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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Driving holidays can be fun — if you know exactly how to get to your destination. Even the most patient people can lose it if they take a wrong turn or have to keep stopping to look at a directory. It's even worse if their passenger isn't too adept at following directories and what should be a happy drive can turn into an icy occasion.

Navman to the rescue.

There is a range of Navman in-car and personal navigation units, all making getting from A to B simple and hassle free. They are accurate to within five metres.

We road-tested the Navman iCN 520 in Victoria's Yarra Valley, with great success.

The ncm high-definition touch-screen has easy-to-use menus and allows you to import your own points of interest. You will then know in advance where the nearest petrol station, car park, restaurant is. It will also tell you about speed and red light cameras! It can give your next instruction early at the press of a button, and you can select whichever view you feel more comfortable with.

If you happen to think you know where you are going but take a wrong turn, the iCN 520 is most forgiving and automatically recalculates your route with its Back-on-Track program.

They have mapping for the United Kingdom, 17 western European countries, Canada and the United States. Before you go, you just purchase the appropriate map data on CD, load by country or region and away you go. No language problems, no "I said second left", no holiday arguments.

On our test-drive, Natalie and the crew drove around Victoria's beautiful Yarra Valley. Here are some of the places they visited.

Hubert De Castella was an Australian winemaking pioneer, and at the start of the 20th century, St Hubert's was one of the colony's grandest wineries.

His passion for the Yarra Valley saw Hubert De Castella establish his vineyard in 1862. In 1880 it won the Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany's award for the most successful exhibitor at the Melbourne International Exhibition. The tradition of producing world-acclaimed wines continues. St Hubert's produces excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, and all their wines are about complexity and soft, ripe flavours.

Established in 1993, Badgers Brook Wines is a family-owned vineyard, specialising in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.

The cellar door offers tastings of Badger's Brook and Storm Ridge label wines. It opens between Wednesday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Bella Vedere Cucina on Badger's Brook estate is an independently run restaurant. It offers superb scenery to accompany delicious food, and of course, excellent wines. They serve breakfast and lunch from Wednesday to Sunday from 8:30am and on Friday and Saturday nights offer a five course degustation dinner.

This contemporary getaway is in the heart of wine country. High above the Yarra Valley, Mr Rael's five suites have extensive views of natural beauty.

Enjoy dining in Restaurant 3777 at Mt Rael Retreat with a seasonal menu showcasing the best of regional produce.

Restaurant 3777 offers a regional dining experience. The green suede chairs, retro lampshades and superb views set the ambience. Menus change with the seasons and showcase the best of local ingredients with a Mediterranean flair.


Victoria's Yarra Valley.


Navman units start at $449.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

For further information

Navman Australia Pty Ltd
Post office box 479
Gladesville 2111
Ph: (02) 9879 9000
Fax: (02) 9879 9001

St Huberts Vineyard
St Huberts Road
Coldstream 3770
Ph: (03) 9739 1118
Fax: (03) 9739 1096

Badgers Brook Vineyard
874 Maroondah Highway
Coldstream 3770
Ph: (03) 5962 4130

Bella Vedere Cucina
874 Maroondah Highway
Coldstream 3770
Ph: (03) 5962 6161

Restaurant 3777
Mt Rael Retreat
140 Healesville Yarra Glen Road
Healesville 3777
Ph: (03) 5962 1977
Fax: (03) 5962 1577

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