SPORT LEISURE AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

What cold? Country Victoria’s hottest indoor attractions and activities

Visit a vibrant art gallery. This one in Bendigo is a gem. Credit: Bendigo Tourism

It’s true – regional Victoria heats up in winter.

Well, metaphorically speaking it does as a fabulous feast of fun, vibrant, and cosy attractions and experiences burst to life.

It’s a romantic season, a time to head outdoors to experience the region’s finest indoor attractions.

Cultural, gastronomical, visual, economical – it has it all.

And we’ve rounded up a great assortment of attractions and places to visit in Victoria in winter with a distinct inland focus.

This Ballarat attraction is not contained to the indoors only, but it is a winter must. Credit: Visit Ballarat

Art galleries

Bendigo Art Gallery

Looking for things to do in Victoria in winter? Head to an art gallery. And this one is an absolute gem. The warm, spacious rooms explode with colour as artworks detail a host of subjects, including local goldfields history. Better yet, the gallery’s permanent collection is backed by a first-rate exhibition program. One of Bendigo’s best attractions, winter or not.

Book now: BIG4 Bendigo Ascot Holiday Park, BIG4 Bendigo Marong Holiday Park, or BIG4 Bendigo Park Lane Holiday Park.

Bendigo's brilliant gallery abounds with bright and colourful art. Credit: Bendigo Tourism

Shepparton Art Museum

A massive Australian and international ceramics collection is the highlight here, which is well-supported by its many landscape paintings and thought-provoking contemporary art. A striking brand-new gallery is due to be completed in late 2020.

Book now: BIG4 Shepparton Park Lane Holiday Park.

A huge ceramics collection heads Shepparton Art Museum's many highlights. Credit: Greater Shepparton City Council

Latrobe Regional Gallery, Morwell

Inject some colour into your life with a wander around this expansive gallery. View a dynamic collection of varied works across several spaces: regional artists to national touring exhibitions all feature here. With tours, children’s programs, and talks, there’s plenty to keep visitors entertained.

Book now: BIG4 Traralgon Park Lane Holiday Park.

A warm welcome awaits at Latrobe Regional Gallery. Credit: Courtesy Latrobe Regional Gallery. Image credit: TM PHOTO/Tanja Milbourne

Castlemaine Art Museum

This grand art-deco building houses a wonderful collection of art and historical pieces with a distinct Australian flavour. Its central focus is notable works from the late 1800s, regarded as the ‘golden period of Australian painting’, featuring some of the nation’s most talented artists.

Book now: BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park.

Golden days: Castlemaine Art Museum features plenty of revered works.

Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery

There’s plenty to see within this lively space, which mixes permanent collections with roving exhibitions. Among its mainstays is a broad Australian naïve (visual) art collection as well as various pieces depicting the local area. Well worth a visit.

Book now: BIG4 Riverside Swan Hill or BIG4 Swan Hill.

A lively space welcomes you to Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery. Credit: Swan Hill Rural City Council

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Prepare for a visual banquet inside the oldest regional gallery in Australia. This Ballarat beauty showcases exceptional art from some of the nation’s most talented creators – including Sidney Nolan, Norman Lindsay, and Tom Roberts – and couples this with roving exhibitions and much more. One of the best indoor activities in Victoria.

Book now: BIG4 Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park or BIG4 Ballarat Windmill Holiday Park.

One of the oldest and the best: The Art Gallery of Ballarat.

More exciting regional Victorian galleries here.

Wineries and cellar-doors

Rutherglen wine region

Where to go in Victoria in winter? A prized wine region, of course! Rutherglen is steeped in gold-rush history and its wine heritage is just as pronounced. Today, the town and its surrounds boast a rich collection of boutique wineries offering a wide selection of varieties, including robust reds that will warm the heart.

Book now: BIG4 Borderland Wodonga, BIG4 Wangaratta North Cedars Holiday Park, or BIG4 NRMA Yarrawonga Mulwala Holiday Park.

