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The Pyrenees region in Victoria offers some of Australia’s most stunning scenery, with a dramatic and powerful beauty that is instantly recognisable and completely unique. Yet this region is still less well-known than many of Victoria’s other destinations.
There is so much to explore here, from well-preserved Gold Rush towns to breathtaking, rugged landscapes – and of course, the famous Pyrenees wineries! Come with us on a tour of discovery in and around the Victorian Pyrenees, and find out why this region has to be visited to be appreciated.
The outstanding beauty and history of the Pyrenees Victoria
The Pyrenees ranges are located at the southern end of the Great Dividing Range one of the most famous mountain ranges in Australia, in an area which is missed out of many travel itineraries. Yet it offers some stunning views, as well as excellent hiking and mountain biking opportunities, with peaks ranging from 300 metres to over 750 metres, over rugged and varied terrain. Mount Avoca and Mount Warrenmang are probably the best-known Pyrenees peaks, but the entire region is renowned for its stark beauty.
However, it was winemaking that really put the Victoria Pyrenees on the map. The first vines were planted here in the 1850s, largely as an experiment, because it was thought that grapes needed lower altitudes and warmer temperatures for best results. The thriving Pyrenees winemaking industry continues to prove that excellent wines can be produced at higher altitudes! The region is renowned for its full-bodied Shiraz and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, as well as its burgeoning sparkling wine production. No tour of the Victorian Pyrenees can possibly be complete without stopping at some of the region’s excellent cellar doors!
It isn’t just about the wine, though – the Pyrenees region truly offers something special for every visitor, from mountains and forests through to shopping and exploring the Gold Rush history of the area in the picturesque town of Avoca. Here are some of the most unmissable attractions of the Great Pyrenees Australia.
The famous Pyrenees wineries
Nestled within the stunning rugged Pyrenees ranges you will find the renowned Avoca wineries. This famous wine-producing region is home to no fewer than 44 vineyards, including some of the most famous names in Australian winemaking. Mount Avoca, Dalwhinnie and Redbank, as well as many more, are all found here. The views from many of the estates are spectacular, and you are always welcome at the cellar doors to sample some of the wines as well as some excellent local food produce.
If you are lucky enough to visit in April, you can enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the Pyrenees Unearthed Food and Wine Festival, which takes place along the banks of the Avoca River. It is a great day for the whole family to enjoy, with live music, plenty of free activities for the kids – and of course, countless opportunities to sample the region’s outstanding food and drink.
There are far too many Pyrenees wineries for you to be able to visit them all, particularly if you are only here for a short visit. If you want to take in a couple, the Blue Pyrenees estate is always worth a visit. Wine has been produced here since 1963. Originally known as Chateau Remy, the estate was one of the first in Australia to experiment with cool-climate winemaking. The results are widely known today – Blue Pyrenees wine has won multiple awards, and every wine is grown and produced on the estate. While you’re here, you can take advantage of the picnic facilities, as well as taking a tour of the underground cellars.
The Tattarni winery and vineyard was another of the early pioneers of winemaking in the Pyrenees region, and many traditional techniques are still used in producing Tattarni wines, although these days they are combined with the latest research to produce outstanding reds, whites and sparkling wines.
Avoca and the Gold Rush
Avoca is the main town in the Pyrenees region. Mainly famous for its significance as a Gold Rush settlement, Avoca is also known for having one of the widest main streets in the whole of Australia! This is intrinsically tied up with its Gold Rush history, as the street was built so wide to make it easier for bullock teams to turn. Today there is a grassy strip down the centre of the street which is regularly used for picnics, as well as being home to Avoca’s war memorial.
On either side of the main street, you can see history all around, as many of the buildings here date back to the Gold Rush era. These are now mainly used as art galleries, antique shops and charming cafes serving excellent local produce. It’s the ideal location for a relaxing stroll while gaining more of an insight into the Gold Rush history of the region.
On the fourth Sunday of every month, the Avoca Riverside Market is held on the banks of the river. The location gives the market a peaceful feel, and it also gives you the opportunity to pick up a wide variety of local foods, plants, artisan gifts and even clothing.
The history of the Chinese community
During the Gold Rush era, from 1850 to 1870, thousands of Chinese miners arrived in the Pyrenees and Victoria to prospect for gold. The outstanding cultural contributions the Chinese community have made to the region are still very much evident today, and are represented in one of Avoca’s most stunning attractions – the Chinese Garden of Fire and Water.
Located in a beautiful setting overlooking the river flats, the Chinese Garden features strong symbolism representing the elements of fire and water, as well as reflecting the unity between the Australian and Chinese cultures in the region. The traditional Chinese Pavilion is one of the main attractions here, along with the natural formation of Scholar Rock, and a wide variety of Chinese and Australian plants line the pathways. This extremely beautiful and tranquil setting is a true highlight of any visit to the Victorian Pyrenees.
Enjoy beautiful views at Mt Mitchell
Mount Mitchell is a stunning homestead established in 1838, which is now used as a venue for weddings and exclusive events. It features a spectacular period main building along with numerous attractive outbuildings, all set within 10 acres of beautiful gardens. In addition, it offers dramatic views of the Pyrenees ranges, making this an unforgettable location.
Mt Mitchell is also a working farm, and its excellent produce, including fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs, is renowned as amongst the finest in the region.
Hiking and cycling in the Pyrenees ranges
The rugged landscapes of the Pyrenees give you plenty of opportunities to get active. You can enjoy bushwalking, hiking and mountain bike riding in the Mount Cole and Pyrenees State Forests, with tracks to suit all levels of ability, from relative beginners and families through to dedicated adrenaline junkies!
The Pyrenees Shire also partially houses the stunning Kara Kara National Park. The unspoilt natural scenery here gives you an impression of what much of the region would have looked like before the Gold Rush, with one of the best-preserved examples of a box-ironbark forest in the entire state of Victoria.
The Kara Kara National Park is of extreme historical and cultural importance as the ancestral land of the Dja Dja Wurrung indigenous people. It is also classified as an Important Bird Area due to the various species of woodland birds, including swift parrots, which makes their homes within this dramatic yet peaceful landscape.
A visit here is essential for those who enjoy bushwalking and hiking, offering rugged terrain and beautiful views.
Learn more about the Pyrenees Victoria
With so much to offer, it is incredible that the Pyrenees region is still relatively little-known to most people visiting Victoria. However, that adds to the charm of the region, as you are able to explore in peace and comfort without being distracted by crowds. If you are taking in the spectacular scenery of the Pyrenees ranges, you can sometimes feel as if you have the landscape entirely to yourself, bringing a serene sense of calm to your trip.
With Melbourne Private Tours, you can explore Avoca and the Pyrenees in the way that suits you best. We can transport you in an air-conditioned, luxury vehicle from Melbourne, which is approximately two hours away by road, giving your visit to Victoria a whole new dimension. This also succeeds in making it easier for you to escape the bustle of the city to explore some of Australia’s most beautiful natural landscapes.
You will also have the advantage of your own tour guide, who can explain more about the history of the area and show you all the highlights at a pace to support your needs. And of course, you’ll get to sample some of the excellent wines and food this beautiful region has to offer!
Check out our website to find out more about the tours we offer, or please contact us if you would like a tour itinerary designed just for you.