With a range of farm gates and providores, Aboriginal art, the producers of the Grampians and Pyrenees region are masters of the land they inhabit. Visit for the wines, and stay for the cultural experience.
Where to Taste Shiraz
In Great Western, a sub-region of the Grampians (Gariwerd), lie two of Victoria’s most historic wineries. Seppelt, which dates back to the mid-1800s, has championed elegant styles of shiraz since the early 1900s and remains a leader in the varietal with its flagship St Peters Grampians Shiraz and multiregional Chalambar Shiraz.
Moreover, this historic winery was a pioneer in the field of that Australian Christmas favourite, sparkling shiraz; its multi-award-winning Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz is hallowed among the wine cognoscenti.
Beyond the bottle, Seppelt pulls in visitors for tours of its heritage-listed cellars. Known as ‘The Drives’, these cellars were excavated in 1868 and extend for a whopping three kilometres below the winery, making them the longest in the southern hemisphere.
At Great Western’s other great winery, Best’s, there’s almost a Wild West feel to the cellar door. Take a self-guided tour of this estate’s 1860s cellars, which were hand-dug by miners, and the old red gum slab tasting room, which is housed in the original stables and showcases old winery equipment and maps of the area.
Best’s Great Western has been in the same family for five generations and was one of Australia’s earliest wine company trademarks.
Places to Eat
Another two-hatted establishment, this time in the Grampians (Gariwerd), Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel is a carefully crafted ode to the local region.
The fine-diner offers five- or eight-course degustation menus, with some 80 per cent of the produce grown onsite in the organic 1.2-hectare kitchen garden and harvested daily by the kitchen team; the restaurant also raises its own beef and lamb.
Even Wickens’ interior has been furnished with local materials, the dining tables built from local sandstone by local stonemasons, and the custom-built wine shelves made locally from Australian Blackbutt trees.
The restaurant’s cellar is home to 28,000 bottles, affording guests the choice of three types of wine match – cellar, iconic Australian and French. For a more casual eatery try the hotel’s Parker Street Project, which has an a la carte menu built around share plates and snacks with a playful touch.
Places to Stay
Boasting blockbuster views of the Southern Grampians (Gariwerd), the four-star Royal Mail Hotel has long been a Victorian icon. From cosy 1840s bluestone cottages to the contemporary design of the Deluxe Mountain-View Rooms, there is plenty of choice when it comes to lodgings.
The hotel and its sprawling grounds, laden with native flora, offer a serene retreat with fantastic food to boot in the tiny town of Dunkeld (pop. 678).
On the eastern side of the Grampians National Park (Gariwerd), Halls Gap is a popular gateway that’s home to several rustic and quirky accommodation options.
Beyond the Cellar Door
The Shiraz Central wine route is full of activities perfect for adventurous souls, and the Grampians National Park is arguably the jewel in the region’s crown. From abseiling to canoeing, four-wheel driving, horse riding, quad biking, and of course hiking, the Grampians (Gariwerd) is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.
But beyond adventurous pursuits, the national park is also home to the Brambuk Cultural Centre and almost 90% of all Aboriginal rock art in Victoria, some of which dates back more than 22,000 years.
Gariwerd, as the park is known by the traditional owners, has long been known as a spiritual place to the Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali people.
Those who want to see native Australian wildlife should head to the 21-hectare Halls Gap Zoo – it’s the largest regional zoo in Victoria and houses a number of endangered species captive breeding programs, including the Tasmanian devil, the bilby, the Southern cassowary and the quoll.
What to Take Home
At one of the plentiful farm gates and providores, pick up an edible local souvenir, such as olive oil. Family-owned Mount Zero, which has olive groves on the northern edge of the Grampians National Park (Gariwerd), is a well-known producer that uses biodynamic farming principles and has some of the oldest olive groves in Australia.
At Brambuk Cultural Centre, in the Grampians National Park (Gariwerd), pick up Aboriginal arts and crafts, as well as boomerangs and didgeridoos.