Luxury Escapes Guide to Victoria's High Country
Whether you choose to travel by foot, bike, car, horse or skis, you’ll discover delights in Victoria’s High Country.
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Discover Victoria's High Country
Things to see and do
Take to the slopes on Mount Buller, Mount Hotham or Falls Creek
Carve it up on the snowfields of Victoria’s Alpine Country, home to some of the country’s best skiing and snowboarding. Mount Buller, Falls Creek and Mount Hotham all have everything you could need for days on the slopes, including extensive lift networks and snow-making systems for when nature fails to deliver. Each resort has runs for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders, while Falls Creek also boasts 65km of cross-country trails to follow. Non-skiers will also find plenty to entertain, with dogsledding, snowshoe hiking and tobogganing all on offer.
Hike Mount Buffalo
Explore Victoria’s ‘island in the sky’ with a hike through Mount Buffalo National Park. The all-seasons expanse is characterised by sheer cliffs, snow gum forests, stunning wildflowers, tumbling waterfalls and imposing granite tors. The park is home to flora that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, as well as classic Australian fauna like lyrebirds and swamp wallabies.
Take on the Big Walk over a day, or drive to any of the picnic areas dotted around the summit to take on smaller adventures. Visit Lake Catani for a swim or a chance to camp amongst wombats, or enjoy a paddle in the fresh water of Ladies Bath Falls or Rollasons Falls.
Explore King Valley’s Prosecco Road
Take a trip to the rolling hills of northern Italy without leaving Victoria’s High Country with a visit to King Valley’s Prosecco Road. Five wonderful wineries – Dal Zotto, Brown Brothers, Chrismont, Pizzini and Sam Miranda – form a sparkling food and wine trail that celebrates the region’s Italian influences while also demonstrating the unique nature of Australian prosecco. Visit all five cellar doors to taste their drops, stopping for a long lunch of delicious Italian dishes and a game or two of the classic garden game, bocce. Make a weekend out of it by booking a night at Valley View Glamping.
Follow the Silo Art Trail
The silos and walls of the High Country have been transformed into canvases for some of the world’s best street artists, best explored on the Silo Art Trail. Start in Benalla, where there are over 60 pieces of work to admire, before hopping in the car to venture to Goorambat, where the grain silos have been adorned with three works by Melbourne’s Jimmy Dvate.
Continue onto Devenish to admire the murals that pay tribute to the locals’ involvement in the military, before checking out Tim Bowtell’s mural of Sir George Coles, the founder of Coles’ Supermarkets. Finish up at the Winton Wetlands, where portraits of local Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers are painted on water tanks.
Take on (part) of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail by cycle
There’s no better place to adventure on two wheels than the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail. Stretching from Bright, through Myrtleford to Beechworth and then onto Wangaratta or Rutherglen, the established network of cycle routes is a great way to discover the region’s landscapes. While you could do the whole 100km route over a couple of days, most will take on a section, stopping to visit the wonderful local producers along the way to taste fresh local produce, delicious wines and hoppy craft beers.
Ride through the Alpine National Park with Bogong Horseback Adventures
Hop into the saddle – it’s time to take on the mountains and valleys of North East Victoria on horseback. Follow the tracks carved out by adventurers of time gone by, riding over rivers and through tall mountain forests and fern gullies keeping watch for colourful birdlife. Experienced guides will lead you through some of the state’s most picturesque landscapes over a few hours, a half-day or a full day and can include a country-style lunch at their Riders Lounge. They’ll provide tuition, hard hats and oilskin coats if required, meaning all you have to do is show up and enjoy the ride!
Taste your way through the High Country Brewery Trail
It’s not just wine that the High Country is known for: a burgeoning craft beer scene has put the likes of Bright and Beechworth on the map, best explored with the High Country Brewery Trail.
Visit the nine breweries, stretching from King Valley to Bright, at your own pace. Take the time to chat to the brewers, hang out in their beer gardens and, most importantly, taste their knock-out brews and perfectly paired food. If you’re keen, you can tackle a few in a day, or take your time over the weekend, booking in for a tour or two.
Learn about local Indigenous culture at the Yeddonba Aboriginal Cultural Site
Indigenous peoples have a long history in the High Country, with a number of sacred sites dotted throughout the diverse landscapes. One of the most significant is Yeddonba, located at the base of Mount Pilot, about a 20-minute drive from Beechworth.
Follow a clearly marked circular walking track to admire the art of the Dhudhuroa people, the dominant clan of the area. They, along with the Quat Quatta and Minjambutta peoples, still recognise this area as a site of cultural and spiritual significance. Keep an eye out for the red-ochre painting of a Tasmanian tiger, considered to be one of the key indicators that the animal was once found on the mainland.
Top places to eat and drink
There’s something in the flour at Beechworth Bakery, a much-loved institution that now has nine locations to its name. Renowned amongst locals and roadtrippers travelling between Melbourne and Sydney or Canberra, each bakery dishes out freshly baked goods, as well as two-hand sandwiches, all-day breakfast and the best pies this side of the border. Treats are made just like Nanna would, with the likes of caramel slice, German donuts, vanilla slice and bee sting cakes all sitting on the counter. The original sits in the middle of Beechworth’s town, but there are now outposts in Albury, Ballarat, Bendigo, Bright, Echuca, Healesville and Yackandandah.
