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.