The Milawa Gourmet Region was an Australian first. A region in North East Victoria, it was officially recognised nearly thirty years ago as being dedicated to the makers of fine food, wine and crafts. It’s the perfect place to reconnect with the producers and growers of gourmet offerings and spend a weekend indulging in these small regional towns, not far from Wangaratta.
I stayed a couple of nights in Whorouly and spent my days hopping from one farm and café to another. If you’re looking for a nice getaway filled with good food and wine, a weekend in the Milawa Gourmet Region is the perfect place.
Here’s a quick guide to the region, including all the best things to do in Milawa.
About the Milawa Gourmet Region
The Milawa Gourmet Region is centred around the small towns of Oxley, Milawa, Tarrawingee, Markwood and Whorouly. Located in the High Country south east of Wangaratta, the area enjoys the backdrop of Mount Buffalo National Park.
The Milawa Gourmet Region was conceived in 1994 as Australia’s very first official region dedicated to all thing’s food, wine and crafts. The area is home to a number of world class wineries, olive groves, small scale producers and creatives, many of which open their gates and doors for tastings and sales to visitors.
The region is the perfect weekend escape for foodies. There’s plenty of comfortable accommodation from where you can walk, cycle or drive between the numerous cafes, farm gates, wineries and shops.
How to get there
The Milawa Gourmet Region is just 15km southeast of Wangaratta.
If you’re driving up from Melbourne, it’s 260km or around 2 hours and 45 minutes on the Hume Freeway.
Travelling by public transport? You can jump on a bus from Southern Cross Station to Wangaratta on the Melbourne-Albury coach service. It should take around 3 hours. You’ll then have to get on another bus to Oxley. From there, you can cycle between towns and farm gates.
What you need to know before you go
- Cycling is a great way to explore the region. The long Murray to Mountains Rail Trail runs through the region and connects Milawa to Wangaratta via Oxley. This section is a nice 18-kilometre ride, with the section between Oxley and Milawa being a flat and even 10 kilometres.
- If you want to hire a bike, the Bike Hire Company can deliver your hired bike for free to Beechworth, Bright, Everton, Milawa, Myrtleford, Oxley or Wangaratta. Check the company out here.
- Milawa town is the main centre of the region and has many shops and farm gates clustered together along Snow Road. Then, some of the farm gates and wineries are just short detours away.
- If you’re driving, there is a basic fuel station in Oxley, but you should try to fill up in Wangaratta or Myrtleford before heading to the region.
- While you might spend a bit on food and wine in the region, it’s relatively budget-friendly when it comes to accommodation. If you have a campervan or other camping setup, there are some great overnight stops in the region. More on this below.
Where to stay in the Milawa Gourmet Region
B&Bs and Cottages
Factory Lane B&B | This little one-bedroom B&B is located in Milawa and just a short walk from the main street. Whether you’re cycling or driving, it’s the perfect spot to stay for the night at a reasonable price. Check their availability here.
Milawa Muscat Retreat B&B | For a little higher price, this property offers a couple of king suites in Milawa. They’re just outside of town, a 3-minute drive from Brown Brothers winery. Check their availability here.
Walnut Tree Cottages | If you’re travelling with a larger group, this property has a two-bedroom house and a three-bedroom house available in Whorouly. On a beautiful farm setting, it’s a great place to relax with friends close to many of the region’s attractions. Check their availability here.
If you’re looking for somewhere to pull up for the night in your van, Whorouly Recreation Reserve allows camping (no tents) for $15 per night with toilets and a hot shower (I can highly recommend this spot). Oxley Recreation Reserve also allows camping (including tents) for $15 per night with toilets. If you’re self-contained, Brown Brothers Winery has an RV overnight stop which is very convenient. Check Wikicamps for more.
Things to do in the Milawa Gourmet Region
Here are all the best stops in the region that you can tick off in a weekend:
Brown Brothers Winery
By far the most well-known winery in the region, Brown Brothers has been producing world-class wine for four generations. Their vineyard in Milawa was the original birthplace of the company and is still home to their main winemaking facility.
Their Cellar Door has guided tastings every day of the week and their onsite restaurant is open for lunch from Thursday to Monday. Be warned, it gets VERY busy on weekends.
Milawa Cheese Company
David and Anne Brown started this cheese company in the old Milawa Butter Factory in 1988. They were inspired by European cheesemaking methods and now make some of the best handmade cheese in Victoria’s High Country.
You can visit the factory and shop on Milawa-Bobinawarrah Road for cheese tasting and sales every day of the week. The huge factory complex is also home to a number of other businesses so you can easily spend a lot of time (and money) there!
Milawa Bread & The Milawa Kitchen
These guys are located inside the Milawa Cheese Company complex but are run independently. Over 20 years ago, Adam was allowed to start experimenting with sough dough and long-fermented bread inspired by French culinary culture in the back kitchen of the Milawa Cheese Company. Today, he makes some of the best bread in the state.
They run their own mill onsite and bake all their own sough dough. You can pick some up from their bakery, next door to the cheese shop. They also run the Milawa Kitchen, a café and eatery utilising their own fresh and other local produce which is next door to their bakery.
