A Grand Plan to Revitalise a Grand Hotel

Words by Amanda Kennedy
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A large crowd of locals gathered for last drinks in March this year as testament to a much-loved landmark. Portarlington Grand Hotel has retained an imposing presence on the town’s main street since 1888, overlooking the foreshore and Port Phillip Bay. Nine months and many millions of dollars later, it will reopen this summer to much excitement from those same locals as well as visitors alike.

It takes a considered approach with plenty of skill and experience to marry the old and the new in a project of this scale. It turns out Melbourne-based architects, Technē Architecture + Interior Design, were just the people for the job. And if you’re getting a similar vibe to that of The Espy in St Kilda, you’re not wrong – they’ve had a hand in many a hospitality makeover.

What’s on offer at the Portarlington Grand Hotel 2.0?

Probably most importantly, dining options abound in this new incarnation. Choose from the airy Atrium beer garden for seaside vistas with your wood-fired pizza. The Lawn will be on your hit list if bringing the family (Rover included) with picnic tables, yellow and white striped umbrellas and seafood platters. Perhaps it’s a casual meet-up with colleagues in the front bar for a light snack you’re after or maybe plans include a leisurely meal with family and friends in the bistro.

Food will be that clever balance between pub classics we all look for, as well as an emphasis on local seafood, naturally. Portarlington, after all, has been the home to a mussel festival since 2007.

Beverages will draw from the region’s award-winning local wineries, as well as craft beers and signature cocktails. So, even if you’ve taken advantage of Port Phillip Ferries’ 70-minute ferry journey from Melbourne’s docklands, you can get a taste for the region’s extensive brewed, distilled and fermented options. We know you’ll be back…

Accommodation can sometimes be an afterthought at regional hotels. Not here. With 18 boutique rooms blending original design details like ornamental fireplaces and archways with luxury finishes, when bookings open for stays beginning January, they’ll be hot property.

Portarlington is the perfect spot from which to explore the Bellarine Peninsula with all it has to offer, whether you’re after a pristine beach to stroll along, adventure activities in the great outdoors or a scenic drive exploring local producers. What are you waiting for?


WHAT: Portarlington Grand Hotel
WHERE: 76 Newcombe St, Portarlington
WHEN: Opening summer 2021
MORE INFO: portarlingtongrandhotel.com.au

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Bird is the word. Yardbird Restaurant & Bar to be exact

Words by Amanda Kennedy
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It takes confidence to create a perfectly casual yet high calibre dining establishment. For Albury’s newest addition, Yardbird Restaurant and Bar, this confidence is the result of many, many years of hospitality experience in Australia and abroad.

Partners in life as well as work, chef Simon Arkless and Cait Mitchelhill (front of house) have teamed up with restaurateur Denis Lucey for this, their latest project. Though technically in NSW, Albury is closer to Melbourne than it is to Sydney which is probably why we tend to think of it so proprietarily. Any Covid border restrictions aside, it’s a decent three and a half hours drive north-east of the city, so making the trek needs a decent reward. Thankfully, Yardbird fulfils that brief.

Linger in the front courtyard for a spot of people watching while sipping on a glass of something special from the 200-plus wine list. Sommelier Ben Knight crafted the list ‘to intrigue and entice’ with a selection of Australian wines, craft beers and cocktails drawing from local distilleries.

The bar snack menu will feature ingredient-driven classics such as croquettas, char-grilled Padrón peppers, and tortilla, as well as a range of charcuterie to round out the serious European vibe. Restaurant mains will make good use of the newly imported Spanish Mibrasa oven, allowing chefs to charcoal grill with abandon. You may have noticed the recent trend of cooking over fire and coals and it’s easy to see the appeal. With such intense heat at your disposal, cooking becomes a visceral, almost primal, affair.

The large industrial space was reinvigorated thanks to award-winning interior designer, Dana Hutchins, who along with local artisans were able to breathe fresh life into the former mechanic’s workshop. A mix of seating, layered textures and rich colour choices all adds up to a warm and inviting environment.

With the tagline ‘good food, fine wine and friends’ the only question left is when are you going?


WHAT: Yardbird Restaurant & Bar
WHERE: 493 Townsend St, Albury
WHEN: Tuesday -Saturday 5pm-9pm – OPENING SOON
MORE INFO: www.yardbird.com.au

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Vibrant lifestyle precinct to open in the historic Goods Shed, Ballarat

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Just weeks after being crowned Victoria’s Top Tourism Town 2021, the news is out that Ballarat will be home to a major new retail, hospitality and entertainment precinct, The Goods Shed.

