Welcome Autumn with a visit to the West Gippsland Railtowns Food & Wine Festival

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

The historic town of Garfield has gathered the best of West Gippsland producers for a day of food, drink, fun and festivities.

Sunday March 5th has been marked in the diaries of rail trail townsfolk for months, as they prepare to welcome you to the inaugural West Gippsland Railtowns Food and Wine Festival!

Organisers suggest you have a very light breakfast, before hopping on the V-line train that will deliver you straight to the centre of the tiny town of Garfield.

Here it’s a short stroll to the festival entrance via the pub car park, where you’ll be directed to acres of lawns,  overlooking the lush, green hills that Gippy is famous for.

All ticket holders will receive a commemorative glass tumbler on arrival, that you can use to taste the offerings from wineries such as Krooked Row Wines, Fleet, Silverwaters and award-winners Cannibal Creek.


Gippsland Festival

Not a fan of vino? No worries, you can still fill your glass with cider from Cheeky Rascal and Eddie’s or for the sober-curious, Etch Sparkling will be providing non-alcoholic refreshment.

In addition to wetting your whistle, you’ll be absolutely spoiled for dining choices with food trucks serving up everything from woodfire pizza to seafood, arancini to Mexican dishes, grazing boxes, homemade gelato, donuts and loads more.

Don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bags and your esky to fill with local produce to take home and enjoy for weeks to come.

Expect to find locally grown olives and olive oil, jams and preserves, farm-fresh eggs, ethically sourced cuts and smoked meats, and butter, cheeses and milk from Jersey Dairy Co. and Millgrove Dairy.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a curated range of local and handmade stalls, lawn games and live music!


Festival Gippsland

It’s going to be a big day, so bring your pals, your picnic rug, some chairs and find a scenic spot to settle in for a big lunch, an early dinner, and whatever snacks you can jam in between.

Pro-tip: Pre-book your tickets online via the link below to save $10 per adult, rather than paying on the day.


What: West Gippsland Railtowns Food and Wine Festival
When: 5 March
Cost: Adults $20 online, people under 18 years FREE, tickets sold at
the gate $30, parking by gold coin donation
Tickets: HERE

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

Slow, self-guided and all inclusive Ballarat tour shows off the best art, food and hidden gems

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

If the idea of group tours gives you the ick, then sign up for this self-guided, slow travel offering in Ballarat, from local company Hidden Lanes.

The Ballarat Art and Culinary Journey being hosted on Saturday, 4th March, is a hybrid experience combining a hands-on art class, 2 hours of solo walking time with a podcast and digital guidebook for company and lunch at one of The ‘Rat’s best beer barns.

Your day begins at The Lost Ones Makers Studio where you’ll join local artist Pauline O’Shannessy-Dowling for a one-hour creative workshop titled “I Can’t Draw” which leaves no wiggle room for anyone who believes they aren’t creative.

An hour later you begin your meander around some of the town’s more secret spots, with stops of historical and cultural significance and scenic beauty mapped out along your virtual itinerary.
Pop your earbuds in and listen to the tales only locals would know about at each landmark and really lean into the concept of not needing to jam in all the “sights”.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to search for the literal hidden lane that houses Hop Temple, where your lunch and a refreshing beverage are all included in your ticket price.

Tour Ballarat

This venue is the perfect pairing for this style of touring, it’s a welcoming, relaxed, light-filled space, with no pretensions but high standards when it comes to food and drink.

Take your time to enjoy your meal and when you’re refuelled and ready, head back onto the Ballarat streets to tick off the rest of your walking list and figure out the treasure hunt to locate a little culinary treat!

Not so keen on such a prescribed outing or can’t make this particular date? No problem!

Hidden Lanes offer their standard, self-guided tours Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-4pm, which take 3-5 hours to help you discover hidden laneways, art galleries and studios, antique and local gift stores, quirky cafes and beautiful scenery.

There’s no need to rush, when you’ve got a curated, virtual local in your pocket, you’re guaranteed not to miss a thing.


Who: Hidden Lanes
What: Ballarat Art and Culinary Journey Self-guided Tour
When: Saturday 4th March
Tickets: Book Here

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

Shepparton Festival uses the arts to dive deep into life’s big questions

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Kristen was 18 years old when she decided to leave her home town of Katunga in the Goulburn Valley and make for Melbourne in search of new possibilities.

