King Valley, Victoria travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights


This is prosecco country now – or the Prosecco Road as it is known – but it was once the land where Italian tobacco farmers ploughed their crops in the fertile valley at the base of the Victorian alps, three hours north of Melbourne. Otto Dal Zotto, patriarch of the Dal Zotto family got his hands on one of the first prosecco vines in Australia, via a contact in the old country, and now he, and his sons Michael and Christian, have some of the best fizz in the valley. See 


The Mountain View Hotel is an intimate four-room stay attached to the local, vine-covered pub in the town of Whitfield. Owned by the Pizzini family, who also make top local drops (and are related to the Dal Zottos) the pub serves hearty Italian meals – think squid ink linguine with fresh seafood – by a log fire in winter and in the sun-flecked beer garden in summer. The areas Italian specialties are available at the bar, as are the local brews from King River Brewing. See 


Pay a visit to King River Brewing for a different type of King Valley bubbles. The taproom is set in a traditional tobacco kiln that reflects the Valley's history, or you can grab a beer in the beer garden under some corrugated iron. It has killer views of the valley by day and is strung with fairy lights for those having a night-time drink. The brews are European-influenced with Belgian tripels, pale ales and a delicious fig porter. See 


Back at the Pizzini winery, where vintage corrugated iron tobacco sheds sit near the banks of the King River, is A Tavola a cooking school run by matriarch Katrina Pizzini. Katrina will show you the tricks and family secrets to incredible pasta sauce, light and fluffy gnocchi and a host of other Italian classics. Minimum group size is eight people. And, if you are lucky, her husband Fred Pizzini will be in the tasting room to tell you about the wines. See 


Christmont Wines is located where the valley starts to morph into the alps and owner Arnie Pizzini (yes, also a relation) commands a modern room with sweeping views of the right royal valley. Here you can dine on eggplant alla Siciliana, with molten fiore di latte gluing together the baked eggplant and topped with crunchy deep-fried capers while you watch herds of cows dine on the valley's verdant floor. See 


It is said that Fred Pizzini occasionally lets Ross Brown from Brown Brothers – his neighbour from Milawa – throw a fishing line into his particularly fertile patch of the King River. But for us punters there are a few public spots where you can indulge in the valley's favourite pastime. The King River is famed for its brown trout that love the clear waters that run down from the alpine forests near Mt Buller. Bring your line and join in. See 


If you feel the need to walk off some of the Italian food and wine try an outdoor adventure with High Country Hiking Tours. Co-owner Romana Hoffman is a high country specialist who has taken on Mont Blanc in France, Grand Paradiso in Italy and Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania. She has a hiker's temperament, calm and capable, and a hot pink headband that makes her easy to spot. High Country Hiking Tours know every twig and pebble in the Victorian Alps and can offer custom hikes of some of the low-lying surrounds. See 


Combine the Victorian alps with pure waterways and you end up with Dandongadale Falls which, with a 255-metre drop, is one of the state's highest waterfalls. Plunging down from Lake Cobbler, the falls are a side trip that every traveller should take. See 


Hospitality is not just the chosen profession of the Italian families that live in the King Valley – it is their guiding principal. Whether you are lucky enough to baste a slowly turning porchetta with Otto Dal Zotto, get lost in a chat with Fred Pizzini about water usage or hear Arnie Pizzini talk up the area's produce – they are natural hosts that make you want to make the valley home yourself.


Paul Chai was a guest of Dal Zotto Wines and Visit Victoria, see