As the UK lockdown continues, Phillip Island Nature Parks’ little penguins have been keeping viewers entertained with Live Penguin TV, but seeing incredible nature and wildlife is not the only thing to get excited about for when we can travel to Victoria in future. The smallest mainland state in Australia is home to unmatched road trips, unique cultural spectacles (such as the current RONE exhibition in Geelong) and farm-to-table food and wine. For outdoor adventurers, the Grampians Peak Trail will soon be a 13-day hiking trail through spectacular mountain scenery, whilst city slickers can look forward to revelling in Melbourne’s upcoming openings such as foodie playground Grazeland and chic hotel Quincy. There will also soon be a new spot to wonder at the city’s iconic skyline, at Australia’s tallest hotel.
NEW HIKING EXPERIENCE: Grampians Peaks Trail set for completion in May
The hotly anticipated Grampians Peak Trail is due to be completed in May 2021, providing a once-in-a-lifetime 13-day hike through the Grampians mountain range, famed for its dramatic scenery and Aboriginal heritage. The 160-kilometre trail, located three hours west of Melbourne, will stretch the length of the Grampians National Park and feature mesmerising mountain peaks, rugged rocky outcrops, unforgettable panoramas and the ancient Aboriginal heritage of Gariwerd. Stage one is already open with a 36-kilometre 3day/2night hike through the rugged interior of the national park beginning and ending in Halls Gap. The route journeys through rugged landscapes to visit some of the most recognised features in the national park such as Venus Baths, the Grand Canyon and the Pinnacle Lookout. Whether travellers want to sleep amongst nature under the stars after days of exploration, or retreat to luxury accommodation, there are a range of options for travellers:
Absolute Outdoors is offering multi-day experiences through the newly formed Grampians Peaks Walking Company, with 2-3 day trips for all abilities offering the ultimate opportunity to experience the region in its glory. The ‘Luxe’ itineraries combine adventurous trails with the comfort of boutique private accommodation and local dining in Halls Gap, whilst the ‘Signature Journeys’ offer short curated sections of the trail, immersing guests in the history, geology and environment of the Gariwerd landscape before sleeping under the stars in tented hiker camps. The 3day/3night ‘Central Luxe’ experience, including local winery and olive grove tours, starts from $1,490pp.
The Royal Mail Hotel, known for its incredible restaurant and wine offering in Dunkeld at the edge of the Grampians National Park, has launched a 3day/2night ‘Grampians Peaks Luxury Package’. Guests can spend the days with a knowledgeable eco-certified tour guide and experience the southern section of the trail (both hiking and on a 4WD tour), complete with waterfalls, rock art sites and spectacular views. A hikers lunch is provided on both days, and evenings will be spent at Wickens and Parker Street Project – the hotel’s popular dining venues. $1,940 for two guests. absoluteoutdoors.com.au / royalmail.com.au
South-Asian inspired Quincy Hotel launches in Melbourne
Located on the atmospheric Flinders Lane, Quincy is a new 241-room hotel is in the heart of vibrant Melbourne city designed for ‘social urbanites’ complete with distinctive design and a rooftop pool. The brand’s first outpost outside of Singapore brings the essence of South East Asia to Australia, with the sumptuous Q suites finished in soothing hues of jade, pink and blue for good fortune and joy. The hotel’s club lounge, The Q, sits 28 stories high with views of the iconic Melbourne skyline; somewhere to relax in during the day, and a pulsing energetic bar at night offering small plates and signature drinks such as the Quincy Sling. Colourful creative cocktails and Asian cuisine awaits guests the hawker-market style eatery, The Salted Egg, whilst the ground floor café serves banh-mi and bubble tea. quincy-hotels.com
Sustainability focus: New Sky Pods (Great Ocean Road) and CABN (Yarra Valley)
New off-grid accommodation situated on a 200-acre, private wildlife refuge property on the rugged coast of Cape Otway has launched for ‘stargazers, the dreamers, and the restless souls’. The unique Sky Pods have been designed with environmental sustainability at their core and are accessible only via a handful of walking tracks, just 800 metres from the sandy dunes of Station Beach. This picturesque getaway features floor-to-ceiling windows that take in sweeping views of the Southern Ocean, as well as the surrounding coastal rainforest, with the Great Ocean Walk and Rainbow Falls all within walking distance. Guests are invited to plant a native tree during their stay to positively contribute to the landscape, whilst solar power provides energy to ensure a minimal carbon footprint. Situated on a private wildlife refuge property – owners Maxwell and Lisa have spent 9 years bringing the land back to a pre-farming state.
