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TRAVEL & LEISURE

A Weekender's Guide to Beechworth, King Valley and Surrounds

Camp in the King Valley, pick your own prosecco and downward dog with goats — there's more to northeast Victoria than cellar doors, and those are pretty excellent, too.
By Samantha Payne
May 29, 2020
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A Weekender's Guide to Beechworth, King Valley and Surrounds

Camp in the King Valley, pick your own prosecco and downward dog with goats — there's more to northeast Victoria than cellar doors, and those are pretty excellent, too.
By Samantha Payne
May 29, 2020
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in partnership with

A former gold-mining town, the Victorian High Country town of Beechworth now draws in travellers seeking treasures of a different kind: award-winning wines, sausage rolls made from a family heirloom recipe, orchard-fresh apples and pears, and ethically produced honey. It's a place where you should spend time sampling wines at the cellar doors and dining at local restaurants, but also seek out the historic town's surprises — you can downward dog alongside a bleating baby goat, camp surrounded by gum trees near Lake Catani and venture down a walking track once frequented by the infamous Kelly Gang.

Towns like Beechworth are recovering from a summer of bushfire devastation, so it's more important than ever to drop into the area's small businesses to fill up on goat's cheese, locally produced prosecco and Beesting pastries.

Travelling from the city? It's an hour-long flight to Albury from Sydney, or it's 2.5 hours from Brisbane, and you can hire a car to drive through some of Victoria's scenic countryside and explore the area. Melburnians can grab their car keys for a three-hour one-way trip to fill up the car boot with produce from a food- and wine-filled wonderland. Here's where to stay and where to explore for the best food and drink.

From pristine beaches and bountiful wine regions to alpine hideaways and bustling country towns, Australia has a wealth of places to explore at any time of year. We've partnered with Tourism Australia to help you plan your road trips, weekend detours and summer getaways so that when you're ready to hit the road you can Holiday Here This Year.

While regional holidays within Victoria will be allowed from May 31, some of the places mentioned below may still be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please check websites before making any plans.

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Pizzini Winery via Visit Victoria

EAT AND DRINK

For vinous lovers, most of the wineries and cellar doors in Beechworth are by appointment only so make sure you jump onto the vineyards' websites to book an appointment in advance. With 150 years of winegrowing history in the region, it's well worth planning a few visits into your itinerary. First up, the young guns Vignerons Schmölzer and Brown and Sentio Wines are crafting some of the most exciting new wines in the region (both winemakers are classically trained and they're putting a new spin on typical European varieties).

Then, make your way to award-winning producers Castagna, which specialises in biodynamically grown fruit, and 36-year-old Sorrenberg (which is also certified biodynamic) has its gamay sell out in record speeds every year — definitely try your luck when you visit as it's worth picking up a couple of bottles to impress your friends with when you return home. With the fires almost decimating this year's crop of fruit (smoke taint means a lot of producers won't make a Beechworth 2020 vintage — but don't worry, things will be back on track for 2021), now's the time to restock your cellar to keep these wineries going until next year.

Complete your journey along the King Valley's Prosecco Road (home of Australia's first prosecco vines, planted in 1999) by visiting Brown Brothers, Sam Miranda and Pizzini Wines. The Pizzini family vineyards are a mosaic of Italian varieties (like prosecco, nebbiolo and sangiovese) all of which can be enjoyed in its cellar door, and you can even try your hand at making some traditional Italian dishes — think gnocchi, risotto and pizza — to accompany the wine at Mama Pizzini's Cooking School. Also, make time to pick your own prosecco at Dal Zotto. The winery runs Yoga in the Vines and cycling tours, too.

Dal Zotto Winery

For a fine dining occasion, look no further than The Terrace at All Saints Estate. It has been consistently awarded Good Food Guide hats since 2014 and is a great place to splurge during your northeast Victorian adventure — plus, the heritage-listed castle and shiraz vineyards make it a pretty special setting, too.

For those who are all wined-out and in need of a classic country pub feed, head to the Empire Hotel, which also has accommodation available above the pub for that authentic countryside hospitality. Hangovers can be salved with a strong coffee at Beechworth Bakery with a side of its famous Beesting pastries.

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Beechworth Honey by Visit Victoria/Robert Blackburn

DO

Following this summer's fires, Beechworth Honey has created a Bee Rebuild and Recovery Fund to support bees and beekeepers over the next decade as they recover from the bushfire crisis. The generations-old beekeeping company is always worth a visit to stock up on its award-winning honey, honey-based sodas and honeycomb chocolate bars, and to learn about the importance of bees to our agricultural system. It's open daily and, though unstaffed, the Bee School welcomes visitors for drop-in opportunities to learn more buzzy facts.

Take a 20-minute drive from Beechworth to Tarrawingee, where you'll find family-run farm store Tolpuddle. It's here you can stock up on delicious chèvre that you can only buy from the estate, and — if you need to work off all the cheese — the farm hosts goat yoga session on the property throughout the year (keep an eye on its Facebook page for dates).

If all the yoga made you thirsty, stop by Billson's on the way back into town. It's a one-stop-shop for everything liquid (beer, cider, cordials, spirits and sodas) — and, as you sip you can explore the brewery, historical museum, cafe and speakeasy bar. There's even a barbershop for those needing a quick trim before having a schooner. Come for the lime and coconut soda (made from a secret recipe) and stay to learn about the Billson family and their history in the region.

When you're ready to stretch your legs, Beechworth Gorge Walk is a seven-kilometre circuit of the town, which was once a hideout for the infamous Kelly Gang. It's a low grade stroll that provides views over Beechworth and takes around two hours to complete. You'll come across waterfalls and wildflowers, depending on the season, and there are plenty of historical sites such as Rocky Mountain Tunnel, which dates back to the area's mining days.

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Lake Catani Mount Buffalo by Visit Victoria/David Kirkland

STAY

Accommodation in the Victorian highlands is like a choose-your-own-adventure game. Depending on your budget, you can splurge on boutique accommodation in old castles or camp in luxury in a vineyard. When your top priority is maximising downtime with your road trip companions, book in at Mt Bellevue Lodge in the King Valley. Boasting affordable luxury at only $125 per person, the delightful three-bedroom alpine cottage overlooks the Lodge's high-altitude cool-climate vineyards, where you'll find Mt Bellevue's sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio vines.

For those wanting something more off-the-beaten-track, camp at Mount Buffalo National Park. The campground is set alongside Lake Catani and has some of the most picturesque views of the region, which you can enjoy without having to leave your tent.

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Top image: Visit Victoria.

Published on May 29, 2020 by Samantha Payne

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