Things To Do In Western Victoria – The Best In The West Series.
When it comes to things to do in Western Victoria, there simply is so much! Beaches, mountains, long stretches of roads, great eateries, pubs, bars and accommodation. Museums and galleries, markets, music festivals, adventure activities and so much more! There are so many great things to do in Victoria with kids.
Cavendish is a small town in the Southern Grampians Shire in Western Victoria. It is situated either side of the picturesque Wannon River. There are lovely walks to enjoy along the River, which are surrounded by beautiful gum trees. On the main street, there is a sign to the Settlers Walk, follow this and enjoy the beautiful riverbanks of the Wannon.
Home to The Bunyip Hotel Cavendish, which in recent times has become a reason to visit. The Bunyip, as it is known to the locals, prides themselves on delivering great food and wine, using local products, in a genuine country pub setting. The food is exceptional and if you’re visiting on a Sunday, you are strongly encouraged to stop in for their five-course set menu Chef’s Table.
Sunday sessions, Paella Day’s and other special events are always very popular to the locals and beyond. The outdoor beer garden is one not to be missed on a sunny day, it is very family friendly and has a fantastic outlook over the Wannon River.
The Bridge Cafe is a popular cafe, fast food restaurant and convenience store for locals and those travelling through.
Cavendish is also the home to the popular community event, The Cavendish Red Gum Festival. Through a diverse range of family friendly activities, the festival exposes and educates visitors to the unique local environment.
Just a short drive from Hamilton Victoria, you’ll find the small town of Coleraine. Just 19km along the Hamilton-Coleraine Rd, keep your eyes out for signs directing you to the picturesque Wannon Falls, which are fed by the Wannon River. The Falls are a popular stopping point and are a wonderful sight after a downfall of rain – keep an eye on the BOM South West!
Coleraine is known for the Glenelg Fine Confectionery, a yummy place to stop for some chocolate treats. The Catching Pen is a popular cafe which serves delicious homemade style food, prepared daily and the cafe boasts friendly local service.
This small Western Victorian town has a lovely atmosphere, great local community and a very scenic outlook. There are plenty of accommodation options including Air BnB, the Coleraine Hotel which also provides bistro meals and breakfast; as well as, a council-owned caravan park.
Dunkeld is a destination in itself and would have to be the most spectacular town in Western Victoria. Visiting Dunkeld should be on every person’s list of things to do in Victoria. Dunkeld is located at the southern end of the Grampians National Park.
There truly is something in Dunkeld for everyone. From walking tracks, paths for kids to ride bikes, the local playground, gardens and pool, tennis courts and bowls club. Food lovers are always impressed with a great variety of options. Art lovers, a visit to Koopmans Dunkeld, Off The Rails and Ros McArthur Art Studio are definitely worth exploring.
Many visitors flock to the Southern Grampians town to hike and enjoy the dramatic views of the Grampians National Park. Mount Sturgeon (Wurgarri) is a 7km return walk and can take up to 3 hours. From the top, walkers enjoy views across the town and beyond. The Picanninny (Bainggug) is a 2.4km return walk and is a great walk to do with children. There are some short steep sections on the walk, but a great starting point for families with young children wanting to hike in the Grampians. Mount Abrupt is a 6.3km return walk and on a clear day, offers some of the most spectacular viewings across the southern end of the Grampians.
The Dunkeld Arboretum is an absolutely stunning location for visitors. This hidden gem in the south west Victoria is a place to swim, paddle, walk or run, cycle, or simply wander. There is a made track around the lake and it is perfect for small children to practice their cycling skills. With beautiful mountain views, it is a popular spot for early morning walks to enjoy some spectacular sunrises.
Just a short 5 minute drive on the Victoria Valley Rd, surrounded by stunning Southern Grampians views, is Freshwater Lake Reserve. This is such a beautiful spot, so quiet and the perfect location for a bush picnic, to wander the lake, climb trees, have a camp fire or even camp.
Dunkeld is the home to very popular community run events including the two-day hiking/running event Serra Terror over the June long weekend; the trail running festival Peaks and Trails in August, as well as the 3 Peaks Festival in October. If you are considering a time to visit the beautiful country town, these are particularly great occasions.
The annual Dunkeld Cup is another event that visitors flock in from all over the State for. With the most stunning of back drops, the race day has been named in the Top 10 Most Picturesque Race Tracks in the world. You can book a marquee, umbrella package, or come on the day and find a spot on the mound. Bring your own picnics or have your day catered for by local businesses.
