Business Events Victoria (BEV) welcomed a group of business events planners to the Grampians region at the start of spring on 5th and 6th September.
In collaboration with Greater Hamilton, Grampians Tourism and Ararat Rural City, BEV hosted the group across the region to a versatile range of exhibition and conference venue offerings as well as unique experiences.
Departing from Melbourne and following a scenic drive past the Grampians National Park, the group arrived in Hamilton – the region’s main centre, to a sunny welcome by the team at Greater Hamilton – Southern Grampians Shire Council. Being the geographic and business hub of the region, Hamilton is the centre known for the arts and culture, health, education and agriculture.
The first venue stop was the Hamilton Exhibition and Conference Centre. Managed by the Hamilton Pastoral and Agricultural Society and home to the annual Sheepvention Rural Expo, the Centre spanning 955 square metres features new function rooms that offer an abundance of natural light, an impressive range of configurations and catering options to suit functions from 10 to 800.
Approaching closer to the city centre was the Kantor Family Music and Performing Arts Centre. Located within easy walking distance of hotels and the town’s amenities, the venue includes a 468-seat theatre auditorium and separate conference seating capacity for 320 guests, as well as 25 versatile break-out rooms for varied uses.
After lunch at the bright and cheery Jack + Jude in the town centre, the group visited the Hamilton Gallery a few steps next door. Managed by the Southern Grampians Shire Council, the Gallery is the most significant public cultural facility in the Shire and forms an important part of the range of tourism experiences in the region. The group then concluded with the last stop at the Performing Arts Centre, which included a 500-seat tiered auditorium and other function spaces for an additional 220 guests seated banquet-style.
Taking a scenic turn in the afternoon, the group transferred to Mount Sturgeon Homestead, also the Royal Mail Hotel’s Mt Sturgeon Station. Located on the Southern tip of the Grampians National Park, the homestead is a piece of Australia’s colonial history and also an idyllic and remote getaway location for corporate retreats.
The next stop was Sterling Place – Dunkeld Community Centre, where Mayor and Councillor Mary-Ann Brown personally welcomed the group to Dunkeld and led the site inspection of Sterling Place’s modern and multi-purpose function rooms that cater for conferences and function rooms in style. Conferences and functions requiring catering would now have the option to be fully supported by the team at Royal Mail Hotel.
The group was treated to a private tour of the Royal Mail Kitchen Garden, also Australia’s largest working restaurant kitchen garden, before heading to the Royal Mail Hotel to check-in and have a well-deserved rest in the luxuriously appointed Mountain View rooms. Freshened up, the group re-convened for wine-tastings at the wine cellar and settled in for an informal and relaxing dinner at Parker Street Project.
Day two began with a drive to Halls Gap in the heart of the Grampians National Park and renowned for spectacular hiking, stunning views and inquisitive wildlife. The group was warmly welcomed by Marc Sleeman, CEO at Grampians Tourism in Halls Gap before proceeding with a site inspection of Country Plaza Halls Gap with 51 rooms across a range of categories and conference facilities.
It was then off to the Halls Gap Zoo – Victoria’s largest regional zoo, for close-up animal encounters that included meerkats, red pandas, kangaroos and over 160 native and exotic animals. Home to a number of endangered species captive breeding programs, the zoo provides a unique experience for incentive groups as well as pre and post conference delegates.
Journeying on to Seppelt Wines in the Great Western township for a lunch stop and site inspection, the group was brought back in time to Seppelt’s great wine making history of over 160 years and being producers of some of Australia’s most iconic wines.
The group arrived at Ararat, the final stop. Besides its close proximity to the wine region, Ararat is the only centre in the region with V-line train service from Melbourne. Ararat offers an abundance of cultural and historical attractions including the J-Ward Gaol and Aradale Asylum and Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre. The group site inspected the freshly renovated Ararat Town Hall that offers a 500-seat auditorium that is retractable, the Supper Room, and foyer space. The Alexandra Oval Community Centre, located also in the CBD just minutes away, features a modern and stylish design with full panoramic windows allowing natural light into the function space that seats 160 cabaret-style and 200 cocktail-style.
Grampians is a truly unique region that offer surprising facilities and sterling support for business events, leisure and team-building options not found elsewhere.