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Planning the perfect road trip to Pitch Festival

Victoria’s immersive visual arts and electronic music event, Pitch Festival, is upon us.

Don’t let the festival be your one and only stop on this trip though, regional Victoria has too much to offer to watch it fly by your car window in a blur. Make the most of your time away from the city by disconnecting from work, screens, and reality in general by getting in touch with all the wonders of the countryside. Taste the food, explore the land and find yourself in all the hidden spots you didn’t even know existed. It’ll make for a weekend to remember and you’re guaranteed to have some experiences you can’t find in the city. Weaving your way through Ballarat towards the Grampians (or Gariwerd as it is traditionally recognised as by Indigenous Australians), we've got you sorted for the perfect adventure. 

L'espresso Ballarat

With an awesome journey ahead of you, you’d best make a pit stop for coffee at Ballarat’s top caffeine house, L’espresso. Not only can you grab a premium cup of joe to help kickstart your road trip enthusiasm, but the bustling café also offers something special for music lovers with their huge vinyl collection. Rifle through L’espresso’s record selection, grab some wax to take home with you and you’ll be armed for the adventure ahead. The only problem will be having to wait until you get home to give your new albums a spin. 

Royal Mail Hotel

No matter your budget or palate, Royal Mail Hotel has you covered for lunch. With two restaurants onsite, each offering a vastly different atmosphere, you can treat yourself to a fine dining experience or relax with a more casual bite. Option one, bring a big appetite and feast on a five or eight course meal at Wickens. Each plate is created using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the kitchen garden to reflect the surrounding environment. Alternatively, if you’re after something more laidback, Parker Street Project offers delicious, locally-sourced and inventive meals that’ll have you licking the plate once you’ve demolished your meal.

Seppelt Winery

With over 160 years of experience crafting wine, there’s a reason Seppelt have so many awards under their belt and a visit to the vineyard is a must. Seppelt have three vineyards across the country, though it’s their Grampians winery which birthed their iconic sparkling Shiraz – the rich soil and cool climate allowing for perfect growing and ripening conditions to craft the drop. Take a tour of the vineyard’s heritage listed web of underground cellars, known as “The Drives”, excavated in 1968 and spread along a three-kilometre stretch, serving as the longest underground cellars in the Southern Hemisphere. Tour the vines, stop in at the cellar door and even dine within the depths of The Drives during your visit, and of course, be sure to taste Seppelt’s famous sparkling Shiraz while you’re there.

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J Ward

Spice up your road trip with excitement of a different kind courtesy of a ghost tour around J Ward of the Aradale Asylum. Explore the gallows, gravesites and the grounds along your tour of the facilities in search of signs of the spirits that linger. Even if you’re a sceptic, the tour is rich in history of infamous crooks who once resided within the asylum’s walls, such as Chopper Read and William Wallace, and there’s no harm in looking to be proven wrong. A tour of J Ward will certainly give you a few stories to tell.

Lake Bellfield

Make the most of the country air and unobstructed views of this great land by taking in the sunset in all its glory at Lake Bellfield. The picturesque lake offers a glorious vantage point for watching the sun sink into the hills for another day. With the pink skies reflecting on the water of the vast lake framed by mountainous peaks, sunset at Lake Bellfield is a sight you won’t forget. Stretch your legs with a walk around the area, have a paddle in the pristine water of the lake, or simply enjoy the serenity of the secluded spot, perfect for recharging.

Hiking the Grampians (Gariwerd) 

Since you’re in the area, you’d best strap on your walking shoes and head on a hike. There are a few options to choose from depending on your level of fitness and/or willingness to challenge yourself. The Picaninny Walk will take you up a gradual incline, providing uninterrupted views of Dunkeld and Mount Abrupt from its summit, perfect for beginners or those wanting to take it easy. You’ll get a bit more of a sweat on the Mt Sturgeon Walk, with rock hopping and steep sections standing between you and the panoramic views awaiting at the top. But we promise, it’ll be worth it (and you’ll actually deserve a cold beer at Parker Street after). If you came for the full experience, buckle up for Mt Abrupt. Aptly named, the peak is steep and sudden, though it’s most definitely rewarding – offering stunning views of the national park from its highest point. Plus, you’ll have something to brag about right?

Pomonal Estate

What’s a trip to regional Victoria without a visit to one – or two – of the district’s renowned wineries? Offering an array of home-grown produce from locally-sourced cheeses to freshly baked cakes, as well as the addition of a new onsite brewery offering beer and cider, Pomonal Estate has it all. Set against the backdrop of the Grampians, with accommodation options to boot, Pomonal Estate is the perfect spot to wind down. Bunker down for the night and taste your way through a selection of drops from the winery and microbrewery. Temptations aside, a reminder that someone’s got to drive home the next day. Start pulling those straws.

By Kate Streader