Royal Mail Hotel @ Dunkeld
It’s been a good month since visiting Dunkeld in May and yes, I finally got around to putting up the pictures and things. It’s been a pretty hectic and stressful few weeks and only now I can breathe for a bit.
As some of you may know, I was up in Dunkeld to present an Online Business Strategy workshop with about 10 small business owners in the area. This is the first time I had ever visited the Grampians. I’ve heard of this place from my friends who have visited and done a photography trip, but I, on the other hand, have never been.
The trip there…
Dunkeld is about 1.5 hours from Ballarat or about a 3 hours trip from the Southeast of Melbourne. I took the Glenelg Hwy from Ballarat which was about a 1.5 hour drive through bush and farm and a small section of deforestation.
The trip there was one of the scariest drives I’ve ever done alone and I will link you to the story at the end of this post. I’ve decided to keep this post positive and show you how I experienced Dunkeld. To admit, I was only there for one night before heading back to Ballarat to visit my friends, and yes, because this was a business trip, I did live in a bit of style.
Why Royal Mail Hotel?
I chose to stay at the Royal Mail Hotel because it was the closest one to the venue (walking distance, although, I didn’t walk any way) and it looked like a pretty safe and decent place. It is around $195 for the garden room per night, but because it was business, I had a business price of $160 a night.
When I finally made it to the Royal Mail Hotel, I was so relieved. I was very happy to get into my room and take a nap. I decided to go gun ho and drive the full 3 hours without stopping (because for some reason I decided that I’d be ok.)
I was feeling tired, sick and really stuffy from getting over the flu that I had for the last week. To make life a whole lot more brighter, I was upgraded to the deluxe room (*winning*) ! Oh man was that great. The room was so warm, cozy yet night and airy. It was one of those rooms that make you feel like, “Yup, I totally want to recreate this room in my dream house”.
What sucked though, was that it was so cold and foggy, I couldn’t see the Mountain… I think it was called Mt Sturgeon. Instead I saw white. A misleading white.
Anyways.. I had a little nap and then set out to the community centre which was literally a 30 second drive away. lol
Thanks for the favour – midnight snack!
Afterwards, I was very very fortunate to have a favour from the kitchen. I had previously asked for a chicken risotto to be made so that I can have something warm to eat. Oh man, it was sooooooo fricken amazing! What made the difference was the freshly foraged wild mushrooms… so crunchy, sweet, creamy and just made the whole dish so much more than just a chicken and mushroom risotto. No kidding, a few weeks later, I had a chicken and mushroom risotto at George’s in Camberwell, so not the frickin same.
The next morning, complimentary breakfast!
The next day, I awoke to complimentary breakfast! Let’s just say this entire trip was good food and good food only. Even breakfast was amazing. I thought it was going to be buffet style. Ummm… nope.. It was proper breakfast. I think I had the ham styled bacon, poached fresh eggs and spinach (I wanted some greens). I didn’t take a photo of my breakfast but trust you me, it was so good. There was even little edible flowers just to pretty it all up!
Kitchen tours as well??!
After I checked out, it was time for the Kitchen Tour that I signed up for. It was a tour to see the garden that about 90% of the produce had come from. One of the awesome things about eating at a fine dining restaurant is knowing where the produce is from. The tour is complimentary and for about 45 minutes. There were about 6 people on this trip and we all jumped in the mini van and headed about 1 minute around the back of the hotel estate.
This veggie and fruit garden was so cute. It wasn’t industrial big, but it was big enough to have lots of different veggies, herbs, fruits and ducks and things. It was like walking into farmville and seeing all the different sorts of veggies and where they come from.
The highlight was seeing my favourite veggie, brussels sprouts – who knew they grew from stalks. I absolutely had no idea where they came from actually. I didn’t try any of the herbs and things though as I wasn’t game enough and I didn’t want to get sick.
When I got back to wait for my lunch, I took a short stroll at the back of the estate. Saw some kangaroos and they saw me too.
Then it was lunch time.
I got the set lunch that was $50 a person and came with a free glass of wine (which was good but I didn’t drink much of if because I was driving).
Oysters: I got freshly shucked coffin bay oysters au naturale! These were extra and not part of the deal. I felt compelled to get some oysters even though, Dunkeld is right smack in the middle of the country….. these are definitely imported from somewhere. Where is coffin bay? Adelaide side of town?
Entree: I got the smoked eel and a bunch of good stuff (snow pea shoots, mushroom cream, beetroot???) that I don’t know what it was. I think there was quince paste, some form of gel and some pickled vegetables. It was so good. It was tart though, so if you’re not into that kind of thing, probably skip this.
Main: For mains, I decided on the confit duck. I love duck. I get duck any time I go to a restaurant and I see duck on the menu because it’s not something that you would eat every day. The confit duck was good. It had an autumn feel about from all the autumn flavours. I wish I had something tart here just to cut down the fatty feeling. But otherwise, it was so good.
Yes, those were the same wild mushrooms as last nights risotto! Yum!
Dessert: And OMG dessert….. This was the highlight. It was soooooooooo frickkinggg good! It was a chocolate parfait, chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce and home made honeycomb. Just thinking about this again is making my mouth water. It was just the right amount of sweetness, bitterness, richness and it had crunch, it was cold, it was nougaty. It was the best!
Overall, lunch was sooo good. Would totally recommend it to anyone. I didn’t have time to eat at the pub but I heard the food was just as good. I would have loved to stay for dinner but just didn’t have the time. Next time!
So after this trip, was the next part of the drive and that story has been highlighted in this sound bite below.
So yeah… when you think about it, I was here at the Royal Mail Hotel for pretty much breakfast, lunch and dinner. lol AND the kitchen garden tour as well. So, I’d like to think that I have had a really good experience of this place and I would definitely come back again – but maybe with another person instead of by myself next time. 😀
Hope you enjoy reading and looking at the photos of this trip as much as I enjoyed the experience. I have other stories and bits and bobs on my soundcloud – www.soundcloud.com/minddirectors
Have a good one!
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