BALMY summer weather on Saturday and Sunday at least ensured the district was packed with holidaymakers for what was for many a long weekend culminating in yesterday’s Melbourne Cup Day.
The weekend is traditionally the start of the summer tourist season in the Corner Inlet district, so local tourism business operators were delighted to see accommodation full across the district. Sandy Point and Wilsons Promontory were particularly popular and traders in Foster’s main street reported good trade. “It bodes well for the summer ahead,” said John Davies, the recently elected president of the Foster Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The message is clear – South Gippsland is open for business after a particularly severe winter and we are raring to go!”
Crowd numbers were high at the first Promontory Home Produce and Craft Market of the season at Foster Showgrounds on Sunday and, thanks to perfect weather, the Meeniyan garden walk on Sunday was a great hit, too. Garden walk organiser June Metcalf was delighted to report that there were more people on the walk through four of the district’s loveliest gardens than at any time since the event began back in 1998. “Every property has fantastic views and every garden is unique in its own way. It was a great day enjoyed by all,” said June. She and Ilse Arndt were busy throughout the year propagating plants which they sold at a stall outside Meeniyan Hall, where they also sold tickets for the garden walk. Any plants left over from the stall were donated to the local op shop, so the event was a great fundraiser for the local community.
Other popular events at Meeniyan included ‘Jazz Among the Arts’ – in which Soul Purpose performed at the Meeniyan Hall on Saturday night – and the Meeniyan Art and Craft Show, which ran at the hall all weekend.
The local wineries are increasingly drawing visitors to South Gippsland, especially through summer.
Waratah Hills is the wine of the month at Moo’s at Meeniyan this month. Celebrations kicked off with a Winemaker Dinner at Moo’s on Monday, and all November Waratah Hills wines can be enjoyed at the popular cafe restaurant or at the cellar door. “The vineyard is looking the best it ever has,” said Judy Travers, who runs Waratah Hills at Fish Creek with husband Neil and daughter Megan. “The 2012 is shaping up to be the best ever Pinot,” she added, looking forward to welcoming more visitors than ever to the recently renovated cellar door, a delightful space in which to taste wine and graze on some of the region’s finest produce. Saturday November 17 will see a special ‘Pinot and Pooches’ event in aid of Seeing Eye Dogs Australia. (Well-behaved) dogs and their (well-behaved) owners are invited to come along to Waratah Hills that day for everything from pet caricatures and dog portraits to photos of dogs and owners, dog grooming and a vineyard dog walk.
Meanwhile, at Windy Ridge Winery at Foster, a summer of cellar door specials started on the weekend. The winery, just up the Foster-Fish Creek Road from Foster, is worth visiting for the spectacular view over Corner Inlet alone, but if you want to sample some of Graeme and Georgia Wilson’s prize-winning wine, the winery will now be open every weekend until Easter. Windy Ridge will also be open daily 10am to 5pm through January – and Graeme and Georgia are usually available to welcome visitors on other days, phone 0416 192 264 for details. Roll on summer!