How I Yarra Valley: John Wood

Published on 20 November 2020

John Wood has been a part of the Australian entertainment industry for over 40 years, earning a long list of credits in that time for varied roles on stage and screen. As a regular face on Australian television, as Tom Croydon in Blue Heelers and Michael Rafferty in Rafferty’s Rules, John has become a national favourite with Australians across several generations. His stage career has included everything from Shakespeare to Williamson and a few musicals in between, with John winning a number of best actor awards along the way.

In the mornings you might find me having a long black at My Little Kitchen or at Healesville Harvest, both in the main street, with a book or a crossword that I’m most unlikely to finish before I’m joined by my mate Paul who rolls up in his bright-blue Lambo; a motorised wheelchair. Very speedy.

My local is my friendly wine bar, Graceburn, by Mac Forbes, a highly regarded local winemaker. His wine is excellent, the place offers honest hospitality and it has genuine local appeal.

I know I’m in Melbourne when I’m sitting beside the Hamer Hall on the terrace of Fatto Bar and Cantina having a pre-show lunch or dinner overlooking the Yarra, Flinders and Swanston and the Arts Precinct. My favourite area to be. It’s got it all. Y&J’s, St Paul’s, Fed Square, The NGV and the Ian Potter and Southbank. What’s not to love?

The best new thing I’ve found is somewhat old but it still gives me something new every time I go there. It’s the Queen Vic Market. It’s become a place I’ve enjoyed catching up with people or stocking up on supplies. Just when you think you know it all you get inspired by tips or advice from expert traders, or you discover a new ingredient or get motivated to try a dish you’ve only ever read about.

When I want to push out the boat on a meal I head to Grossi Florentino, not just for the high-class menu, but for the ambience and flamboyance of one of Melbourne’s finest dining rooms.

When I want to dazzle friends from out of town I head home to the Yarra Valley. Nothing better than a long lazy lunch at Tokar Estate with Rita and Leon Tokar, grazing on their excellent food and very vibrant tempranillo, particularly The Aria. What great wine. Or if it’s Sunday arvo, a fine lunch and fine wine along with excellent jazz at Seville Hill on my side of the valley. Great music and food, along with the lovely, well-balanced wine of John and Josie D’loisio and head winemaker (and old school chum), Dom Buci.

One thing I hope never changes about Melbourne is the Grand Final at the home of football, the MCG. That IS Melbourne! I know it had to be otherwise this season, but it doesn’t need to occur regularly. And the ’G is the biggest and the best.

How I Clawed My Way to the Middle by John Wood, published by Penguin Random House (RRP $34.99), is available now where all good books are sold.

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