With so much stress and uncertainty plaguing the world right now, here’s something positively certain to lift your spirits: golf is flying, particularly in the treasured Murray River region. And its No.1 golf course is making hay while the sun shines, finalising preparations for an unveiling it predicts will see it go from a really good golf destination to a truly great one, global pandemic be damned!
Truth be told, Black Bull Golf Course was already a must-play golf destination on the banks of Yarrawonga’s stunning Lake Mulwala. The final golf-course design of Australia’s legendary five-time Open champion Peter Thomson demanded such attention, long before it soared to No.68 in Australian Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses ranking.
But this little piece of paradise is no longer just a much-hyped golf course. It’s now the country’s hottest new must-stay destination thanks to the completion of a multimillion-dollar, 4.5-star Sebel hotel that sits just seconds from its first tee.
Opening its doors shortly, the Sebel Yarrawonga will set a new benchmark for accommodation offered in the region and provide visitors and locals with world-class resort-style facilities to match a course that already had them coming back in droves.
“Combined with the golf course, it will become the premium leisure precinct in north-east Victoria,” declares Daniel Smith, general manager of Lotus Living, developers of the hotel that sits adjacent to the property’s expanding Silverwoods residential precinct.
“The Sebel Yarrawonga will bring a new prestige level of accommodation and conferencing facilities to the entire region. A variety of flexible spaces will offer exceptional venues for those golf trips, weddings and corporate events, no matter how big or small the group.”
With airline travel grounded to a halt in the thrusts of the Covid-19 pandemic, road trips are suddenly back in vogue for eager travellers. And there are no better journeys behind the wheel of your car than along the most iconic stretch of water in the land, golf clubs in tow. After all, there’s a reason why this region leapfrogged the Gold Coast as Australia’s most popular tourist destination a few years ago. An average of 300 days of clear, blue skies every year, close to 40 courses all offering 18-hole rounds for less than $70, not to mention the incredible history and culture in every town you pass through has made experiencing the magic of the Murray River region a no-brainer.
Thanks to the Sebel Yarrawonga, you now have the ultimate base to start, finish or simply call home for the entirety of your next journey. Just a one-hour drive from the regional hub of Albury and only three hours from Melbourne, Black Bull Golf Course can now offer a genuine play-and-stay escape for everyone, whether it’s a boys’ or girls’ golf trip, a romantic weekend away or even an action-packed family holiday.
“With all the international travel restrictions that have been enforced, now’s the perfect time to take a holiday in our own backyard,” adds Smith.
And what a backyard it is.
The Sebel Yarrawonga will offer three food and beverage outlets – including Elizabeth’s fine dining restaurant, the Stock and Barrel Bar and Casual Dining and Sunset Poolside Bar. There’s also a dedicated day spa called SOL, gymnasium, 300-seat conference space and 63 stylishly appointed rooms and apartments to cater for everyone’s needs and desires.
The offerings only multiply outside the gates of this new Murray River mecca.
Be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining and eating out with many Yarrawonga restaurants, hotels and cafés to choose from. Whether you are looking for a fine-dining experience, authentic pub meal, a picnic to take exploring or fish and chips beside Lake Mulwala, you have everything at your fingertips at Silverwoods Yarrawonga.
A little further out of town, in the middle of Victoria’s renowned ‘food bowl’, with the Murray River’s rich and fertile soils, abundance of sunshine and plentiful river water supply, the Yarrawonga region is an absolute delight for food and wine lovers.
Just a 30-minute drive from Silverwoods Yarrawonga is the wine region of Rutherglen, acclaimed as one of the truly great wine tourism destinations in Australia and home to many winemakers and boutique vineyards.
Explore well-known and traditional family-owned cellar doors such as Buller Wines and be prepared to take home a bounty of purchases.
