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.