As a young woman with a zest for adventure, she knew there was much to discover in the world beyond.

‘There is this belief here that young people need to stay (in Shepparton) that I kind of disagree with,’ Kristen says. ‘I think they need to experience other ways of thinking and then be able to return which I think is a much more powerful thing.’

Kristen says life in the city opened up her mind, and she was able to return to Shepparton years later with a deeper appreciation for the region she grew up in and a yearning to drive change – particularly in the arena of the creative arts in which she is trained.

As a visual artist, her return to the region saw her work as a council arts and culture officer as well as a gallery manager in neighbouring Nathalia. This year, Kristen takes the reins as the director of the Shepparton Festival – an annual program of events that combines performance, music, literature, visual arts and food into one melting pot of artistic brilliance.

Kristen says she believes the festival is one avenue for strengthening her town’s creative landscape and to effect change in her ever-evolving community.

Shepparton Festival She says the arts are a powerful medium to explore topics relating to climate, acceptance, equality, equitable living, and she hopes others feel inspired by the festival and feel comfortable to converse openly on such important issues.

‘One of the things I reflected upon before coming (back) here was I was really worried and afraid about conversations around those topics and the divide they might cause. But I was so pleased that the community around the festival meant those conversations weren’t necessarily always negative and often people are discussing similar ways of thinking,’ she says.

‘Shepparton has made huge progress when it comes to certain areas and I believe that has a lot to do with having those involved in arts and culture present. People who make art are generally big thinkers, and them having a place in these communities allows for the nurturing of strong ideas.’

The two-week Shepparton Festival will take place across a number of spaces, with a diverse program that also includes workshops and networking events for local creatives – an element which Kristen says is necessary for artists especially following the challenges of the recent floods and health pandemic.

One of the program highlights is the sound installation OnBelonging which is comprised of musical compositions created from field recordings of the Shepparton area’s environmental resonances and sounds.

The installation is set to provide a connection with place while also leaving the audience feeling that their presence will, in some way, affect their environment.

Kristen says the work plays on the idea that sound can be art in and of itself – something which is is really quite novel.

The program will also showcase the region’s finest artists and creatives including the likes of Yorta Yorta artists Tammy-Lee Atkinson and Brady Jones aka BRICKY B. Along with Dery Theodorus, Rachel Doller and Meg Doller.

‘Shepparton has this quiet achiever thing going on with the arts,’ Kristen says. ‘There have always been artists and creatives around but it’s never been loud and public.

‘I think this is good because it’s a blank canvas every time and there’s no national expectation for the Festival. That might change but I think at the moment, anything is possible here.’

The 2023 program is live and tickets are now on sale.


WHAT: Shepparton Festival
WHEN: March 17 to April 2
FIND OUT MORE: Shepparton Festival

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

A regional accommodation space with a special story to tell

Words by Della Vreeland
Images by Abbie Melle

Stories are meant to move us. They inspire us, inform us, and educate us on the past, present and future. They seep through the pages of a book, they sound through the notes of a song, and they erupt from the colours on a canvas.

They also live in every nook and cranny of The Storekeeper’s House.

Located in the rural town of Tatura, just 20 minutes southwest of Shepparton, The Storekeeper’s House is indeed a story, a homage, an ode to the past. Celebrating its rich history, it has been lovingly restored by owners Carrie Donaldson and her husband Luis who spent two gruelling years undertaking an extensive restoration of the property to get it to where it is now. Where a tale of yesteryear can be told, and the inspiration for tomorrow can unfold.

The Storekeeper’s House was first built in 1905 by Thomas Flanagan, one of Tatura’s earliest businessmen, and had been held in the family for generations. Thomas founded Flanagan’s Store – a large general store that specialised in drapery and haberdashery and later expanded to ironmongery goods, boot-making and repairs.

Scattered throughout the house, you’ll find bits and bobs that will transport you to the time and reality of Thomas Flanagan – so you too can relive his story. There’s an antique cash register, vintage price tags, yarn, thread and spools, vintage hat and shoe moulds, keys and coat-hangers from the days of yore. All a nod to the home’s former founders.

Storekeepers House Tatura

Then there are the original features of the home – the short iron roof with corrugated glass skylight in the butler’s pantry, the original cast iron lacework and cast iron stove, exposed bricks, timber flooring, and even a surprise safe embedded in the lounge room fireplace.

