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Exploring the City of Manningham

The City of Manningham has exciting possibilities and is a brilliant part of Melbourne to explore. Ever evolving and boasting many gems, the World Loves Melbourne was thrilled to participate in a media tour in the City of Manningham in Melbourne's east. Being a local it was a joy to explore my own domain. The diversity of both city and country life is stunning.

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Heidi Museum of Modern Art was the first stop on the tour, a place I've been to several times over the years. Ben Harnwell from City of Manningham runs a fabulous business development and tourism arm of the Council (taking in 12 suburbs of Melbourne), and also drives the bus on tours. He does it all! We began with coffee in the fabulous Heide Cafe, an icon in the region. A spacious light filled cafe, it offers excellent foodie options and blends in perfectly with the gallery and garden spaces. As always there was groups of friends and colleagues catching up and a buzz about the cafe.

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You can't help but enjoy the grand estate and grounds at Heide Museum of Modern Art, with sculptures all around. Give yourself several hours to enjoy the offerings in this space. Heide is such a rich cultural experience unique in Melbourne and its history inspirational.

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Exhibition featuring Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley was a treat, at the forefront of contemporary art in Australia. Minimal and conceptual art.

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Clever use of neon.

Young artists used to hang out here at Heidi in the early days - imagine the scenes back in the day. Intellectuals and artists connecting in the amazing library of the original homestead. The parties would have been colourful. Sydney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Danila Vassilef and other famous artists in residence, nurturing a circle of artists. This is part of our heritage.

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Albert Tucker inspires with synthetic paint on composition board. Crater profiles merge surrealistically.

Now Heide celebrates both young and senior artists in its exhibitions. We were amazed Heide hosts 5 exhibitions at a time - no mean feat. The galleries themselves are full of character with a light and airy feel, often with large windows and garden outlooks blending in with exhibitions.

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Heide 2 is a charming exhibition space made even more remarkable by the building itself which is minimalist. John and Sunday Reed have left a legacy and lasting contribution to Australian culture. Current exhibition of John Gollings is spellbinding.

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Kitchen garden supplies the cafe.

Some 21 staff grace Heide and it's supported by n astonishing 250 volunteers including Education volunteers and Gardening volunteers. Arts students also feature at Heide, as do Retirees.  We learnt that there's a high level of volunteerism in Manningham.
Modern and minimalist is the feature of the current exhibition. A transition in materials with interplay of neon and textiles was stunning. Heidi 2 featured  Albert Tucker notably Surreal art with layers and nuances.

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Original homestead is charming as is the collection by Mirka Mora.

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Then it was a short drive to charming Warrandyte, as place we love to come as a family. Strolling along the main street and visiting several of its cafes and restaurants and galleries. Including Altair Restaurant who can claim to be one of the best restaurants of the region, including the Yarra Valley. We visited Stonehouse Gallery and Shop, an icon in Warrandyte over the decades since 1972, which showcases the best of local art and craft, talented artists and creatives.

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The emphasis is on Australian art and artists. Whether it's paintings, pottery, leatherwork, jewellery and glasswork. Light and airy and with engaging staff in a former gospel chapel with stained glass windows, you will pick up a bespoke quality gem at this destination. Also check out the views from the balcony over the river at the back. Melbournians like us love to go down to the river in Warrandyte, so therapeutic.

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From there we visited Olivigna, a slice of the Mediterranean in Manningham, and part of Pietro Gallo Estate. Just half an hour from Melbourne, you might need to pinch yourself to think you're in Tuscany. Olivigna is an Australian pioneer in commercially producing elegant Grappa using the skins of the grapes. They have the expensive equipment and the expertise to produce extraordinary spirits and are leaders in the nation.

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We were treated with Grappa al Caffe (Grappa with coffee) at cellar door then engaged on a private tour with Anna including a tour of the spirit making. Smooth Grappa which turns mindsets about Grappa on their head!

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Grappa al Caffe.

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We were given a tour of the property and the luxurious spaces that abound.

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A slice of Italy close to the city.

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Stunning views to be enjoyed as you dine al fresco on the cobblestone piazza.

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Vibrant colours of the season and rolling hills with vineyards. Tempting to escape the office or visit on a weekend.

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Rustic scenes in Manningham.

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I loved our tour of the distillery and we sampled the Grappa di Prosecco and a standout orange liqueur. This equipment is purpose designed to make Grappa and not neutral spirit drinks such as gin. The Grappa is made using traditional Italian methods.

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Grappa sourced from local produce. And its single grape variety rather than blended. The Grappa still is named "Scarpone" after John's father.

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The restaurant also boasts a convivial setting with large window to views.

Then it was time for a spectacular Pasta Masterclass which normally takes 4 hours but for which was slightly abridged for us. I can't recommend this class enough as you can apply it at home. Just get yourself a home pasta making machine and some decent flour and eggs. We were shown the nuances of making pasta varieties like ravioli and tagliatelle.

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Egg combined with decent flour is the base for pasta.

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Making tagliatelle.

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Happy days in the pasta masterclass.

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Once we kneed the dough we run it through the machine for sheets of pasta. Sprinkling flour along the way.

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Hand made ravioli filled with ricotta.

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We enjoyed our meal with Pietro Gallo Estate Wines including this delicious Sangiovese.

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Charcuterie heaven.

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Ravioli heaven - what a great job we did in hand making the ravioli. Served with sage butter.

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Sensational Scialatielli & house made pasta, clams, mussels, prawns, tomatoes, zucchini, chilli.

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We also did a fine job making the tagliatelle, served with ragu.

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Manzo - O’Connor premium grass fed eye fillet with porcini and potato gratin, parsnip, red wine jus is a popular dish at Olivigna. Here we have generous portions of the meat for our media lunch.

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Pesce of the day was also a triumph.

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Our convivial media group enjoying the delights of Olivigna and Manningham.

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Dessert was a showstopper featuring Grappa in the ice cream!

Lunch at Olivigna is a delight, whether in the restaurant, outside al fresco or in our case, a private dining room. I was struck by the quality and the generous amount of food served by friendly engaging staff.

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Grappa to finish with our dessert.

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Then it was back on the bus and back to City of Manningham offices where we were handed a superb pack which featured Kellybrook Ciders and Beers. A great day with rich experiences in City of Manningham. Thanks to City of Manningham and The Bastion Effect. #exploremanningham