FREEMAN ON FORD, BEECHWORTH

Built in 1876, Freeman on Ford was originally the Oriental Bank, once favoured by Beechworth's then substantial Chinese gold-mining population. Designed in the Renaissance palazzo mode by prominent Melbourne architect Leonard Terry, in recent years Freeman on Ford has seen meticulous renovations in which the building's Victorian Italianate architecture has been returned to its original splendour.  Operating as a Bed & Breakfast - expect warm country hospitality.

Stay at Lancemore Milawa during these tours

King Valley & High Country

Wander off the beaten path to the King Valley & High Country

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ROYAL MAIL HOTEL, DUNKELD

Royal Mail Hotel is designed to capture the stunning beauty of the Southern Grampians. The property features sweeping views, multi-award-winning dining and cellar, bars and quality accommodation.  The hotel features two restaurants, the two-hatted Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel, open Wednesday to Saturday evenings and for lunch on Saturday, and Parker Street Project - casual diner, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days.

Deluxe Mountain View Rooms offer the best views of Gariwerd (Grampians National Park) on the property. Recently refurbished, luxuriously appointed and architecturally designed to capture the beauty of the natural setting, warm tones and timber finishes enhance the contemporary design. Each room features a king bed facing the mountains, a spacious bathroom, complete with walk in shower, heated floors and beautiful bathroom amenities. The rooms are conveniently located on-site at the Royal Mail Hotel; moments away from award-winning food and wine experiences.

Stay at Royal Mail Hotel during these tours

GREAT OCEAN ROAD & GRAMPIANS (SIGNATURE 3-DAY TOUR)

Trace the rugged coastline of the Great Ocean Road through to the dramatic sandstone mountains of the Grampians National Park. Diverse scenery, wildlife, plus incredible food & wine.

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LEVANTINE HILL - YARRA VALLEY

Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, just over one hour’s drive from Melbourne, is Levantine Hill, a magnificent vineyard estate producing award-winning wines and home to a winery restaurant that is one the jewels of Victoria’s regional dining scene.  It is a must-visit for true food and wine aficionados and Acacia’s choice for  dining when visiting the Yarra Valley.

Levantine Hill vines thrive in steep clay loam slopes and valleys which combine to create a distinct micro-climate in each paddock. The unique environment, along with the ultra-low yielding vines, form the foundation of the production of wines of rare elegance and power that reflect the specific vintage condition of each vineyard site.

 

Winemaker, Paul Bridgeman leading a tasting of Levantine Hill's award-winning wines for Acacia's guests.

Celebrated winemaker and local legend, Paul Bridgeman joined the Levantine Hill team in 2013, following a 5-year stint at the neighbouring iconic Yarra Yering vineyard. His extensive expertise and passion in small batch wine making has not gone unnoticed on the world stage. Last month Levantine Hill claimed three awards at the 2018 International Wine Challenge in London, widely accepted as the world’s finest and most meticulously judged wine competition.  The Levantine Hill Estate 2015 Syrah was awarded Best Victorian Shiraz, Best Australian Shiraz and Best Australian Red Wine.

And as a dining experience, Ezard at Levantine Hill is unforgettable.  Guest’s first impressions are formed by the restaurant and cellar door’s breathtaking architectural statement. The venue’s 100 metre sweeping elliptical roof  perfectly compliments the private barrel-like tasting booths inspired by the iconic shape of a wine barrel.

Under the leadership of renowned Melbourne chef Teage Ezard, visitors can enjoy European dishes created using superior locally sourced produce. Acacia’s guests on a Yarra Valley Private Tour can enjoy the more casual sophistication of the All Day Dining menu with classic dishes designed to share, or if they select our Yarra Valley Epicurean tour, indulge in a sublime five course degustation menu all perfectly matched to Levantine Hill wines in the Signature Restaurant.

To compliment the perfect visit to Levantine Hill, we recommend arriving in style by helicopter on Acacia's Yarra Valley & Helicopter Journey departing from the edge of the Yarra River in the heart of Melbourne.

 

      


DRIFT HOUSE, PORT FAIRY

Drift House is one of the latest additions to the Australian boutique accommodation landscape. Located right in the heart of the beautiful coastal town of Port Fairy in south-west Victoria, it sets a new standard of design for luxury accommodation – one that relates to the history of site and the place, but from a contemporary perspective.

Tours including Drift House, Port Fairy

Great Ocean Road (Signature 2-day tour)

A leisurely two-day exploration of this majestic coastal wonder.