Where to eat…
There are plenty of options to eat out in Dunkeld, locals and visitors really are spoilt for choice!
Koopmans Dunkeld is a brunch/coffee spot housed within an old garage on the main street of Dunkeld. The refurbished space also houses an art gallery which features the work of local artists. Open 7am-4pm daily, Koopmans Dunkeld serves up St ALi coffee, all day brunch, house-baked goods as well as smoothies and salads (balance is key) all with a spectacularly framed view of Mt Abrupt. Parking is located on Parker Street with full accessibility and amenities for wheelchairs.
Izzy’s Café is a delightful welcoming dine-in and takeaway restaurant which was established by Izzy’s Group in 2004. It is located in the bustling main street of Dunkeld. Izzy’s Café menu choices include European style pizzas, indulgent burgers, Illy coffee and gorgeous Timboon ice cream.
A wide range of prepared meal options to suit all diners, including those with particular dietary requirements, are prepared fresh daily such as pasta dishes and appetising salads. Customers queue for delicious pies, sausage rolls, cakes and biscuits all baked by the Izzy’s team. The café is open on Monday to Thursday from 9am until 6.30pm and on Friday to Sunday from 9am until 7.30pm.
Dunkeld’s best kept secret, The Old Bakery is located in Martin Street and offers visitors the chance to step back in time. The Dunkeld Old Bakery was established in 1887 and is a living piece of history as one of only a handful of operating bakeries that still has its original wood-fired scotch oven. It has also drawn travellers since the 1920s for its quality pies.
Relax on the verandah in the morning sun and enjoy a locally roasted coffee and fresh pastry with your Grampians view. Inside, the charming cottage is bathed in morning sun with a wood heater for rainy days.
Current custodians, Geoff and Belinda Potter aim to continue the tradition. Geoff is up early to bake the sourdough bread and baguettes, and his beef and ale pies still draw a crowd. They stand alongside slow cooked lamb pies and pork and fennel sausage rolls, served with relish to his mum’s secret recipe.
Belinda’s passion is hand crafted croissants and pastries, rivalled only in popularity by the classic vanilla slice with passionfruit icing. Be warned, the bakery does sometimes sell out bread, pastries and pies early but you can choose something from an extensive menu until 2.30pm, or enjoy a coffee with a slice of carrot cake. The bakery is open from 8.30am – 3pm weekdays and 8.30am – 3.30pm on weekends. Closed Tuesdays.
The Dunkeld General Store offers all of your every day essentials and gourmet essentials, including great coffee. They have a range of quick breakfast and lunch options to go, including wraps, focaccias, salads and sandwiches. There is a large selection of cakes, slices, biscuits and all of your sweet treat requirements. The Dunkeld General Store stocks lots of local produce and locally crafted gifts and art work, as well as local wines.
Cafe 109 is a small Café Bistro and Bar. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week from 9.30am till late. They have a great range of meals that in include vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. Tuesday’s are Chicken Parma nights that offer a range of toppings and Wednesday’s are Steak nights. They do take-away and offer delivery service within the township of Dunkeld. Cafe 109 also serve coffee and cake.
From 6-8pm every Friday, locals and visitors are welcomed for Happy Hour. A great time to relax and enjoy a beverage in their updated courtyard or dining room. Take in the Grampians views and enjoy their award winning mural by a local artist.
Dunkeld is famous for the well renowned Royal Mail Hotel and is often a reason people travel to the western district of Victoria. Famous for it’s two hat Wickens dining experience, Cellar Door and Kitchen-Garden Tours.
Parker Street Project is popular with locals and visitors alike. If you’re planning to dine at Wickens and Parker Street Project, booking is highly recommended. Parker Street Project has a lovely beer garden with Grampians views
Where to stay…
Accommodation options in Dunkeld are endless given the size of the town. At the higher end you can explore the options available at the Royal Mail Hotel. Southern Grampians Cottages offer rustic self contained cottages which are very popular for families – they are beautifully maintained and well presented. There are several Air BnB opportunities around, as well as the well cared for Dunkeld Caravan Park. For larger group accommodation contact Corea Quarters.
You can also, stay at the Dunkeld Old Bakery. Accommodation in the charming baker’s residence is adjacent to the Dunkeld Old Bakery and cafe. Offering two suites – the Queen Suite and the Baker’s Suite. Each offers a spacious bedroom with queen size bed, separate private sitting room with free wifi, television, tea and coffee facilities and private bathroom. Wake up to the smell of freshly baked artisan bread and barista-made coffee.
