52 Weekends Away: food and wine in Gippsland
|Temptation personified. Photo: Belinda Jackson|
BAG END AT RIVENDELL
926 Stephenson Road, Tambo Upper, Vic
Phone: (03) 5156 4317 or 0419 302 074
Tambo Upper is an East Gippsland hamlet located amid rolling farmland off the highway between Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance. Rivendell is a 44-hectare property built on the hilltops; you can look out to the spectacular Gippsland Lakes, a favourite spot for boaties, fishermen and birdwatchers.
Rivendell is a working Angus beef farm with two self-contained cottages that have also been named after things or places in The Lord of the Rings - Arkenstone, a wheelchair-friendly, three-bedroom cottage, and the one-bedroom Bag End, which we stayed in. In an earlier incarnation, Bag End's bedroom was a concrete water tank; it's still circular, but now it's filled by a comfy bed and lined with racks of wine, available for purchase. Both cottages have well-equipped kitchens and there's a spa tub in the garden. The farm is home to peacocks and guinea fowl, sheep, hens and horses.
Start the day with owner-chef Josh Thomas's excellent breakfast and end it with a three-course dinner. In between, there's always lunch: the nearby Nicholson River Winery serves platters that complement its renowned Gippsland pinot noirs. Rivendell hires canoes and mountain bikes to enable visitors to explore the picturesque Tambo River and the East Gippsland Rail Trail.
East Gippsland's vibrant villages. Bruthen is at the start of the Great Alpine Road and here you can sink a local brew at the Bullant Brewery before popping into the new Bruthen Bazaar. Metung, on the water's edge, has a thriving cafe scene and breakfast at The Metung Galley is highly recommended. There's also a farmer's market on the second Saturday of each month.
Need to know
Cost: From $240 a night.
Distance: 3.5 hours' drive (310km) east of Melbourne.
This story, written by Belinda Jackson, is part of 52 Weekends Away, published in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.