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

Shiraz Central comprises the following regions: the Grampians and Pyrenees; Bendigo, Ballarat and Heathcote; the Macedon Ranges; and the southernmost part of the Goulburn Valley.

The Macedon Ranges region sits closest to Melbourne, just 69 kilometres (an hour's drive) north-west of the city. At approximately 250 kilometres north-west of the Victorian capital (a three-hour drive), the Grampians (Gariwerd) is the furthest away.

Victoria's wild and mountainous Central Highlands experience cool nights and endlessly sunny days, which aid the region's pioneering winemakers in producing a distinctive style of cool-spiced shiraz. A visit offers a great opportunity to also get out for an Australian bush experience, discovering native wildlife and outstanding national parks. 

Best for

Pioneering cool-climate wineries and all kinds of art.

What to expect

Trailblazing wineries full of character. Art, both ancient and new. Friendly, salt-of-the-earth locals. And a setting within rugged, mountainous bushland dotted with billabongs and gum trees.

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.
  • Touch the cool, fresh waters of the many Grampians (Gariwerd) waterfalls with your fingertips.
  • Smell the heady aroma of eucalyptus trees in the air as their leaves rustle in the wind.

Find out more


Always be sure to enjoy Victoria's wine regions safely with a designated driver.

  • 8.00am

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


    Swirl, sniff and sip your way through a tasting of Fowles' shiraz – there's a handful of takes on the varietal to try. Family-owned Fowles has been in business since 1968, but a modern makeover in recent years has brought the winery's cellar door firmly into the 21st century. Admire the undulating granite mountains of the Strathbogie Ranges through the floor-to-ceiling glass, a contemporary take on the quintessential Aussie shed.


    Make your way to historic Tahbilk Winery and Cellar Door, 30 minutes from Fowles. Established in 1860, Tahbilk is the oldest family-owned winery in Victoria.

    Beyond the tasting bench, explore the winery's billabong walking trails on foot, meandering through the wetlands on walking paths and boardwalks. Cruise in an electric-powered boat through the billabongs named by the Traditional Owners of this land, the Taungurung People. Or take a wine-blending class, where you can create your own signature blend from several wine varietals.


    Remain at Tahbilk for lunch and savour the region's seasonal produce. The menu of small and large plates showcase fresh local fare – perfect for vegetarians and lovers of lamb rump alike.


    Set off for Mitchelton Estate, an easy 20 minutes away. Arrive at 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 time to relax and explore the grounds. Wander up to the winery's iconic 1960s tower, laze by the infinity pool, and, of course, taste sensational vino at the cellar door.

    Make time for a visit to the Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art in the underground space. It's home to some of the largest commercial pieces by Indigenous artists in Australia and is curated by specialist Adam Knight. The Message Stick Vehicle, – painted by more than 200 artists – is a standout.


    Make the short journey from your hotel room to the estate's restaurant, Muse. Dine on fresh local produce under a grape-vine entwined trellis overlooking the river red gum-lined waterway, and toast to an excellent day of exploring with a glass of Mitchelton's revered Print Shiraz.


    Retire to your room to rest up for a full day of touring tomorrow.

  • 8.30pm

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


    Buckle up for Heathcote Wine Hub, a 45-minute drive away. Purveyors of the largest collection of Heathcote wines anywhere in the world, the Heathcote Wine Hub makes for the perfect introduction to the region's much sought-after shiraz. There are 17 wines available to taste on any given day and some 200 wines covering the vast majority of Heathcote's producers available for purchase.

    Take a guided tasting tour then relax with a glass of wine in the courtyard – or, in cooler months, by the open fireplace of the charming 1870s corner store.


    Hop back in the car and motor 25 minutes to organic certified Tellurian Wines, 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 named 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 away. 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 leafy beer garden. The menu combines elegant small and large dishes with casual Australian pub classics, covering all tastes.


    Drive 10 minutes to Balgownie Estate Bendigo. One of the oldest wineries in Bendigo, the estate's first plantings were made in 1969. Running on solar power and incorporating other sustainable practices, Balgownie comprises a cellar door, a restaurant, a cafe, an open-air deck, and accommodation options including glamping. Zip straight to the tasting bench, where you can sample anything from the winery’s range, including those rated as five-star drops in the James Halliday Wine Companion – the definitive annual guide to Australia’s best wines.


    Hotfoot it to Sandhurst Ridge, a seven-minute drive away. Named a five-star winery in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion, 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 1887 Bendigo Art Gallery, one of the oldest and largest regional galleries in Australia. The gallery has a focus on Australian art from the 1800s, and holds a large collection of contemporary Australian works. Other local offerings include Bendigo Pottery, the oldest pottery works in the country with contemporary ceramics and collectables, historic wood-fired kilns and an interpretive museum.


    Time to freshen up back at your hotel, the Mercure Bendigo Schaller. Look for the bold and colourful works of Australian mid-career artist Mark Schaller, many of whose paintings are inspired by the city. Each light-filled guest room features a balcony and a piece by Schaller.


