Need a get-away without actually going too far? Somewhere a hop, skip and jump from home? Somewhere with casual restaurants and welcoming cellar doors, maybe an eclectic market and art gallery, possibly even a cute animal or two throw in? What you need can all be found in and around St Andrews, a short 45-minute drive from the city.
Next up, it’s time to explore some of the many wineries that call the area home. Part of the Yarra Valley geographic indication, most wineries are on the smaller side of the spectrum with many still family-run and hence tend to only be open on weekends. Check with individual wineries for more details. We highly recommend keeping an eye out for the next Nillumbik Open Cellars weekend here.
That Panton Hill Winery has a distinct European feel to it is no accident. Owner and winemaker Teunis Kwak hails from Holland, settling in Australia in the 1970s. This is the spot to enjoy a rustic menu and innovative wines in a true Australian bush setting.
Nillumbik Estate is a casual and family-friendly winery run by owner and winemaker John Tregambe who creates the kind of wines he likes to drink – sounds fair to us. Enjoy the wood-fired pizzas, a glass of red and take in the stunning views across the vines and into the hills beyond.
Buttermans Track Wines may be off the beaten track a bit, but isn’t that what a road trip is all about? Grab a cheese and antipasto platter and sample their highly drinkable natural wines sustainably produced with minimal intervention and organic viticulture.
Shaws Road Winery is a family-owned and operated winery that ticks all the boxes: elegant restaurant lunch; knowledgeable wine tasting; and even a charming Bed & Breakfast apartment if you wish to really indulge.
Right in the heart of St Andrews township Punch Wine Room have opened their cellar door, Punch Wine Room, nestled in next to St Andrews Collective and A Boy Named Sue. James & Claire Lance took over the family winery which was first planted in 1976 and have created an iconic wine brand easily recognisable with their distinctive label.
By now you’ve probably got the tummy rumbles. Luckily, A Boy Named Sue is there right when you need them. Start with some antipasti then follow up with one of their wood-fired sourdough pizzas while soaking in that laid-back country hospitality.
While it takes a little more forward planning, Greasy Zoes with only 8 seats and 4 dining sessions is well worth it. Located in central Hurstbridge, the tiny restaurant is a love letter to local, seasonal produce. Bookings are essential.
Don’t miss a visit to St Andrews Collective, a providore of all things quirky and covetable from artisan cheese and preserves through to Insta-worthy homewares and vintage goods.
For a truly unique experience, visit Omaru Alpacas Open Farm Days on one of their twice-monthly open days to see gorgeous baby alpacas (March – May) and get a chance to feed an adult alpaca. BYO sensible shoes and a picnic for an experience you won’t soon forget.
You might have been or only heard of it, either way St Andrews Community Market (Saturdays from 9am until 2pm, corner Kangaroo Ground-St Andrews Road and Heidelberg-Kinglake Road) has been part of the fabric of this vibrant community for over 40 years. Wander amongst the stalls and pick up all manner of pre-loved goods, homegrown veggies, preserves and much, much more. Grab a coffee or chai and enjoy the many buskers plying their trade. While parking can be a bit challenging, there is always plenty of free parking at the nearby tennis courts.
A last pit-stop has to be Gallery 7 six 5 in Watsons Creek near the Sugarloaf Reservoir Park. The gallery proudly showcases local artists across a variety of mediums. If you’re eager for even more art in your life, then keep an eagle eye on Nillumbik Artists Open Studios for news of upcoming events, including their ever-popular open studio weekends.
Visit St Andrews and surrounds and you’re bound to discover new gems - and rediscover some old favourites - all within easy reach of Melbourne.