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!

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.

Bringing generations of farmland knowledge to the fore

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

Yarrawonga’s Vodusek family wants to create a special sort of culinary experience for its customers – one that is instilled with passion, sustainability and gratitude.

“We are passionate about the land, what we grow, harvest and create,” Ros Vodusek says.

We want to share and educate people about where their food comes from and be grateful to our fellow farmers.

With 35 years of experience as a chef, Ros is the frontwoman of Rich Glen – a farm that specialises in the production of olive-based products.

Managing the farm alongside her husband Daimien, and with help from her four children, she says the family brings a combined five generations of agricultural knowledge to the fore.

Rich Glen’s first olive trees were planted in 1998, with the first harvest taking place in 2003.

At first, the farm started selling bulk oil, but later took on a more viable business model which involved the manufacturing and selling of olive-oil products.

Ros and Daimien took over the Estate from Daimien’s parents in 2000 at which point they began selling olive oil from the back room of their Edwardian home.

Throughout the whole journey, the ethos of sustainability has underpinned the farm’s operations – from the implementation of water-efficient methods to the sourcing of sustainable raw materials and, more importantly, supporting other companies that share similar values.

“We are always looking at planting new crops to improve yield and improve the overall health of the soil,” Ros says.

“We are incredibly passionate about operating all aspects sustainably, from the agricultural side of the business to the manufacturing and distribution of our skin-care range.

“This allows the next generation coming up through the business to learn the importance of making smart, long-term decisions and forming a sustainable and environmentally friendly business model.”

The Rich Glen product range includes 150 olive-oil based food and skin-care products produced on the estate, as well as a variety of pantry staples such as meat rubs, dukkah, dressings, cordials and honey.

“Our Olive Oil is grown, harvested and pressed on our farm, so we believe we have the freshest and healthiest Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) possible,” Ros says.

“We love how versatile EVOO is, and we showcase that throughout our Nourish, Nurture and Radiance product range. It is simply the essential ingredient.

“We manufacture our entire range without the use of unnecessary artificial ingredients, additives or preservatives. Every ingredient on our nutritional panel is a single ingredient item that anyone could recognise.”

As well as producing their own olives, Rich Glen also manufactures its products on-site using ingredients, packaging and labels from Australian-made companies.

While Coronavirus presented a number of challenges for the Voduseks, namely the closing of their farmgate store and the loss of employees, Ros says it was also an opportunity for the business to reinvent itself and think more creatively about how to showcase Rich Glen’s premium offerings.

“Our journey here on the farm has been such a thrill. Every day is unique, challenging and simply creative,” Ros says.

“I love having the ability to wake up each day and do what I love, sharing this exciting journey with my husband and four kids.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of creating Rich Glen has been the ongoing positive feedback we receive each day. From a new customer discovering a new product and loving it, to a parent finally sourcing a natural skin-care product to use on their child’s eczema.

“We are always overwhelmed with the amount of people’s lives that we have the opportunity to influence each day positively.”


WHAT: Rich Glen Olive Estate
WHERE: 734 Murray Valley Highway, Yarrawonga

Outcast Episode #1 – Shorthive Honey

I think it’s safe to say everyone feels like a bit of an outcast right now! Outcast from our friends and family, outcast from travelling and exploring, outcast from daily normality even!

So we thought we’d host some live chats with friends of OHO, with the aim of staying connected and sharing and learning from each other.

The first episode of ‘Outcast’ is with the wonderful Robyn Broomfield of Shorthive Honey. Robyn is part of a family that has a long history with beekeeping in South Western Victoria. However, this isn’t the story of taking over the family business, this is a story of innovation and creativity.