    For dinner, prepare for playful platings and creative modern Australian fare at Masons of Bendigo. The restaurant pairs its exceptional seasonal menus with an almost entirely Australian drinks list, from local soft drinks to beers and ciders sourced within a 100-kilometre radius of the restaurant and an all-Victorian wine list.


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

  • 8.00am

    Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and say goodbye to Bendigo. Head for Blue Pyrenees Estate, an 80-minute drive away.


    Book in for a tutored wine tasting at Blue Pyrenees Estate, learning about the winemaking process as you go, or savour a glass from the tasting menu at your own pace. Established in 1963, this sprawling estate lies on a range of gentle slopes and is known for full-flavoured shiraz with licorice, dark fruit, vanilla and spice characteristics.


    Drive an hour to Seppelt Wines – Great Western. A storied winery dating back to the mid-1800s, Seppelt has championed elegant styles of shiraz since the early 1900s. Visit the cellar door to find out about the winery's flagship St Peters Grampians shiraz or multi-award-winning Seppelt Show sparkling shiraz. Afterwards, tour 'The Drives'. Excavated in 1868, these heritage-listed cellars run for a whopping 3 kilometres, making them the longest wine cellars in the Southern Hemisphere.


    Linger at Seppelt Wines and savour a platter at the Drives Cafe before moving onto Best's Wines Great Western, a five-minute drive away.


    Test your palate on superb, characterful expressions of shiraz at Best's, which has been in the same family for five generations. The winery's Thomson Family shiraz was ranked 'Exceptional' in Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine – one of only four wines in Victoria to achieve the status – and the Bin No. O Shiraz was ranked 'Outstanding'.

    Post-tasting, take a self-guided tour of the estate's 1860s cellars, which were hand-dug by miners, and check out the historic red gum tasting room in the original stables to peruse old winery equipment and vintage maps of the area.


    Leave Best's and continue on to Grampians(Gariwerd) National Park. It's about a 30-minute drive to Halls Gap, the gateway to the park. From here, choose a walking trail from the many scenic options, altering your route accordingly. Allow approximately two hours to traverse the iconic and challenging walk up to The Pinnacle. Allow 50 minutes for The Balconies, including a 20-minute drive to the Reed Lookout Carpark to begin the walk. And put aside 75-minutes for the Mackenzie Falls walk, including a 30-minute drive from Halls Gap. Each walk rewards with beautiful, panoramic views of the Grampians (Gariwerd).


    Having worked up an appetite, it's time to move onto your accommodation for the night. Check in at the Royal Mail Hotel – a 45-minute drive away – and freshen up for dinner.


    Choose from the Royal Mail's two renowned restaurants: the prestigious Wickens, a two-hatted fine-diner, which offers five- and eight-course degustation menus paired with wines from the 28,000-bottle strong cellar. Or Parker Street Project, a more low-key affair with an à la carte menu of share plates and snacks. Both restaurants feature fresh produce from the hotel's enormous kitchen garden, and their own beef and lamb.


    Retire to your room and relax for the night.

  • 7.30am

    Soak up the stellar views of the Grampians (Gariwerd) over breakfast at the Royal Mail Hotel before packing your suitcase for Mount Langi Ghiran winery, a 75-minute drive away.


    Take in Mount Langhi Ghiran's unobstructed views over the granite peaks and sloping woodlands of Langi Ghiran State Park. The winery regularly rotates the bottles on its tasting bench, with at least five wines available. Shiraz forms 80 per cent of the winery's plantings – there are numerous different expressions offer, but all share the characteristic spicy pepper notes for which the winery has become renowned. The Langi Shiraz was rated 'Excellent' in the latest edition of Langton's Classification of Australian Wine.


    Head 80 minutes to Daylesford for an Italian trattoria-style lunch at Beppe. For fine-dining in beautiful surrounds, try the Lake House Restaurant. Alternatively, drive 20 minutes further to Trentham's Du Fermier for French farmhouse-style cooking with a changing set menu.


    Hit the road to artsy Kyneton, a 30-minute drive from Daylesford. Part of the Macedon Ranges, it's home to many small, independent galleries. Stop by Lauriston Press, the John Lloyd Gallery, Stockroom, The Old Auction House Gallery, 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 20 minutes by car to your last stop of the day, Hanging Rock Winery. Established in 1982 by John and Ann Ellis, this multi-award-winning winery was a pioneer of Heathcote shiraz. Sample various expressions of the varietal from different blocks and vintages, as well as shiraz blends. Savour your pick as you gaze out at the craggy peaks of Hanging Rock: a mystical place that has inspired many artists. Check out the annual summer sculpture exhibition scattered among the vines.


    Make the return drive back to your Melbourne hotel 60 minutes away, and unwind in a laneway restaurant or rooftop bar.