Where else can you stay in a treehouse cabin, explore scenic mountains, take a helicopter to lunch and land between 150-year-old vines for wine tasting?
By Justine Hide
What to expect
- Stunning views in the Grampians National Park
- Private cellar door visit via helicopter
- Vineyards galore
- Time: 3 days
- Distance: 254 kilometres (158 miles)
- Transport: car and helicopter
- Nearest major city: Melbourne
- Price: $$$$ - excellent value for what is included
Embark on a three-day adventure that will allow you to see, learn, experience and taste the Grampians in a unique way. See the Grampians National Park from below and above, dine on fresh seasonal produce, taste award-winning wines, learn about the area from a local pilot and stay in a luxe treehouse cabin surrounded by nature.
Day 1: Road trip to the Grampians
Take the 2.5-hour drive west from Melbourne to Great Western, a sub-region of the Grampians where you'll find some of the area's top wineries. Drop into Best’s Wines, where you can take a free self-guided underground tour with 155 years of wine making history, and the historic cellar door at Seppelt for a tasting and light lunch. Continue your journey just 30 minutes more to reach Halls Gap by mid-afternoon. Check into DULC Halls Gap and discover the peaceful location of your accommodation.
Spend a bit of time exploring this quaint country town, where it's easy to spot kangaroos, emu and deer in almost any park or green space. As dusk approaches, take the 15-minute drive up the winding roads to Boroka Lookout. Enjoy a spectacular sunset with views over Wonderland Range, Mt William Range, Fyans Valley, Lake Bellfield and the plains to the east of the Grampians. Head back down into town for a lovely dinner featuring local wines at the Halls Gap Hotel, Kookaburra Hotel or Barney’s Bar & Bistro before settling in front of the fireplace of your cosy treehouse at DULC.
Day 2: Fly – dine – wine
Enjoy your breakfast hamper supplied by DULC and soak in the atmosphere surrounding your private cabin. If you're feeling energetic, head out on an early morning hike along one of the many walking tracks within the Grampians National Park. There are options for every level of fitness and time frame.
Late morning you will be picked up by Grampians Helicopters and taken to Stawell Airport (a 20-minute drive) where you will board your R44 helicopter. As you fly over the region you'll learn about the area from your pilot, who was born and raised in the Grampians, before landing at the base of the vines at Montara Wines. This winery is only open to the public on the first Friday of each month, or when you land with Grampians Helicopters. Here you will be treated to a full wine tasting and a platter of free seasonal produce – with no need to rush, just enjoy.
If you’re not keen to fly, other options include Grampians Wine Tours, who provide half and full-day tours, silo art tours and walks in the Grampians. For a family-friendly option, head to Halls Gap Mini Golf or hire electric bikes and explore the town without much effort.
Day 3: See, taste, experience, learn
Start the day with another of the area's stunning hikes, such as the Pinnacle or Mackenzie Falls, before stopping in town for coffee or breakfast at Livefast Café. Make a connection with the traditional owners of Gariwerd (Grampians), the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung Aboriginal communities, by paying a visit to the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Embark on a rock art tour, paint a boomerang and taste kangaroo, emu or crocodile at the Bushfoods Café.
It may be time to make your way back to the city, but you can continue your appreciation of the region's food, wine and culture along the way. Stop off at Pomonal Estate – a winery, microbrewery, and cider house. As you continue along the Western Highway you'll come across one of the many Aboriginal artwork shelters open to the public. The Bunjil Shelter is about seven kilometres (4.3 miles) from Stawell in the Black Range Scenic Reserve. Take the Bunjil Cave Road to the parking area. From here it's just a five-minute walk to the large boulder that houses the painting. The artwork is regarded as the most important in the area as it shows an image of the creator.
From Black Range head to Great Western to stop for lunch at Steel Cutters Cottage (only open Fridays and Saturdays, bookings highly recommended), a hidden gem that provides artisan food of the highest quality with local wines to match. You won't be disappointed making this your last stop before returning to the city.
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