From rolling green hills to charming railway towns: your guide to West Gippsland

Many times we have watched with envy, the photos uploaded by those touring the region of West Gippsland. So we thought it’s about time we explore this region for ourselves. 

The rail towns of West Gippsland are less than an hours drive from Melbourne CBD and with the option of catching a V-line train, means you can easily explore this diverse small-town community as a weekend day trip with friends.

As you can see from our itinerary below, it’s quite the day out, with not a moment to spare, so pack the car or jump on the V-line and come and join us in West Gippsland!

Your Guide to the Goulburn River and Ranges

The Goulburn River might not have the PR team of the mighty Murray but as Victoria’s longest river it has long been a part of peoples’ daily lives. It is the region’s lifeline of agriculture, a cultural and historic touchstone as well as a magnet for outdoor activities.

Your road trip offers so many waterways to choose from, including one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, enchanting waterfalls and secluded fishing spots. No matter the season, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking scenery, pretty little towns and down to earth hospitality as you wind your way through this special part of central Victoria – all within a short, easy drive out of Melbourne.

Here’s an itinerary to get you started.

Blackwood’s Martin Street Coffee Roasters welcomes good bakery offering

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Suppled

The quaint little village of Blackwood is about to become all the more charming with the opening of a new retail offering along the main drag.

The town’s much-loved Martin Street Coffee Roasters has welcomed their new flatmate Adam Kluga of Adam, The Good Baker this week, offering locals and visitors the chance to savour some of regional Victoria’s finest sourdough alongside their morning brew.

Blackwood Bakery

Hailing from a Sicilian background, Adam says food and baking have always played a significant role in his life.

‘I spent quite a few years living with my Nonna, so I learnt a lot about preserving and pickling and cooking more generally,’ Adam said. ‘My granddad was a career baker and my Nonna knew a lot about the trade, and that was my first exposure to making fresh bread and making good honest food.’

Having launched his micro-bakery from his humble home in Trentham during the height of the Covid pandemic in 2021, Adam quickly earned the community’s respect and admiration for his wholesome products made with love, passion and integrity.

I’m not trying to do anything flash. I’m just trying to make good, honest food for people to share. There’s no frills.

Having been approached by the Martin Street Coffee team, he said the opportunity presented itself at the right time and it made sense to ‘take the plunge’.

The retail space will initially operate from Martin Street Coffee Roasters on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with Adam also maintaining his wholesale and online orders. Expect indulgent sourdoughs, crispy baguettes, seeded loaves and other European-inspired goods.

‘It’s such a great opportunity and a beautiful space,’ Adam said. ‘The crew have curated such a welcoming, warm environment and I’m really looking forward to settling into the space, utilising a dedicated kitchen and offering people really good bread. It’s really exciting. I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.’

Trading since 2017, Martin Street Coffee Roasters is renowned for serving up carefully roasted, seriously decadent coffee with a big focus on being good to the planet.

Coffe Balckwood

The roastery specialises in small-batch roasting using bespoke fluid-bed, air-roasting technology that guarantees a smooth, bold, delicious and never bitter flavour profile and prides itself on choosing beans from family growers using sustainable, eco-friendly methods.

Martin Street Coffee Roasters founder Simon Daniel said his team was thrilled Adam would be operating out of the same premises as the factory door.

‘Adam produces slow-fermented bread products that are next level,’ Simon said. ‘We’ve known him for a reasonable while and have always enjoyed the high quality, crunch, texture, and flavour of his bread.

‘People see us as a destination, a welcoming hub to immerse oneself in the sight, sounds, and aromatics of the coffee production process. Visiting the factory door speaks to a wide range of people, from those sampling or purchasing our products to those making quick stops to stock up on beans and other products.

‘The idea was to support another small, high-quality business to get into an actual retail space. We have a good connection and look forward to the vibe this collaborative concept will bring.’