But what we love most is how tastefully the entire home has been designed, with a relaxed rustic aesthetic that introduces contemporary elements into every room (hello lux French flax linen, clawfoot bath, rain showers, golden fittings and premium bath and body products), as well as sweet vintage knick-knacks, dried foliage, gilt-framed oil paintings, original photographs and antique furniture – making for a coherent design that is soul-warming and joy-inducing.

Goulburn Valley Accommodation

Carrie and Luis have also done a brilliant job hiding all those dull everyday items (kitchen cupboards and draws, television, microwave and toaster) so they just blend into the background instead of dominating the space. There’s nothing we love more than entering a living room and not having the television as the statement piece!

It’s also the little things that complete one’s stay away. The fact that there’s bread, spreads, tea, coffee and milk awaiting when you arrive. The fact that there’s a cupboard full of games or that Netflix is all signed in for guest use. The fact that there are practical items ready to further enrich your stay. Feel like a picnic under the stars? There’s a basket all packed. Want a game of croquet with the kids on the lawn? It’s all ready by the door. Fancy a trip to the market but forgot your bags? The bags are a-hanging by the pantry.

And while there’s a whole heap to discover around the Goulburn Valley region where The Storekeeper’s House is located, you’ll be forgiven for simply wanting to curl up in one of the leather couches with a hot cocoa in-hand and a soft woollen throw (no matter the season), and to simply soak up the story you find yourself now a part of.


WHAT: The Storekeeper’s House
WHERE: Tatura, Goulburn Valley
FIND OUT MORE: The Storekeepers House

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

Kin – Victoria’s new regional dining destination

Words: Richard Cornish
Images: Richard Cornish and supplied

Victoria has some excellent dining rooms worth the drive. Brae, Lake House, Stefano’s, Hogget, The Bunyip, Provenance, and now Kin. Kin is the Brown siblings’ new fine dining restaurant that replaces the old Terrace at All Saints winery near Rutherglen.

The roomy, warm, and comfortable dining room is the crowning glory of the Brown family’s next-generation refurbishment of the 1864 castellated winery by the banks of the Murray at Wahgunyah. The change is remarkable. Over the past 12 months, their former Indigo Cheese Room has become Bonnie, a casual pizza and fine wine diner. The cellar door has moved to a beautiful new space with a modern museum feel offering paid curated tastings. And now comes Kin.

Take a seat at a leather banquette looking out over the gardens, the vineyards, and the historic Chinese labourer’s quarters. The blonde wooden tables are set with fine Riedel stemware, an indication of the serious approach the Browns take to wine. At one end of the room are three round brick enclave booths. A major feature that could represent old fermenting tanks or the three Brown siblings: Eliza, Angela, and Nicholas.

Taking the reins in the kitchen is the relatively young Jack Cassidy, who has worked at Bistro Guillaume and Mornington Peninsula winery restaurants Jackalope and Paringa Estate. His style is modern, focusing on layered flavours without overworking the dish. There are four entrees, four mains, and four desserts. Choose between $75 for two courses or $95 for three. Spoiler!

The meal starts with a surprise plate of amuse-buches. Half cherry tomatoes with house-made ricotta, a gilda of house-pickled chilli and Mount Ophir olives, and dense lamb capocollo. Order the pillow soft three-day fermented focaccia baked with confit tomato oil to sop up the delicious sauces such as the black garlic puree under the grilled kangaroo skewers. There could be a succulent confit ox heart tomato sitting in a deep dark bowl of delicious tomato water with a fried saltbush crumb.

Jack knows fish and serves perhaps the perfect fillet of rainbow trout, briefly cured to make the flesh dense and the skin crisp; it is briefly pan-fried and served with an umami-rich foamed mussel and chardonnay sauce. The standout dish and a masterpiece in texture is a plate of plump, unctuous scallops crudo sitting with a silky serve of bottarga tarama draped with fine slices of rich, luscious guanciale topped with cured salmon roe.

The skill in the kitchen is all about developing flavour, with unfussed plating up, leaving space for the produce to tell its story and the wine to complete each dish. It is an excellent chance to see All Saints wines in their natural habitat and how they work with food. KIN sits on beautiful, historic grounds in a beautiful historic wine region. It’s worth the drive.

