Not In Kansas Anymore: Bellarine Penninsula, Victoria
The air was crisp, the leaves burnt yellow. Autumn was well and truly upon us and my girlfriends and I were already brainstorming weather-appropriate activities for our weekends.
A road trip to a winery is always a good idea but feeling like we'd covered the more obvious choice of the Yarra Valley, we decided to switch it up and check out the Bellarine Penninsula, about an hour and a half south-west of Melbourne, just past Geelong.
Lucky for us, some good friends of mine happen to own a cute little villa in nearby St Leonards so the girls and I packed up the car with all the essentials (chocolate, face masks, Cards Against Humanity, cheese and wine...to hold us over until the winery the next day) and left on Friday afternoon, just in time to beat the traffic.
The villa, aptly named St Leonards Villa is available to to rent via Air BnB, sleeps 8 (one queen sized bed, one double and three lots of bunks) and has all the modern ammenities you could need (read: wifi), plus a spa. The spa was obviously essential for our "Autumn Girls Weekend Away" and despite the temperature being close to freezing by the time we arrived, the villa was surprisingly warm and very cosy.
The outdoor entertaining area at the villa was unlike anything I'd seen before and it became very apparent that whilst the interiors had definitely been the responsibility of my dear friend Brooke (Meredith blogger and girl boss behind A Conscious Collection magazine), the outdoors had clearly been left to Dave (Higgs, photographer).
Not only was there a flatscreen outdoor TV, there was a stupidly elaborate gourmet BBQ (that took us girls the better part of 30 minutes to figure out how to work), an outdoor shower (perfect for a post-surf rise off) and outdoor heating on the roof. It was very easy to imagine the boys sitting in the spa, beer in one hand, sausage sizzle in the other, watching the footy on the outdoor TV.
After a perfect night of pampering (note to the gals out there: get acquainted with the latest in beauty trends: the bubble masks. Nothing has resulted in more doubled-over laughter since the freaky white sheet face masks did the rounds), a fair few bottles of wine and a two hour game of Cards Against Humanity it was time for an early night in the comfiest beds ever.
We had two more friends drive up first thing in the morning and after some bacon and eggs on the BBQ and some serious outfit planning (think: beanies, trenches and faux fur coats) we made our way 20 minutes down the road to the Terindah Estate for lunch.
Upon arriving at Terindah it was clear that not even the stormy skies could ruin the view, in fact there was something quite beautiful and romantic about it.
Lunch was at The Shed and the staff were very accomodating with our various (annoying) questions such as "Hmmmm oh I don't know what to order! What is YOUR favourite?" Most of us went with the duck (duck, heirloom carrots, radicchio, gluten free, $34) which was mouth-watering but we also treated ourselves to some oysters, goose fat potatoes and copious bottles of their 2016 Terindah Estate Pinot Grigio and 2014 Terindah Estate Shiraz which went down an absolute treat.
Finally, despite claiming that we'd had our elegant sufficiency and "couldn't eat another thing", we all ordered the chocolate brownie (chocolate, honeycomb, lavender ice cream, gluten free, $16) which fit beautifully in our extra "Dessert-Only" stomachs.
After realising we were the last people left in the restaurant, we took our time strolling throughout the vineyards and by strolling, I of course mean we had a full-blown photoshoot, complete with location changes and a 'canid' scene of us walking slow-mo up the vineyards, all holding hands. Thank god for our one token 'Boyfriend of Instagram' or nobody would ever have known we were away at a fancy winery for the weekend!
We left Terindah feeling full, toasty and a little bit festive, all promising each other we'd get out of the city and do this more often.
All up, highly recommend the Bellarine Penninsula, St Leondards Villa and Terindah Estate for a super chilled, deliciously Instagram-worthy autumn break from the hustle and bustle.
(NB: This was in no way a paid trip or sponsored blog post. Just had a really lovely weekend and like to share positive experiences!)