On the other side of Melbourne, CABN, which has opened in the Yarra Valley, is a sustainable and eco-friendly tiny house named ‘Allira’, just one hour from the city centre. From composting toilets to rainwater catchment and solar power to constructed from 100% locally sourced materials, this single lodge that can sleep up to three aims to make as little impact on the environment as possible. The exact location of the cabin is kept secret until shortly before each booking, so guests can have a surprising and spontaneous experience. skypods.com.au / cabn.life
The Ritz Carlton Melbourne to launch in mid-2021 as the tallest hotel in Australia
Destined to be an attraction in its own right, The Ritz Carlton will debut in Melbourne later in 2021 as the tallest hotel in Australia. Upon arrival guests will enter the New York inspired lobby via the porte-cochere and take a direct elevator straight to the hotel’s sky check-in on level 79, offering panoramic views across Melbourne and beyond. Offering stunning and expansive vistas over Docklands, the bay and cityscape, this residential precinct is surrounded by some of the very best entertainment, education, fashion and culinary delights the city has to offer – and is conveniently located just a few minutes from Southern Cross Station and the Yarra River. The property will feature 263 luxury hotel suites with quality finishes and furniture, state-of-the-art bathrooms, breath-taking views, and luxurious amenities including day spa, restaurants and bars, concierge services, and an outdoor garden terrace. westsideplace.com.au/the-ritz-carlton
Ovolo South Yarra – launching mid 2021
Located in Melbourne’s cultural hub of South Yarra, the latest addition to Ovolo Group’s collection of ever-growing hotels, Ovolo South Yarra, is set to open later in the year. Ovolo South Yarra will take design cues from the days of disco – all mods and zero cons. It will blend past, present and progressive, to create a place where retro-chic and pop-art meet. At the heart of the 123 rooms and suites of Ovolo South Yarra is Ovolo’s ‘effortless living’ philosophy, experienced through seamless technology integration and intuitive design. Guests and diners will be able to feed their souls at a unique Ovolo kitchen and bar concept, which will be inspired by fresh and locally sourced produce, ethical eating, and conscious cuisine with seasonal cocktails and wines sourced from some of Australia’s most progressive producers. ovolohotels.com
FOODIE LAUNCHES IN MELBOURNE AND BEYOND
With Melbourne Food & Wine Festival well underway, the annual event isn’t the only exciting culinary story to be talking about in the city. In classic Victoria style, there are a host of new and innovative launches for foodies to get excited about:
Grazeland to open as new ‘foodie playground’
Located in Melbourne’s inner west, Grazeland is set to build upon the city’s internationally inspired food scene as a unique outdoor dining experience. The foodie playground will homage to Melbourne’s global influences with a huge range of cuisines from 50 food and drinks stalls as well as three bars, artisan stands and live performances on two stages. Menus take guests around the world with everything from Italian ice cream, to Sri Lankan street food, to polish dumplings on offer. grazeland.melbourne
Four Pillars Gin creating a new sensory experience
Victoria’s Four Pillars Gin, which has been internationally recognised in recent years as International Gin Producers of the Year, has announced that its Healesville distillery is set for a $6 million expansion, due for competition at the end of 2021. A huge new gin hub will be constructed to accommodate 250 guests, and will be home to “a special sensory surprise”. Sustainability is at the heart of the build, with plans to incorporate solar power and waste-minimising features into the design. fourpillarsgin.com
Wine & Vinyl: Waxflower bar opens as an creative space for ‘audiophiles’
Waxflower has opened up in the hip Melbourne suburb of Brunswick as a cross between a listening space and wine bar. Offering DJ sets five nights a week, there are also all-day menus packed with fresh, local produce sourced from premium Victorian farms. Wines on offer from the incredible regions surrounding the city (such as the King Valley, Yarra Valley and Macedon Ranges) will be made with minimal intervention or a natural winemaking approach, utilising indigenous yeast. The standout design feature in the venue is a prominent music wall stacked with 3,500 records, and the sound programme promises to see ‘no restrictions on genre or creativity’. waxflowerbar.com.au
Keayang Maar Vineyard Cellar Door opens in south-west Victoria
Keayang Maar Vineyard has opened between Terang and Timboon in southwest Victoria, offering a winery and cellar door experience for guests. The name Keayang comes from the language of the Yarro-Waech people, the traditional owners of the land and refers to an eel or freshwater fish found in the surrounding waterways. The first vines were planted in 2005 by the Wurlod family and the vineyard has continued to expand since, ran by husband and wife team Bernadette and Barry. From refreshing whites in summer months to rich reds for warmth in winter, tasting the wines offers the experience of wine in the presence and wisdom of nature, family and friends. Families, couples and groups are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy views of the vines and luscious green surroundings. keayangmaar.com