WHAT: Adam, The Good Baker at Martin Street Coffee Roasters
WHERE: 21 Martin Street, Blackwood
WHEN: Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10am until sold out
FIND OUT MORE: Adam The Good Baker & Martin Street Coffee Roasters

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

Our guide to exploring Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images Mike Emmett

From heart-pounding adventures to award-winning wineries, family adventures, natural escapes, culinary indulgences and so much more, visiting Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula is certain to satisfy any type of traveller.

Wander the laneways and tuck into delicious cafes, enjoy a locally made craft beer in the sunshine at Little Creatures or a tasting paddle at the Queenscliff Distillery. Indulge in a bit of retail therapy in Hesse Precinct Queenscliff; a historic street packed with boutique homewares shops, bookstores, clothing, gifts, eateries and more.

Alternatively explore local wineries and fine dining at the award-winning Provenance Wines where head chef Nathan McIver will make your senses explode with his take on modern Australian cuisine featuring considered, local and seasonal ingredients. Likewise, pack your appetite because La Cachette Bistrot is a fine dining experience worth travelling for. If you’ve got a sweet tooth or you’re travelling with kids, make a stop at Scandinavian Ice cream Co for a real treat.

Bring an empty esky and visit the farm gates and gourmet provedores, there’s no way that esky will come home empty.

Feeling outdoorsy? The Portarlington waterfront is an ideal day at the beach with cafes and accommodation steps away. The recreational reserve area here offers a dog-friendly area, picnic spots, playgrounds and the like. Alternatively, Buckley Falls is a scenic spot to stand in awe of the cascading water into the Barwon River.

There are walking trails here with plenty of spots to stop and take in the view. While you’ve got your comfy walking shoes on, take a stroll along the tracks at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse. Built in 1902, the lighthouse is still manned today. Walking tracks circle the lighthouse and extend down the rocky headland to the beach below.

Feeling nostalgic? The Bellarine Railway in Queenscliff has heritage train rides and special events for kids including Thomas the Tank Engine-themed days and serves as the boarding location for the gourmet Q Train dining experience as well as the popular Blues Train.

Why not stay and explore? While both Geelong and the Bellarine are close enough to make for a great day trip, there’s plenty here to keep you discovering something new and exciting every day. Book your stay at any one of the incredible range of accommodation options from boutique B&Bs to serviced apartments suiting couples, families and even your pooch at the R Hotel. It’s also only a 5-minute walk to the beach!

Families might also enjoy the range of options at BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Queenscliff Beacon, it’s perfectly positioned across the road from the beach, at the entrance to Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale on the Bellarine Peninsula. From villas to apartments and campsites, there’s an option for all types of travellers and it features all the facilities Big4 are known for including a tennis court, playground, indoor heated pool, the famous Big4 jumping pillows and more.

Getting There:

Getting to Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula is easy. Geelong is just an hour’s drive from Melbourne and you can continue to the Bellarine just another 20-30 minutes onward along the coastlines, weaving through views of Port Phillip Bay and rolling vineyards.
Alternatively, hop on a V/Line train from Melbourne’s South Cross Station and make your way straight to Geelong. Ferry services also operate between Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula and Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, as well as Portarlington on the Bellarine Peninsula or Geelong Central and Docklands in Melbourne.



Appearing in videos:

Basils Farm
La Cachette
Geelong Cellar Door
R Hotel
Proveance Wines
The Range @ Curlewis
Ingenia Beacon Queenscliff
Portarlington Grand Hotel
The Bookshop at Queenscliff
Bellarine Distillery / The Whiskery
National Wool Museum
Little Creatures

New Ballarat sanga deli pops up in CBD bar

Words by Della Vreeland

It seems there’s a bit of a fad going on around Ballarat of late. And it has to do with the good old sanga.

A few spaces are opening up around the traps serving up the grab-and-go meal, with Pat’s Sandwiches being the latest culprit.

Co-owner Thom Mitchell says the deli, currently operating as a pop-up shop in the middle of town, is named after his Nan Patricia who was a publican, excellent cook and dessert queen.