Visit Strathmerton’s Cactus Country and explore its huge five-hectare garden that’s home to thousands of varieties of incredible plants to leave you astonished at how crazy mother nature can be. Or take the time to explore the Murray Farm Gate Trail, where you will find an edible bounty of cheeses, wines, olives, oils, fruit, vegetables, beef, garlic and preserves all waiting to be sampled. And sweet tooths will love Corowa’s Whisky & Chocolate cafe. Just a half-hour drive from Yarrawonga and set in a refurbished 1920s flour mill, experience some of the region’s best breakfast, lunch, cakes and coffee, or even make your own giant chocolate freckle before tasting some of the finest whisky in the country.
Experiences, after all, is what this region is famous for, and now you have the perfect base to experience it all.
“We’re going to be one-stop shop; that’s the way I look at it,” says Black Bull’s director of golf James McCully. “I can see the resort’s patronage quickly building off the exceptional golf offerings here, but when you look at what the hotel facility boasts in terms of its fine-dining, pool, gym and health spa, it’s just going to attract a whole new wave of visitors to the area.
“I can already see that group of friends getting out of the city but still wanting top-shelf accommodation or great food on their escape, and they’ll want to park their car and not worry about it for a week. Well, that’s exactly what they can do here.”
Another string to Black Bull’s bow is the McCully family’s long association with the town, more specifically, their ever-popular golf schools. With so many people taking up the sport during the pandemic, or returning after a long hiatus, the chance to take a well-earned holiday and improve your swing could be an opportunity too good to pass up.
The McCully Golf School has been in operation for more than 35 years and is the longest running golf school in the southern hemisphere. Successful teaching formulas developed by the school’s coaching staff over many years enables them to tailor individualised experiences to effectively build on your skills in an enjoyable format and environment.
McCully Golf Schools has three full-time coaches, including James, his father Glenn and Andrew Long. All are currently ranked in the top 50 teaching professionals in Australia.
“There’s no location in Australia that I know of that boasts three of the top 50 teaching pros in the country,” adds McCully.
“These are all little assets that we’ve got from a travelling golfer’s point of view but the golf course itself is just premium right now, it really is. You literally walk off here and compare the surfaces to Royal Melbourne. It’s really maturing into a phenomenal layout.”
And then, of course, there’s the infamous “Bull Ring” – a difficult three-hole stretch on the front nine viewed in the same vein as Augusta National’s dreaded Amen Corner – that’s given Black Bull universal fanfare across social media.
“It’s amazing how we’ve developed a bit of a cult following with the bull,” McCully says. “People just love our logo. They love the actual branding behind it all and they love the story that’s associated with how we were once an old Angus farm. Our bull statues and the Bull Ring continue to get smashed with Instagram and Facebook posts, and that’s fantastic.”
While many clubs love to market themselves as a “bucket list” destination, McCully and his team are having none of that. There’s something much bigger and far more sustainable at play.
“We are not a bucket-list course and this isn’t a bucket-list location,” he says.
“One of the things that’s always been a big part of what we’ve been able to achieve here in Yarrawonga is visitor retention. It’s almost that same weekend, same week each year, our customers book in their return visit.
“What I can see as an addition to that now, thanks to the Sebel, is the groups we keep seeing back here are now going to start bringing their wives or husbands with them, or the kids and extended family. And they can do it here because it’s a location that ticks multiple boxes compared to a lot of other places.
“How many other golf facilities can have a boat picking you up from your front door and drop you off to the first tee?
“I honestly can’t think of anything in Australia that ticks all those boxes, with the quality combination of a wow-factor location, premium accommodation, food and wine, amazing water sports and, of course, so many wonderful golf options.”
Indeed, visiting the Murray River has always been an experience. A few visionaries in Yarrawonga have just upped the ante on what that experience can be at a time when we’ve never wanted it more.
Black bull GOLF & accommodation PACKAGES
If Black Bull Golf Course and the Sebel Yarrawonga looks like the ideal location for your next golf getaway, phone (03) 5744 0044 for the latest play-and-stay packages or visit silverwoodsyarrawonga.com.au/black-bull-golf-course for more information.
For all hotel bookings and packages visit: https://all.accor.com/hotel/9941/index.en.shtml