Opening in October this year, the project is a substantial redevelopment of heritage-listed goods shed adjacent to Ballarat Train Station and will see a variety of spaces for eateries and local retailers open up, as well as a Convention centre, outdoor plaza and even a Quest hotel, making it the perfect spot for a weekend hangout.

The restoration and revival is being championed by revered building group Pellicano in partnership with Atlantic Group, who have set the intention of creating a warm, thriving hospitality and lifestyle hub. An all-day cafe featuring fresh, local produce is set to star, as well as an Asian grab-and-go kiosk for dumplings and more, while a local brewery and gin offering – Melbourne’s Little Lon bar – will be serving drinks into the night.

Punters who fancy more than just filling their bellies can pop down to the state-of-the-art theatrette for a local play, TED Talk, independent movie screening or conference, or soak up the thriving scene in the landscaped community and events plaza. While the collection of private events spaces curated by Atlantic Group are aimed at weddings, corporate events, social gatherings and parties, if their previous spaces are anything to go by, these venues are going to look amazing.

The Goods Shed Ballarat has been made possible with a $28 million Victorian Government investment in the Ballarat Station Precinct Redevelopment, and from what we can see, it’s going to pay off.

WHAT: The Goods Shed
WHERE: Corner Lydiard Street North and Nolan Street, Ballarat
WHEN: October 2021
MORE INFO: The Goods Shed

Grampians Road Trip with Tim Bone

Like many Victorians, Tim Bone’s (Masterchef 2019) first experience of the Grampians was campfire songs and orienteering at school camp.

There is so much more to explore in this region which is rich in wildlife, indigenous history and fantastic food and wine. So we thought it would be fun to send Tim back out on a Grampians road trip to rediscover the region with fresh eyes.



Gippsland is officially now the land of good beer

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As you enter Good Land Beer’s Traralgon tap room you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve walked into the brewery itself – you have.

The space has leaned into its industrial feel with a poured-concrete bar top, repurposed steel taps and seating all set against fermenting tanks.

The taproom opened to the public in early July and, lockdowns notwithstanding, has been going great guns since. Brewer Jimmy Krekelberg is brewing double batches this time round after selling out not long after launching. In the fermenters currently you’ll find the core-range lager and pale ale, as well as an Oktoberfest marzen and hazy IPA.

It’s been a long two-year process to get this far, making their mark in what was once a barren land for craft brewing and locals have embraced the venture with open arms.

The venue’s 10 taps are curently pouring five Good Land beers while showcasing five local stand-outs: Bandolier Brewing (Warragul), Burra Brewery (Korrumburra), Ocean Reach Brewing (Phillip Island), as well as a mead and cider from Gurneys Cider in Foster. A rotation of guest food trucks will have that side of things covered – think smoked slow-cooked meats, pizzas, burgers and other ideal beer food.

I wanted to support local makers. I’m a maker, that’s what I love. I know the passion that goes into doing it and that’s what we wanted to translate here in our taproom. I don’t think there’s anywhere within 150km from here where you could go and share a bottle of mead with a bunch of friends.

Good Land Beer began with a home-brewing kit purchased 12 years ago and many hours spent in front of YouTube. In 2015, Krekelberg moved to the Netherlands, spending time at award-winning cult brewery Brouwerij De Molen as barrel manager and brewer.

This passion for not just beer but for brewing is also evident in his commitment to producing a mid-strength beer that is light in body but large in taste. The dry-hopped Teeny Tiny at 2.8% ABV fits the bill, even winning over hardcore craft beer types.  As a father of young children, he’s only too aware of the need to kick back and enjoy a few beers without getting knocked for a six.


WHAT: Good Land Beer
WHERE: 12 Standing Dr, Traralgon East
WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays 12pm – 9pm
MORE INFO: Good Land Beer

Team behind The Continental open Italian-style pizza and wine bar

Authentic pizzas, “smashable” wines and good vibes are guaranteed at Lou’s Pizza and Wine.

Geelong is to become home to a brand new pizzeria and wine bar, helmed by Ryan Thompson, restaurateur-extraordinaire behind The Continental.

Located just off Little Malop Street on Mcclardy Place, Lou’s Pizza and Wine is taking notes from old school Italian pizzerias, with a bit of Geelong grunge thrown in. Think easygoing, delicious fare alongside stellar local and international wines in a restaurant too comfortable to leave.