The Details

What: Modern, delicious produce drive menu
Who: Chef Jack Cassidy and the Brown siblings
Where: 205 All Saints Rd, Wahgunyah (10km from Rutherglen in Northern Victoria)
Why: Historic building, great food, excellent wine
When: Open Now
More Info: All Saints Estate

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

Australia’s ‘Father’ of sourdough takes the helm at Maldon’s newly restored bakery

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

If there’s one thing John Downes can’t stand, it’s the fact that everyone these days has become so precious about their carbohydrate intake.

‘It’s stupid how paranoid everyone is about carbs,’ the legendary Australian baker exclaims.

Speaking to John, he’s swiftly able to reel off the countless nutritional and even spiritual benefits a homemade loaf can bestow upon any individual, particularly if it’s baked with love and using traditional methods. Benefits that far outweigh any supposed caloric detriments.

‘(As a baker), I’m involved in something worthwhile and whole in every way. The Buddhists would say it’s a Right Livelihood – a beneficial livelihood to everybody including me and not ugly in any way. That’s what I’ve loved – pre-setting a product that benefits people in many ways and that’s a beautiful thing.’

John Downes is known around Australia for starting the sourdough movement in the 1970s. Now, he has taken the helm as one of the lead bakers at the newly-restored Maldon Bakery along with his 50-year-old leaven which he aptly calls, “the leaven”.

The bakery is the oldest continuously running bakery in Australia, and makes use of a 19th-century scotch oven which John says makes for some of the ‘best bread imaginable’.

‘Using the scotch oven is like deja vu for me. It’s second nature,’ John says. ‘Nothing can replicate the type of alchemy that happens in a wood-fired oven. That’s the original way bread was baked and there is a certain je ne sais quoi to it.

I’ve never been happy with anything I’ve done with electric ovens and I’m not going to waste my time doing it. It’s about quality and you can’t get that quality from any other oven.

Bakery owner and Castlemaine resident Rebecca Barnett says she couldn’t resist restoring the bakery to its former glory, particularly since it housed the original scotch oven.

‘It seemed like such a terrific opportunity to do authentic traditional baking,’ she says. ‘It’s the oldest continuously running bakery in Australia, but the scotch oven hadn’t been used for nearly 20 years.’

The restoration process took six weeks and included re-opening the original bakery quarters to the public, fixing the scotch oven to make it fully operational, and rejuvenating the facade.

‘It was a real diamond in the rough and I wanted to bring it back to accentuate all its wonderful attributes and do proper baking again.’

The bakery is currently staffed with a team of four, including another two experienced bakers who are benefitting from the wisdom of Australia’s sourdough extraordinaire.

Rebecca says she hopes to expand the offering currently available, which already serves up gourmet meat pies comprised of local chunky beef, as well as cakes, tarts, biscuits, cheesecakes and a selection of locally-made pantry items.

With five generations of bakers in her family and a background in hospitality, Rebecca says she’s thrilled to finally have her own piece of the bakery pie. The Maldon Bakery logo is even based on her grandparents’ bakery and has been designed by her mother.

‘I was always in and around bakeries growing up, and my first memories were from my Grandpa’s bakery with the bread coming out of the scotch oven, so it’s no wonder I’ve come back around to it.’


WHAT: Maldon Bakery
WHERE: 51 Main Street, Maldon VIC
FIND OUT MORE: Maldon Bakery

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.

A food grower’s haven at Creative Harvest in West Gippsland

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Picture this: rows and rows of straw-tucked vegetable sprouts reaching their way towards the sun. A rusty wheelbarrow bursting with fresh herbs. Fruit trees laden with colourful, plump spheres in a sprawling backyard. All this might sound a little dreamy for an city dweller who, contained to their (approximately) 54 square metre apartment, may aspire only to keep their temperamental peace lily alive.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we knew more? If we could see the possibilities of a functioning, flourishing veggie garden — and better yet, learn the ways of the gardeners that tend to them? Creative Harvest, West Gippsland’s open food garden weekend, is back on 28 and 29 January 2023 to inspire and educate all the hopeful home growers out there, from the beginner to advanced.

The two-day event opens the gates to fifteen private food-producing gardens—from small suburban backyards to large family farms. Creative Harvest is all about sharing gardening know-how and sampling some of the fresh fruit and veg grown by locals. This year, the event’s sixth iteration, 30 local artists and creatives including beekeepers, winemakers, jam makers, jewellers, mosaic makers, painters, printmakers and sculptors, will be dropping by select gardens to share their work.