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GOURMET GREAT OCEAN ROAD

Recognised as one of the world’s most scenic coastal road journeys, the Great Ocean Road is rightfully a popular day trip for visitors to Melbourne. However, there is more to this destination than meets the eye. While the glorious surf beaches, lush rain-forest, and towering cliffs are unforgettable highlights, the region's gourmet credentials warrant attention. From acclaimed restaurants serving the freshest locally sourced ingredients to farm gates creating award-winning artisanal fare, here are some gourmet highlights that will reward a visit.


La Bimba

Well located in the charming seaside town of Apollo Bay, a halfway point on the Great Ocean Road, La Bimba is the ultimate epicurean lunch destination. The restaurant overlooks the foreshore with views to the beach and on a sunny day with windows retracted, the space is awash with natural light and fresh sea air.

Sourcing local fish, red meat and poultry is at the heart of La Bimba’s restaurant story. Ensuring ingredients are gathered from fishermen and farmers in the Apollo Bay region is an essential value to farmer, chef and restaurant owner, Steve Earl.

Highlights of the menu include a seafood paella, the superb Portarlington mussels, and baked whole fish which might be locally caught snapper or garfish.  The restaurant recently installed a wood fire grill, perfect for the mouth-watering grass-fed beef.  The wine list is replete with interesting Victorian wines including the highly recommended Otway wine producer, Heroes.


Apostle Whey Cheese

Venture just a few kilometres inland from the iconic 12 Apostles and you find yourself in the heart of the Heytesbury Settlement, some of the richest dairy country in the world supplying around 25 per cent of Australia's dairy needs. With lush green rolling hills dotted with Friesian and Jersey cows, it is a landscape reminiscent of the Irish countryside.

Julian and Dianne Benson are original settlers of the region having farmed in the area for over 35 years, and for the past 12 years they have produced award-winning cheeses on site.  The family’s dairy herd has been bred to produce milk with high butterfat and protein levels, which is critical to the flavours they achieve with their cheeses.

Apostle Whey Cheese offers personal tastings of their delectable range, including white moulds, creamy blues and, our favourite, marinated feta. And if the timing is right, you can watch the cheese makers in action from a viewing window in the tasting room.


Timboon Fine Ice Cream

The quaint hamlet of Timboon is perfectly located in dairy heartland and is renowned for its quality dairy farm gates and providores.  Any visitor to the town should make a bee line to Timboon Fine Ice Cream to sample premium boutique ice cream unmistakable for its creamy smoothness.

For the last 18 years Tim Marwood and Caroline Simmons have been making their famous ice cream on their property 7km from Timboon. Fresh milk comes from a neighbouring family farm and fresh cream from nearby Camperdown Dairy.

Their striking architecturally designed store is located in the heart of the township and offers guests the opportunity to sample ice creams before they settle on their choice.  And that decision can be a difficult one with innovative flavours such as Orange and Cardamom, Passionfruit Meringue, and Maple and Cinnamon.  Our favourite is Whisky Cream flavoured with the locally produced spirit from Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, a stone’s throw from the store.


Timboon Railway Shed Distillery

In a region with a history of illicit whiskey production dating back to the 1890’s, Timboon Railway Shed Distillery is now the home to some of Victoria’s finest locally, and legally produced, spirits.

The working distillery boasts not only single malt whisky, but a range of spirits as well - premium vodka, limoncello, strawberry schnapps and the very popular coffee cream. Visitors have the opportunity to talk to distiller Josh Walker (no relation to Johnny) about our distilling process and try some of their malts, which, according to noted whiskey reviewer Angelo Capuano of Malt Mileage, are “as smooth as new milk but with some ferocity and fire’.

The Timboon Railway Shed Distillery also houses a restaurant perfect for a lunch stopover. The menu is casual but classy and showcases the finest locally produced artisanal fare such as Western Plains pork belly, Beeac prime Suffolk lamb, and the delicious, aforementioned Apostle Whey cheeses.


GORGE Chocolates

Nestled between the Great Otway National Park and the rolling hills of the Heytesbury Settlement, GORGE Chocolates offers something of a country experience.  The shop itself is actually a farm shed in which one section has been fitted out for the shop and chocolate making room.  The rest of the shed still serves as a farm shed for the 100-acre property.  Cows, horses, a sheep or two, a goat, chooks & (friendly) dogs are also kept on the property and may be seen from the shops’ window.

