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Make the most of the Swan Hill Food and Wine Festival

Swan Hill Food and Wine Festival, Pioneer Settlement. Image credit: Swan Hill Region

24 Feb 2023 by Mel Townsend

Make the most of the Swan Hill Food and Wine Festival

For lovers of delicious food and wine, the Swan Hill Region Food and Wine Festival on Saturday 11 March 2023 is sure to be your kind of menu. Held at the Pioneer Settlement and gifting a taste of some of the best local produce sourced from the heart of Australia’s food bowl – the Murray River region, you’ll likely be leaving with very grateful tastebuds (and goodie bags to show for it).

If you’re heading in a night early, you’d best reserve yourself a ticket for the Food and Wine Festival Twilight Cruise. Held aboard the PS Pyap, cruise The Murray for a dramatic sunset enjoying delicious food and Andrew Peace wines.

The festival itself is filled with entertainment including the Rogue Traders, a lineup of local musicians as well as free face painting for the kids.

The only question is how much time do you have up your sleeve to enjoy the best of the region. Follow along and discover how you can make the most of your time in Swan Hill and extend your stay for the long weekend filled with fun.

Getting there

Load up your car and round up your friends for a Swan Hill road trip. From Melbourne CBD you’ll find yourself in the region within four hours of hitting the road, and even closer from regional Victorian towns like Bendigo (two hours away). If you’re planning a drive from Adelaide you might want to loop in a pit stop or two along the way (five and a half hours drive).

Where to eat

Who says great food and wine need to be confined to Food and Wine Festivals? Keep the good times rolling after the event or warm up your palate if you’re in the region a little earlier and get to know some of Swan Hill’s best restaurants, cafes, and bars.

If finding somewhere for your caffeine fix is always top of mind, Arc Espresso will have you feeling right at home serving up a blend of Melbourne-based Inglewood Coffee Roasters. Open every day right in the town centre and just a heartbeat from the Murray River, you can’t miss them for a morning coffee or a bite to eat.

For a local favourite, find Café 202 just around the corner, slinging daily shots of Allpress Espresso, another tasty Melbourne coffee roastery, best paired with their breakfast menu featuring classics like smashed avo and eggs benedict to halloumi goodies and breakfast pannacotta.

For those with a sweet tooth Jilarty Gelato Bar & Cafe will not only have your coffee fix sorted, but they also serve up specialties on the sweet side with their homemade gelato and sorbet as well as stocking an assortment of cheesecake shop goodies.

Another local favourite, especially for families is At Forty One with its extra sugary lolly bar as well as a delicious breakfast and lunch menu.

If you’re after something on the healthier side, Modern Natural is Swan Hill’s only health hub, with an adjoining café serving up health-conscious options from toasties to acai bowls.

Serving up breakfast and lunch intertwining their Australian and Italian heritage Colombo's Cafe & Pasta Bar is known for its traditional homestyle cooking.

For something on the go, the corner café, The Port serves up daily specials from burgers, to wraps, sandwiches, and rolls.

Open since 1988, Quo-Vadis is known as Swan Hill's award-winning restaurant and pizza bar, serving up a delicious menu and alfresco-style dining accompanied by their pizza bar open nightly.

If there’s one thing Swan Hill restaurant owners know how to deliver, it’s an abundance of cultural cuisines. If you’re after a taste of the tropics, Java Spice will transport you to Bali with their reclaimed teak and Balinese thatched huts and an impressive Thai and Balinese menu.

Bringing a taste of traditional Vietnamese cuisine to the region, you’ll find The Mira Restaurant & Bar making all food by hand. For flavours of Japan and Korea, find Niko Niko serving up a tasty menu with delicious vegan and gluten-free options available.

If you’ve got cocktails on your mind, make quick to Peachy’s Bar and sip your way through their menu of signature and cocktail specials accompanied by their burger and starters menu curated using local produce from Murray Cod tacos to brisket burgers.

