When you stop by our cellar door in Great Western, be sure to enjoy all that the area has to offer. The town has a fascinating history and plenty of attractions to explore. With a population of just 700 people, you’ll find our tiny home town nestled along the Western Highway, about 225 kilometres from Melbourne.
Great Western was first settled by sheep graziers in the 1840s but really came alive in the early 1850s, during the Victorian gold rush. Hopeful prospectors ventured to the area and the planting of grape vines and wine production soon followed. Legend has it that when a gold commissioner asked the town’s name, one miner proposed Great Eastern, after a steamship that was making news around the world. Another miner pointed out that they were, in fact, in the west and that perhaps Great Western would be more appropriate. And so our little town got its name.
Blampied & Trouette were the real pioneers of viticulture in our region. Best’s founder, Henry Best, and his brother, Joseph (who founded Seppelt Great Western) were also among the earliest grape growers, establishing vineyards in 1865. They originally set up a slaughter yard to sell meat to the miners but moved into wine.
Henry Best purchased 73 acres of creek-frontage land called Concongella the following year. The first vines were planted on the property in 1868 and Best’s became a functioning winery by 1872. For those interested, Viv elaborates on some of the early history of viticulture in the Grampians region in this video from 150 years of winemaking in the Grampians.
Today winemaking remains one of the most important industries in the area. Best’s is one of the founding wineries still located in Great Western, together with Seppelt, ATR Wines, Miner's Ridge and Grampians Estate. There are also wineries producing wine from the region but with no Cellar Doors including Kimbarra, Black and Ginger, Clarnette and Ludvigson, The Story Wines and One Tonne Wines. Many of these wines are available by the glass at the local pub, The Great Western Hotel.
You can get a feel for the town’s rich and storied history by taking a walking tour of some of its oldest buildings, such as Salingers Cafe, the old gaol and School No 860, which recently had its 150-year celebrations.
There are also some great dining options and places to stay, should you choose to extend to extend your visit. Here are some of our favourites:
Places to eat
Grampians Estate Winery
Grampians Estate offer seated tastings, local produce platters and seasonal light lunch options in the recently completed cafe which overlooks their vineyard. Bookings are preferred and given priority, open 7 days, for more information and current menu visit Grampians Estate Cellar Door
Open seven days a week, Salingers offers café food of the highest standard in relaxed surrounds. The coffee is excellent, courtesy of Melbourne roaster Griffith Brothers. There are tasting plates available along with a seasonal menu of salads, pies, burgers and other inspired dishes. There’s a self-contained cottage on site for overnight visitors too.
Great Western Hotel
Our favourite pub promises the largest Grampians wine list you will ever find. Every single wine is $35 a bottle and all are available by the glass for $10, with no less than six Best’s wines available. Classic pub fare is on offer including chicken or beef parma, salads, steaks, pasta, seafood and more.
Located in the main street, across from the pub, you’ll also find the General Store. They are renowned for their hamburgers and a great place to stop for those miscellaneous things you might forget.
Stylish bed and breakfast accommodation is now available in this grand and gracious homestead, which was completed in 1921. The renowned home was designed by influential architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear. It sits among magnificent leafy treed grounds and gardens in an idyllic countryside setting. It’s the perfect base for exploring the famous vineyards of Great Western.
Best’s Cottage and Glamping
Offering great views of the surrounding vineyards, Best’s Cottage is an original 1860s construction and the original home of the Seppelt founder, Joseph Best. The cottage adjoins the magnificent Vine Lodge and the historic Seppelt Winery and Underground Drives. There are also glamping tents on site at the cottage.
Great Western Racing & Recreation Reserve
Like to camp? You can do it free of charge at the Recreation Reserve, which has clean toilets and coin-operated hot showers. Power is available for $10 per night and there is plenty of room for all types of camping, including caravans and larger motorhomes.
Check out our blog on Where to Stay in Great Western for more options