Rich, robust reds are a signature of Rutherglen. Credit: Winemakers of Rutherglen/Destination Rutherglen

Heathcote wine region

Another region with a golden past, Heathcote is revered for its top-shelf shiraz. Clustered wineries make cellar-door hopping a simple task in this delightful part of the state.

Book now: BIG4 parks in Bendigo, BIG4 Seymour Holiday Park, or BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park.

Sip on hearty reds in Heathcote. Location: The Shiraz Republic. Credit: Bendigo Tourism

Yarra Valley wine region

Arguably Victoria’s most famous wine region, the Yarra Valley explodes with cellar-door options that blend big-name producers with cosy boutique wineries that are well-suited to winter.

Book now: BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park.

Domaine Chandon is one of many excellent wineries within the Yarra Valley.

Swan Hill wine region

There are some brilliant red varietals to enjoy in this excellent grape-growing area, which delivers a select but emerging offering of wineries. It adds to the appeal of a romantic mid-year escape to the Murray River.

Book now: BIG4 Riverside Swan Hill or BIG4 Swan Hill.

The appeal of a mid-year Murray River escape is enhanced by Swan Hill's wineries. Credit: Swan Hill Rural City Council

Hot country Victoria accommodation deals are here.

Museums and cultural attractions

The Army Museum in Bandiana, near Wodonga

You could dismiss this as just another military museum with a few bits and pieces here and there. Instead, this underrated attraction hoards a massive collection of military artefacts, including tanks and other vehicles, guns, medals, and so much more. Allow plenty of time to view it all.

Book now: BIG4 Borderland Wodonga.

Underrated: The Army Museum has plenty to keep visitors occupied. Credit: Courtesy Wodonga City Council

Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum, near Swan Hill

The focus here is on a very specific piece of World War II history, but it’s thoroughly enthralling all the same. This was the site of a secret repair depot for flying boats used during this major conflict and the many displays, along with passionate volunteer staff, explore this theme in great detail. A hidden gem.

Book now: BIG4 Riverside Swan Hill or BIG4 Swan Hill.

Hidden gem: Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum. Credit: Swan Hill Rural City Council

Shepparton Motor Museum

Admire more than 100 impressive vehicles, including vintage cars, trucks, motorbikes, and pedal cars under the one roof. This extensive vehicle collection is coupled with a wide array of fascinating motoring-related memorabilia, making the museum a must for petrol heads.

Book now: BIG4 Shepparton Park Lane Holiday Park.

The Shepparton Motor Museum has a stellar collection. Credit: Greater Shepparton City Council

Golden Dragon Museum, Bendigo

Chinese culture has a rich past and influence in Bendigo resulting from the gold-rush days, and this vibrant attraction is the best place to explore the compelling link. There is a cluster of interesting, intricate, and opulent indoor and outdoor attractions to admire, including some seriously ancient relics.

Book now: BIG4 Bendigo Ascot Holiday Park, BIG4 Bendigo Marong Holiday Park, or BIG4 Bendigo Park Lane Holiday Park.

So much colour, so much history: The Golden Dragon Museum. Credit: Bendigo Tourism

Bonegilla Migrant Experience, near Wodonga

While not completely indoors, this attraction provides a thorough insight into an engrossing snippet of Australian history. Post-World War II, Bonegilla was a migrant reception and training centre, and a whopping 300,000-plus migrants wandered through its corridors. Today, the centre retraces this interesting past and the countless stories that go with it.

Book now: BIG4 Borderland Wodonga.

Get up to speed on a captivating slice of Australian history at Bonegilla. Credit: Wodonga Council

Cosy pubs and eateries

Healesville Hotel

If you’re thinking about what to do in Victoria in winter, a visit to a cracking country pub should be in the mix. And the Healesville Hotel is a beauty. Central and instantly inviting, this wooden-floored, multi-section pub is superbly suited to a winter’s day – Sunday roast, anyone? It’s extensive menu places a firm emphasis on locally sourced produce and has a tempting drinks menu to back it up.

Book now: BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park.

The Healesville Hotel has cosy winter dining written all over it.