GORGE’s chocolate treats are handmade on-site by expert chocolatiers and well-known locals Jason Spaull and Melanie Pollock, using a special type of Belgian chocolate often blended with carefully selected Australian ingredients such as Buderim ginger, our personal favourite.  We also recommend their hot chocolate, made with real Belgian chocolate of course – rich and delicious.


 


NEW YEARS EVE IN MELBOURNE

Visitors seeing in the New Year in Melbourne are in for a treat.  As the sun sets over the city on a balmy summer night the streets are abuzz in anticipation of the midnight countdown.  And on the stroke of midnight the skyline will light up in an unprecedented display of fireworks with the Yarra River offering dress circle seats. For an unforgettable experience, here are Acacia's suggestions for the hottest tickets in town. Bookings are essential and tickets are selling fast.

 

Elevation New Year’s Eve at Eureka Tower

Ring in the new year on Level 88 of Eureka Tower offering the ultimate views of fireworks across Melbourne.  An upmarket evening of live entertainment and dancing.

Cost:

Silver Ticket $210 – access to Level 88, canapes, beer, wine (8.00pm to 1.00am)

Gold Ticket $300 – access to Level 88 and exclusive Level 89, substantial canapes, grazing dishes, beer, wine, basic spirits (8.00pm to 2.00am)

Time:  From 8.00pm

Location:  Eureka Tower, 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank

Click here for more information 

 

New Year's Eve Luxury Catamaran Cruise

Make New Year's Eve a night to remember with a luxurious fireworks cruise on the Yarra River and Victoria Harbour.  Cruise guests have the advantage of being able to view the fireworks from a clear vantage point on the water in Victoria Harbour. The night includes a glass of French Champagne on boarding, wine, premium beers and soft drinks and gourmet catering.

Cost:  $750 per person

Time:  8.30pm – 12.30am

Location:  Melbourne City Marina, 8 New Quay Promenade, Docklands

Click here for more information

 

Taxi Kitchen NYE Oscar's Party

With an enviable location overlooking Melbourne’s Yarra River, Taxi Kitchen is always a hot ticket for New Year’s Eve celebrations.  Enjoy 5 delectable courses at this acclaimed restaurant and enjoy the perfect vantage point for viewing the fireworks.  The theme is Oscar’s glamour and the venue encourages all guests to dress to the occasion.

Cost:  $195

Time:  Bookings from 8.00pm

Location: Federation Square

Click here for more information

 

New Year’s Eve at Ludlow Bar & Dining Room

This year Ludlow is taking you to fabulous Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve.   Located on the banks of the Yarra River, Ludlow offers wonderful views of the fireworks over Melbourne, entertainment & DJ’s until 3am.

For those wishing to dine, Ludlow offers a 3-course set menu on the terrace or a cocktail party offering 5-hours of sparkling, wine, beer, basic spirits, and canapes.

Cost:   Dining - $130 per person (dining room) or $170 per person (terrace dining)

Cocktails - $180 per person

Time:  Dining –  8.30pm to late

Cocktails – 7.00pm to midnight

Location:  6 Riverside Quay, Southbank

Click here for more information

 

Pure South Dining - New Year’s Eve 2017

Pure South Dining is a modern, special occasion restaurant in central Melbourne with iconic views down on the river with a stunning CBD backdrop. The cuisine draws inspiration from farmers, fishermen and artisan producers of King Island, Flinders Island & Tasmania.

Celebrate all the glamour of New Year’s Eve in the city and dine with front row seats to the spectacular fireworks show.  Pure South Dining offers a premium dining experience on New Year’s Eve.

Cost:  $229 p.p. Dinner & premium beverage package of wine, beer, soft drinks, and a cocktail

$269 p.p. Guaranteed Window Table

Time:  Bookings from 8.00pm

Location: Southgate Precinct

Click here for more information

 

Australian Pops Orchestra New Year’s Eve Concert

A long-held tradition in Melbourne, the Australian Pops Orchestra is again proud to present the keenly awaited 2017 New Year’s Eve concert in Melbourne’s outstanding Hamer Hall.

Under the baton of Australia’s celebrated conductor Warwick Stengards, and with gifted performer and Melbourne identity Denis Walter as Master of Ceremonies, the evening promises breathtaking performances of some of the most popular stage musical songs from past to present.

Joining Denis will be Australia’s leading lady of stage, Silvie Paladino, together with the talented musical theatre performers Simon Gleeson and Kane Alexander.  With the magnificent 65-piece Australian Pops Orchestra this is an event not to be missed.

