“Explore the Grampians through the eyes of the team at Halls Gap Lakeside”
MEET MONIQUE & SANDER
Monique…Dutch born, migrated to Australia in 2008. Having had a love affair with the country since 2002 and fell in love with Sander who had a love affair with Australia since 2004. They decided to pack their bags…. met Josephina online through a creative project through one of Josephina’s previous businesses… adventurous, caring, humble… creative…very creative, and handy!
For years Josephina followed Monique’s blog and admired all her creative projects. What became the start of a new beginning was when Monique turned a tradies trailer into a camper trailer, all by herself. Seeds were planted and Josephina got the idea that Monique might become a vital part of fulfilling her own dream of doing up a vintage caravan …one day! Josephina met Monique at Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park mid 2012 when Monique and Sander where at the start of their lap around Australia trip. She realised the girl she met years ago online bought a caravan park in Halls Gap. Decided to pop in at random….
They both remember this initial meeting vividly.
Now best friends, love sharing a glass of red, whilst having longgg chats. Love doing the famous IKEA visit together. Recently Monique joined the team at Halls Gap Lakeside on a contract basis to renovate vintage Franklin Caravan into Queen Maxima. Queen Maxima opened her doors for guests on Boxing Day 2016, as part of the glamping, offered at Halls Gap Lakeside. Josephina has had the urge to put the things to do in the Grampians on the map for a long time. But being time short she decided to send staff and associates on random trips around the Grampians. It is a win win. I mean, there a worse places to be sent to explore ?
As Sander and Monique love bush camping, hiking, exploring but also enjoy good food and wine I decided to send them to the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld the Southern Grampians.
ROYAL MAIL HOTEL
The Royal Mail, as it is referred to by locals offer a multi award-winning dining experience and cellar with quality accommodation & conference facilities. What I like about the Royal Mail is that you can experience all facets the Royal Mail Hotel has to offer being an average jo blo… You don’t need to be a millionaire. The Royal Mail opens its bistro (Parker Street) and tours for anybody who is keen to have a sniff and a taste at affordable prices. Of course there is a whole different level to the Royal Mail Hotel experience offering an eight course chefs tasting menu with matching wines. Recently the Royal mail Hotel announced they will open Wickens at the Royal Mail in October 2017, not only offering guests a 2 hats dining experience but also incorporating the stunning location of the motel looking over Mt Sturgeon.
The Royal Mail offers luxury accommodation option, but since Sander and Monique have their own renovated camper trailer… I decided to arrange a campsite for them at the Dunkeld Caravan Park, very conveniently located, only a 5 minute walk, to the Royal Mail. Perfect way to enjoy the tastes of the Royal Mail whilst still able to stroll back to camp.
THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
First they visited the world famous vegetable garden…. This is where they grow most of their vegetables which are picked each day by the chefs themselves. All year around vegetables are picked and grown using holistic and organic methods….. It really is worth the visit and it guarantees your food experience will be enhanced! Monique has a great interest in gardening and admired the gardener in her efforts to have established and maintained a fully organic kitchen garden, orchard & olive grove.
Wine Cellar Owner Alan Myer developed a taste for French wines at Oxford. As a student he would gather with fellow students comparing notes. The cellar at the Royal Mail Hotel functioned in its early years as a private cellar, but recently it has been renovated and integrated as part of the RMH experience. Did you know you can order a single glass of wine from iconic (and often expensive) bottles without needing to pay for the entire bottle thanks to the Coravin system!As Monique and Sander got their VIP treatment, their tour guide Kylie Schurmann ( a friend of Josephina and the marketing manager at the Royal Mail), took them to the wine cellar which has the most variety of wines in the Southern Hemisphere (over 26,000 varieties). She told the story of Mr Alan Myer; the founder and current owner of the Royal Mail. Originally opened in 1855, than called Woolpack Inn, survived the bush fires in 1943 which wiped out most of Dunkeld…
When renovated and upgraded in 1999 the Myer family decided to keep parts of the historic buildings in tact and incorporated those in the new design. The township of Dunkeld funded a scholarship when little fellow Alan Myers wanted to study and his family wasn’t in a financial situation to do so. Alan Myer has forever been grateful for this opportunity. The Royal Mail Hotel has certainly put Dunkeld on the map and continues to keep people employed in the very so cute little town. He even financially supported the build of the Dunkeld Community Center (even this would directly compete with the event centre of the RMH) Just the kind of man he is!
LUNCH – PARKER STREET
Although Sander had the great urge to try most wines…it was time to move on to complete the whole experience at the Royal Mail Hotel…after all the tummies were starting to rumble!
Sander, normally not the most extravagant taste bud explorer entirely enjoyed the seasonal lunch, especially the chicken liver parfait with grilled brioche. According to Monique he used the last breadcrumbs to make sure none of the parfait was left in the jar! As turnip was the vegetable in season and Monique was curious how the chef would apply this vegetable, after all it is not a vegetable which is used on a day to day basis in Australian households, she decided to have the turnip and cider soup. She loved it, although unsure if it was the turnip or the cider what excited her taste buds.
More than 80% of the food is grown in the kitchen garden, orhard and olive grove which encourages constant menu changes. Monique and Sander thought this was enough reason to come back at a different time of the year :)Monique & Sander had a most glorious day and were happy to tell us all bout it when returning to Halls Gap … The drive from Dunkeld to Halls Gap is under an hour and is perfect for caravans & motor homes. The views this trip delivers puts this drive on par with the Great Ocean Road!After Monique finished the project with us of renovating Queen Maxima, she is now doing lots of projects with GlamXperience using her creative and handy hands using recycled scaffolding wood imported from the Netherlands.