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The cooler temps provide the perfect excuse to rug up and hit forest trails, lose an afternoon in a country pub cosied up by a huge open fire, and end the day dining on rustic meals in the region's best restaurants. This is winter in regional Victoria.
Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges
With hot springs, mountain trails and an abundance of roaring fireplaces, this area is winter bliss.
Hearty feasts: Start the day in the cute cottage setting of Pancho in Daylesford, where local produce takes pride of place on the menu with warming breakfast dishes such as roast pumpkin and macadamia or pork belly poached eggs. Daylesford's Mercato restaurant is driven by the seasons, so a winter menu here might include a slow-cooked local lamb shoulder with potato puree or roasted spatchcock with kale.
More cool stuff: Once you've ticked off a soak in the mineral-rich waters of Hepburn Springs, catch the train that drops you right outside Passing Clouds Winery – the perfect way to travel for a warming glass of red and some slow-roasted (over a charcoal fire-pit) meat. Spend an afternoon in the winter sun at Daylesford Cider Co, taking in the country landscape, as well as the flavours of their organically-grown apples.
Curl up for the night: For country luxe, get the open wood fire started in a stylish self-contained apartment at Wentworth House, offering direct access to Lake Daylesford. Or, head further atop the ranges to Trentham – to the Scandi-styled federation house at The Estate, or Acre of Roses, nestled in an enchanting garden.
Foodie heaven at Lola's Restaurant.
Sample artisan delights in this evolving foodie hub, while exploring the myriad antique bazaars and creations of local makers.
Hearty feasts: The art-packed space at the Pub with Two Names is all about the charcoal grill, making it the perfect pitstop on a cold winter wander. You'll find Peruvian chicken and half a rack of local grass-fed lamb cooked over the wood fire, and there are plenty of nooks to hide away in with a glass of nearby Pyrenees red. For a delicious homemade breakfast, Kittelty's Café at the Art Gallery of Ballarat shows off local producers.
More cool stuff: Get amongst the crafting with one of Made of Ballarat's regular workshops, such as chair making or spoon carving; then chase it with a unique gin or whiskey concoction at The Lost Ones Basement Bar. Hidden below The Lost Ones Contemporary Gallery, this bar's menu features a warm "Cure for the Ballarat cold" cocktail alongside your favourites.
Curl up for the night: Set within the storied walls of The Provincial Hotel is a new boutique stay where local artists line the walls, and New York fabrics and local Ballarat antiques (such as Lydiard Furniture and Antiques) fill the rooms. The in-house restaurant, Lola, is elegant in its styling and European-inspired menu, served against a backdrop of timber and Mediterranean blues.
Pottery classes in Bendigo.
Indulge in unique dining and accommodation experiences with a view, and sip the region's best wines under a starry sky.
Hearty feasts: The Woodhouse even sounds like a perfect cold-climate dining spot. Pair a red tipple here with Wagyu beef that showcases premium free-range dry-aged beef from the region's farms. For a different experience, dine on artistic cuisine inside a historic bank cellar at Rocks on Rosalind.
More cool stuff: Explore by foot and follow the Bendigo Artist's Walk for galleries and street art, or wind down the laneways of Chancery Lane to uncover hidden boutiques and gin bars. Keep the culture trip going at Bendigo Pottery, Australia's oldest working pottery, where you can try your hands on the wheel and book a lesson with a skilful potter.
Curl up for the night: Immerse yourself in the picturesque winery grounds at Balgownie Estate inside a luxury glamping tent, or stay close to the sights at The Residence of Mackenzie Quarters, an 1877 gothic revival style home.
The kitchen garden at the Royal Mail Hotel in the Grampians.
The Grampians landscape in winter is best enjoyed with hearty produce plucked fresh from kitchen gardens and cosying up in warm wooden cabins.
Hearty feasts: The Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld has Wickens at the Royal Mail. This regional restaurant harvests winter vegetables from its own kitchen garden, bakes up breakfast goods in a 130-year-old wood-fired oven and serves a degustation with stunning views.
More cool stuff: Get a salty fix at Grampians Olive Co, where tours of the olive-tree-to-bottle process can be booked; or tour the tunnels of The Drives at Seppelt, a heritage-listed labyrinth of underground cellars.
Curl up for the night: The Mount Sturgeon Cottages at the Royal Mail have open fires, huge leather couches and are made of historic Victorian bluestone. For a romantic winter escape, the DULC designer cabins are nestled amid Grampians beauty.
Where to get that winter tipple
The Pyrenees Wine Region.
Victoria's Pyrenees wine region is just under two hours from Melbourne and offers up award-winning drops from names like Dalwhinnie and Mitchell Harris.
In spring this is the Prosecco Road, but in winter you can search out the Italian varietals like nebbiolo, sangiovese and newcomers like teroldego. Italian families like the Pizzinis and the Dal Zottos originally farmed tobacco here before moving, very successfully, to wine.
Fowles Wine recently launched its huge new cellar door with an open fire, booths and couches. Cold weather wines include the Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz and Stone Dwellers Cabernet Sauvignon. Nearby you also have Mitchelton Winery plus Nagambie Brewery and Distillery and hotel and historic Tahbilk.
Winter is perfect for shiraz and Heathcote is famous for its peppery reds with wineries likes Tar & Roses and Hanging Rock Winery producing the goods.
Plan your next weekend away at yourhappyspace.com.au and lose yourself in regional Victoria's best foodie haunts.