For many families school holidays means an opportunity to get away!
So for most of January I’ll be mainly focusing on things to do, places to go and dining out in Regional Victoria – because that’s where most Melbourne families choose to spend their holidays.
The first stop on our family-friendly tour of Victoria is Beechworth thanks to Tourism North East. Here are my tips on how to make the most of this lovely gold rush town when you’re travelling with kids.
Where to stay:
The Four Seasons Cottage (36 Finch St, Beechworth) was the perfect base for our family. The house was very spacious, with an open plan kitchen, a fireplace we lit at night and three large bedrooms so that T and I didn’t have to sleep in the same room as either of the kids, meaning a restful evening for all.
They were also able to provide a portacot so that we only had to bring one, a highchair for Baby 2.0 and even an antique rocking chair! The kids were too young for the other toys, books and boardgames but it didn’t matter as there was loads of space for them to explore, inside and out. The large garden was particularly fun for Lady AB, who just ran laps from one end to the other and lazed around on the sunlounger.
Where to eat:
Beechworth Bakery (27 Camp Street, Beechworth 1300 233 784). The original Beechworth Bakery is of course in Beechworth and it’s an institution in the town. It sells lots of old-fashioned bakery items and I like their sweets more than savouries – their Beesting is very famous and is like a giant custard puff.
Cellar Door Wine Store (62 Ford Street, Beechworth 03 5728 2882). A wine store that specialises in local wineries (especially wineries that don’t have a cellar door for the public) that also serve cheese and charcuterie platters and other nibbles. I had a slice of pillowy orange cake which was made by the owner of the Four Seasons Cottage!
If you have very young kids like us you know that dining out at night is not really an enjoyable excursion. So when we travel we tend to eat out during the day and rely on takeaway or pre-prepared meals at night. Our tips for places to buy food:
Goldfields Greengrocer (61 Ford Street, Beechworth (03) 5728 2303). Small but surprisingly well-stocked grocer with ready made pasta meals, soups and cheese as well as fruit and veg. We bought our Weetbix, yoghurt, bananas and ice cream from there.
Larder Fromagerie and Provisions (14A Camp St, Beechworth 03 5728 2299). This small deli and cafe sells St Ali coffee, cheese, chocolate, deli items and a few takeaway dishes with a focus on local and regional produce. One night’s dinner were their excellent hot-water pastry pies – duck, beef and rabbit – with some complimentary tomato relish.
The Ageing Frog Fish Bar (Ageing Frog Fish Bar, 68 Ford Street, Beechworth 03 5728 2046). The Ageing Frog Fish Bar is touted by some as the best fish and chips in Victoria and their potato cakes are legendary. Despite the fact that Beechworth is landlocked fresh fish does come up the highway regularly and we thought the fish was suitably fresh. The mound of chips you get is astonishing, so don’t order anything but a small serve ($3). As for the potato cake, we weren’t that impressed to be honest…but you be the judge.
What to do:
Quercus Community Bookshop (cnr Ford and Church St, Beechworth (03) 5728 2388). Country towns always have the best second-hand book stores and we like visiting them especially to buy holiday reading. All books are donated and proceeds from Quercus go towards the services provided by the Beechworth Neighbourhood House.
Beechworth Honey Experience (Cnr Ford & Church Streets, Beechworth 03 5728 1432). Beechworth Honey has a honey concept store with a free educational honey tour which consists of a series of videos, so it’s not too engaging for young kids. The best bit about our visit was the honey ice cream!
Cycling the town and the Rail Trail. If you want to ride around Beechworth or the surrounds you can hire free recreational town bikes from Bridge Road Brewers or Four Seasons Cottage has two to lend out (with helmet and locks). I used the bike to cycle into town to get provisions and did a few kms of the scenic and relatively easy stretch of the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail on the outskirts of town. If you have older kids you may like to walk/cycle the 5km Gorge Scenic Drive at Beechworth Historic Park.