By Belinda Jackson
A last blast with the gang can be as dynamic or laid-back as you please - take your time, you've got all weekend.
The hottest place in Healesville on a weekend morning is Four Pillars Gin. Kick off the weekend and book your crew in for a tasting of their five signature gins, for 45 minutes of top-shelf juniper action, after hitting the cracker food trucks that visit on weekends. If you’re gathering midweek, you can book your group of up to 25 on Four Pillars’ distillation or cocktail-making masterclasses with their gun gin team.
POP THE PIGEON
Next stop is Balgownie Estate, for a spot of clay pigeon shooting. Unlike traditional shooting, bullets are replaced with a harmless infra-red signal that ricochets off the mark, recording which gun it was shot from. Shooting coordinator Time Out Adventures will get the comp cracking with teams of up to five guns at a time pitted against each other at rapid fire or speed shooting, ideal for groups of up to 30.
Finish up with an on-site barbie and beers, or head back to the heart of Healesville to Australia’s original craft brewery, Matilda Bay, for a porterhouse or burger with a pint of fresh Original Ale. Otherwise, drop into Innocent Bystander’s sunny cellar door next door and fill the trestle tables with pizza and paella to share, and order a glass of their Nero d’Avola, which they describe as adventurous and mysterious, “the James Bond of grapes”.
WINE DOWN (OR UP)
If the world of wine remains a mystery, give new Yarra Valley business Vinspiration a call. Local winemaker (and former chemistry teacher!) Andi Davidson runs wine tastings, blind tastings and trivia quizzes that will lead you through the Valley and, if you’re willing to follow her, into the world of New and Old World wines. Fully mobile, she can visit your accommodation or join her at Greenstone Vineyards in Yarra Glen for a warm-up to a wine tour, or as a lead-in to a great bucks’ weekend.
Bonding through sweat and tears (no blood, thanks!) is the heart of a good bachelor party. Underground or overground, spend a morning exploring with the gang; mountain-biking along the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail to see spectacular redwood forests, abseiling from the Yarra Ranges’ Ben Cairn or through the Britannia Creek Cave, a subterranean river system with the qualified wilderness guides of Warburton Adventure. Is that a beer-tasting station you spy in the woods ahead? Reward yourself with a refresher – a bespoke catering package organised by the adventure company, which partners up with local beer, food and wine producers such as Four Pillars Gin or local winemaker Wild Fire Wines, which runs Taste Yarra Valley, a wine and cheese tasting bar in Warby. They’ll even sort out showers and transport, so you’re ready to hit the town – looking good and smelling pretty – after a morning well spent.
ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY
For a weekend away, the 8-bedroom homestead at Holmesglen in Eildon sleeps 16 amongst green rolling hills. With tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool in summer and Lake Eildon nearby, there’s plenty of activities, and staff can also arrange horse riding, archery, laser clay target shooting and canoeing. Wind down around the open fireplace inside or the fire pit outside with a few choice cool-climate pinot noirs, shiraz and cabernet sauvignons that the Yarra Valley is famous for. Don’t forget the cigars and cards for poker night.
Closer to home, hang out with the guys in the treetops on flying foxes, ropes and tunnels in the Dandenongs with Tall Trees Adventures. The forest runs along the side of the Puffing Billy station in Belgrave, and centres around a 150-year-old Algerian Oak, with 2.5-hour sessions that include challenges ranging from two metres up to 15 metres off the ground. There are 23 flying foxes on the site, the longest stretching 120 metres.
While you’re in Belgrave’s neighbourhood, the perfect recovery spot is Killik’s Rum Distillery, which serves tasting paddles of its locally handcrafted Killik rum and Ginfinity gin. Otherwise, go off-piste and discover your perfect gin or whiskey amongst the 120-plus varieties from around the world, and refuel with its mighty Killik Burger, laden with beef, mac’n’cheese and bacon. They stock canned cocktails and their aged rum is available for takeaway.