Wine and Culture Itinerary

Trailblazing wineries full of character; art, both ancient and new; friendly, salt of the earth locals set within rugged, mountainous bushland freckled with billabongs and gum trees.

An Australian Bush Experience

Located in the heart of Victoria, Australia’s most compact mainland state, the start of the Shiraz Central wine route is just a short drive from Melbourne.

Victoria’s wild and mountainous Central Highlands experience cool nights and endlessly sunny days, which aid the region’s pioneering winemakers in producing a distinct style of cool-spiced shiraz. 

Here visitors will also experience an Australian bush experience, complete with native wildlife and outstanding national parks.

Wine and Culture Tour Itinerary


The Shiraz Central wine route comprises four distinctive regions: the Grampians (Gariwerd) and Pyrenees; Bendigo, Ballarat and Heathcote; the Goulburn Valley; and the Macedon Ranges. The latter region sits the closest to Melbourne, just 69km (an hour’s drive) north-west of the city. At approximately 250km north-west of the Victorian capital (a three- hour drive) the Grampians (Gariwerd) is the furthest away.

Best For

Pioneering cool-climate wineries and all kinds of art.

The experience

  • Taste silky yet complex drops of world-leading cool-spiced shiraz.
  • Hear the cackle of kookaburras and the scratchy chirp of cockatoos.
  • See ancient rock art hidden in niches under boulders.
  • Feel the cool, fresh waters of the Grampians’ (Gariwerd) many waterfalls with your fingertips.
  • Smell the heady aroma of eucalyptus trees filling the air, their leaves rustling in the

4 Day Tour

Depart your Melbourne hotel, heading to Fowles Wine in the Strathbogie Ranges, a 90-minute drive.


Family-owned Fowles has been in business since 1968, but a modern makeover in early 2019 has brought the winery’s cellar door firmly into the 21st century. Admire the undulating granite mountains of the Strathbogie Ranges from the floor-to-ceiling glass in a novel take on the quintessential Aussie shed, over a tasting of Fowles’ shiraz – there’s a handful of different expressions of the varietal on offer.


Leave Fowles and make your way to Tahbilk, a 30-minute drive.


Tahbilk is a local institution. Established in 1860, this is the oldest family-owned winery in Victoria. Beyond the tasting bench, explore the winery’s Eco Trails on foot, taking the six-kilometre circuit along walking paths and boardwalks. Cruise through the billabongs after which the estate was named by the traditional owners of this land, the Taungurung people, in an electric-powered boat. Or take a blending class, where you can create your own signature blend from several varietals.


Savour the seasonal flavours at Tahbilk for lunch – the menu is bursting with fresh, local fare, including risotto and pasta dishes as well as slow-cooked meats.


Set off for Mitchelton, an easy 20-minute drive away.


Arrive at the boutique Mitchelton Hotel and check in to your room – a minimalist masterpiece with balcony views of either the sleepy Goulburn River or the estate’s vineyards. Take some time to relax and explore the grounds, wandering up to the winery’s iconic 60s tower, lazing by the infinity pool, and, of course, doing a tasting at the cellar door visiting. Don’t leave without paying a visit to the underground gallery; it’s the largest commercial Aboriginal art gallery in Australia and is curated by specialist Adam Knight. The Message Stick Vehicle, is a standout.


Make the short journey from your hotel room to the estate’s restaurant, Muse, named after the direction of the menu, which uses Mitchelton’s wine as its muse. Dine on fresh, local produce under a trellis wrapped with grape vines that overlooks the river red gum-lined waterway, and toast to an excellent day of exploring with a glass of Mitchelton’s revered Print Shiraz.


Back to your room to rest up, ready for a full day of touring tomorrow.

Enjoy breakfast at Muse restaurant and pack up your things, ready to hit the road again.


Buckle up and head for Heathcote Wine Hub, a 45-minute drive.


Purveying the biggest collection of Heathcote’s wine anywhere in the world, the Heathcote Wine Hub makes for the perfect introduction to the destination’s much sought-after shiraz. There are 24 wines available to taste on any given day and some 200 different wines available for purchase from the vast majority of Heathcote’s producers. Take a guided tasting tour or relax with a glass of the destination’s varietal in the courtyard come summer, or by the open fireplace of the charming 1870s corner store come winter.


