Guides

10 New Experiences To Have In High Country Victoria This Autumn

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Forget summer, autumn is Australia’s best season. Crisp air, warm sun, blue skies, incredibly vivid sunsets and the magical changing colours of the leaves are just too good to deny. It’s also an excuse to get away, as autumn’s spoils are even better outside of the city. One such region ripe for autumn fun is High Country Victoria – and the leaves are already changing.

High Country Victoria is one of the state’s most scenic and varied holiday destinations. Located in the north-east, High Country features national parks, the state’s highest mountains, lakes, valleys, rivers, snow resorts, vineyards and welcoming towns. There’s also a rich history including gold discovery, cattlemen and bushrangers.

From the foothills of the Great Dividing Range all the way north and east to the farthest reaches of the state, High Country Victoria is the kind of place where you can soar high above the valleys in a hot air balloon, take in breathtaking views on the trails of the state’s highest peaks, and taste the region’s fresh autumn harvest at an acclaimed High Country cafe.

There’s a whole host of new openings and experiences in this beautiful neck of the woods, so we’re sharing our top 10 picks.

#1 Go Eco-Glamping in the treetops

These aren’t your ordinary tent set ups, you’ll be levitating off the ground while looking at the stars or enjoying a tipi. One of the premium tents even has its own private outdoor bathtub.

Run by Alpine Nature Experience’s Jean-Francois Rupp, you can now take advantage of curated adventures including fully inclusive Tree Top Eco Camping at Mt Hotham and longer guided Falls to Hotham Hiking experiences including beautiful food. Apparently, JF has a mean secret recipe for mulled wine and fantastic cheese fondue, too.

#2 Ride e-bikes out to faraway places in the mountains

 

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Considering that High Country is Victoria’s top cycling destination year-round, there are a few options to get on two wheels.

If you want to find the best locations in the High Plains then Falls Creek Guides are your team. Offering fully inclusive guided experiences along the amazing trails of Falls Creek, they’ll take you by e-mountain bike in summer and on skis in winter. This way, Mark ‘Macca’ McDonald and his team can easily take you to parts of the mountains that you’d normally spend hours reaching on foot.

If you’d rather traditional mountain biking (MTB) then check out the new tailored experiences at Diana Lodge, also in Falls Creek, across MTB skills workshops, MTB Shuttle weekend, Hiking with transfers, Yoga Weekend and Alpine Glamping. Alternatively, skill up with an expert Bright MTB instructor and take a guided tour of the Bright Mystic trails.

#3 Drift along the Goulburn River spotting platypus

You’ve likely seen many of Australia’s native animals: kangaroos, wombats, emus, kookaburras, koalas and maybe even an echidna, but there’s a high chance you’ve never seen a platypus.

These amazing but shy creatures are notoriously difficult to spot in the wild – unless you’re strategic about it and book a Platypus River Tour with Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Adventures. Over 25 years, they have a 90 percent sighting success rate, spotting on average between three to 10 platypus as you drift down the beautiful Goulburn River aboard one of their specially imported drift boats.

#4 Take a hot air balloon to see a horizon full of changing colours

With cooler, clearer air and the magic of both the leaves and sunrise skies changing colours to oranges and reds, autumn is the best time to go hot air ballooning.

The views seen from a balloon make High Country Victoria a no-brainer and the distinct changes of season is what makes the experience so incredibly special. The soon-to-launch Global Ballooning experience in Mansfield is your ticket.

#5 Enjoy a hatted meal with panoramic vineyard views

 

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Vera at Glenbosch Wine Estate (which opened in 2020) gives you an opportunity to take in panoramic views and superb food from Hatted Chef, Doug Elder.

#6 Sample the spirits at one (or many) of five new distilleries

There are a bunch of new distilleries in High Country Victoria including Backwoods Distilling Co in Yackandandah. Backwoods debuted its superb rye and single malt whiskies in August last year and now visitors will be able to sample the whiskies – and a new cellar door exclusive gin – direct from their distillery in the Yack Station arts and business precinct.

Renowned Tiny cafe (who carved a name for themselves with their excellent coffee, jaffles and donut waffles) are opening new sister cafe, The Guard, in an original train guard’s van at Backwoods.

Another mention goes to the new Kinglake Distillery producing smooth artisan whisky on a stunning off-grid protea farm. “Kinglake Whisky is made with the distillery doors open. Nature influences every stage of process, from the unfiltered mountain spring water to the local pollen and yeast. The result is a whisky that could only be made in Kinglake,” they say.

The other new distilleries to visit include Barking Owl in Wooragee, Yack Creek in Yackandandah and Swiftcrest in Mansfield.

#7 Eat and drink in a historic town

Posh Plonk Wine recently acquired the historic former Masonic Hall in gorgeous and historic Chiltern, between the well-known food and wine regions of Beechworth, King Valley and Rutherglen. Posh Plonk on Main serves up gourmet platters and stylish cellar door experiences.

#8 Stay on a farm with craft microbrewery

 

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If you like your farmstays with a side of microbrewery, then the unique Bonfire Station Brewery in Taggerty should be right up your alley.

This gorgeous little craft brewery is tucked away on a 608-hectare farm and cherry orchard with rolling hills serving picturesque views of the stunning Cathedral Ranges. No complaints here.

#9 Whip up a feast at a cooking class

A Tavola! Cooking School with Katrina Pizzini at Pizzini Wines is a super enjoyable class where you learn the Art of Gnocchi Making. Meanwhile, the irrepressible Sally Lynch’s Big House Cooking School is a chance to learn new skills in the unique environment of the Old Beechworth Gaol.

#10 Take your pick from a slew of cool new accommodation

 

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There’s lots happening on the stays front in High Country Victoria. The Benev is a slice of luxe new accommodation at The Spa Beechworth. If you’d like to picnic with an alpaca then the chic and charming Hotel Granya & Farmstay in the Upper Murray is a vibe. Jones Winery Tiny House in lovely Rutherglen offers gorgeous eco-accommodation among the vines. The Eco Villa at Mount Beauty is ridiculously luxurious.

In the heart of the King Valley wine region, 3BlackSHEDS are modern, luxurious converted sheds. And Ommaroo High Country Retreat in Bonnie Doon will give you a truly relaxed getaway, offering stunning views to lake Eildon and the Strathbogies (plus, pets are welcome).

For more info check out Victoria’s High Country here, and for more ideas on where to head in regional Victoria when you’ve got a long weekend, click here.

(Lead images: Hotel Granya Farm Stay/Visit Victoria: Mark Watson)