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

The Shiraz Central wine route comprises four distinctive regions: the Grampians (Gariwerd) and Pyrenees; Bendigo, Ballarat and Heathcote; the Goulburn Valley; and the Macedon Ranges.

The Macedon Ranges region sits the closest to Melbourne, just 69km (an hour’s drive) north-west of the city. At approximately 250km 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 distinct style of cool-spiced shiraz. Here visitors will also experience an Australian bush experience, complete with 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 set within rugged, mountainous bushland freckled 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.
  • Feel the cool, fresh waters of the Grampians’ (Gariwerd) many waterfalls with your fingertips.
  • Smell the heady aroma of eucalyptus trees filling the air, their leaves rustling 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.


    Sip an sniff 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 early 2019 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 local institution Tahbilk Winery and Vineyard, 30-minutes from Fowles. Established in 1860, this is the oldest family-owned winery in Victoria.

    Beyond the tasting bench, explore the winery's Eco Trails on foot, taking the six-kilometre circuit along walking paths and boardwalks. Cruise through the billabongs after which the estate was named by the traditional owners of this land, the Taungurung people, in an electric-powered boat. Or take a blending class, where you can create your own signature blend from several varietals.


    Savour the seasonal flavours at Tahbilk for lunch – the menu is bursting with fresh, local fare, including risotto and pasta dishes as well as slow-cooked meats.


    Set off for Mitchelton Winery 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, wandering up to the winery's iconic '60s tower, lazing by the infinity pool, and, of course, doing a tasting at the cellar door.

    Don't leave without paying a visit to the underground gallery; it's the largest commercial Aboriginal art gallery in Australia and is curated by specialist Adam Knight. The Message Stick Vehicle, is a standout.


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


    Rest up in your room 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. Purveying the biggest collection of Heathcote's wine anywhere in the world, the Heathcote Wine Hub makes for the perfect introduction to the region's much sought-after shiraz. There are 24 wines available to taste on any given day and some 200 different wines available for purchase from the vast majority of Heathcote's producers.

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


    Hop back in the car and motor 25 minutes to 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 Bendigos Gold Mines Hotel, a 45-minute drive. 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 sprawling and leafy beer garden. The menu focus on refined dishes such as wood-smoked sardines and blood-orange-cured trout, but you can go for more casual Australian pub classics, such as beef and beer pie and chicken parmigiana, too.


    Drive 10 minutes to Balgownie Estate Winery, Retreat & Restaurant Bendigo. One of the oldest wineries in Bendigo, the estate's first plantings were made in 1969. A small winery that runs almost entirely off solar power, Balgownie comprises a cellar door, a restaurant, a cafe, a wine museum and several different accommodation options. Dive straight into the tasting bench, where you can sample anything from the winery’s range, such as the 2008 Museum Release Bendigo Shiraz, which scored 95 points in the 2020 James Halliday Wine Companion – the definitive annual guide to Australia’s best wines.


    Hotfoot it to Sandhurst Ridge, only a seven-minute drive away. Named a five-star winery in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion, as well as one of the guide's top 10 'Dark Horse' wineries, 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 the independent Arnold Street Gallery, which solely exhibits work by Australian artists, and Bendigo Pottery, the oldest pottery works in the country, which also has a 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.


    Prepare for playful platings and creative modern Australian fare at Dinner at Masons of Bendigo. The restaurant pairs its seasonal menu with an almost entirely Australian drinks list, from beers sourced exclusively within a 100-kilometre radius of the restaurant to an all-Victorian wine list and even local soft drinks.


    Retrace your steps back to the hotel and rest up, ready for a full day out and about on the Shiraz Central wine trail tomorrow.
  • 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 tasting or winery tour at Blue Pyrenees Estate, or simply mosey up to the tasting bench. Established in 1963, this sprawling estate lies on a range of gentle slopes and its vines are known to produce full-flavoured shiraz with licorice, dark fruit, vanilla and spice characteristics.


    Jump in the car for an hour to arrive at Seppelt Wines. 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 its flagship St Peters Grampians Shiraz, classed as 'Excellent' in the latest edition of the prestigious Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine, or the winery’s multi-award winning Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz. Afterwards, tour the winery's heritage-listed cellars, referred to as 'The Drives'. Excavated in 1868, they extend for a whopping three kilometres, making them the longest wine cellars in the southern hemisphere.


    Devour one of platters for two at Seppelts' 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 is in the coveted 'Exceptional' category in the latest edition of Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine – one of only four wines in Victoria to achieve the status, and one of only 22 in the country. Best's Bin O Shiraz was also ranked as 'Outstanding' in the list.

    Post-tasting, take a self-guided tour of the estate’s 1860s cellars, which were hand-dug by miners, and the old red gum slab tasting room, which is housed in the original stables and showcases old winery equipment and maps of the area.


    Leave Best's and continue on to the Grampians National Park (Gariwerd). It's about a 30-minute drive to Halls Gap, the gateway to the Grampians (Gariwerd) – from here your route depends on which of many walks you choose to do. Allow approximately two hours to complete the iconic and challenging Pinnacle walk and lookout; 30-minutes for the Balconies (start the walk at the Reed Lookout Carpark, a 20-minute drive from Halls Gap); and 45-minutes for Mackenzie Falls (plus a 30-minute drive from Halls Gap). Each will reward you with beautiful, panoramic views of the Grampians (Gariwerd), and will help you work up an appetite for dinner.


    Time to move onto your accommodation for the night, the Royal Mail Hotel – a 45-minute drive away. Check in and freshen up for dinner.


    Choose from the Royal Mail's two renowned restaurants: Wickens is the property's most prestigious offering, a two-hatted fine-diner that offers five- and eight-course degustation menus paired with wines from the 28,000-bottle strong cellar. Parker Street Project Wine Bar is a more low-key affair, with an à la carte menu that centres around share plates and snacks. Almost 80 per cent of the food on both restaurant menus is grown onsite in the enormous kitchen garden. The restaurant also raises its own beef and lamb.


    Retire to your room and relax for the night.
  • 7.00am

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


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


    Head 80 minutes to Daylesford a lunch of Japanese flavours with a pan-Asian twist at smart-casual diner Sakana. For fine-dining in beautiful surrounds, try the Lake House. Alternatively, drive a further 20 minutes to Trentham's Du Fermier for French farmhouse-style cooking with a daily-changing menu.


    Hit the road from Daylesford for a quick 30-minute drive to artsy Kyneton, part of the Macedon Ranges, and home to many small, independent galleries. Stop by Lauriston Press, the John Lloyd Gallery, Stockroom, The Old Auction House, 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 different 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.