Healesville in winter is a feast for the senses. The last shreds of autumn leaves cling to the trees and dance by the road side. The fog rises through the valley early in the morning and if you’re lucky the sun will peek through the clouds, providing a touch of relief for those frost bitten cheeks. Tis the season for plenty of hot chocolate, mulled wine and cosy wood fires after an active day in the outdoors.
It was one of those beautiful crisp winter’s days when we visited Healesville last weekend. I was very lucky to be invited to the members only country club – the RACV Healesville Country Club. Whether you’re looking to visit for a short break, day trip or conference there’s so much to do here -you don’ t even have to leave the grounds!
Country Club Snapshot
With beautiful views over Mount Riddell, the RACV Healesville Country Club offers 80 accommodation rooms – all with stunning views and modern facilities. The Country Club is only open to members of the private RACV Club who are able to book accommodation for themselves, their family, friends and guests at both RACV Club locations. This also enables them access to the range of Club dining, lifestyle and recreation facilities.
For a Country Club of its size, the RACV Healesville Country Club sure knows how to tuck itself away in the peace and quiet. At only an hour’s drive from the Melbourne CBD, it’s located in the picturesque foothills of the Great Dividing Range overlooking Healesville and the Yarra Valley wine country. It’s also only a short walk from the heart of Healesville, where you have wineries, restaurants, cafes and a bevy of shops right on your doorstep. Once on the property, you’ll soon feel a million miles away.
Space and Facilities
What first strikes you about the hotel is its modern architecture, which still seems to foster a great connection to the natural landscape. As far as facilities go, you could easily be busy for weeks. Facilities include a gymnasium, swimming pool, fitness centre and award-winning Michael Clayton designed golf course.
The Country Club is the perfect destination for a short break, day trip, weekend visit, special occasion or business event. Set in acres of beautiful natural bush setting, you can spot plenty of wildlife including birds, kangaroos and even an elusive platypus. The walking circuit around the property is the perfect way to explore.
Each room has either a mountain, golf course or lawn view. We stayed in one of the mountain view rooms on the third level which has a large ensuite bathroom, wide-screen television, free wireless Internet access, in-room safe and minibar. The balcony was perfect for an early morning coffee and watching the sun rise over Mount Riddell.
For casual dining, dine in the Terrace Bistro Restaurant where they have a great range of bistro classics like pasta, burgers, steak and slow cooked goodies like pork knuckle and beef cheek. To start, the Yarra Valley Grazing Platter is a great option including local Buxton trout, duck neck sausage, marinated mushrooms, mixed olives, smoked salmon, house made chicken parfait, tomato relish and YV Persian feta, served with grilled sour dough.
If you’re looking for something on the finer dining side, check out Blue Tree Restaurant where you can feast on a sumptuous local and seasonally inspired menu. This is the place to come for grilled meats including Yarra Valley grown beef, mouth-watering wagyu from South Australia and pork from the Victorian high country. Start with pan fried Hokkaido scallops, green apple, candied bacon, red quinoa, pickled golden raisins and caviar before tucking into the wild Australian barramundi teamed with parsley and kipfler potatoes and a Gippsland scotch fillet which has a great depth of flavour. If you’re feeling indulgent the Jack’s Creek Wagyu (marble score 6) is one of the best steaks in Australia at the moment.
Sweet tooths will love the Crack pie, a gooey caramel cake of sorts, teamed with ice cream and butter popcorn, or the black forest brownie with valrohna chocolate mousse.
If you’d rather dine alfresco, the hotel’s gourmet picnic hampers are a great idea. Or you can really spoil yourself and have breakfast in bed with their in room dining.
Things to do
There’s so much to do at the Country Club, you will not have to leave your home away from home. Here’s some of my favourite things I did during our stay:
Get your active on
There are plenty of active activities to keep you fit during your stay in Healesville. Have a swim in the heated indoor swimming pool followed by a soak in the spa, sauna and steam room. For the gym junkies, there’s also a fully equipped gymnasium and group fitness classes. The Country Club has four tennis courts, two of which are floodlit if you fancy a bit of twilight tennis. Wander further up the path and you’ll find bocce, croquet and lawn bowls.
Be a pool shark
There’s hours of fun to be had in the games room at the Country Club. The games room has a table tennis table, a pool table and plenty of board games. Or test your patience at the full sized billiards table. The dimly lit room feels like an underground whisky den of sorts.
Go for a cycle
Bicycles are available free of charge to use around the club and to cycle into the Healesville village. Cycle to Badger’s Weir where you can have a picnic lunch in the countryside, or hard core cyclists can challenge themselves to Mount Donna Buang. Or do what I did and cycle to the nearest coffee shop (I loved the coffee at new hot spot Habituel).
Treat yourself at One Spa
When you’ve had enough of working out, it will be time to reward yourself at the Country Club’s very own One Spa which is the region’s best. There’s a great range of services available including massage therapy, facials, body treatments, manicures and pedicures. And the best news? The spa is also open to the public so you don’t have to be a member.
Golf like a pro
Surrounded by beautiful native trees and vegetation, the par 68 course boasts excellent greens featuring a range of ridges, dips rolls, hollows, tiers and plateaus challenging players to find the best position for their ball. The wide fairways offer an enjoyable playing area and in some locations a stunning outlook across the Yarra Valley. Or if you’re short of time, have a putt at the four-hole short course.
Indulge in a high tea
If you’re like me and have a dangerous sweet tooth, you’ll love the high tea here. Choose from high tea in the Blue Tree, Sports Bar or in the comfort of your own room. For something on the simpler side, there’s also Devonshire tea available (two scones served with jam and cream, and tea or coffee) for just $10.50.
Relax in the Members Lounge
One of the oldest parts of the hotel, the Members Lounge, is the perfect spot to kick back and relax with a wood fire and plush sofas. With floor to ceiling glass throughout, there’s no better place to ogle at the spectacular mountain ranges beyond. Warm up with a hot chocolate, or my personal favourite for winter – a glass of mulled wine – to keep those winter chills at bay.
Be a bookworm
The Library on Level Two is the perfect spot to cosy up and read a book, work or read and access to business services such as work stations, a photocopier and fax. The Healesville Club Library collection covers a variety of material over many topics of interest to Members with a focus on golf, gardening, local history, sport and travel.
RACV Healesville Country Club
A 122 Healesville-Kinglake Rd, Healesville VIC 3777
T (03) 5962 4899
I was invited as a guest of the RACV Country Club Healesville. All views are honest and my own.