Cost:  Tickets – premium seating $160.

Time:  8.00pm

Location:  Hamer Hall, Arts Centre

Click here for more information

 

Fireworks (Family Friendly)

Early evening fireworks extravaganza at Yarra Park.  With a feature screening of Disney’s Zootopia, live music and fireworks at 9.30pm, there will be fun for the whole family.

Cost: Free

Time: 6.00pm — 10.00pm

Location: Yarra Park (next to the MCG), bounded by Punt Road Oval, Brunton Ave and Wellington Parade

 

Fireworks (Melbourne CBD Live Sites)

Enjoy dress circle positions at Melbourne’s official fireworks at one of four live sites across the CBD.  With celebrations at Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens, Docklands and Kings Domain, there are plenty of options on offer.

Public transport will run all night and each site has food outlets, live music and a special multimedia countdown to ring in 2017.

Cost: Free

Time: 9pm — 1am

Locations: Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens, Docklands and Kings Domain

 

Federation Square Block Party

Melbourne’s rich and diverse arts scene will be centre stage at Federation Square as Multicultural Arts Victoria promises a fun, dynamic night to conclude 2016.

When the clock gets close to midnight, Melbourne’s own Quarter Street will get families on their feet for a rendition of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.

Cost: Free

Time: 8pm — late

Location:  Federation Square


HALAL RESTAURANTS OF DISTINCTION

Mamak (Malaysian)

366 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Mamak is an award winning restaurant that has garnered something of a cult following in Melbourne. Named after the roadside food stalls of Kuala Lumpur, Mamak offers great value Malay dishes with bold and authentic flavours with special emphasis on the roti, satays and traditional street eats made to order. Mamak's sweet roti dessert has fast become it's signature dish.

Maha (Modern Middle Eastern)

21 Bond St, Melbourne

Recipient of an Age Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat award each year since 2009, Shane Delia’s opulent basement venue is home to the city’s most incredible Middle Eastern flavours.  Choose from two, four, five or six hearty courses served as shared banquets or degustation dining. All will feature Maha’s signature 12-hour lamb shoulder, perfectly yielding and perfumed with coriander and cumin.  Maha is also an excellent choice for vegetarian dining with a sumptuous and creative degustation menu.

Supernormal (Asian Fusion)

180 Flinders Ln, Melbourne

Andrew McConnell’s bustling restaurant on Melbourne’s esteemed Flinders Lane eating strip offers a wildly popular menu inspired by the great Asian cities of Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul.  All meat dishes use halal certified meat with menu items designed for sharing.  Signature dishes include the very popular New England lobster roll and slow-cooked Szechuan lamb.

Gazi (Greek)

2 Exhibition St, Melbourne

George Calombaris’s delicious Greek hangout is a casual but arresting dining room featuring a ceiling lined with a wave of terracotta pots.  The unpretentious atmosphere is a perfect companion to the Hellenic street food on offer.  Everything except their lamb offerings is certified halal.

Sezar (Modern Armenian)

6 Melbourne Pl, Melbourne

Offering a fresh and modern approach to traditional Armenian cooking, Sezar’s kitchen skilfully combines a mouth-watering array of spices and flavours with fresh meats, fish, vegetables and fruits, to create the unique flavours of the region. Most meat dishes are prepared using halal-certified meat and while the kitchen itself is not 100% halal, utensils are strictly kept separately to avoid cross contamination. The Bastourma spiced beef cheek and famous triple cooked chips are excellent options.

Abla’s (Lebanese)

109 Elgin St, Carlton

Abla Amad’s homely restaurant in Carlton is something of an institution on the Melbourne culinary scene. Her kitchen brings together one hundred authentic Lebanese recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next including time-honoured dishes such as kibbee, tabouleh, vine leaves, kafta and Abla’s famous chicken and rice – an aromatic meal of chicken flavoured with spices and almonds.

Epocha (European)

49 Rathdowne St, Carlton

Epocha is the perfect choice for old-school dining with top-notch service. In what has become a foodie’s favourite, the restaurant ethos is all about pairing super-fresh, locally sourced produce with traditional cooking techniques. All meat dishes are certified halal, including one of the best lamb shoulder roasts in the city.

 


VEGETARIAN DINING IN MELBOURNE

Attica (Award-Winning)

74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea

Ben Shewry’s legendary culinary establishment was recently ranked no 32 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the highest ranking of any in Australia. Attica’s 8-course vegetarian degustation includes his trademark “A Simple Dish of Potato Cooked in the Earth It Was Grown” and his high-brow reworking of the Aussie classic, “Smashed Avo on Toast”.  The ultimate special occasion vegetarian dining experience.

