Some road trips lead to the most memorable food and wine experiences in Australia. Foodies, take note: here are 11 of Australia’s best food-and-wine-focused road trips to inspire you from our special 100 Amazing Road Trips around Australia series.
Food and wine road trips
84. Hunter Valley winery trail, NSW
Its vast rolling landscape has been cultivated for wine production since the early 19th century, making the Hunter Valley the country’s oldest wine region. Home to 150-plus wineries (including Dalwood Estate, the ‘birthplace of Hunter Valley wine’), this picturesque region is also renowned for its excellent dining, making it a satiating road trip for the eyes and stomach. Venture beyond the main hub of Pokolbin (home to highly acclaimed Brokenwood Wines and two-hatted Muse Restaurant) to the lesser visited regions of Broke and Wollombi for a slower-paced journey through countryside dotted with farm gates touting produce, historic buildings and quaint towns, and boutique cellar doors that you’ll likely have to yourself.
Sample wines from the country’s oldest wine region, Hunter Valley. (Image: Destination NSW)
85 kilometres round trip from Pokolbin.
Redleaf, set on 40 hectares near Wollombi, is a charming Italian-style manor that sleeps 12.
Words by Megan Arkinstall
85. Noosa Country Drive, Qld
Just like the quandong gin and lavender vodka being poured at 2020 Distillery in Cooroy, a journey through the pastoral folds inland from Noosa Heads distils the creative essence of the hinterland. How about gin blended with hopped H2O, being poured at the bar at Pomona Distilling Co? Or a frosty local from the iconic Kin Kin Hotel, which is currently undergoing a significant renovation? Sniff, swirl, sip, then snooze in sustainable luxury at Mayan Farm – the rammed-earth villas at the working farm run by Slow Food ambassador Jodie Williams in Kin Kin.
Saunter along the Noosa Country Drive to try different pubs and restaurants. (Image: Destination NSW)
Words by Celeste Mitchell
86. The Tasmanian Whisky & Spirits Trail
Though you may need to nominate someone else as the designated driver for this journey, those with a passion for handcrafted tipples can make this the driving force behind a trip around Tassie. The Tasmanian Whisky & Spirits Trail links the island state’s artisan distillers, from trailblazer Lark Distillery in Hobart to Australia’s southernmost whisky distillery McHenry on the Tasman Peninsula, to Southern Wild, Tasmania’s newest gin distillery, on the wild north coast.
Those with a passion for handcrafted tipples should make their way to Tassie. (Image: Destination NSW)
380 kilometres north to south.
Spend the night in the Devil’s Lair Cabin on site at McHenry Distillery for a whisky nightcap washed down with a side of dark sky stargazing from an observatory inside a converted barley silo.
87. Melbourne to Macedon Ranges, Vic
This is more multi-weekend treasure hunt than one-off Saturday spin (unless you want to bunch brunch and lunch). It seems every small-town bakery in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges and its peripheries lays claims to having ‘the best’ baked good of some variety, be it pie or sourdough.
Every small-town bakery in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges has baked goods worth trying. (Image: Visit Victoria)
Brothers Ryan and Chan Khun from Kyneton’s Country Cob Bakery regularly sweep the board at Australia’s Best Pie Competition. Trentham’s RedBeard is so confident of its natural wild yeasts and lactose bacteria that it offers sourdough making workshops. North-west of the ranges, the Bridgewater Bakehouse has won the Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph twice (2018 and 2019). Towns like Woodend and Lancefield are just two more towns worth a sweet little pit stop.
Trentham’s RedBeard offers sourdough making workshops. (Image: Visit Victoria)
90 kilometres one way from Melbourne (route dependent).
Words by Steve Madgwick
88. Melbourne to Gippsland, Vic
You’ll find good food without much fanfare in egalitarian Gippsland. Take the M1 south from Melbourne towards Lang Lang’s Howler Brewing Company for next-level burgers and brews. Further south, Inverloch’s Dirty Three Wines offers top drops. Visit Prom Country Cheese in Moyarra and overnight in Meeniyan, known for its annual garlic festival. The next day, take the windy-yet-wondrous Grand Ridge Road to Warragul to browse the farmers market or splash out on the six-course tasting menu at Hogget Kitchen. Go out with a bang at Farmer’s Daughters, a landmark Melbourne eatery that champions Gippsland producers.
Inverloch’s Dirty Three Wines offers top drops.
372 kilometres round trip.
Ross Farm’s stripped-back aesthetic is just the tonic.
Guests love Ross Farm’s stripped-back aesthetic. (Image: Lachlan Moore)
Words by Jo Stewart
89. Adelaide to Barossa Valley, SA
Hit the road northeast from Adelaide to indulge in some of Australia’s most renowned food and wine experiences, beginning at the western end of the Seppeltsfield Road precinct with its striking Avenue of Palms crying out to be cruised along. This five-kilometre trail of Canary Island date palms that now number more than 2000 was originally planted by Seppeltsfield workers during the Great Depression; visit the historic winery today to taste your birth year’s tawny, have lunch at destination diner Fino or even swap four wheels for two on a vineyard Segway tour. Other nearby epicurean highlights include Appellation and Hentley Farm restaurants and Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. If this only whets your appetite for more, embark on the Epicurean Way: a decadent road trip through South Australia’s four iconic wine regions.
Indulge in some of Australia’s most renowned food and wine experiences.
Adelaide to Seppeltsfield Road is 80 kilometres.
In the heart of the Seppeltsfield Road precinct, The Villas – Barossa provides an architecturally striking and environmentally sensitive base for road-tripping the region.
