At three hours away, Beechworth might be a little further than the usually weekender, but it’s worth the extra time along the Hume. We jumped in the car one Friday afternoon to spend two days in High Country Victoria, pedalling from winery to cheese factory, visiting mustard makers in Milawa, before indulging with Beechworth’s local brewer, sampling the local drop with winemakers and dining at what is arguably one of Victoria’s most impressive regional restaurants. Lucky there was time to pedal it off with a bike ride down through the gorge. Here are a few highlights:
Brown Brothers Winery
Brown Brothers might be known to many as a populist drop – the wine you see at every bottle shop, on countless wine lists and even when you fly – but there’s a reason they’ve been around so long. For all the mainstream stuff, they also make a some premium wines. The best part, though, is that they lend bikes to visitors at no charge, an initiative inaugurated by the local council, meaning that you can ride around the small town and sample the goods before you get stuck into a tasting. They also have an affiliated winery not far away in Rutherglen, All Saints.
239 Milawa-Bobinawarrah Road, Milawa
(03) 5720 5540
Milawa Cheese Factory
Sample an array of hard and soft goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses at the award-winning Milawa Cheese Factory. A regional produce-based menu is available at the café, but we recommend you pack a few cheeses and some bread into your bike basket and continue on your way. If you miss this, chances are the cheese will be on the menu at every cafe and on the shelves at most providores in the areas, though it’s best to check it out firsthand. There’s also a very charming little pub on the main drag in Milawa, but jump in the car and save your thirst to sample some local brews at the Bridge Road Brewery.
17 Milawa-Bobinawarrah Road, Milawa
(03) 5727 3589
Bridge Road Brewery
Tucked off the main drag in Beechworth, you might not stumble across this brewery and pizza bar, but you should be looking out for it. Owner Ben Kraus was producing a large range of biodynamic full-bodied ales from his parents place down the road before he moved into this central position a few years back and opened a pizza bar at the front of his brewery. This is the perfect spot to perch on a sunny afternoon for lunch and a local beer or two.
Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford Street, Beechworth
(03) 5728 2703
This pub, with about 10 hotel rooms above, is like something from the set of Deadwood, but it makes for quite an authentic stay in the old goldfield town, even if it takes you back a century. The rooms are a little dark, but they are spacious and most have a large balcony. If you don’t want to drop a bomb on accommodation, this place does the trick. There’s no place like a good old country pub to get well acquainted with the locals.
1A Camp Street, Beechworth
(03) 5728 1051
A cute homewares shop selling countless products for the home. From note pads to Laguiole cutlery, candles and bathroom products, this neat gift shop will certainly suffice to set up your country pad with all the right things, or to take a piece home to the city.
33 Ford Street, Beechworth
(03) 5728 2550
The Larder Fromagerie and Provisions
You’re probably going to need a nice coffee after a night’s stay at Hotel Nicholas, so skip across the street to The Larder. They’re grinding St ALi beans and T2 tea straight from the city. The Larder also offers speciality cakes made by local chefs and sells and array of cheeses (international and local), smallgoods, tarts, dips and biscuits – everything you need for the perfect picnic. They’ll even put together hampers for you to take on your explorations around Beechworth and surrounds.
14A Camp Street, Beechworth
(03) 5728 2299
Showcasing quality local produce and wine, the Provender has been servicing the region for over 20 years now. A small, wholesome country cafe/foodstore selling cakes and sandwiches, they also offer things for the pantry including coffee beans, chocolate and other sweeties. On Saturday afternoons the Provender holds wine tastings by local vignerons in a small wine room, which is on the way out to a leafy courtyard where you can retreat with a glass of wine or a cuppa.
18 Camp Street, Beechworth
(03) 5728 2650
The Provenance Restaurant
It wasn’t unexpected that The Provenance was excellent when we visited. It has had rave reviews all over the country, and it deserves them. Located in the old Bank of Australia (built in 1856 at the height of the gold rush), the dining room is simple and sparse but still displays the grandness of that era, with high ceilings, ornate rosettes and arched windows. Owner and chef Michael Ryan is producing contemporary regional food with a slight Japanese influence from quality local produce with a focus on seasonal awareness. It’s really very impressive and you should soak it up here and lash out on some good local wine, like a bottle of La Chiave Castagana.
86 Ford Street, Beechworth
(03) 5728 1786
Just a kilometre out of town, pick up a bike from Ben at the brewery and pedal up along the bike track to Pennyweight to sample wines at the cellar door, set amid an oasis of overgrown bushland and dilapidated sheds. Owner by a couple, the Morris’s, Pennyweight offers a range of organic and biodynamic wines and their own range of Spanish-style sherries, which they supply to Movida among other city restaurants. With the abundance of wineries in the area, this is one you should definitely get to.
Pennyweight Lane, Beechworth
(03) 5728 1747
The Stanley Pub
On your way out, stop in for lunch at The Stanley Pub. Just 10 minutes down the road, Stanley is a small country town of just 600 people. The Stanley is a charming country pub nestled in the picturesque surrounds of apple and chestnut trees and berry farms. The food is very impressive here, you’d be hard pressed to find a pub as good in Melbourne. Dishes include scallops on an eggplant puree, pork terrine, zucchini flowers and house-made bread. Start with oysters and accompany with local wine from a supportive wine list. If it’s sunny, sit out in the sunny backyard at a bench, or if it’s cool, you’ll feel tucked up in one of the cosy, light-filled dining rooms. Owners Shane and Annemarie Harris are welcome hosts, making space for weekenders and local bar flies.
6-12 Myrtleford-Stanley Road, Stanley
(03) 5728 6502
Broadsheet’s trip to High Country Victoria was supported by North East Victoria Tourism Board Inc., North East Valley Food and Wine Inc. and Indigo Shire Council. The trip was prepared by Q Strategies.