“Creative Harvest is a celebration of sustainability and community and a showcase for West Gippsland’s creative movers and shakers. We aim to demonstrate how simple it is to start or expand your own thriving food garden – in your kitchen window box, small backyard or on a large lifestyle block,” said Kristy Plumridge, Chair of the Creative Harvest Committee.

And what better timing? Post-pandemic, people are looking to unshackle themselves from the supermarket monopoly and grow their own food. Whether it’s a strawberry or two on a windowsill or a towering tomato plant by the backdoor, any homegrown produce is a step towards self-sufficiency and sustainability. The organisers are expecting their biggest turnout this year, up from the 1000-strong crowd of 2022.

An additional four hands-on workshops will take place across the weekend as well. Visitors can buy tickets to learn skills in hot composting, preserving and fermenting homegrown produce, growing veggies from seed or extracting dye from local flora. If you’re looking for more of an informal education, growers and makers will be milling around all weekend for a yarn.

Enjoy a great weekend in West Gippsland; bring the family, or your friends, or your dog. Just don’t forget to bring a basket for the tasty Gippsland produce you’re bound to discover. Tickets can be purchased online and Single, Family & Senior Weekend Passes are also available.

WHAT: Creative Harvest
WHERE: West Gippsland, multiple locations
WHEN: 28 and 29 January 2023
MORE INFO: Creative Harvest

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

New regional experience sees guests lunch, learn and reconnect with themselves

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Partners in life and business Gorgi and Simon Coghlan have launched yet another inspiring enterprise, set to allure lovers of nature, food and wellness.

Set amidst the stunning surrounds of the Coghlans’ Bermingham Farm (and aptly titled as such), the project aims to nourish the body, mind and soul through a series of special events that will “provide a space for people to be the best version of themselves. To be better connected to their own story and the stories of others”.

‘We’re doing this for people to connect with themselves and come home to themselves,’ Gorgi says. ‘It’s a magical place for people to reconnect with who they are.’

People have come out of the pandemic after so much self-reflection, thinking – I am in control of my happiness and destiny, and that’s where I want to spend my time and my money.

Located just outside of Ballarat, the Coghlans have lived on their property for 10 years and have spent a decade pouring time, love and energy into perfecting their home. Now, they are ready to share it with all those who would like to partake of its wonder.

‘We’ve been planning this unconsciously for 10 years,’ Gorgi says. We’ve had friends here for parties and events who have said this is exactly what they’ve needed – to be back in nature, to reconnect and have their loads lightened.

‘There is something special about this place and about simplifying your life.’

The initial events to be held at the farm include a series of Lunch and Learn personal growth and wellness workshops at the property’s stables – facilitated by leading health professionals who will explore the acclaimed works of Dr Brené Brown, and hosted by Gorgi herself.

The events are comprised of meditation sessions, tours of the perfectly-manicured Bermingham gardens, delicious locally-made fare, immersive presentations, and – ultimately – the chance to “come home to yourself”.

‘When you want to seek help, you don’t know where to start. But Dr Brown’s work is so relatable. She shares her own flaws and struggles, and we are so lucky to have her work and her facilitators coming to our farm and acting as an entry point.’

From next year, the space will also play host to the Bermingham x Chef series and Bermingham Farm Garden series which Gorgi says would be a ‘celebration of agri-tourism’.

‘The Garden series will be really cup-filling and feature nourishing country cooking and preserving techniques, bringing exciting people to Ballarat and also showcasing bigger names in exciting different ways.’

With the Coghlans’ award-winning boutique Ballarat hotel The Provincial now on the market, the duo now has more time to spend on this labour of love and other projects – including more on-stage performances and a return to broadcasting for Gorgi in 2023.

‘We love hospitality and entertaining and so we thought – how do we combine all those things together? That’s what Birmingham farm has ended up being.’


WHAT: Bermingham Farm
WHEN:  Events commencing in 2023
BOOKINGS: Bermingham Farm

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

Australia’s first Six Senses to open in the Dandenong Ranges

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images supplied

A new masterplan for the historic Burnham Beeches estate will see the heritage mansion and 22-hectare grounds transformed into luxury accommodation, restaurant and spa.

