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Hit the road for tasty festival fun in country Victoria

VISITORS to Melbourne may not be able to count on the weather, but there is one thing they can be sure about – Victoria’s capital comes alive every autumn with some dynamic and diverse festivals, and it’s well worth jumping in your Melbourne hire car and hitting the highway.

Those big attractions include world-renowned Moomba Parade, the Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. There’s no shortage of entertainment.

One of the most treasured and tasty Victorian celebrations is the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

In 2012, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will celebrate its 20th year over 20 days taking in more than 300 events that promise to entertain all walks of life. Despite its name, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival provides a gastronomical playground across regional Victoria, luring visitors to hotspots like the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Spa Country and beyond.

What better way to explore regional Victoria than by touring the state’s best food and wine producing regions? Here are three of the best:

Sorrento’s World’s Longest Lunch
Pick up your DriveNow rental and meander your way down to the Mornington Peninsula via the Moorooduc Highway, which will take a touch over an hour and a half. The picturesque Baths on the Sorrento foreshore present a perfect backdrop to the world’s longest lunch on Friday, March 2. For $110 you will enjoy three delightful courses matched with locally produced wines. Soak up the Sorrento sunset and relax for the night at the historic stone Eastcliff Cottages.
World’s Longest Lunch Bookings http://www.trybooking.com/UFL

Riddells Creek Picnic
Pack the picnic blanket and in just 35 minutes from your Melbourne Airport car rental you will find yourself at the foothills of the majestic Macedon Ranges. The Riddells Creek Farmers Market on Saturday, March 17 offers picnic hampers packed with local goodies from $25, plus a vast array of local produce from market stalls. Free face painting for the kids and local musicians will ensure fun for the whole family. Kick back for the night at the self contained, family friendly Sky House at nearby Mount Macedon www.skyhouse.com.au
More information www.vicfarmersmarkets.org.au/news/regional-farmers-market-picnics

TarraWarra Tastings
Just on an hour from Melbourne, TaraWarra offers picturesque Yarra Valley views amongst the vines of one of the world’s best wine producing regions. Twilight at TarraWarra on 10 and 17 March offers a $65 mezze-style menu of fresh Yarra Valley produce matched with TarraWarra Estate’s rose and summer white wines. Relax on TarraWarra’s expansive lawn as you chat to the wine makers and watch the sun set. To cap off a romantic evening, treat yourself to a night at Balgownie Estate in neighboring Yarra Glen www.balgownieestate.com.au/Accommodation/Accommodation-Yarra-Valley.html

KARLY HICKMAN

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