Hop back in the car and onto Tellurian Wines, a 25-minute drive.


A family-owned winery established in 2002, the very first planting here was shiraz and it remains Tellurian’s principal grape today, with 17 hectares dedicated to the varietal. Meaning ‘of the earth’, Tellurian was so named because of the deep respect the winery’s founders and vignerons have for the rich red Cambrian soils of the Heathcote region. Book in advance to arrange a personalised tasting and tour of the winery, or simply turn up to the tasting bench and sample Tellurian’s expressions of shiraz.   


Make a beeline for lunch at Bendigo’s Gold Mines Hotel, a 45-minute drive.


A spot worth seeking out as much for its country character as its menu, the Gold Mines Hotel is a sensitively restored heritage building that dates back to 1872 and features a sprawling and leafy beer garden. The central food offering here is refined (think wood-smoked sardines and blood-orange-cured trout) but more casual Australian pub classics, such as beef and beer pie and chicken parmigiana, also feature.


Drive the 10 minutes to Balgownie Estate Winery Retreat & Restaurant Bendigo.


One of the oldest wineries in Bendigo, Balgownie Estate’s first plantings were made in 1969. A small winery that runs almost entirely off solar power, Balgownie comprises a cellar door, a restaurant, a cafe, a wine museum and several different accommodation options. Dive straight into the tasting bench, where you can sample anything from the winery’s range, such as the 2008 Museum Release Bendigo Shiraz, which scored 95 points in the 2020 James Halliday Wine Companion – the definitive annual guide to Australia’s best wines.


Hotfoot it to Sandhurst Ridge Winery, only a seven-minute drive away.


Named a five-star winery in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion, as well as one of the guide’s top 10 ‘Dark Horse’ wineries, Sandhurst Ridge is going from strength to strength. It’s a family affair at this petite winery: Paul Greblo is the winemaker, while his brother George is the viticulturist, and together they are producing some rich and ripe expressions of shiraz that feature a hint of spice. 


Drive into historic Bendigo, a city that was once the richest in the world thanks to the gold rush of the late 1800s. There’s plenty to explore in this regional hub, such as the Bendigo Art Gallery, established in 1887, which is one of the oldest and largest regional galleries in Australia. The gallery has a focus on Australian art from the 1800s, as well as a large collection of contemporary Australian art. Other local offerings include the independent Arnold Street Gallery, which solely exhibits work by Australian artists, and Bendigo Pottery, which is the oldest pottery works in the country and features a museum.


Time to freshen up back at your hotel, the Quest Schaller Hotel Bendigo. A modern, four-star hotel, the Quest Schaller showcases the bold and colourful works of Australian mid-career artist Mark Schaller, many of whose paintings are inspired by the city. Each light-filled guestroom features a balcony and a piece by Schaller.


Prepare for playful platings and creative modern Australian fare at Dinner at Masons of Bendigo. The restaurant pairs its seasonal menu with an almost entirely Australian drinks list, from beers sourced exclusively within a 100-kilometre radius of the restaurant to an all-Victorian wine list and even local soft drinks.


Retrace your steps back to the hotel and rest up, ready for a full day out and about on the Shiraz Central wine trail tomorrow.

Have breakfast at your hotel and get ready to leave.


Say goodbye to Bendigo and head for Blue Pyrenees Estate, an 80-minute drive.


Book in for a tutored tasting or winery tour at Blue Pyrenees Estate, or simply mosey up to the tasting bench. Established in 1963, this sprawling estate lies on a range of gentle slopes and its vines are known to produce full-flavoured shiraz that features licorice, dark fruit, vanilla and spice characteristics.


Jump in the car and head to Seppelt Wines, a one-hour drive.


A storied winery whose roots date back to the mid-1800s, Seppelt has championed elegant styles of shiraz since the early 1900s. Its flagship, St Peters Grampians Shiraz, is classed as ‘Excellent’ in the latest edition of the prestigious Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine. The winery’s multi-award winning Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz is also celebrated. After visiting the cellar door, tour the winery’s heritage-listed cellars, referred to as ‘The Drives’. Excavated in 1868, they extend for a whopping three kilometres, making them the longest wine cellars in the southern hemisphere.


