The Yarra Valley is one of my favourite day-trip destinations in Victoria. So when I heard the 2011 Archibald Prize would be held at the TarraWarra Museum of Art in Healesville, I conjoured up a heady itinerary of wineries, involving much wine-tasting and of course, some art.
However, I hadn’t counted on Friday night drinks @ Newmarket Hotel the night before. So I’m afraid to say, there wasn’t a single wine tasting to be had (ironic given I was drinking Yarra Valley pinot noir by the litre the previous night…)! To get us started, we grab a couple of large coffees and a pastry from Harlequin Deli in Richmond, then hit the road.
We made it to the gallery by midday and waited patiently in line with the droves of other portraiture-lovers and out of towners. But ah, it’s such a pretty place, so we didn’t mind waiting.
I loved Adam Chang’s amazing painting of John Coetzee (People’s Choice 2011). And the 2011 winner Ben Quilty’s painting of artist Margeret Olley is so bold, so striking. I watched the way people gazed at it with absolute admiration for both Quilty and Olley – now ever-more poignant with Olley’s passing on Tuesday.
Happy but hungry, we had a quick wander around the grounds, then headed to Healesville Hotel (say that three times fast!). It was packed, but we found a spot in the courtyard where I delicately sipped on some Punt Road apple cider ’til our meals arrived. N. had the fish and chips. The batter on the fish was thick, crispy and perfect and the tartare sauce was so good, I had to steal a few extras tastes.
I decided to try the chickpea kofta dish, which came with a thick roasted tomato sauce, lovely pieces of cheese baked throughout and fresh, doughy serve of flatbread. It was a lovely, hearty dish – perfect for a Winter’s day.
I was a bit sad there was no sticky date pudding on the menu, so we pushed on for afternoon tea at one of the wineries. We ended up at Domaine Chandon, where we got a table overlooking the vineyards, the tourists photographing themselves in the vineyards, and the expansive, stunning Dandenong Ranges. We shared a chocolate ganache cake over coffee and tea (still no wine for me), before picking up some Yarra Valley apples at a local produce store on the way home. Lovely.
“My life and my paintings are one and the same thing.”
Margaret Olley, 24 June 1923 – 26 July 2011
Harlequin Fine Wines and Deli
207 Swan Street, Richmond
TarraWarra Museum of Art
311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville
256 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville
727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream