Stay close, go further

Set your sights inland, where winding waters and gold-rush history rule. Dine at award-winning regional restaurants in our City of Gastronomy. Jump on an iconic paddlesteamer to cruise the mighty Murray River and seek eye-popping silo art in tiny towns. There's wine and mountainous lookouts and luminous salt lakes to discover, too. Here are our top tips to get the most out of your inland getaway.

1. Salt lake stunners

Arrive late afternoon for a spectacular tour of Lake Tyrrell. This 120,000 year old salt lake has a phenomenal reflective surface that offers jaw-dropping colours when paired with a vast Wimmera-Mallee sunset. Stick around for magnificent dark-sky star gazing.

Grab an early dinner at the Royal Hotel in nearby Sea Lake before your tour, and head back to stay the night.

2. Bendigo: Creative City and Region of Gastronomy

Gold-rush era Bendigo is a designated UNESCO City and Region of Gastronomy, and the first of its kind in Australia. Caffeinate at El Gordo and wander Chancery Lane for eateries, fashion boutiques and street art. Lunch at cool urban cafe Hoo Gah, local-produce-focused Percy and Percy or micro-roastery Old Green Bean. Make dinner a degustation at Masons of Bendigo, or a Euro-leaning experience at Alium Dining, followed by cocktails at Nimbus Rooftop or the intimate Dispensary.

3. On the art trail

Follow Victoria's hottest outdoor public art gallery along the Silo Art Trail. Discover vibrant murals painted in large scale on grain silos in Sea Lake, Nullawil, Patchewollock, Lascelles, Rosebery, Brim, Kaniva, Goroke, Albacutya, Sheep Hills and Rupanyup.

Take a side-trip to Beulah to glimpse the film location for The Dry (2020), starring Eric Bana, and prop up the Beulah Victoria Hotel for a pub meal. See what's on at the Bendigo Art Gallery, one of Victoria's finest regional art spaces, and Castlemaine Art Museum.

4. The mighty Murray River 

Get to know the Murray River in its border towns. In Swan Hill, explore the open-air Pioneer Settlement museum for insight into life on the Murray in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Stock up on lollies from the General Store, watch blacksmiths at work, or sit down to scones, jam and cream at The Paragon Cafe.

South-east along the river, Echuca is the paddlesteamer capital of Victoria. Discover the history at Port of Echuca Discovery Centre before jumping aboard the PS Pyap for a one-hour cruise. Take in the sights as the picturesque river bank slips by.

Stretch your sea legs with a forest walk through Banyule State Forest, picking up the trail from behind the visitor centre.

5. The Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park

Explore the magnificent sandstone ridges of Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park. Get up high for a perfect panorama on a hike to The Pinnacle. There are two routes to the lookout for different abilities. Go early and then refuel with brunch at Livefast Lifestyle Cafe, and drop into microbrewery Paper Scissors Rock Brew Co for dinner and craft beer on tap, 

6. Time for a wine

The rich soil of inland Victoria is responsible for some knockout wines. The pretty town of Great Western has renowned wineries and underground cellars. Age-old vines produce some of the best drops in the world – notably shiraz. Sample for yourself at the cellar doors of Best's Great Western, Grampians Estate and wine-making pioneers Seppelt. 

Grab a bottle at St Anne's Winery cellar door in the Port of Echuca, and explore the grapest hits at historic Balgownie Estate outside of Bendigo.

7. Regional flavours

The Goldfields and Murray regions are bursting with flavour and fresh produce. Stop for pies and pastries at Johnny Baker's Drive Thru in Castlemaine, and local goods at Harcourt Produce and General Store.

In Echuca, try lunch at Johnny and Lyle's, known for fresh ingredients and coffee roasted onsite. Dinner at the historic Mill is globally influenced, with Asian, European and Turkish flavours mingling on the menu, and breakfast is a winner at plant-based cafe The Sweet Meadow. 

Swan Hill has coffee and homemade treats at Boo's Place Cafe & Provedore. Don't miss a meal at Spoons Restaurant with views over the Murray River from the ambient dining room or expansive deck.

8. Accommodation

Spend a restful night in a luxury glamping tent at Balgownie Estate and wake as the sun shines on the vineyards. Moama on the Murray's self-contained villas have views out to lakes and bushland. Bed down in the heart of the Grampians at Halls Gap Lakeside, or relax in one of DULC's luxurious cabins.

 

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