Alexandra Hotel, near Taggerty

This is a classic country pub albeit with a touch of class. It’s rustic, has a homely feel, and features a delectable menu with plenty of hearty winter dishes. A decent selection of craft ales and local wines adds to its extensive appeal.

Book now: BIG4 Taggerty Holiday Park.

Head in for tasty tucker at the warm and cosy Alexandra Hotel.

Das Kaffeehaus and Coffee Basics, Castlemaine

This gorgeous and spacious café is situated within Castlemaine’s The Mill precinct, a heritage area that’s been rebirthed as a foodie, produce, and arts hub. Das Kaffeehaus dishes up excellent coffee alongside its Austrian-inspired menu.

Book now: BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park.

Das Kaffeehaus has a strong allure.

Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld

The Royal Mail is a Victorian icon, steeped in history having opened in 1855. While it’s been refurbished since, the hotel retains its charm and is a great place to dine. It features two restaurants – one high end; the other more casual – and the bulk of its produce is grown on site.

Book now: BIG4 NRMA Halls Gap Holiday Park.

Fit for a king or queen: The iconic Royal Mail Hotel. Credit: Emily Weaving

The Brewer’s Table, Seymour

The weather won’t be a factor when you stop by The Brewer’s Table. This cosy eatery is a popular place featuring seasonal menus that emphasise local produce and beverages. The coffee is highly regarded, too.

Book now: BIG4 Seymour Holiday Park.


Family-friendly attractions

Sovereign Hill’s Winter Wonderlights, Ballarat

Ballarat comes alive in the cooler months when the city hosts its exciting event-packed Winter Festival. Among the standouts is Sovereign Hill’s Winter Wonderlights (29 June-21 July 2019), which transforms this award-winning attraction into a vibrant, colour-filled land with a flurry of action for all ages. Sure, some of it is outdoors but it still warrants a mention here.

Book now: BIG4 Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park or BIG4 Ballarat Windmill Holiday Park.

Sovereign Hill’s Winter Wonderlights is a visual feast.

Discovery Science & Technology Centre, Bendigo

When it comes to indoor activities for kids in Victoria, this fun-filled educational attraction has immense appeal. Inside is a series of clever, quirky, and unique interactive exhibits that will captivate children big and small. The centre is home to the southern hemisphere's tallest vertical slide, and the planetarium is an enthralling addition.

Book now: BIG4 Bendigo Ascot Holiday Park, BIG4 Bendigo Marong Holiday Park, or BIG4 Bendigo Park Lane Holiday Park.

Kids will be captivated by the many exhibits at the science and technology centre. Credit: Bendigo Tourism

Inflatable World, various locations

Looking for somewhere for excitable children to burn off energy? Enter Inflatable World. This excellent indoor facility features a series of stimulating inflatable attractions, and parents are encouraged to join in the action. The perfect rainy-day activity in Victoria across several locations, including Ballarat and Mildura.

Book now: BIG4 parks in Ballarat or Mildura.

Giant-sized fun exists at Inflatable World.

Ballarat Municipal Observatory and Museum

The beauty of extended night-time in winter is that you can conceivably visit and get the most from attractions like this prior to kids’ bedtimes. Plus, winter nights are regarded as offering the best viewing of the night sky. Here, avid and knowledgeable staff will guide you around the universe and all its wonders.

Book now: BIG4 Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park or BIG4 Ballarat Windmill Holiday Park.

Spot the stars, and much more, at Ballarat observatory. Credit: Visit Ballarat

Parky's Wonderland Indoor Play Centre, Traralgon

Guests at BIG4 Traralgon don’t need to venture far to keep little ones entertained on a rainy day. That’s because within the park’s boundaries is a massive multi-level indoor play centre complete with a wealth of fun. This facility is free for those staying at the park, so finding indoor activities for toddlers and bigger kids is sorted with ease.

Book now: BIG4 Traralgon Park Lane Holiday Park.

Fun times: Parky's Wonderland is a hit with kids.

