The summer sun is shining in the city of Melbourne and state of Victoria, which have a range of new and exciting experiences for visitors to explore. The latest offerings include a kangaroo attraction at the world-renowned Healesville Sanctuary, a glamping experience on Churchill Island and a number of new and innovative dining experiences in lively Melbourne.

Kangaroo Country exhibit at Healesville Sanctuary now open!

Healesville Sanctuary has recently opened its new Kangaroo Country exhibit, an excellent trip for visitors who want to see iconic Australian animals and have very little time on their hands. In the exhibit, guests can see a wide variety of kangaroos, including Red Kangaroos, Tree-Kangaroos and Kangaroo Island Kangaroos.

Kangaroo Country becomes the latest addition to Healesville Sanctuary, one of the best places to see Australian wildlife in their natural habitat. As well as kangaroos, the sanctuary, in the heart of the Yarra Valley, is home to other species of Australia’s unique and endearing wildlife including koalas, platypus, wombats, emus and dingoes.

Buckle up for a ‘Grape Escape’ at the Grampians

Grape Escape, one of Australia’s longest running food and wine festivals is set to return to the Grampians for its 27th year in May 2018. The month-long festival will showcase the majesty of the Grampians, with a great number of culinary events being held across the region, culminating in the annual Grampians Grape Escape in Halls Gap 5-6 May. This year, the festival will be teaming up with chef and host of the popular TV series River Cottage Australia, Paul West and one of MasterChef Australia’s most loved contestants, Matt Sinclair, for masterclasses and cooking demonstrations. The festival will also star some of Australia’s most distinguished winemakers from the Grampians, Pyrenees & Henty regions. Guests will be able to learn from the producers and browse more than 120 stalls in the unrivalled bushland scenery of the Grampians.

Glamp under the stars on Churchill Island

Churchill Island, near Phillip Island, offers new glamping weekends to families who wish to explore this tranquil isle and create wonderful memories in the great outdoors. Set in the beautiful and historic grounds of Churchill Island Heritage Farm, families can stay in a luxury bell tent – boasting comfortable air mattresses – and enjoy the variety of activities and excursions available, such as feeding the farm animals, exploring the woodland walking trails, looking out for wallabies and echidnas as well as visiting the penguins of the popular neighbouring island. Glamping experiences on Churchill Island operate on scheduled dates through to May.

Chandon celebrates anniversary in the Yarra Valley

Domaine Chandon, one of Australia’s most treasured wineries in the Yarra Valley, has unveiled a newly designed dining venue to celebrate its position as the Australian home of Möet & Chandon for 30 years. Located on a 100-hectare plot surrounded by the stunning Yarra ranges, Domaine Chandon features a new-look cellar door and restaurant – designed by Melbourne’s Foolscap Studio. To complement the restaurant, there is a new cellar door to host tastings and masterclasses plus a lounge and informal wine bar serving share plates and wine by the glass. The central idea of the redesign is to create a diverse experience for guests, engaging the colours and materiality of the vineyard and the winery to create an elegant dining environment. The picturesque vineyard attracts around 250,000 visitors a year.

New koalas and kangaroos sunset tours in You Yangs

Nature company Echidna Walkabout Tours has launched a brand new tour to see koalas and kangaroos at sunset. The small group tour (10 people maximum) takes place just a 45-min drive from Melbourne in the beautiful You Yangs and Serendip National Parks at dusk, which is the best time to walk with wild kangaroos in their natural habitats and when koalas become more active. The ‘Sunset Koalas & Kangaroos In the Wild’ tour lasts for 7.5 hours.


Top Victorian chef to host masterclasses

Yarra Valley’s Matt Stone, one of Australia’s most innovative chefs and advocates of low-waste food practices, will be hosting a number of masterclasses in Victoria until March 2018. Stone, who is the executive chef of Oakridge Estate in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, will run the all-inclusive masterclasses and dining experiences, sharing his expert knowledge while showing guests how to create simple, artistic and delicious dishes with pure, wholefood ingredients. Dishes enjoyed during the day will be created especially for the class using exclusively Australian produce with dishes such as kangaroo tartare with wattleseed cracker.

New Melbourne venue to create ‘Natural History’

Melbourne’s much-loved chef, Morgan McGlone together with design duo, Michael Delany and Jaimie Wirth, will open a new venue Natural History in February 2018. The sprawling venue, located in the city’s CBD, takes inspiration and reference from epic museums of the world and will be split with two offerings, Natural History Bar and Grill, and the street front café, Natural History Café.

The 350-seat classic big-city style bar and grill, in the manner of NYC style bistros with a touch of Southern American influence, will see Morgan in the kitchen, drawing inspiration from such bistros, showcasing southern style bar and grill classic dishes. Menu highlights will include a steak tartare with fried oysters & tendon chips, an iced shrimp cocktail and baked onion artichoke.

Ratio Cocoa Roasters lands in Brunswick

The multicultural hub of Brunswick in Melbourne’s north has welcomed a new bean-to-bar chocolate venue. Ratio Cocoa Roasters is the result of a dream of Debbie Makin, a zoologist who fell in love with the cocoa trade while travelling in Africa, Peru and the Solomon Islands. Using traditional chocolate-making techniques and sourcing small batches of single-origin cacao beans, Makin and the team create handcrafted chocolate bars highlighting individual flavours. As well as serving house-made chocolate drinks and sweet treats to eat in or take away, Ratio Cocoa Roasters also hosts group tours to learn how chocolate is made, from the bean all the way through to the bar.

New Japanese bar Ishizuka opens in Melbourne

Top Japanese chef Tomotaka Ishizuka has opened a new restaurant on Melbourne’s Bourke Street, adding another option to the city’s multicultural food scene. The restaurant, an intimate 16-seater venue, features haute Japanese cuisine with delicacies such as sea urchin, served with the wine and drinks list curated by award-winning sommelier David Lawler. Guided by a formal, multi-course structure, the menu emphasises the honest, authentic flavours of the finest natural ingredients. Expert preparation, superb presentation and natural, fresh produce all define Ishizuka’s innovative fare, inviting diners to enjoy a previously formal and traditional dining experience in a contemporary and exciting atmosphere.