Slated for opening in mid-2025, Six Senses will maintain the heritage-listed art deco elegance of the estate located just under an hour from Melbourne, neighbouring Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens. It will be the first Six Senses branded accommodation in Australia.

What was built in the 1930s for a wealthy industrialist Alfred Nichols, has had a bumpy past changing hands regularly over the years, most recently being sold by former Vue de Monde owner and chef Shannon Bennet and his business partner Adam Garrison who were unable to fully see their vision of a hospitality destination come to life. Now having been acquired by Trenerry Consortium, who’ve recently completed an overhaul of the Mornington Peninsula’s The Continental Sorrento, the estate is once again under redevelopment.

With an expected initial 43 guest rooms, Six Senses will also include hospitality venues, including a welcome lounge and terrace, a restaurant with outdoor seating, a library bar, and a rooftop retreat. Accommodation layout will vary slightly over the mansion’s three main wings and offer a decadent retreat filled with luxury, character, and quirky touches. Six Senses will aim to also incorporate a two-bedroom cottage and unique glamping experience over time.

A sensory fest promises to await guests as the sprawling farm gardens will provide fruit and vegetables for the restaurants and the herb garden will produce healing and aromatic plants for use in Alchemy Bar and Six Senses Spa treatments. The Six Senses Spa will offer a regenerative escape with a welcome lounge and boutique, tea lounge, treatment rooms, gym, hydro area and sauna, and comfy relaxation spaces.

“For Six Senses Burnham Beeches is to be regenerative, it will not be a static place,” says Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs. “We’ll evolve and respond to bring the rich heritage of Burnham Beeches to life, inviting moments of exploration, discovery, connection to nature, and delight through interactive gastronomy, wellness, and sustainability experiences.”

The masterplan also includes plans for a Village Square, giving hotel guests and locals access to an additional collection of hospitality venues including The Hearth, The Barn, Steak House, The Baker, Brew House, and Providore.

Burnham Beeches, Sherbrooke, and Nicholas Gardens are connected by a series of walking trails that weave throughout the site. Guests will be able to explore the historical, ecological, cultural, and indigenous stories from Burnham Beeches and the Wurundjeri and Kulin nation lands, incorporated into the art, architecture, signage, and landscaping throughout the grounds.

The Details

What: Luxury accommodation, restaurant and spa
When: Opening in mid-2025
Where: 1 Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke
Find out more: Burnham Beeches

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

Hotel Canberra in Ballarat has once again opened its doors

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

On the main road between Ballarat and Creswick is a grand old hotel dating back to the late 1800s. In 1927 the beautiful old girl was renamed after the nation’s new capital to celebrate the opening of the parliament.

Victorian on the outside but Art Deco on the inside, the pub has new owners and a new offer. The new team is headlined by one of Melbourne’s best-known radio producers and publicists Pete Dillon. A Ballarat local for some time in the 1980s, he is joined by his brother Paul and former Rockpool chef, the Philippines-born Jeris (Jigs) Liwanag.

The Hotel Canberra is opening in three stages. Bobby’s bar opened recently featuring a 100% Victorian beverage, with a commitment to artisan, craft, and hyper-local beer, wine, and spirits.

Next will be The Stables Café & Bar, a seven-day licensed café in the heritage-listed, hundred-year-old stables at the rear of the property. There are a series of individual nooks and crannies where guests can enjoy locally roasted coffee, sweets, and treats from around Ballarat and a contemporary menu offering pre-noon and post-noon menus, as well as some locally produced beers and wines.

And coming soon, Vesta x Jigs, the new dining room, will give former Rockpool chef Jigs Liwanag plenty of opportunity to flex his culinary muscle, drawing on his Filipino heritage and a decade sailing the world cooking on private ships. He’ll be preparing degustation menus celebrating the very best of the state.

The menu will be 100% Victorian produce, with much of it drawn from the local Ballarat region. “I will be challenged by our strict Victorian-only ethos as I am used to using what is available, but I am motivated to find the very best from the region and get really creative with the produce. I am excited to offer guests a glimpse into my heritage as well as the amazing dishes I fell in love with as I travelled the world”.


What: Hotel Canberra re-opens
Where: 812 Macarthur St, Ballarat Central
Bar open, Stables Café and Bar and Vesta x Jigs dining room coming soon
Old pub with art deco interior with Vic food and beverage focus
More info: Canberra Hotel and The Stables Tea Room Ballarat

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