"We all know about food miles and the virtues of eating locally, but how many of us practise what we preach? Welcome to northeast Victoria, where it seems that, if it's not within biking distance, it's not worth eating – or drinking.

The High Country is a gourmet paradise nestled between the Murray River and the Victorian Alps. The diverse geography – from valleys and forests to paddocks and streams – means chefs here rarely have to look past their backyards for ingredients.

The towns of Bright, Beechworth, Rutherglen, Milawa and Mansfield are linked by the rail trail, a 100-kilometre stretch of well-maintained cycle paths that deposit you on the doorstep of some of the most prestigious wineries and restaurants in Australia.

The High Country is an easy three-hour drive from Melbourne and a favourite weekend escape for city dwellers, but you could happily spend a week or more exploring the area. We hope you're hungry...."


"....We decide to push on, however, and check out All Saints Estate, which, to our delight, is a genuine castle.

Apparently, Scottish settlers modelled it on a castle back home, and hired Chinese workers to plant the vines. The grand building and the dismal workers' quarters are now protected historic sites.

The winery does everything by hand, using traditional methods and equipment from France. We're overwhelmed just imagining the amount of work that goes into this, but when we taste their wines we decree it worthwhile.

Something about sampling aged Muscat and Toquay in a castle brings an air of solemnity over the group. We feel like, well, royalty...."


Fairfax NZ, India Lopez and Tim Glasgow, 6 June 2012

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