Where to stay

Now that you’ve got your foodie list sorted, extend your stay by booking into one of the accommodation options available.

If you’re travelling with an RV, caravan, camping set up, or with kids, you’ll find plenty of campgrounds available offering both the serenity of the Murray River and family-friendly activities at your doorstep.

BIG4 Swan Hill is probably your best kid-friendly option if you’re looking for extra entertainment as you’ll gain access to the holiday park's mini golf course, splash park with a giant tipping bucket, jumping pillow, go-karts, bike track, adventure playground, and a solar heated pool for all ages.

For the best views of the Murray River, BIG4 Riverside Swan Hill will have you sipping your morning coffee from your camp chair right on the banks. If you don’t have a home on wheels, enjoy the same serenity and views from the comfort of the park's self-contained cabins.

Located within walking distance from most of the regions main attractions are Jacaranda Motel and Holiday Units with one, and two-bedroom spacious self-contained rooms with poolside and BBQ access.

Just a 30-minute drive from Swan Hill’s CBD you’ll find Lake Charm Foreshore Caravan Park, with pet-friendly campsites gifting generous views and access to the lake perfect for swimming, fishing and boating. Alternatively, find Charm Lodge just around the corner located on a scenic 100-acre property within walking distance from Lake Charm.

For more waterside accommodation find Lake Boga Caravan Park, just a 15-minute drive from the CBD offering campsites and cabins along Lake Boga. Also close by the Lake is the recently renovated Happy Wanderer Motel gifting lake views and comfortable self-contained units.

If you’re after something a little more luxurious and with a side of golf, find your sanctuary for the weekend at Murray Downs Resort. Tee off from The Murray’s number one ranking golf club while staying in their family-size, two-bedroom, and self-contained apartments making the most of their pool. With seasonal stay play deals available, there's no reason not to mix your love of good food and wine with your putting passion.

For something a little more romantic, Burrabliss Bed and Breakfast overlooks the sparking waters of Lake Boga, indulging guests from the moment they arrive with home cooked breakfast, baked cake or biscuits and a complimentary bottle of Burrabliss labelled local wine and chocolates.

Where to play

If you were too busy (for good reason) tasting your way through the food and wine festival, it’s well worth heading back to explore more of Pioneer Settlement another day. Step back in time as you navigate the Mallee Township of yesteryear experiencing history at your fingertips. Take a horse and carriage ride through the town, watch the blacksmith at work, get into costume and snap a family portrait, or board the paddlesteamer Pyap for a relaxing one-hour cruise down the Murray River.

Head back to the settlement at night and experience the Heartbeat of the Murray laser spectacular. Set on the banks of the Little Murray River, the laser light show tells the story of The Murray transporting you back 30 million years using water, light, lasers, sound and special effects.

Situated adjacent to the Marraboor River and Pioneer Settlement is The Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery. Well worth visiting, the gallery hosts a wealth of Australian collections including paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures from 1970 as well as a rotation of local art exhibitions all year around.

Eager to test your swing? The Murray is home to an abundance of golf courses and Murray Downs Golf and Country Club is known as one of the best. Just a five-minute drive across to the NSW side of the Murray River from Swan Hill, the 18-hole championship golf course is highly regarded among golf lovers and is ranked in the top 40 public golf courses by Golf Australia.

For an afternoon spent relaxing by the Murray River, Riverside Park is the perfect place to slow down for a moment and enjoy the parklands. Located walking distance from many of Swan Hill’s eateries you might even want to enjoy a takeaway meal and picnic on the lawns near the playground, or take to the popular 4.5km River Walk along The Murray and Little Murray Rivers.

If you’re keen to spend a day by the water, base yourself at Lake Boga for a 3km oasis home to walking trails, and water-based activities. You’ll even find Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum hosting a Splash Down, Rev Up event the same weekend as the Food and Wine Festival, worth pairing a visit.