The Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld is the Ultimate Weekend Escape

The Royal Mail Hotel, Victoria

A 30,000-bottle cellar, the biggest restaurant garden in Australia and cottages almost too lovely to leave.

The four newly refurbished heritage bluestone cottages at the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld, three hours west of Melbourne, make it tempting to bunker down indoors. They’re cosy, with leather sofas, a roaring fireplace and a “sommeliers bar” stocked with wines from the property’s extensive cellar. But allow yourself to be drawn outside, where peach pink skies break into dawn over Mount Sturgeon (Wurgarri) while kangaroos and emus graze on the grasslands below.


The Royal Mail Hotel, Victoria

The Royal Mail’s Mountain View and Courtyard rooms are convenient if you want direct access to the property’s pool and restaurants (including the two-hat Wickens fine diner) but the freshly upgraded Deluxe Mount Sturgeon Cottages, a short drive away, are the pick for country tranquillity. The buildings originally belonged to settler shearers and inside the original water tanks, you’ll now find contemporary curved bathrooms.


Wickens restaurant, Victoria

There are kitchen gardens and then there’s the restaurant Garden of Eden at the Royal Mail, which is the largest of its kind in the country. Everything from cranberries and turmeric to some 65 varieties of tomatoes are grown here – and all of it makes its way onto plates. The five- or eight-course dégustations at Wickens are where you’ll taste the garden in its most refined form: one course might be snails with powdered sunflower leaf; another, Dunkeld banana frozen yoghurt (yes, the gardeners have even found a way to grow bananas in Victoria) with rum caramel. Don’t overlook the Mail’s more casual option, Parker St Project, where executive chef Robin Wickens gets playful, serving onion and thyme milk bread with lashings of butter and Vegemite.


The property operates a conservation program for endangered Australian mammals, including quolls and bandicoots. Book a tour of their habitat and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spy Bruce the rufous bettong scuttling through the undergrowth. A tasting at the hotel’s vast cellars is a chance to see the Southern Hemisphere’s largest bordeaux and burgundy collection up close but you can also sample wines from small-scale local producers, such as pinot noir from Pierrepoint Estate.


As the only venue in Australia to partner with French winery Château d’Yquem, the Royal Mail offers guests exclusive previews of new vintages by the glass. When added to a Wickens dégustation, the prized sauternes is matched with a bespoke savoury dish rather than the usual dessert or cheese.

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SEE ALSO: 9 Perfect Weekend Getaways to Have in Victoria

Image credit: Emily Weaving

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