Royal Mail Hotel

98 Parker St, Dunkeld VIC 3294, Australia

Nestled into the base of Mount Sturgeon, at the southern entrance of Grampians National Park roughly three and a half hours from Melbourne, the Royal Mail Hotel combines a bush experience with world-class food and wine. The property is a slow-paced reprieve at the site where the town of Dunkeld was first settled. Accommodations range from minimalist mountain-view rooms bedecked with furniture and light fixtures by Melbourne designer Jardan to the Mt. Sturgeon sheep station, home to a six-bedroom homestead as well as eight dog-friendly sandstone cottages with bathrooms built inside old water tanks. Gardens play a prominent role in the Royal Mail experience; the hotel has the largest kitchen garden in Australia, which supplies the restaurant with nearly all its organic produce, and a 24-acre private garden is home to many rare indigenous and non-indigenous plants. With the Grampian Mountains and their year-round waterfalls right at the hotel’s back door, the Royal Mail is also a prime base for exploring the wilderness and its native wildlife. After a day in the woods, guests can indulge in an eight-course tasting menu with matched wines from one of the top-ranked cellars in the world.

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Garden Medley for Lunch in Dunkeld, Victoria

During a road trip along the Great Ocean Road, we stopped near the Grampians in a small town of Dunkeld. We enjoyed lunch at the historic Royal Mail Hotel--blink and you’ll miss it (in fact, we did on the first pass). After receiving a tour of the kitchen’s garden, the daily bounty ended up on our plate--an array of heirloom carrots, radishes, asparagus, beets, cauliflower, spring onions, and pinches of mixed herbs. I’ve never seen such an abundance of vibrant produce in the middle of November--my mind was still thinking about cranberry and sweet potatoes back at home, but this dish let me dream about a Spring that lasts forever.

Royal Mail Hotel in Victoria

For a farm experience down under, stay at the bucolic Royal Mail Hotel, located about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne at the southern edge of Grampians National Park. The hotel’s most peaceful lodgings are the bluestone cottages on the Mt. Sturgeon Estate, once used as housing for sheepshearers, now equipped with fireplaces and kitchenettes, but no televisions or phones. Food is also one of the main draws here: Executive chef Dan Hunter picks ingredients from the hotel’s sprawling backyard garden and orchards. During a sunset walk after a meal that included homegrown heirloom tomatoes, I spotted a flock of sheep grazing under a lavender sky.

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