This little unassuming shop on the Milawa-Bobinawarrah Road is home to some of the finest mustards and condiments in Australia. One of the original businesses in the Milawa region, they’ve been making mustard since 1982. You can pick up some mustards, jams, chutneys and salad dressings straight from their little store on the way to the Cheese Company factory.
In the main strip of shops in Milawa, you can find the restaurant of this family-owned smokehouse established in 1986 in Wangaratta. It’s a casual dining experience inside an old, converted tractor garage and open for lunch from Thursday to Monday and dinner Thursday to Saturday.
Their menu uses a range of their own products as well as local produce with pizzas, burgers and ribs served up with local craft beer on tap. You can also pick up some of their smoked goods every day from the Smokehouse Door inside.
Pure Indulgence Aromatherapy
Next door to the Smokehouse, you’ll likely smell the aroma from this shop before you see it. This beautiful shop sells all-natural bath and body products from soy candles and bath milk to shea butter soaps and hand wash. It’s difficult to walk out empty-handed, with the friendly staff willing to help you make the right choice.
The Olive Shop & Provender
If you’re in a hurry and want a one-stop-shop for the region’s best produce, this is the place to visit. While the name assumes that they specialise in olives and olive products, they basically showcase all of the best food and wine in the region.
Whether you’re looking for mustard, cheese, pesto, dips, muesli, dressings, chocolate or wine, you’ll find it in store. It’s perfect if you’re short on time or just driving through Milawa, you can easily pick up plenty of good produce there.
They’re open seven days a week and are conveniently right next door to the Milawa Bakery Cafe for a quick coffee break.
Milawa Bakery Café
The Milawa Bakery Cafe is the perfect stop for a coffee and cake after a long drive. They’re located right in Milawa’s main strip of shops and are one of the most popular places for a quick bite to eat. They have great outdoor seating if you want to soak up the morning sun and are open every day from 8am.
They also cater for vegan and gluten free diners, with some great cake options too!
King River Café
If you’re driving through Oxley and after a place to eat, the King River Cafe is a very popular choice. They have great food, all made from local produce and also offer gluten-free and vegan options. They’re open every day for lunch and dinner except Tuesdays.
A typical country pub, the Whorouly Hotel is a local favourite and serves up great local food and drinks at the bar. The staff are extremely friendly and they have a lovely outdoor beer garden for warm summer days.
If you’re pulling up overnight in the Whorouly Recreation Reserve, you can easily walk to the pub for dinner.
Cottonwoods Organic Farm Shop
This little farm gate shop on Snow Road is easy to drive past, but is definitely worth a stop. Located halfway between Milawa and Whorouly, look out for the wooden shack on the side of the road that sells a range of local products as well as plenty of organic produce from the farm itself.
It’s often unmanned and works on an honesty system with a money box to put your money in, cash only. I bought some of their vegetables, homemade jam and olives and they were delicious. It’s the best stop if you’re driving through the region and don’t want to stop in Milawa.
Things to do near the Milawa Gourmet Region
If you’ve got a bit longer than a weekend, you could extend your trip and explore more of the High Country region. Here are some great places to check out nearby:
Distance from Milawa: 40km
If you want to spend some more time surrounded by good food and wine, you’ll want to head to the King Valley. It’s a major wine-producing and agricultural area in Northeast Victoria and is known in particular for its Italian wine styles.
The Wangaratta-Whitfield Road through the valley is a great drive with wineries and farm gates to stop at along the way. Whitfield is at the heart of the valley and a great place to base yourself. It’s directly south of Wangaratta and is easily combined with a trip to Milawa.
Check out Whitfield accommodation here.
Mount Buffalo National Park
Distance from Milawa: 90km
South-east of Milawa, you’ll find the Mount Buffalo National Park, an incredible landscape of granite cliffs, large boulders, picturesque waterfalls and spectacular lookouts. It’s an outdoor lovers dream and is an absolute must-see for hiking and rock climbing enthusiasts.
You can see the national park rising from the farmlands in the distance from Milawa, and it makes for a great add-on adventure. There’s a Parks Victoria managed campground inside the national park, which you can book here.
Otherwise, Bright is a popular base for exploring the park.
Distance from Milawa: 68km
The small town of Bright in Victoria’s High Country is a vibrant and bustling town and one of the prettiest places to stop in the region. It’s become an extremely popular destination, being in close proximity to the Alpine National Park, Mount Hotham, Falls Creek, Mount Buffalo National Park, the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail and much more.
Even if you’re not into hiking, skiing or biking, the town is still a great place to stop with trendy cafes and beautiful boutique shops.
Check out Bright accommodation here.
Northeast Victoria Silo Art Trail
Distance from Milawa: 60km
If you’re looking for another self-drive tour, the silo art trail west of Milawa is a great option. The trail runs north of Benalla through small rural communities with impressive silo art to stop at on the way.
There are four silo art sites with one each in Goorambat, Devenish, St James and Tungamah. Being close together you can easily see them all in a day with an overnight stay in Benalla.
Check out Benalla accommodation here.