4. Bull and Mouth Hotel, Maryborough
If you’re a fan of early 20th century architecture, then the Edwardian Baroque stylings of Maryborough’s Bull and Mouth Hotel won’t disappoint. The imposing landmark opened on the site in 1855 and has remained a welcoming sanctuary for locals and holidaymakers alike ever since. The pub is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but, if you're making the trek, head down for a hearty dinner and delight in house specialties including pan-fried pumpkin gnocchi tossed with burnt butter, slow-cooked duck, walnuts, apple, goat’s cheese and orange jus. Or keep it classic with one of their famous chicken schnittys.
5. Heathcote Inn
What’s better than spending a weekend in wine country? Having lunch at a charming inn in the middle of wine country. Heathcote Inn’s paddock-to-plate ethos showcases the abundance of gourmet artisans, organic farmers and world-class winemakers that call the region home. Wrap your tastebuds around their parmesan-crusted Western Plains pork served with sauteed apple, Drouin potatoes and Harcourt cider caramel, or the grilled Tara Valley scotch fillet washed down with a glass of warming Silver Spoon shiraz.
6. Maldon Hotel
When the National Trust of Australia declared Maldon the country’s ‘First Notable Town’ in 1966, it’s local pub gained instant notoriety, too. And deservedly so. The menu plays all the classic pub hits – like bangers and mash, house-made pot pies and open steak sangas (with lamb and beef sourced from a nearby biodynamic farm) – while a rotating selection of local and classic brews flows from the bar taps. The bustling Maldon Hotel is also home to the Maldon Blues Club, which hosts gigs every six weks, and entry will set you back less than a pint of your favourite amber nectar.
7. Inverleigh Hotel
Blink and you might miss the tiny town of Inverleigh. But you can’t miss the beautiful bluestone building that houses its namesake hotel. Situated on a leafy corner, just 20 minutes from Geelong on the Hamilton Highway, Inverleigh Hotel sets the benchmark for authentic country hospitality. It's got two beer gardens sheltered by towering peppercorn trees, giant outdoor games, a pool table and an open fire, as well as menu that features all your pub faves (and then a few more), making it worth the detour the next time you're hitting the Great Ocean Road.