Maha (Modern Middle Eastern)

21 Bond St, Melbourne

Located in a lush subterranean parlour, Shane Delia’s esteemed Maha is not just for the carnivorous (albeit famed for its 12-hour lamb shoulder).  Using a fresh, innovative and unrestricted approach with Mediterranean influences, he skillfully redefines the ancient Middle Eastern cuisine through modern dining. Maha’s vegetarian offerings include menus of two, four, five or six courses served as shared banquets or degustation dining. And to cap off the perfect meal, savour Delia’s renowned turkish delight filled doughnuts, with maple syrup and walnuts.

Saravanaa Bhavan (Casual South Indian Vegetarian)

131 King St, Melbourne

The recent arrival in Melbourne of Saravanaa Bhavan, one of the largest vegetarian restaurant chains in the world, was a godsend for many of Melbourne’s Indian community, especially considering the dominance of North Indian and Nepalese dishes in Indian restaurants in Australia. The restaurant is simple, inexpensive, but renowned for extremely delicious and authentic South Indian food.  The masala dosa and sambar are especially popular.

Nirankar (Indian/Nepalese)

174 Queen St, Melbourne

While not exclusively vegetarian, Nirankar has an extensive vegetarian menu and delivers excellent North Indian and Nepalese flavours in an elegant CBD location.

Transformer (Modern Vegan)

99 Rose St, Fitzroy

Melbourne’s premier modern vegan restaurant is aptly located in a sophisticated warehouse just off hipster-friendly Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. The inventive menu is out and proud vegetarian devoid of mock meat dishes designed to appease carnivores. Signature dishes include steamed bao made from spelt and seeds, wrapped around crisp tofu with gochujang-spiced mayo and king oyster mushrooms with confit garlic & pine nut purée.

Smith & Daughters (Modern Vegan)

175 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Challenging the perception that vegan food is bland, chef Shannon Martinez’s Latin roots feature in this welcome addition to Melbourne’s burgeoning vegetarian dining scene. Signature dishes include the summer salad of melons with pickled pineapple, jalapeno and fresh mint and the paella fritters. And it’s not just the food that stars at Smith & Daughters, it also has a cracker cocktail list that should not be overlooked.

Vegie Bar (Casual Vegetarian)

380 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

From humble beginnings over 20 years ago, Vegie Bar has grown to become one of Melbourne’s most popular haunts for both the health conscious and the hungry. Serving a vast array of dishes inspired by the world over, Vegie Bar continues to treat the masses to delicious and accessible contemporary vegetarian cooking. This perpetually buzzing and casual restaurant does not take bookings.

Matcha Mylkbar (New Age Vegan Café)

72A Acland St, St Kilda

So hot right now, Matcha Mylkbar has recently come to the attention of New York Times readers following Thor actor Chris Hemsworth proclamation that he has fallen in love with the new age vegan café.  The menu’s inspiration is formed around the plant-based diets of the long-lived populations of the world’s so-called blue zones - Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Ikaria in Greece.


SOUTH MELBOURNE MARKET

It’s official!  Melbourne has just been named the world’s most liveable city by The Economist for the seventh year running, once again beating perennial rivals Vienna and Vancouver. While Melbourne received full marks in the important categories of healthcare, education, and infrastructure, we got to thinking about what attributes of Melbourne truly elevate its liveability compared to other cities in this nation.  Personally, we love Melbourne’s cultural institutions, quality restaurants and bars, trams, and proximity to such diversely beautiful regions as the Mornington Peninsula and Goldfields.  But above all, we love her inner-city markets!

For 150 years now, South Melbourne Market has been an integral part of the fabric of Melbourne's food culture. It is the quintessential village market that is not only a very pleasant place to pick up fresh produce and top-notch seafood, but it's also a go-to for morning flat whites, afternoon pastries and paella at night.

Here is a list of our top 5 gourmet food experiences at South Melbourne market:


Agathé Pâtisserie

Agathé Pâtisserie
It’s hard to miss the aroma of warm croissants made fresh on site at Agathé Pâtisserie - the ultimate allurement smashing best made diet plans in its wake. And while there invariably will be a queue, you can watch the pâtissers work their magic while you patiently wait. We love the almond croissants and escargots.

