Victoria’s winters seem to start sooner, last longer and cut deeper than those of our sunnier states. But don’t despair – longer nights and colder days have their advantages. From lively night markets to steaming mugs of gooey hot chocolate and fireside wine tastings, Victoria is well practised in spicing up the colder months. So, shake off those winter blues and get ready to embrace the romance of the season with these seven exceptional winter experiences.
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As the sun sets over Melbourne CBD and the rest of the city bunkers down for a chilly Wednesday evening in, Queen Victoria Market comes alive. The flickering neon ‘Winter Night Market’ sign is a beacon of food, shopping and entertainment. Live music will have your toes tapping as you wait in line for mouth–watering street food – think halloumi fries, smoky barbeque, rich curries and so much more. Don’t forget to grab a cup of sweet mulled wine to keep your hands warm while you peruse the stalls.
Lovers of shiraz, get ready to flock to the pristine Bellarine Peninsula for the Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival, held over one spectacular weekend (3—4 July 2021). Over 20 participating wineries across the peninsula bring forth their most prized drops for sampling, food pairings and shiraz masterclasses. What could be better than swilling a full-bodied red while sitting by an open fire, with a hearty meal to fill your belly and stunning vineyard views unfolding before you? Nothing, that’s what.
Speaking of vineyards; escape the icy winds rolling across the Yarra Valley by journeying to some of Victoria’s cosiest cellar doors for wine tastings by a crackling fire. At Fondata 1872 in Kangaroo Ground, you can sip locally made craft beer and wine by a fireplace that’s been the venue’s central focus since 1872. Family-owned Sutherland Estate’s cellar door also features an open fireplace plus vineyard views from floor-to-ceiling windows – both best enjoyed with a glass of the estate’s chardonnay or tempranillo.
Whether you’re a skier, snow boarder, or snowball-hurling enthusiast, most snow bunnies would agree the best part about a day on the slopes is the après-ski (entertainment and nightlife enjoyed post-ski). At Kooroora Hotel Mt Buller, you can shake off the chill with pub grub, pints of beer and live music to dance the night away. Meanwhile, Falls Creek Hotel is renowned for its ’Happy Harvey Hour’: every Tuesday and Thursday between 3.30pm and 4.30pm you can enjoy a jug of Harvey Wallbanger, as has been tradition for the past 40 years.
Nothing quite warms the soul like a delicious hot chocolate on a dreary winter’s day. We’re not talking about powdered hot chocolate from a tin – we’re talking rich, molten chocolate in a mug. South Yarra’s Gânache Chocolate Lounge tempts its patrons with specialty flavours ranging from salted caramel to hazelnut and chai. You can’t look past the famous Mörk Chocolate Brew House in North Melbourne for an otherworldly hot–choc experience. Their signature range includes the Campfire, which is served with maple smoke. Talk about a hug in a mug!
Visiting Victoria’s hot springs is the ultimate cold–weather activity. The ever-popular Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs are a great way to soak away your winter blues. Take a dip in the public bath house or, for something special, book yourself in for a private bathing experience in the Spa Dreaming Centre and pair it with an indulgent body treatment. Further inland, you’ll find the historic Hepburn Springs Bathhouse and Spa. Drawing from the mineral– rich waters of the area, the bathhouse has guaranteed absolute relaxation and health benefits since 1895.
Layer up and head out on a picturesque walk through some of Victoria’s beautiful nature areas. It’s the perfect remedy to counteract the classic winter stagnation that comes with staying holed up indoors for too long. Wilsons Promontory National Park, or ‘The Prom’ as its more commonly known, offers a range of day walks to suit all fitness levels. Trek through heathland, stringybark forest, coastal tracks and rocky summits, keeping on the lookout for an emu or wallaby on your travels.
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