Sitting on the banks of the Ovens River, Bright Brewery is responsible for some of the region’s most adventurous craft beers. Visit the Brewery Door to find out more about the family-owned business and taste some of their MountainCrafted beers, made with fresh alpine water, locally grown hops and sustainable practices. Sip on one of the core collection – the Alpine Lager or Bright Sour, perhaps? – or something from the limited release range, affectionately called Backcountry Brews. Pair your pint with a meal from the Brewery Door’s seasonal menu, which celebrates local producers through fresh salads, sharing boards, burgers and pizzas.
Discover what 130 years of winemaking tastes like at Brown Brothers, a fourth-generation winery in the heart of Milawa. With vineyards across Victoria and Tasmania, they grow over 32 varieties of grapes, all of which are turned into the good stuff at their Milawa base. Visit the cellar door to sample their selection of sparkling and still drops, or book in at the restaurant, where fresh kitchen garden produce is the perfect pairing to a glass of prosecco or pinot noir. For something a little more special, opt for one of the winery experiences – a prosecco brunch or day glamping, perhaps?
Whisper ‘Milawa Blue’ to any cheese-loving Victorian and you’ll find out why Milawa Cheese has become such an iconic part of northeast Victoria. The cheese factory, housed in a former butter factory in the middle of Milawa, has built a reputation throughout the state for its exceptional soft and washed-rind cheeses, especially the aforementioned iconic Australian-made, European-influenced blue cheese. Visit their showroom and tasting room to find out what all the fuss is about, tasting their range of cow and goat milk cheeses alongside locally produced condiments.
All Saints Estate
With a heritage-listed castle, hatted restaurant, gorgeous gardens and some of the state’s best drops, you’ll want to while away the day at All Saints Estate. Start at the cellar door, where you can sip on award-winning, handcrafted wines, including a range of world-renowned fortifieds. Move onto the hatted Terrace Restaurant, where chef Simon Arkless presents an ever-evolving, season-driven menu influenced by his European heritage and the bounty of beautiful local ingredients.
Don’t forget to pop by Indigo Food Co. before you go – the providore stocks local produce, including a bounty of artisan cheeses. If you’re not up for the full restaurant experience, opt for a produce platter, best enjoyed on the terrace or in the gardens.
Chrismont Cellar Door, Restaurant & Larder
It’s a feast for all five senses at Chrismont Cellar Door, Restaurant & Larder, where outstanding food and wine experiences are served with the majestic King Valley as a backdrop. Sample their take on classic Italian wines, such as prosecco, pinot grigio, fiano, sangiovese and barbera at the award-winning cellar door, or settle in for a culinary adventure at the restaurant, where time-honoured family recipes are recreated using local and seasonal ingredients. Stock up on house-made delicacies at the Larder before you leave, with produce like Sicilian pickled eggplant or orange and ruby grapefruit marmalade.
If you really don’t want to say goodbye, book a night or two at the Guest House, the Tuscan-inspired villa perched at the edge of the vineyard.
Reed & Co Distillery
Ever wondered what the High Country would taste like as a drink? Wonder no more with a visit to Reed & Co Distillery, a family-owned distillery turning out gins with the essence of the region. Pop by to sample their signature spirit, Remedy Gin, sip on a Spirit Lab Gin & Juice or taste the Dark Night, their barrel-aged coffee liqueur. For an afternoon of lovely libations, turn to the cocktail menu, where concoctions like the Aviation (Remedy gin, maraschino liqueur and crème de violet) await. Pair your drink with a selection of local bar snacks, including fried broccoli, Mount Buffalo olives and Myrtleford cheeses.
Mansfield Coffee Merchant
Follow the aroma of freshly roasted coffee to find Mansfield Coffee Merchant, a specialty coffee roaster and cafe in the heart of Mansfield. It’s all about the perfect brew here – all beans are roasted on site to create unique blends and single-origin options, available to take home or enjoy in the hands of one of their expert baristas. The fare is equally as curated – stop in for a brunch of baked eggs or a breaky roll, or visit for dinner for dishes like kangaroo bolognese linguine and gourmet pizzas.
Scion Vineyard and Winery
Ride the new wave of modern Rutherglen winemaking with a visit to Scion Vineyard and Winery. Pop by the cellar door – located 2km south of town – to taste the range of eight wines that Rowly Milhinch and his Mum make onsite, including the muscat-based Blonde, viognier, syrah and durif. Once you’ve found your favourite (or two), settle in for a picnic among the gum trees, overlooking the working winery – planners can order a seasonal picnic hamper ahead of time, or you can bring your own. All friends – furry or human – are welcome!
Indulge your inner coffee aficionado at the brew bar of Sixpence Coffee, a family-owned and run small-batch roastery tucked away in the foothills of the Australian Alps. Visit the team of expert baristas for your morning brew, a bag of takeaway beans or just to chat – there’s nothing they don’t know about the blessed bean. You can also peek at their set-up, with all roasting done onsite. Wash down your flat white or cold brew with a pastry or two, thanks to nearby bakery Frankies.
Soak away the day at Mount Hotham Onsen Retreat & Spa
Whether you’ve spent the day on the slopes, or biked your way from Hotham to Dinner Plain, a few hours at Mount Hotham Onsen Retreat & Spa is the perfect way to finish the day. Book in for a two-hour session for the outdoor Alpine Onsen, heated to 38 degrees, or opt for a private geisha bathing experience, complete with customised bath salts. Either way, you’ll also be able to try the heated plunge spa, sauna, heated lap pool and fitness centre. Relax weary muscles with a massage, or book in for a complete package, which includes a massage, facial and complimentary onsen session.