Claypots Evening Star
When it comes to seafood, how can it get any fresher than Claypots? Utilising produce sourced from the market fishmongers and cooked right there in front of your eyes, it’s a contender for Melbourne’s best seafood. Located on the corner of the market allotment, the eclectic internal dining area is essentially a long bar with stools and on a warm summer’s evening is reminiscent of a bustling Galician seafood house.
The menu is simple, fresh, and delicious with daily specials scrawled on a chalkboard. And as if you needed to be enticed, the ridiculously fresh Coffin Bay oysters are a steal at just a dollar a piece.

The Cheese Room at Emerald Deli

The Cheese Room at Emerald Deli
One of the market’s best-kept food secrets is tucked away in a cool room at the back of the popular Emerald Deli. The impressive walk-in cellar has rustic wooden shelves stacked high with some 200 rare and exotic cheeses. Giant wheels of Comté and Camembert adorn the walls and deli owner, Maria, is often on hand to provide a sample of something new to push your boundaries. And if cheese is not your thing, the deli has an impressive range of macarons to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Atypic Chocolate
The new kid on the block, Atypic Chocolate, is creating quite a buzz. Established by French trained pastry chef-turned-chocolatier Charles Lemai and his business partner Chi, Atypic Chocolate is handcrafting single-origin, small batch chocolate from bean-to-bar in an innovative new stall.
Customers can watch it all - from roasting, dehusking also known as winnowing, and grinding the nibs, to refining the balance of flavour and texture (conching) and moulding the chocolate. The large viewing windows allow shoppers to see every detail, but nothing can contain the sweet chocolate aroma.

Atypic Chocolate

Simply Spanish Paella
South Melbourne market is not only the home of a famous Dim Sim – it now also can lay claim to the tastiest paella, outside of Spain. In late 2016, market favourite Simply Spanish’s humble seafood paella won the championships at the annual Concurso Internacional de Paella held in Valencia, the home of the famed rice dish. Watching the chef prepare the house special paella underneath his street side marquee is a colourful and mouth-watering experience with huge pans of steaming seafood, chicken, and spicy rice tempting passers-by.

 

Acacia Luxury Private Tours features the delights of the South Melbourne Market in its Melbourne Lifestyle Tour. It would be our pleasure to share a local’s knowledge of this culinary destination with guests.


PLATYPUS ENCOUNTERS

Australia's unique and wonderful wildlife has always been a major attraction to visitors to our shores. Our continent’s long geographic isolation, unique geology, and climate have given rise to perhaps the weirdest and most lovable collection of evolutionary oddities on Earth. Aussie nominees to the cuteness hall of fame would surely be dominated by any one of 140 pouch-bearing marsupials - from the handsome upright and hopping variants to the fluffy-eared sleepy tree-dwellers.

But of all the unique creatures that inhabit our wide land, one in particular stands out as the most unusual - the platypus. Indeed, when European explorers first described this furry, egg-laying, web-footed, duck-billed, beaver-tailed mammal, scientists back home thought the creature was an elaborate hoax. Even upon examination of the first preserved platypus body, the British zoologist Dr. George Shaw  took a pair of scissors to the pelt with the expectation that it was constructed from several animals stitched together.

The platypus, along with its Australian cousin, the echidna, are the only living examples of egg-laying mammals, or monotremes. A female lays typically 1-3 eggs which hatch after a 10-day period of underground incubation. For the next three months the juvenile platypus, commonly known as puggles, develop in a nesting burrow nourished only by mother’s milk before entering the water.

Ever elusive, it is rare to see a platypus close-up. Just over one-hour drive from Melbourne, in the heart of the spectacular Yarra Valley, the award-winning Healesville Sanctuary now offers the world’s only hands-on platypus encounter. In this unique experience guests have the opportunity to step into the shallow water of the platypus pool to hold, feed, and play with these fascinating furry creatures.  From all accounts they like having their bellies tickled.

For an encounter with platypus in the wild, Acacia can take you to Lake Elizabeth hidden deep in the Great Otway National Park, a place of inspiring beauty with heavily timbered flanks and calm reflective waters. To catch a glimpse of these shy natives, guests can join an ecologist-guided canoe tour at dusk or dawn.

Healesville Sanctuary features in Acacia’s Yarra Valley & Dandenong Ranges tours while Lake Elizabeth is a 30-minute detour from the famed Great Ocean Road.  Allow Acacia to tailor an itinerary incorporating a platypus encounter for you.

 

Photo credit: NSW DPI Schools Program