52 Great Weekends

No 39: Winchelsea

The historic town on the banks on the Barwon River.

Step back in time at this picturesque gateway to the Otway Hinterland and Western District – 35km south-west of Geelong. You know you have arrived when you pass over the historic, three-arch bluestone bridge and the cascading water of the Barwon River. Spend the weekend exploring the grandeur of Barwon Mansion – designed for a visit from royalty. Enjoy country cooking at the local café’s and the newly renovated Winchelsea Hotel. Walk the banks of the Barwon River, keeping an eye out for platypus as you near the town’s iconic bridge – just one of the historical landmarks you’ll discover on the Winchelsea Heritage Trail.

Friday

STAY: COUNTRYWIDE COTTAGES, WINCHELSEA

It’s not just humans who will feel at home at Countrywide Cottages, your dogs are just as welcome as you are! Surrounded by 256 acres of farm and pristine bushland, the four self-contained cottages are the perfect, private place to base yourself when exploring Winchelsea. It’s no wonder Countrywide Cottages have come number 1 on the Gold List of Australian accommodation providers for two years running. With a crackling campfire in front of your cottage and bush walking trails at your doorstop you won’t want to leave.

Saturday

10AM: BARWON PARK MANSION

Barwon Park is an authentic bluestone mansion and stables set in a sweeping rural landscape. One of Australia’s grandest mansions, the imposing ironwork façade with ornate stained-glass windows emerges seemingly out of nowhere out from the property’s 12,000 hectares of farm grazing land.

Pioneer pastoralist Thomas Austin and his wife Elizabeth built Barwon Park
in 1871, largely out of embarrassment of having to entertain the visiting Duke of Edinburgh at an undistinguished homestead. Thomas Austin died just six months after it was completed, but Elizabeth lived at Barwon Park for many years and became a noted philanthropist. The house then passed into the hands of the Batson family who later bequeathed it to the National Trust.

Twice weekly, visitors can marvel at the past glory of Victorian pastoral heritage, the striking grand central staircase and largely original, lavish 42-room interior and adjacent bluestone stables.

LUNCH: SWEET THYME CAFE

Stop in for lunch at the sweet little cafe located in the town’s heritage bank building. A local favourite for excellent food served with the friendliest service. All of the café’s healthy and sweet treats are freshly made onsite using locally sourced ingredients. Sweet Thyme Cafe also stocks locally made products and gifts.

2PM: WINCHELSEA HERITAGE TRAIL

Walk your way through Winchelsea’s Heritage Trail and gain insight into the town’s right history and its people. Start off at the Winchelsea Visitor Centre and stroll past the quaint facades of the Globe Theatre, Shire Hall, Winchelsea Railway Station and the Public Library. The trail also includes Barwon Park Mansion and the heritage listed triple arched bluestone bridge to name a few historic site highlights.

DINNER: WINCHELSEA HOTEL

Winchelsea Hotel is located high on the hill of the Winchelsea main street – on the same site as the town’s historic hotel established in the 1800s. Sip back in time at the replica 1800’s saloon, dine at the newly renovated first-class bistro or play pool to the tunes of the jukebox in the sports lounge. The team at the Winchelsea Hotel will show you what good old-fashioned service is all about.

Sunday

7AM: BARWON RIVER BLUESTONE BRIDGE WALK

Walk the banks of the Barwon River at the Riverside Reserve on your way to the the iconic three-span bluestone arch bridge (built in 1867) over the Barwon River. It is considered one of the most impressive stone structures in Victoria. Take in the view from the many picnic spots beside the river and make sure to keep an eye out for platypus – they have been spotted on early mornings close to the bridge.

12PM: DINNY GOONAN WINES

What this boutique winery might lack in size it makes up for in huge amounts of country hospitality. From the moment you’re welcomed into the cellar door for a free tasting of the award-winning wines or served your informal vineyard platter you feel right at home at this friendly winery.

After a tasting of the 2020 Riesling, 2020 Chardonnay, 2015 Botrytis Semillon, 2020 Pinot Noir and the 2017 Shiraz we chose to sip on a bottle of the 2020 Chardonnay. It’s no wonder this dry but lively white with the refreshing aromas of white flowers, lemons, limes and citrus is also a favourite of James Halliday. It pairs beautifully with the locally sourced cheese platter served alongside the 40 year-old vines.

3PM: BROWN MAGPIE WINES

Continue the winery wander at Brown Magpie, a family owned, single, 20 hectare vineyard in neighbouring hinterland of Modewarre. The gently sloping estate offers stunning views of Mount Moriac. Brown Magpie specialises in hand-picked red, white and sparkling wines that honour the region. Make sure to stop in on your way home and try a highly reputed cool climate drop, the cellar door is open 11am – 4pm.

Watch the episode

Top 5 things that made the weekend great

  • Enjoying a campfire at pet friendly Countrywide Cottages

  • Getting a vision of the past at Barwon Park Mansion

  • Strolling through history on the Winchelsea Heritage Trail

  • Spotting a platypus beside the iconic bluestone bridge

  • Sampling the wineries surrounding Winchelsea

It’s a great weekend enjoying the nostalgic charm of Winchelsea.


 

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All Accommodation

All Things To Do

Barwon Park

Winchelsea

Lorne Sea Baths

Lorne

Indigo Luna

Torquay

Port Fairy Art Map

Port Fairy

Places To Eat & Drink

Winchelsea Hotel

Winchelsea

Cafe La Hoot

Winchelsea

Sweet Thyme Cafe

Winchelsea

Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.