When is a country pub not a country pub? When it is the Royal Mail Hotel complex in the verdant hills of Western Victoria’s Grampians region.

And of what value is a country pub to Australia’s queer population? Plenty. Choose it as an idyllic getaway, a romantic sojourn or a damned fine country knees-up for you and a bunch of your closest.

With the success of the Spring Migration in Yackandandah and ChillOut in Daylesford, a summer migration to Dunkeld is appropriate for country-loving queers.

With stunning accommodation to suit every budget and style and the recent arrival of über-talented chef Dan Hunter, fresh from work in some of the most famed Spanish restaurants, you can’t be anything but excited. And, considering its $3 million wine cellar that would be the envy of every queer quaffer and wine wanker, and 27,000 acres of stunning farmland to get lost in, this is a premier country Victorian destination for foodies.

An 1850s homestead that has been refurbished to its former glory sleeps a dozen and for $1,000 a night, it doesn’t get much more authentic or grand. Imagine you and a bunch of your friends on the deck of this house, with Mt Sturgeon overlooking your every move, a working sheep and cattle station, and the food which is the jewel of the western district. What more could you ask for?

If you want more, it’s there. On-site gardens provide the freshest vegetables and herbs, orchards and an olive grove provides fruit. Rumour has it that a truffle inoculation process around some of the aged oak trees on the property has been successful.

It only takes a stunning three to four-hour drive from Melbourne or a quick 35-minute plane flight from Essendon airport to get to Dunkeld in time for sunset and a bottle of red collected from one of the many wineries on the way. Accommodation awaits you in many guises. There are simple garden view rooms, self-contained apartments, a farmhouse that sleeps 12, the Mulberry house that also sleeps 12 and the homestead. There is something there for everyone in a queer-friendly environment.

A function centre seating 150 would suit the most discerning of corporate planners, and who knows, if we ever get legislation allowing us formal and legal recognition of our relationships, what better place to celebrate with your family and friends?

Whether bush-walking and sharing space with local fauna and birds is your bag, or leisure activities such as golf, museums and swimming are more up your alley, you’ll find them at Dunkeld.

Ash Berton was a guest at Royal Mail Hotel. Dunkeld and the Royal Mail Hotel are 253km west of Melbourne at the southern gateway to the Grampians National Park. Details: www.royalmail.com.au. To book flights to Melbourne drop in at Flight Centre Taylor Square, phone 8255 9988 or flight Centre Darlinghurst, phone 9331 0993, or visit www.flightcentre.com.au.

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