One of the best things to do is to enjoy the wine and great food of Australia. One of the best places in Australia to do this is in the Melbourne area of Victoria. Our road trip to the 12 apostles ended with a drive in the wine regions of Bellarine and Mornington.
Wine lovers’ paradise
Did you know that the Bellarine peninsula was named after a local aborigine tribe? Balla Wein’s the name of the tribe and it has a coincidence in spelling to match the German word for wine…Or so we were told by the locals.
The Bellarine region has a large number of vineyards scattered all over the peninsula. Our aim was not to cover all of them, but to selectively drop by in some! Afterall, there is only that much you can drink! Our first stop was at Scotsman hill, named after the many Scots that settled here. Originally a derelict dairy farm, the new owners decided to try out a totally different form of agriculture – Oenology (that means wine making to the layman)! That one started out well and the first of many bottles were bought.
To have a great combination of food and wine, Jack Rabbit was the place we went to. Overlooking Port Philip bay, the winery is both an excellent wine, food and scenic venue. The place was so full that it seems no sitting space were available. Quite a number of people were turned away but lucky for us we found a table! While it was not outdoor (and no regrets about that), it was nonetheless pleasant.
Suan had a combination of the signature house white Chardonnay and grilled pork steak. The strips of pork was soooo succulent and tasted tender and sweet! Washed down with wine, it could only be described as heavenly! How to accentuate this sense of taste? Skip breakfast, that’s our secret.
Of course the stop did not conclude with just lunch. We walked away with a couple of bottles as well too…how can you not?
A couple of stops later including Bellarine estate vineyard, we got on the ferry at Queenscliff to cross over to Sorrento (not Italy) on the Mornington peninsula. The fare is AU$59 for a car with the driver. Any additional passenger is charged AU$10 each. This ferry journey saved us the 200km roundabout to drive through Melbourne. And time too, imagine having to hit the highway through the city.
That would clock quite a few extra hours on any journey. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of dolphins cruising about the bay as one glides across towards the peninsula.
Good day Mornington
After Ten Tractor winery, we proceeded to visit T’Gallant (a listed to-see place). Sold to Fosters, the estate is large, but it was so crowded with coach tour folks that we decided to leave for other vineyards first.
But it was not all lost, we stopped at Mock red hill where we managed to buy some apple cider. With a very limited capacity, some ciders blends were sold out. We could only taste the sample. Better come early the next time! Mental note: the thing about wine tours is that you have designated wineries to visit, and in a region filled with one around every corner (ok we exaggerate), that’s such a pity.
Well the Mornington is not only famous for its wines. It also has a great selection of food, being close to a seaport and numerous farms offering fresh produce.
We had great meals in a number of restaurants across Mornington, including the Counting house in the namesake town of the peninsula. Fabulous Gnocchi, duck confit and fresh oysters warmed us up in the cold winter that was the time that we were there.
We started the next day driving to Merrick’s general store which is owned by a few wineries. One of them, recommended to visit by the store manager is Quealy. Opened by the same owners who sold T’Gallant away some years back, Quealy is relatively new. However, it does have some good vintages to take home. They are said to be the ones who brought the Pinot Gringo grape to the region. We prefer white wine, but their Pinot Noir is also said be really good. Sold!
Of an interest to most visitors is the fact that there is a resident koala in the lone gum tree in the estate. Said to have appeared one day from nowhere, the animal has made itself truly at home in the vineyard!
During summers, the family even provides the critter a bath to keep the heat at bay!
While we had bought some cider from Mock red hill, there is said to be a lot more specialists on this beverage in the region. The selection is too is large and unfortunately too many to taste in a few short days. That however was the wine and food part of Victoria. Then there is the country part, where not only do you see the usual scenic sights, you can also have a “taste” of the past too.
Buying old stuff
One of the beauty of road tripping is the freedom to come and go as one pleases. So it was such a pleasure to find Tyabb packing house. Nope. It’s not a warehouse or factory where you pack stuff. Welcome to the world of antiques and collectibles! You will find numerous locations where you can browse and purchase all manner of collectibles – from furniture, paraphernalia and jewellery, to quirky sign boards and silverware.
It’s a combination of a vintage trade center and artisan village. The fact was it used to be a warehouse. You’ll have to know that Mel took a big risk bringing Suan here. Because somehow she’d be able to sniff out a buy. And buy she did, not passing over the opportunity to pick up some silver trinkets++.
We could have taken nice walks around the beaches and trails along Mornington and Bellarine. But on this occasion we did not. And that’s yet another part of the country to see. Perhaps next time.
There you have it. The quality of life in Victoria is high, because there is such a mix of food, wine, sports, leisure and hobbies that one can pursue.
We hope you enjoyed this snapshot, and that it inspired you to do plan your own road trip. This sure was a memorable one for us!
The journey took place in June 2013