Disclosure: Our visit was courtesy of the Rural City of Wangaratta.
Top reasons to visit Wangaratta:
It’s far enough from Melbourne to feel that you’re actually going somewhere and actually getting away from the city, but not so far you can’t visit in a weekend.
It’s located in North East Victoria, which is a gorgeous part of the state – think alpine valleys, mountains, rivers, wineries and gourmet food producers.
But the best reason – you can tell everyone you’re going to the Wang.
Our arrival was timed for lunchtime, and naturally the first stop was lunch – at Cafe Deraileur, a quirky spot popular with cyclists.
The cafe is located opposite the station and about three minutes from Wangratta Centre. Inside it’s cosy and a bit retro – think yarn bombed decor and Laminex tables.
The food is relatively simple but tasty. My lunch was gnocchi with braised goat and vegetables, which was a bit more of an untraditional cafe item but satisfying.
They also have more usual cafe fare like corn fritters or French toast. Shellie said that her French toast (with bacon, maple butter and apple jam) was quite amazing.
The bread at Cafe Deraileur is made on the premises, and it’s utilised well in their sandwich options. Hungry people need look no further than the roast pork belly sandwich – slices of pork belly, coleslaw in thick, soft pieces of sourdough garnished with strips of crackling.
38 Norton Street
Phone: 03 5722 9589
The next stop on our itinerary was Forges Farm. The Forges are a lovely family with a long history in the King Valley, and they run a working farm in Oxley. We were there to take part in Packing Prosecco, one of the rides that they offer.
It started off with a demonstration on how to pack a horse – which is basically loading a horse with goods for transport. It might sound easy but there is a bit of an art to it. The average horse can carry approximately 30% of its body weight, so with a 450kg horse, you’re looking at a 100-140kg load. And you obviously can’t just whack that much on top of a horse and expect it to be okay – it needs to be secure and evenly balanced.
After the packing demonstration we were all allocated a horse to ride down to King River.
It’s been many years since I’ve rode a horse, and when I say rode, what I mean is: I sat on it and the horse moved. It really didn’t take much effort on my part.
I was put on Charlie and fortunately we got along very well – i.e. he moved with very little input from me! There was a little trot up a gully but he was pretty serene most of the time, though he did like to chomp on grass if I let the reins out a bit too much.
It was a short ride to King River and when we arrived there was Dalzotto Prosecco and Milawa cheese waiting for us. It’s such a pretty spot – a very lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stay there forever! After a while we rode back to the farm and said goodbye.
I said a sad farewell to Charlie, though I had a wee goodbye snuggle, with Baxter (Alastair’s mount) joining in on the snuggle action.
It was so much fun – a definite highlight of our trip.
1289 Wangaratta/Whitfield Road
Oxley VIC 3678
After horse riding it was time to check into our accommodation. Alastair and I shared a two bedroom cottage with Haz and Gaz, which had just opened in time for our stay.
The cottage had a separate studio out the back, which was Taz’s accommodation for the night. The studio was sooooo nice, with a beautiful view, great fit out, massive bathroom, and a pool. Our place was nice, but Taz’s accommodation was a palace and he had it all to himself!
The accommodation is run by the people who own Rees and Rees, a furniture and homewares shop in Wangaratta, so the decor and the furnishings inside were lovely. The cottage could’ve been improved with lamps and heating in the bedrooms, but fortunately the beds were comfy and warm under the covers.
After a few hours of lovely down time, during which I spent most of it lying in front of the (gas) fire like a cat in our cottage, we headed back out for drinks and dinner. There was pre dinner drinks and a snack at The Precinct, located by the Ovens River.
We snacked on several thin base pizzas, all of which were very nice so we all struggled not to fill up before dinner.
Precinct had only been open about a month by the time we visited and already it seemed to be one of Wangaratta’s most happening venues – it was packed and buzzing while we were there.
This was just half of what we did during our visit – stay tuned for Part 2.
View Off the spork in a larger map