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Victoria is a treasure-trove of easy-to-access minibreak destinations. The Grampians are just a few hours’ drive from Melbourne and for years has attracted weekend warriors eager to explore the dense expanse of Grampians National Park. But the region has become just as famed for its impressive food and wine offering – this is how to combine the best of both worlds over a long weekend.
After a rustic weekend in the country or an uber-luxe two-night getaway? Whatever your travel style, there’s a wealth of accommodation options in the Grampians area.
Loved-up couples should seek out the adults-only Boroka Downs bush getaway in Halls Gap, the town often used as a starting-off point for Grampians explorations. The residences and bungalow have all the trappings required for a romantic getaway: roaring fireplaces, an organic garden where guests pick ingredients for cosy dinners and spa baths in which to enjoy bubbles and wildlife watching.
For digs that allow you to pretend you’re a pioneer, the stone and mudbrick dwellings at Grampians Pioneer Cottages will send you back in time – but with the comfort of air conditioning and a full kitchen. There are four different cottages, each with special design touches such as repurposed leadlight windows and wooden beams salvaged from the nearby Seppelt Winery, that sleep up to eight people each.
Even the local caravan park, Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park, is more decadent than you’d expect. Unique accommodation options include a retro caravan fitted out with twee features such as patterned curtains, vases overflowing with flowers and colourful artworks; “The Pod”, a curved sleeping spot made with corrugated iron and decorated with bunting; or, in true glamping style, an enormous canvas safari tent with a full dining area and wooden deck.
Image: Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park
Eat and drink
A weekend isn’t really enough to eat your way through all the delicious local food the Grampians are plating up – but it is enough time indulge at some of the highlights. The Bunyip Hotel in Cavendish, Dunkeld’s Royal Mail Hotel and Old Bakery and Café, the Halls Gap Hotel and Harvest Halls Gaps Café, Restaurant and Providore will cover every meal from breakfast to after-dinner drinks (as well as a requisite coffee-and-cake pit stops).
The Grampians is made for outdoor-lovers. The eponymous national park is a haven of well-worn hiking trails, including the wildflower-strewn walk to The Pinnacle Lookout over Halls Gap and the Balconies, a series of rock structures that jut over the valley below. If two wheels rather than two feet is your preferred mode of transport, the region is great for cyclists, too. As well as hard-core biking trails through the mountains, there are more casual routes that wind through the region’s vineyards and lavender farms, providing ample spots for stopovers to easily turn an hour-long ride into a full-day activity. Bikes can be hired from a Grampians Visitor Information Centre.
Image: MacKenzie Falls, Grampians National Park
But vineyards aren’t the only food fields worth visiting. Olive groves are also prolific and two estates, Red Rock Olives and Grampians Olive Co, have farmgates where you can sample a splash of their oil and take home a special bottle.
Once you’ve had your fill of fresh air, there are several cultural exhibitions worth spending time at, too. Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre reveals the stories and histories of Western Victoria’s indigenous peoples and runs tours to Aboriginal rock art sites within the area, while Hamilton Gallery features an 8000-piece-strong collection of decorative arts, prints, metalwork and furniture from Australia and abroad, as well as regular feature exhibitions from acclaimed artists.
Founded in 1851, Seppelt is one of Australia’s most historic wine producers. To learn more about Seppelt and explore the newly released Luxury Collection visit seppelt.com.au.
Top image: The Balconies, Grampians National Park