With the travel restrictions finally lifted in Victoria, it was only a matter of time before we hit the road. To be more specific, it was a matter of hours! We left the city at 6 am, a whole 6 hours and 1 minute after the restrictions were lifted. Yes, I know, we were very keen!
Our first post lockdown destination was the wine region of Rutherglen. We’d heard so many good things about Rutherglen but we hadn’t managed to make it there yet. Since we could only travel within our state at the time, now was the right time to check it out and Rutherglen did not disappoint; it was the perfect post-lockdown getaway.
Where is Rutherglen?
The small town of Rutherglen is in the North-East of Victoria, pretty much half-way between Canberra and Melbourne. For Melburnians, it is a very easy, three and a half-hour drive. You just follow the Hume Highway up, as if you were heading to New South Wales.
If you come from Canberra, its also just under a 4-hour drive. At 6 hours, it’s a little longer for Sydneysiders but of course, once you’re there, you won’t regret the drive.
If you don’t have a car, the V-Line operates multiple services from Melbourne daily, with coach transfers to Rutherglen available once in Wangaratta. For Sydneysiders, the XPT service from Sydney to Albury operates multiple times daily, with coach services available from Albury to Rutherglen.
As I mentioned earlier, we left Melbourne super early to arrive in Rutherglen before lunch. With just one pit stop for a fabulous breakfast at the Rustik Cafe and food store in Benalla, we made it to Rutherglen by 10.30 am.
Rutherglen Wine Experience and information centre
Our first stop was the Rutherglen Wine Experience and information centre which is a good place to start. Pick up a map of the region, talk to the locals and get recommendations about upcoming events or where to eat and drink.
The Rutherglen Wine Experience and information centre is also the place to go if you need to hire a bike to ride around town and the surrounding countryside.
Rutherglen Heritage Walk
While in the information centre, we picked up a leaflet for a self-guided Rutherglen Heritage Walk. The leaflet explains the history of the town and the walk it outlines takes you past many of the original Victorian buildings in town, providing a small explanation about each one. The walk takes about 90 minutes and is a good way to start exploring the town.
Pretty soon, it was wine o’clock, so we made our way to Pfeiffer’s for our first wine tasting in Rutherglen. Due to Covid restrictions, wine tasting was operating a little differently and could only be done seated. We didn’t mind.
Pfeiffers has an enormous collection of wines. It’s impossible to try them all in one day, so pick a few and enjoy!
Pfeiffer’s does not have a restaurant but you can order a cheese platter to accompany your tasting. If you order ahead, you can get one of their amazing gourmet picnics which you can eat on the century-old timber bridge that overlooks the Sunday Creek. Bridge picnics are weekends only but during the week you can enjoy your picnic on a table by the banks of the river.
We highly recommend the picnic; it was so tasty. Check out the turtles hanging around by the bridge, there are so many of them! If you’re lucky, you might even spot a platypus. But we are never that lucky and after 14 years in Australia, I am yet to see one in the wild.
Checking in at the Lakehouse – Lake Moodemere Estate
After visiting Pfeiffer’s, we made our way to the Lake Moodemere Estate where we had rented their Lakehouse for the next three nights. What a beautiful spot! We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the lake with a glass (or two!) of wine. The sky was very clear, so in the evening we even tried our luck at star spotting! It was a perfect way to finish our first day in Rutherglen.
Book your stay at the Lakehouse here.
Lake Moodemere Trail Walk
Early morning on day 2, we set off for a walk around Lake Moodemere. It’s a 13-kilometre walk which took us almost three hours. The start of the walk was very close to our cottage, so it was perfect. The first part of the walk involved walking along a pretty overgrown path. It was a little scary as we were slightly worried about snakes. But we stomped our feet and talked loudly and we didn’t meet any along the way!
Halfway through the walk, we arrived at the Murray River which separates Victoria and New South Wales. At the time of our visit, the New South Wales border was still closed to Victorians so it felt strange to be standing across from it, knowing that we couldn’t get there. We did wave though!
We barely came across anyone on this walk (other than lots of birds); it was serene and oh so peaceful.
Pedal to Produce
After our walk, we packed another picnic lunch and set off on a bike ride. Cycling is an ideal way to spend an afternoon in the countryside. We took our time, explored a few wineries, stopped at the iconic Big Bottle and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
Stanton & Killeen
The first winery we stopped at on our cycling trip was Stantoon & Killeen. We started with a taste of their really nice wines (they have a pretty big selection too), picked a bottle and enjoyed it with our picnic on one of their tables outside. It was so nice and I could have stayed there all afternoon instead of cycling!
All Saints Estate
All Saints Estate is the creme de la creme. This castle-like estate is grandiose! The grounds are stunning and their Rose is to die for! You can make a reservation to eat at their Terrace restaurant or you can grab a platter from their providore, Indigo Food Co., and enjoy it on their beautiful grounds. We picked up some of their produce for dinner. It was the busiest winery that we visited and I imagine it can get rather packed in the summer months.
Walk around Lake King
Lake King is in the centre of Rutherglen. This short walk is a good way to observe the local birdlife. It’s only a 1.3-kilometre circuit that can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels.
When we visited Campbell’s winery, they were busy bottling their latest Shiraz. We could observe the bottling process through a window. It was very impressive, highly automated and super-efficient.
I loved the cellar door at Campbell’s. It has barrels that are over a hundred years old and still in use. We sat for a tasting and chatted with our host about wine and about how the Covid restrictions had affected the lives of the locals there in Rutherglen. She was so friendly that we ended up chatting for almost an hour!
Lakeside restaurant – Lake Moodemere Estate
We had a relaxing 5-course lunch, paired with wine, at the Lakeside Restaurant in the Lake Moodemere Estate. Three hours of dining on local produce and drinking local wines. It was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.
So that was it for Rutherglen. I do have to agree with my friends, it’s a lovely town to visit, especially if you like wine as much as we do!
Have you been to Rutherglen? What are your favourite wineries?
Where to Stay in Rutherglen
If it’s just the two of you, we highly recommend staying at the Lake House cottage on the Lake Moodemere Estate. But otherwise, Rutherglen has plenty of other lovely places to stay. We recommend using HotelsCombined to search across all of the major accommodation sites for a great deal.