‘She has always been the North Star of what I believe true hospitality is about when it comes to food – care and nourishment,’ Thom says. ‘She passed that down to her family and, in a way, I see us continuing that at Pat’s. My mum Diane will be alongside me in the sandwich kitchen.’

Thom recently made the move back to Ballarat from Melbourne and takes the reins at Pat’s with co-owner Jonny Driver. The duo hopes to deliver a tight menu of five-to-six core sandwiches with the occasional special, served alongside a warming Proud Mary brew.

‘The core items will rotate and change slightly with the seasons, depending on what produce is abundant,’ Thom says. ‘Proud Mary coffee will be available as well as a rotating batch brew filter. Classic fizzy drinks and juices too of course.’

With ingredients sourced locally where possible as well as homemade pickles, ferments, relishes and sauces, Pat’s is certain to be a CBD haunt frequented by all those in search of a healthy yet Insta-worthy lunch.

While the deli launched last week in Ballarat’s Midtown Cellars, it hopes to open its permanent space asap in a shipping container down one of the city’s elusive laneways.

‘We see Pat’s as unique in that it will operate as a canteen for the city. A kind of CBD tuck shop,’ Thom says.

We will be takeaway only, so it’s grab and go.

‘A sandwich shop in a 20-foot shipping container tucked away down a bluestone alleyway, so it’s not your regular cafe experience. We love the idea of making use of the more hidden nooks and crannies of Ballarat.’


WHAT: Pat’s Sandwiches
WHERE: Pop-up at Midtown Cellars and Bar, 405 Sturt St, Ballarat Central
FIND OUT MORE: Pats Sandwiches

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

Drop and flop, or hike and surf; The OHO guide to the beachside resort of Lorne

Words by Richard Cornish
Images Supplied

Halfway between Geelong and Cape Otway, the village Lorne sits on either side of the Erskine river as it flows into Louttit bay.

The town originally survived on fishing and timber logging until the Great Ocean Road was extended in 1922, unleashing a constant flow of caravan-towing tourists seeking seaside frivolity.

More recently the development of luxury apartments draws a sophisticated crowd who break up a day of sunbathing, surfing and fishing with quality coffee and high-end dining.

Use our itinerary below to rediscover the coastal haven of Lorne and surrounds.

Apollo Bay – the eternal beach getaway

Words by Richard Cornish
Images by Michael Peters, Richard Cornish, Andrew Englisch, Lauren Doolan & Jay Dillon

The waves crash endlessly on the arc of golden sand that wraps around this beautiful, bucolic working fishing village, farm hub, and holiday town. With a green backdrop of forest and pasture-cloaked hills rising from the sea, Apollo Bay is as dramatic as it is serene.

We’ve made it easy for you to plan an Apollo Bay adventure with our suggested itinerary below.

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

Ethical and sustainable coffee company Emme Mac Black just launched in Molyullah

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images by @leonschoots

Emme Mac Black Coffee, the brand new coffee label from the family behind rustic Airbnb favourite Dunmore Farm, is blending premium global flavours with a local touch.

When Melbourne couple Bec and Angus Macdougall bought their property Dunmore Farm in the rural town of Molyullah—which they rightly describe as radiating an “immediate sense of relaxation”—they were looking to open a chilled out weekender. Five years later, it’s a full-time, thriving Airbnb, as well as home and office space for their personal and professional projects. And their latest venture—a speciality coffee company named after their two-and-a-half year old daughter Emme—is already proving just as fruitful.

Coffee aficionados and dedicated morning latte drinkers themselves, Bec and Angus have nailed the formula for a premium speciality coffee: ethically and sustainably sourced beans from around the globe, local roasting and packaging in Melbourne to preserve the bean quality and freshness, and a charming lack of pretension. It’s just good produce handled with skill and integrity.

With three slow-roasted Italian style blends already on rotation, as well as three blends of industrially compostable (soon-to-be home compostable!) coffee capsules, customers have plenty of flavour and brewing options to choose from. We spoke to Bec recently who told us their certified organic single-origin roast, Misty Mac, makes for a mean brew on the stovetop or through an espresso machine.

