The King River Valley is about three hours’ drive north of Melbourne. It is accessible from Mansfield (to the south-east), Benalla (to the west) or from Wangaratta (to the north). Whitfield, Cheshunt and Moyhu are the main small settlements in the valley.
Some years ago we would sometimes drive through Whitfield when returning from skiing at Falls Creek. Then the valley had tobacco plantations but nothing really to stop for, with Whitfield being especially uninviting. Yet it was still a delightful drive through to Mansfield, where you find some of the most beautiful of Victoria’s countryside.
Now the valley is a hidden gem with vineyards, specialty producers, restaurants and accommodation options. We spent a weekend in the valley recently and were quite surprised by the sophisticated developments. Two nights in winter, albeit late winter, is not giving the valley the justice it deserves so we have promised to make a return visit. At least at that time of the year we had the wattle in full bloom, blossoms just emerging on fruit trees and deciduous trees starting to bud.
This post is largely photographic, covering aspects that impressed us. A recipe for gnocchi – a gem of a different kind – will be given in a separate blog post.
From Powers Lookout you see the valley at its best.
You can spend time by the King River itself.
You can do a walk to see Paradise Falls.
There are many wineries to visit, more than enough for a weekend. They tend to specialise in Italian grape varieties, given the predominance of Italian families in the valley involved in planting vines and making wine. The next photo was taken at the gate of Ciccone vineyards, while the next two were taken at Pizzini winery.
Where to eat:
You will find a range of options for eating, though not many in the evening. For breakfast and lunch the Whitty Cafe is a terrific spot.
Chrismont is a special place for lunch. As you drive up you will find a rather imposing building in a rather stark setting. However, inside it is modern and bright, the food is home style Italian cooking being enjoyed by day visitors from kilometres around. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You can enjoy their wine over lunch. Check out their wine list: the prices given are not by the glass!
Dal Zotto family run a large, modern cafe-restaurant inside what appears to be a working shed. On Friday nights it is open for dinner, serving pasta and pizza. The food is of a very high quality. We enjoyed a lovely cabbage salad with our pizza and terrific gnocchi with smoked chorizo and mushrooms.
The gnocchi were white, soft and fluffy. But they reminded us of how much trouble we have making potato gnocchi. It lead us to recall a semolina version of gnocchi which come out of the oven all golden, a little like the wattle blossom.
For the recipe, see: Semolina Gnocchi