Breweries and bars

Bright Brewery

One look at Bright Brewery’s vibrant taps and bottles, and you’ll quickly forget the grey skies outside if they so exist. This indie stalwart is a winner: excellent tap range with various brews suited to cooler days, tasty food, and an inviting indoor (and outdoor) setup.

Book now: BIG4 Bright Holiday Park or BIG4 Porepunkah Holiday Park.

Grey day? Bright beer.

Hop Temple, Ballarat

This spacious, funky, and chilled-out venue is the coolest kid on the craft beer block in Ballarat. Its substantial rotating tap and bottled beer range is backed by a generous wine list, and cocktails and spirits are on the menu, too. Its good, honest pub food won't leave you hungry, and the live music is well-suited to a Sunday session.

Book now: BIG4 Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park or BIG4 Ballarat Windmill Holiday Park.

Hop Temple is a shrine to good beer, good food, good wine, and good times.

Malt Shed, Wangaratta

A newer player to the craft-beer scene, the rustic Malt Shed is ideal for an ale when the weather is pale. Its own beers are delicious, and the tap range features various guest beers, too. With a flickering fire, food, and family-friendly vibes, this is an excellent place to settle in for a few winter frothies.

Book now: BIG4 Wangaratta North Cedars Holiday Park.

Settle in for a few brews at the rustic Malt Shed. Credit: Malt Shed

Coldstream Brewery, Yarra Valley

This brewery is particularly apt for this article. On the roof of Coldstream stands a bronze-coloured statue named Shivering Man. Inside, it’s nothing but warm and snug, with a distinct pub vibe. The beer is fantastic: seasonals mix with core brews, and the hearty porter goes down a treat in cooler months. And the food is top notch, too.

Book now: BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park.

The Shivering Man stands tall at the front of cosy Coldstream Brewery. Credit: Coldstream Brewery

Fossey's Ginporium and Distillery, Mildura

Housed inside a historical building with a nice, relaxed interior, the distillery has immediate appeal. Grab a tasting paddle and sip on a great range of delicious hand-crafted gin. The friendly staff will talk you through the gin-making process, too.

Book now: BIG4 Golden River Holiday Park or BIG4 Mildura Getaway Holiday Park.

Gintastic: Fossey's Ginporium and Distillery.

Other attractions

The Restorers Barn, Castlemaine

This is one of those attractions you have to visit for yourself to truly understand. It’s quirky, it’s filled with the most eclectic of odds and ends, and it silently defies you to walk out empty-handed.

Book now: BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park.

Funky find: The Restorers Barn is eclectic.

Bendigo Tramways

Rain or shine, Bendigo’s vintage trams are a fun way to see the city’s landmarks and soak up local history. Themed Friday night drinks trains and ‘royal’ Saturday evening tours at selected times add more colour and fun to this novel experience.

Book now: BIG4 Bendigo Ascot Holiday Park, BIG4 Bendigo Marong Holiday Park, or BIG4 Bendigo Park Lane Holiday Park.

All aboard for a fun outing on Bendigo’s vintage trams. Credit: Bendigo Tourism

The Cube Wodonga

Enjoy a night out at The Cube Wodonga. This vibrant multi-purpose, conference, and performance facility is situated in Wodonga’s CBD and hosts touring bands and theatre shows, local performances, film screenings, and more. The performance season includes comedy, dance, music, morning melodies and children’s theatre complete with a café and bar.

Book now: BIG4 Borderland Wodonga.

Colour and fun explodes from The Cube Wodonga. Credit: Wodonga City Council

Theatre Royal, Castlemaine

This historical art deco-style structure enhances the romanticism of a cosy winter escape in Castlemaine. Theatre Royal features a cute wine bar, a bistro, and a cinema and it also earns accolades as a live music venue. So versatile!

Book now: BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park.

Theatre Royal makes for a great evening in Castlemaine.

Have you visited any of these attractions and have thoughts to share about your experience? Or perhaps there’s something we’ve missed that we should know about? Please leave a comment below.

Isn’t it time you had a mid-year escape? Book your next BIG4 break now.

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