlooking the fields at Mount Stapylton Wines is an experience close to heaven.
No Grampians trip is complete without stopping at Mount Langi Ghiran. We passed a pleasurable couple of hours being guided through the organic offerings while admiring the extensive vineyards.
Halls Gap boasts abundant natural beauty but also sophisticated dining options. Paper Scissors Rock Brew Co. is a modern brewery that serves good quality, seasonal food alongside beer that is brewed on site.
The Halls Gap Hotel is what every comfortable country pub should be. Large, sprawling, with an excellent menu and a cosy wood-burning fire, it will make you feel well cared for. Indigenous rock art and shelters lie within an easy drive, as does Boroka Lookout, which will take your breath away with its grand, sweeping views.
If wine isn’t your thing, why not have a tasting at picturesque Grampians Olive Co. We tried their locally-made olive oil infusions and had a lesson in choosing the right oil. Olio nuovo, or new oil, is pressed from the first olives of the season. It is brighter, sharper and more peppery. The patio is the perfect place for a lunch of local olives, cheese and dukkah.
In Halls Gap, we stayed at Heath House. Comfortable and luxurious, this five-star home’s real star attraction was the mountain views. With the sky lit up by a million stars it was tempting to use the spa on the deck, but we opted instead for the outdoor fireplace.
Out of town, Mt Cassel Villa at Pomonal Estate will fulfil all your country accommodation dreams. A short drive away is the charming Barney’s Bar & Bistro, a converted barn that serves generous meals, with a smile.
The Underground Cellar Tour at Seppelt Wines is a subterranean adventure through three kilometres of tunnels, led by one of Seppelt’s knowledgeable guides. This is a gothic adventure that you should not miss.
See more at visitgrampians.com.au