Locals will know the building previously housed a pizzeria, but Lou’s is starting totally fresh. A brand new menu developed by a talented young chef features a wide selection of pizzas, flatbreads and dip and tasting platters. And as for the golden question, what kind of pizza base should punters expect, Thompson has the most delightful reply: “thin base, puffy crust, nice, light style pizza.” We love to hear it.

The fit-out features an alfresco garden where Aperol Spritz and Campari are the heroes. Indoors it’s all about wood finishes, comfy seats and the smell of woodfired goodies. Come rain, hail or shine, Lou’s is destined to become a favourite local hangout. And it’s even pandemic-proof, something Thompson was determined to achieve after the last year of closures at The Continental.

“We needed something covid-proof where we can keep our staff on and keep feeding people… We can put our pasta and pizza in takeaway boxes and keep making good food seven days a week.”

Lou’s Pizza and Wine opens in August 2021.

WHAT: Lou’s Pizza and Wine
WHERE: Mcclardy Place, Geelong
WHEN: August 2021
MORE INFO: Lou’s Pizza and Wine

David and Karina Reyne open an intimate wine and cheese bar in Flinders

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It’s an intoxicating mix of cheese, wine, whisky, celebrity, and passion. Plonk and Stink opened late last month and is an intimate wine and cheese bar in the main drag of Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula. 

The actual property is owned by musician and TV presenter David Reyne and his wife, wine industry professional Karina Reyne. 

“Come lockdown last year we had this shop, and it wasn’t bringing in rent, and David’s work on Nine’s Getaway had fallen away because of the pandemic,” says Karina, formerly the events manager at Jackalope in Merricks North. 

The irrepressible pair fell back on what they know best: food, wine, and entertainment and opened Plonk and Stink. The name is explained by David’s father’s cheeky names for wine and Camembert. The fit-out is clean lines, lots of Spotted Gum paneling, and stained Stringybark tabletops. 

The experience is about trying Victorian cheese and Victorian wines from small producers from around the state. The flights of three 50ml pours and three 15g potions of cheese start at $30 for the ‘Take Flight’ and involve cheeses from makers such as L ‘Artisan, Berry’s Creek, Milawa and Maffra, with supply changing with the seasons.

Karina’s long-term relationships with the wine industry have allowed the pair to get their hands on some rare and limited museum wines for the ‘Top Flight’ at $60. The most recent offer saw Crawford River ’13 Riesling,  Paringa Estate ’14 Pinot Noir, and Elogee Park ’08 Cabernet Merlot, all kept bright and fresh under gas from the Coravin dispenser. 

This place is really about the two of us

“It’s about what we love, what interests us. David will deliver the flights to the customers and fill them in on what is on the plate and in the glasses in front of them,” says Karina.


Where: 3/37 Cook Street, Flinders,
When: Thu-Sun 12pm-7pm
More info: Plonk & Stink

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

A two-storey restaurant and bar opens in a heritage-listed boiler room

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Old school brickwork, soaring ceilings and exposed beams make for an inspiring dining and drinking experience.

Everybody knows you eat with your eyes. But there’s something to be said for having a delicious meal in a gorgeous location. Enter 1915, Geelong’s newest restaurant nestled in the former Federal Woollen Mills in one very delightful, historic red-brick boiler house.

Extensive renovations under the guidance of the Hamilton Group have seen the centuries-old building transform into something of a vision. Just a stone’s throw away from the famed Geelong North Smokestack, the restaurant boasts two storey’s (both fitted with cocktail bars, of course), a glass-encased wine room on the lower level and plenty of space for every kind of social gathering. Work functions, long-table dining events, post-work hangs or an intimate dinner; this magical space caters to it all.

Headed up by Chef Andy Symeonakis – whose delicious fare you may have sampled at Kingsley’s Steak and Crab House, Hellenic Republic or the Lorne Hotel – the 1915 team are bringing classic Mediterranean eats to the table with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and some exceptional drinks to match.

The new digs are all thanks to the hard work and dedication of two Geelong school mates Cam Hamilton and Rob Macafee, who after twenty-five years of friendship decided to put their love of the region and its history to use. Their careful renovations see the building’s unique history (it was designed by the same architect who designed Australia’s first parliament) come to life, while bringing the contemporary finishes us 21st Century folk love most.

Whether you’re looking to sink a few beers with mates on the weekend, tuck into a handmade Neapolitan style pizza for dinner, or graze on a chef-selected local market cheese board with a cocktail in hand, 1915 has got you covered.