90. Orange winery trail, NSW
An easy meander from Sydney – four hours’ drive over the mountains and onto the Central Tablelands – a trip to Orange and its bucolic surrounds is the stuff long weekends are made of. This dynamic regional city blends heritage and the fruits of its rich volcanic soils with more than a dash of the new to create exceptional food and wine experiences.
Find boutique family-owned wineries like Nashdale Lane (Image: Destination NSW)
Base yourself in its heritage heart (check out The Byng Street Boutique Hotel or The White Place) and spend your days on country drives to villages such as Nashdale, where you’ll find boutique family-owned wineries Nashdale Lane and Printhie Wines; historic Molong, home to cellar doors including the eclectic Heifer Station Wines; and Millthorpe, with its destination fine diner Tonic. But if you’re still in the mood for more, there are plenty more wineries to visit in Orange, and breweries and distilleries.
Base yourself in its heritage heart and spend your days on country drives to vineyards. (Image: Destination NSW)
91. Adelaide to McLaren Vale, SA
The Saturday farmers market in Willunga packs up at noon, but even after a sleep-in and a crossword I still arrive with time to spare thanks to the wormhole-like Southern Expressway that whisks me through Adelaide’s southern suburbs to McLaren Vale. Growers and makers of every type cram into the local schoolyard, and I follow my nose (and the crowds) to the toastie stall for a gooey late breakfast.
Grab some fresh pears at Wilunga Farmers Market. (Image: Karen Walker)
The friendly community vibe continues five minutes away at the McMurtrie Road ‘share house’, where three fabulous smaller wineries (Lino Ramble, Bondar Wines and Sherrah Wines) have a room each. Continuing east, the sea of vines parts as if for Moses and reveals a path to Gemtree Wines’ solar-powered cellar door where perfumed biodynamic grenache vies for my attention with glorious views out towards a sea the colour of Peter O’Toole’s eyes.
Go on a tasting at Gemtree Wines. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
100 kilometres round trip.
Lean into slow living at CABN X William, located between Gemtree’s vineyards and thick bush.
Words by Alexis Buxton-Collins
92. Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast
In the aftermath of the Black Summer fires, friends Erin Boutros and Eleanor Baillieu started an Instagram account to remind their friends and followers to visit affected areas and shop local in the hope of helping communities recover. They called it @emptyesky, and a grassroots food and tourism movement was born. The idea of grabbing an empty esky and filling it with produce and products from Nowra to Kangaroo Island to Gippsland quickly caught on, with organised tours by the likes of AAT Kings making it even easier to get involved.
Learn from the pros at Eastwood’s Deli and Cooking School (Image: Destination NSW)
Then the pandemic struck and the movement was forced into iso like everyone else. But with regions and borders now open, and with a lot of recovery still to be done, charting one of Empty Esky’s self-drive itineraries is the ultimate altruistic adventure. May we suggest the four-day Best Regional Donut drive, starting in Melbourne and tracking along the coast through Morwell (Powerhouse Donuts) and Lakes Entrance (Big Bear Donuts), onto Bermagui (Eastwood’s), Berry (The Famous Berry Donut Van – an Australian Traveller favourite) and the Central Coast (Daily Dough Co) in NSW, and finishing off in Buderim (Dough Ho) on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. Local communities and your taste buds will thank you (if not your waistline).
The Famous Berry Donut Van is a crowd favourite. (Image: Destination NSW)
There’s nothing more satisfying on a long drive than pulling into a roadside motel, and all the better if it has classic mid-20th century bones and a seriously modern refit. Case in point: The Berry View, with its signature 1950s long-slung style now enhanced by joyful shots of orange and a classic Palm Springs-esque aesthetic.
With its signature 1950s long-slung style, you’re in for a stylish stay at the Berry View Hotel. (Image: Destination NSW)
93. Sydney to Canberra via Yass
The drive from Sydney to Canberra possesses many side trip opportunities, including the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan near Campbelltown or the loveliness of the towns and villages of the Southern Highlands (seriously consider stopping at Bendooley Estate in Berrima for lunch along the way), but continuing on the Hume Motorway towards Yass is the most rewarding long-way-round proposition.
Have lunch at Bendooley Estate in Berrima. (Image: Destination NSW)
Driving down the main street of this big country town, its former prosperity, built on the sheep’s back, is writ large in the grandiose heritage buildings that line it on both sides: grab coffee at Cafe Dolcetto or Trader & Co and take a stroll. Heading out of town will take you through cold-climate wine country along the Barton Highway before delivering you onto Canberra’s wide boulevards at journey’s end.
Little National Hotel Canberra in the suburb of Barton does pint-sized with sleek aplomb.
There are plenty of side trip opportunities on the drive from Sydney to Canberra (Image: Destination NSW)
94. Margaret River region, WA
It’s time to get a bit funky in the Margaret River region along the Lo-Fi Wine Trail, where you will find legendary winemakers dedicated to producing low-intervention wines. Taste lesser-known varietals at the Blind Corner, Goon Tycoons and Stormflower Vineyard.
Find legendary winemakers dedicated to producing low-intervention wines. (Image: Frances Adrijich)
Intrepid oenophiles will also enjoy world-class wineries and stunning district views along the Tom Cullity Drive where Dr Tom Cullity planted the first vines at Vasse Felix in 1967. Restock your esky at the Providore Margaret River and Margaret River Chocolate Company and find a spot to set up a picnic and enjoy a spread of local ingredients. Supplement your itinerary with a few wildflower walks, hikes through national parks and swims in sheltered bays.
Have lunch at Vasse Felix in Margaret River. (Image: Stefan Gosatti)
The Lo-Fi Wine Trail stretches for about 20 kilometres, while Tom Cullity Drive includes eight wineries dotted along five kilometres of Margaret River’s backroads.
Words by Carla Grossetti