Devour one of platters for two at Seppelts’ The Drives Cafe before moving onto Best’s Great Western, a five-minute drive away.


Full of character, and boasting some superb expressions of shiraz, Best’s has been in the same family for five generations. The winery’s Thomson Family Shiraz is in the coveted ‘Exceptional’ category in the latest edition of Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine – one of only four wines in Victoria to achieve the status, and one of only 22 in the country. Best’s Bin O Shiraz was also ranked as ‘Outstanding’ in the list. Post-tasting take a self-guided tour of the 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.


Leave Best’s and continue on to the Grampians National Park (Gariwerd). It’s about a 30-minute drive to Halls Gap, the gateway to the Grampians (Gariwerd) – from here your route depends on which of many walks you choose to do. Allow approximately two hours to complete the iconic and challenging Pinnacle walk and lookout; 30-minutes for the Balconies (start the walk at the Reed Lookout Carpark, a 20-minute drive from Halls Gap); and 45-minutes for Mackenzie Falls (plus a 30-minute drive from Halls Gap). Each will reward you with beautiful, panoramic views of the Grampians (Gariwerd), and will help you work up an appetite for dinner.


Time to move onto your accommodation for the night, the Royal Mail Hotel – a 45-minute drive away.


Check in and freshen up at the Royal Mail Hotel.


Time for dinner. With two renowned restaurants on-site, you don’t have to venture far for good food at the Royal Mail Hotel. Wickens is the property’s most prestigious offering, a two-hatted fine-diner that offers five- and eight-course degustation menus paired with wines from the 28,000-bottle strong cellar. Sister venue Parker Street Project Wine Bar is a more low-key affair, with an a la carte menu that centres around share plates and snacks. Almost 80 per cent of the food on both restaurant menus is grown onsite in the enormous kitchen garden. The restaurant also raises its own beef and lamb.


Retire to your room and relax for the night.

Soak up the stellar views of the Grampians (Gariwerd) over breakfast at the hotel before packing your suitcase.


Check out and make for Mount Langi Ghiran, a 75-minute drive away.


Located next to the eponymous state park, Mount Langi Ghiran boasts unobstructed views over its granite peaks and sloping woodlands. The winery regularly rotates the bottles on its tasting bench, with at least five wines always available. Shiraz forms 80 per cent of the winery’s plantings, so there are numerous different expressions of the varietal on offer. The one constant characteristic for which Mount Langi Ghiran’s shiraz has become renowned is its spicy pepper notes. The winery’s Langi Shiraz was rated ‘Excellent’ in the latest edition of Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine.


Onwards to Daylesford for lunch, where a host of lunch options await. It’s an 80-minute drive.


For Japanese flavours with a pan-Asian twist visit smart-casual diner Sakana; for fine-dining in beautiful surrounds try the Lake House; and for French farmhouse-style cooking with a menu that changes daily you’ll need to drive a further 20 minutes to Trentham’s Du Fermier.


Drive to Kyneton, home many small, independent galleries; from Daylesford it’s a 30-minute drive.


Stop by one of the numerous galleries in artsy Kyneton, part of the Macedon Ranges. Offerings include the Lauriston Press, the John Lloyd Gallery, Stockroom, The Old Auction House, Colours of White and Art on Piper. The Macedon Ranges has more professional artists working in the arts per capita than any other region in the state.


Venture to your last stop of the day, Hanging Rock Winery – a mere 20 minutes away by car.


Established in 1982 by John and Ann Ellis, who were both born into two of Australia’s biggest wine dynasties, this multi-award-winning winery was one of the pioneers of Heathcote Shiraz. There are numerous expressions of the varietal to sample here from different blocks and vintages, as well as shiraz blends. Savour a few as you gaze out at the craggy peaks of Hanging Rock: a mystical place that has inspired many artists. The winery also boasts its own art in the form of an annual summer sculpture exhibition, where the art is scattered among the vines.


Head back to your Melbourne hotel – a one-hour drive from Hanging Rock Winery.


Arrive back in Melbourne and enjoy all the city has to offer.

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