“We’re really lucky here in Australia to have incredible quality coffee and coffee culture, and it’s really great to be a part of that [and] let Emme Mac Black grow into the vision we have for it,” Bec said.

Distributed in restaurants, boutique accommodation, speciality food stores and grocers across Australia, Emme Black Coffee is already garnering significant praise for its smooth, full-bodied flavour and commitment to sustainable practices. You can find their beans at the acclaimed Chauncy Restaurant in Heathcote, local favourite The Kingston Hotel in Richmond, and many more. And if you’re after a bag for your home set-up, you can buy their beans online here.

Guiding coffee on a journey across the globe to some of regional and metropolitan Victoria’s best businesses, all from their humble abode in a Molyullah valley, the Macdougal’s are doing small business with a bang.

WHAT: Emme Mac Black Coffee
WHERE: Operates from Molyullah
MORE INFO: Emme Mac Black Coffee

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


Tambo Valley Honey showcases its exquisite honey with a new shop & café

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

Ben Murphy is known as East Gippsland’s bee whisperer. He finds the best stands of native forest on foot. When those trees flower, he slowly drives through the rough remote forest to deliver his hives so his bees can feed.

The resulting honey is perhaps some of the best in the nation. It was available online and through local stores. Now he and his wife Stacey have opened a honey shop and café in the East Gippsland town of Bruthen.

Tambo Valley Honey is hand built by Ben with exposed beams in the ceiling, shelves made from old fencing, and polished benchtops made from old slabs of Australian wormy chestnut. On these sit his jewel-like jars of mono-floral honey. He makes round-leaf box honey from the iconic East Gippsland tree. From its blossoms, Ben’s bees make tight, clear, and delicate honey, with a fine aroma and crisp finish. The red stringybark tastes of old-fashioned nougat; his red gum tastes how its blossoms smell – like butter and golden syrup – making it like a liquid Anzac biscuit.

He has 12 different mono-floral varieties in all including this season’s giant mallee honey that tastes like caramel. Alongside the honey are beeswax wraps from Little Bumble in Warragul and native hardwood cheeseboards from Saltwater Creative in Lakes Entrance. Chocolatiers Exquisite Treats from Bairnsdale and Chocky Sweet Box from Lakes Entrance have taken on Tambo Valley Honey to make artisan chocolates.

Opening this week is a new venture for the Murphys – The Bottom Box Café. This little coffee shop and eatery is starting small with Duncan, the barista behind the coffee machine pumping out Jasper coffees. Start the day with chai and honey yoghurt granola, a Turkish bread toastie or cake, cupcakes and cheesecakes made by local (licenced) home bakers. “This is a new business for us,” said Ben this week, heading back from the Mallee with hives loaded with bees and honey.

We’re starting small – but it’s a ripper chance for us to showcase our honey.


What: Truly excellent honey plus coffee and cake
Where: 64 Main Street, Bruthen
When: Now open
More Info: Tambo Valley Honey or on Instagram

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

Take our tour of Werribee, the undiscovered bayside destination for food, history and nature

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

Located off the M1 between Geelong and the Melbourne CBD, Werribee isn’t often considered a holiday destination in and of itself.  But as one of Melbourne’s bay suburbs, the area really does have quite a lot going for it if you only take the time to delve in.

Whether you’re looking for your next romantic escape or thinking of  taking the Bay West Driving Trail, here are some of our top recommendations for a getaway well spent in Werribee.

Wolf on Watton

Werribee Restauarnt
© Bryony Jackson

Positioned along Werribee’s foodie precinct and with the site having been owned by Werribee’s Salvalaggio family for four generations, Wolf on Watton offers visitors a true inner-city cafe experience. Having originally operated as a fruit and veg store by the current owner’s great-grandfather, the cafe is always bustling and serves up everything from classic brunch options to indulgent pastas, grazing boards and sweets. With staff that are ready and raring to serve you with genuine hospitality, and a vibrant atmosphere that will have you prepped to face the day, Wolf on Watton really has the WoW factor.