WHAT: 1915 Geelong
WHERE: PH2 / 33 Mackey Street, North Geelong
WHEN: Open Sunday – Wednesday 11am-10pm, Thursday – Saturday 11am – 1pm
MORE INFO: 1915 Geelong

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Indulge in a regional foodie feast at Castlemaine’s new Bar Midland

Words by Richard Cornish
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It’s perhaps the most audacious opening for years. No farmed meat. No sugar. Just food grown around Castlemaine or harvested in Victoria, where you’ll find this small bar/dining room with an almost austere art deco interior inside a majestic old 1870s pub.

Even the wine list is 100% Victorian with wines from people like Gilles Lapalus and Simon Killeen featuring by the glass – at prices where you don’t need to refinance the house to afford.  It comes as no surprise when you realise that conscientious chef Alex Marano is behind the 16 course, $110 per head, menu of small plate dishes.

Every one of those dishes shouts volumes of place and season. There could be beautifully formed agnolotti filled with potato, mint, ricotta and dressed in sharp and rich buttermilk, mandarin, and fennel sauce. There are dishes cooked on the handmade charcoal grill that sits at the heart of the open kitchen, which gives the room a faint smokey tang. No beef? But there is the wild shot rabbit, slowly cooked in olive oil until it is perfect to the tooth. And do not expect salmon or barramundi – instead, order the big, meaty angasi oysters.

Marano, previously known as Alex Perry, has always been part of a ground-breaking team. He worked with Paul Mathis at the ahead of its time S.O.S. (Save Our Seafood) sustainable fish restaurant in Melbourne and was part of the early MoVida team. At The Good Table in Castlemaine, he was an early adopter of the collab bringing in chefs like Marty Beck from Dr. Marty’s Crumpets to do weekly pop-ups. With fellow traveller Louden Cooper running the front of house and drinks, the pair put on an incredibly disciplined service working with such tight seasonal and local parameters.

The small dining room is exceptionally true to the scale and ergonomics of art deco architects. Decorations include prints from 1930s artist (and Castlemaine woman) Christian Waller (who with her husband Napier Waller designed some of Melbourne’s most exceptional stained-glass windows). Bar Midland promises to be an experience people will travel for as the Castlemaine train station is opposite and there is accommodation offered at the Midland Hotel.

N.B. At the time of writing, the Midland Hotel was undergoing renovations that cloaked the building in scaffolding. The Midland Hotel was still offering accommodation, and Bar Midland was open for service. A new bar with a compact bar menu will open shortly in the hotel’s former radio room.


WHAT: Bar Midland
WHERE: 1-2 Templeton Street, Castlemaine
WHEN: Open Now
MORE INFO:  Bar Midland
At the time of writing, the Midland Hotel was undergoing renovations that cloaked the building in scaffolding. The Midland Hotel was still offering accommodation, and Bar Midland was open for service. A new bar with a compact bar menu will open shortly in the hotel’s former radio room.

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Speakeasy meets Gatsby at the new Non Disclosure Bar

Saddle up Geelong, hospitality heavyweight Gorge Camorra is opening up another bar right in the heart of town.

The brains (and chief mixologist) behind G-Town’s beloved 18th Amendment Bar and Manhattan Bar, Gorge Camorra is bringing all his chops to the new Non Disclosure Bar, located just where you need it; Little Malop Street.

Much like the 1920’s Prohibition speakeasy style locals have come to love at 18th Amendment, Non Disclosure will have that same old-world America feel, but this time with a dash of Gatsby thrown in. Think high class finishes, rare and delicious spirits and world-class service.

Camorra says the bar is as much about a cracking night out as it is a time-warp through history, thanks to the number of important historic bottles on show. Spirits and liqueurs from Camorra’s personal collection, which he has sourced from around the world for over 20 years, will turn into your favourite cocktail classics at the hands of expert mixologists.

“If you started dinking whiskey in the 80s, we’ve got whiskey made in the 80s still there, bottled, because it actually does change. If you like a Negroni, we can make you one with vermouth, Campari and gin from the 1970s.”

In keeping with the 1920’s gentleman’s club atmosphere, Non Disclosure seats just 42 guests, so an intimate but surprisingly non-elitist night awaits. There’ll be a Martini cart that comes to your table and makes your cocktail before your eyes, a cheese trolley to keep your stomach lined, plus fresh oysters and charcuterie for the hungrier among us.

As for the interior, after four months of extensive renovations, guests can expect a gorgeous Art Deco style to while the night away in. Non Disclosure is set to open up in August, so start planning your ultimate night out now.

WHAT: Non Disclosure Bar
WHERE: Little Malop Street, Geelong
WHEN: August 2021
MORE INFO: Non Disclosure Bar

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.