At ‘Heathvale Heights’ Bed & Breakfast, you’ll listen to the crickets as the sun goes down; hear the birds announcing rain may be on its way; sit in a breakfast bay-room and be greeted by sheep grazing in the farm paddocks.
Embraced by the Southern Grampians landscape and 9kms from the popular tourist town of Dunkeld, Heathvale Heights enjoys an outlook of the ever-changing hues of Mt Abupt & the Serra Range.
An overnight sojourn offers the guest: a private section of the house; key lock entry on request, a very comfortable queen bed and spotless clean amenities. In the morning a generous selection of fruit, breakfast cereals, toast, condiments, tea & coffee awaits for you.
‘Heathvale Heights’ is a unique country experience for city folk. The stay is quiet, calming and peaceful. Val and Malcom are available for advice and to enjoy the sharing of your experiences. Treks & trails both adventurous and challenging are close to our door. You can make your stay tranquil and restful or invigorating & adventurous. After your day exploring return to ‘Heathvale Heights’ and remember to look up to the starlit night.
Hamilton has a great range of things to do and places to eat. A must visit is the Hamilton Gallery. The gallery presents a range of exhibitions, programs and events so there is always something new and exciting. Next door is the Hamilton Cinema that showcases a wide range of the latest blockbuster movies and perfect if the weather is wet.
On the edge of the CBD is the Hamilton Botanic Gardens that was established by William Guilfoyle, the curator of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. A beautiful space to enjoy a picnic lunch and to wander around taking in the well established trees and plants.
Lake Hamilton can’t be missed on a visit to Hamilton and is the perfect spot for fishing, walking, running and boating. There is a 4.2km walking track around the lake that hosts the Hamilton Park Run each Saturday morning. Located on the lake is the Lakes Edge Adventure Park. A huge playground for the kids to run around and also has BBQ facilities and toilets.
Nearby to the lake is Sir Reginald Ansett Transport Museum. It showcases Reg Ansett and the history of Ansett Airlines. Reg originally started his transport business in Hamilton back in 1931.
A short drive from Hamilton, Pierrepoint Vineyard is a gorgeous spot to enjoy a wine and cheese platter. They also have different events throughout the year so check them out on social media to see what they have to offer. They also have a bed and breakfast if you need accommodation.
There are a range of different places to eat in Hamilton and a few local favourites are Tosca Browns, Roxburgh, Thai Town and Jack & Jude. Local pubs also have a great range of food and open 7 days a week.
Hamilton has a range of accommodation to suit all budgets from Lake Hamilton Caravan Park to Hamilton Townhouse Motel and Lonsdale Motor Inn. They offer comfortable rooms and parking with the bonus of being close to town.
As mentioned earlier, Pierrepoint Vineyard also has a great bed & breakfast. If you are searching for a bed & breakfast close to Hamilton CBD, Garland Cottage is a great choice.
Hamilton is a lovely town to visit plus you have the bonus of facilities like supermarkets and a vibrant shopping district.
Penshurst is a small, historic, rural township, conveniently located half way between the Shipwreck Coast and the Grampians National Park. Mt Rouse, a dormant volcano, is the dominant feature in the town and offers terrific views from the top. The botanic gardens located in the centre of the town, contain a lovely small caravan park, playground and free BBQs. During the summer months the outdoor pool, also located in the gardens, is in operation.
Leisurely walks on quiet roads with wide nature strips can be taken around the town, to Yatmerone Nature Reserve or up the steep path to the summit of Mount Rouse. Alternatively you can take the tourist road to the top of the mount where there is a free BBQ, toilets and lookout. As well as kangaroos and wallabies, other native animals and birds can be seen on a walk into the crater. The Volcanoes Discovery Centre, located in town, has displays of all types of volcanoes, and specific information on volcanic activity in Western Victoria.
Penshurst Store Bakery Cafe, Penshurst Hotel and The Penny Wine Bar are all great places to eat. There is also a take away and a small licensed supermarket that has fresh meat and vegetables, alcohol and basic groceries and toiletries, both open every day.
Whether exploring western Victoria, travelling from the coast to the mountains or wanting some quiet time in a country town, Penshurst is a great place to stay.
By Gillian Jacobs, The Grey House.