Made on Watton

Things to do WerribeeSituated across the road from Wolf on Watton, Made on Watton is a specially curated retail space that oozes elegance, calm, charm and poise. Founded by Liz Reyes, the space opened up following the success of Wyndham City’s innovative pop-up retail space of the same name. Showcasing a plethora of handmade goods from makers across Werribee and the surrounding regions as well as a selection of other Australian-made products, Made on Watton aims to empower creatives and highlight the breadth of talent that exists within regional Victoria. You’ll find everything from bedding to candles, infused sparkling water to jewellery, artworks to locally-designed clothing. Liz also stocks her very own polymer clay jewels from her label Evergreen Collective – so make sure to check out her beautiful range!

Werribee Park Mansion

Places to visit WerribeeThe Werribee Park precinct is perhaps one of the areas which the city is best known for. (Apart from the Werribee Open Range Zoo – which also needs to be on your to-do list).  The sprawling green Victoria State Rose Garden, with its abounding serenity and lush landscape, make it an idyllic space for a spring picnic, while Lancemore Mansion Hotel is the perfect spa and hotel option for your Werribee getaway.

Then there’s the Mansion itself – an exquisite 60-room Italianate chateau built in the late 19th century by two pioneering Scottish brothers. While the building was taken over by the Catholic Church in the 1920s, it went through an extensive restoration process in the 1970s once it was acquired by the state government, reinstating to its former glory.

As you step into the mansion, you’ll be struck by its opulence and majesty. Take a turn about the drawing room, peek in the library room, soak up the panoramic views of the gardens from the balcony, get a feel for what a real butler’s pantry would’ve felt like, and take a stroll to the farm where the rustic outbuildings lay. You’ll truly feel like a character in your own storybook.

Shadowfax Wines

Winery WerribeeAlso located within the Werribee Park precinct, Shadowfax Wines is the absolute perfect spot to stop off for your lunch (or dinner) break. Established in 1999, the menu boasts the finest selection of food and drink to keep you fuelled for the day, including some incredible entrees, share plates or even a chef’s selection (if you can’t decide) each incorporating an array of fresh vegetables and herbs from the restaurant’s established Kitchen Garden. The drinks list showcases Shadowfax’s current releases and museum wines from the cellar, as well as a selection of premium craft beers and spirits from local Victorian breweries and distillers. There’s even a list of delightful non-alcoholic options to keep us non-drinkers appeased!

K Road Cliffs

Things to do WerribeeDown the road from the Werribee Park precinct, the K Road Cliffs are a breathtaking wall of red by day and an even more impressive hue during dusk and sunset when they change colour with the light.

Take in the view of the Werribee River from the clifftops or soak up the natural surrounds on the floodplains as you admire the impressive backdrop of the You Yangs.

A perfect place for birdwatching, hiking or just a meditative afternoon, the cliffs are most certainly one of the region’s acclaimed natural wonders.

Beachside Beauties

Things to do WerribeeLocated just off Port Phillip Bay means there are quite a few spots to check out along the shore during your getaway. The Campbell’s Cove Boathouses should be first on your list. These quaint, vibrant, heritage-listed boatsheds not only make a great photo but provide a rare glimpse into the history of Melbourne’s beach culture – remaining relatively untouched since the 1920s.

(Fun fact: Until 2015, this beach was better known as Melbourne’s closet nudist beach. But don’t fret. It has since closed down).

The Wyndham Harbour also provides a calm space for an afternoon stroll with a beautiful view and some great eateries to boot, while the Point Cook Coastal Park offers a great space to picnic with the family, birdwatching, learn about the wetlands, and enjoy the beach at low tide.


WHAT: Werribee and Surrounds
WHERE TO STAY: Various accommodation options
Visit Werribee & Surrounds

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