5 Victorian towns to visit on a revival road trip

Mallacoota jetty

RACV Staff

Posted December 16, 2021

Next time you're planning a road trip, support these regional Victorian towns on your journey.

Follwoing the devastating 2019-2020 Victorian bushfires in regional Victoria, the COVID-19 pandemic decimated any chance of a quick recovery. 

More than two years on from the 'Black Summer', there are dozens of scenic towns across the state that still desperately need visitors to regenerate their local economy.  

If you're planning on getting out and about this summer, here are a few places to visit, eat and drink on a revival road trip to support bushfire-affected regional communities. 

When visiting the below regions, make sure you have the most recent information and have access to bushfire warnings. On top of having your own bushfire survival plan, consider checking your insurance to make sure it is up-to-date.  

Living With Fire - Libby

5 disaster-affected regional Victoria areas to visit


Local artist Libby Grieg was forced to evacuate to towns including Eden, Harden and Canberra during the 2019-2020 bushfires. When she returned, her beloved family home had been destroyed, along with her precious artworks and photographs inside. 

Despite the devastation, she now resides in a new build with an art studio attached, creating artworks that have featured in exhibitions around the region. After all, Libby says, “a life lived in fear is a life half lived.” 

If you’re looking to support the town with a visit, whether you’re stopping by on the Melbourne to Sydney road trip, or for a weekend-long stay, here are some of the best Mallacoota has to offer: 

Where to go for food and drink in Mallacoota:

  • Origami Coffee

19 Dorron Ave Mallacoota  

Origami Mallacoota stayed open during the horrific bushfires, with the owner allegedly sleeping in his van so he could provide coffees to the hard-working firefighters. Come for the great coffee, and stay for the origami.

  • Mallacoota Bakery

16 Allan Dr, Mallacoota 

Dubbed ‘the best sausage rolls... ever!’, the Mallacoota Bakery is definitely worth a visit, if for nothing else than to find out if the rumours are true. 

  • Lucy’s Homemade Rice Noodles

64 Maurice Avenue, Mallacoota

If you’re looking for the hottest ticket in town, check out this authentic rice-noodle restaurant with what is said to have ‘all the dumplings you can eat!’ But get in quick – travellers advise that it’s always packed. 

  • Lee’s Takeaway Pizza & Chinese Food

Shop 45 Maurice Ave, Mallacoota

Got a group that can’t decide on a cuisine? Lee's has it all.

With a menu that leaves customers spoiled for choice, keep the family happy with a wide variety of foods on the menu, from your standard fish and chip fare to pizza, sandwiches and even Chinese. 

  • Mallacoota Bistro & Bar

51-55 Maurice Ave, Mallacoota

If you’re looking for a night out and a decent feed, the bistro and bar at Mallacoota Hotel Motel is the main pub in town. With a menu comprised of dishes from local suppliers with live music to boot, be warned: you may want to skip lunch before coming for dinner, as the sizes of the parmas are not for the faint of heart.

Mallacoota, Victoria. Image: Getty.

Mallacoota, Victoria. Image: Getty. 


Just over an hour’s drive away, it is the perfect day trip from Melbourne.

The tiny Central Highlands town atop a ridge on the Great Dividing Range was hundreds of kilometres from bushfires in Gippsland home. Yet during Christmas 2019, no-one came. 

Coupled with months of lockdowns, Trentham businesses are looking to recover. Locals are hoping Trentham’s reputation for excellent food and wine will bring back the tourists.  

Where to go for food and drink in Trentham:

  • Redbeard’s Baking Workshops

Sunday mornings, Wolff Lane, Trentham

The Reid brothers host dough-to-elbow baking workshops by the warmth of their old wood-fired oven at Redbeard’s Baking Workshops. Learn about the bakery’s history and the magical science of sourdough, making your own loaves to take home. 

  • Farmers' markets 

Third Saturday of the month, 9 am to 1 pm at the Town Square  

Bring a shopping cart to Trentham Farmers’ Market and stock up on local dairy, preserves, potatoes, honey, eggs, bread, flowers, wine and more. 

  • Du Fermier 

42 High Street, Trentham 

Acclaimed chef Annie Smithers harvests produce from her own farm to create a new lunch menu from Saturday to Monday at Du Fermier.

  • Cosmopolitan Hotel

High St and Cosmo Rd, Trentham

The local pub, the Cosmopolitan Hotel, is a great place for a pizza and beer in front of an open fire. 

Cosmopolitan Hotel in Trentham.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Trentham. 


Seasalt Bakery owner Andrew Collier was evacuated several times from his bakery in Paynesville during the 2019-20 fires. The bakery escaped the flames, but his business still suffered a massive loss. Amongst this devastation, he started supplying free sourdough to bushfire victims.

When coming to visit Paynesville, Mark Briggs, owner/chef at the acclaimed Sardine Eatery and Bar, encourages visitors to eat, drink, explore the lakes and canals, or catch the free ferry to Raymond Island to see the marsupials that call it home. 

Mark is confident Paynesville will bounce back. “It’s the most beautiful town around. You come over the hill and see the water and stress just fall away. I reckon it’s one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets.” 

Where to go for food and drink in Paynesville:

  • Seasalt Bakery

25 Redenbach Court, Swan Reach   

Come for Seasalt Bakery’s specialty sourdough loaves made with chemical-free spelt, rye, white and wholegrain flours in a converted garage at Andrew Collier’s Swan Reach home.  

  • Sardine Eatery and Bar 

3/69 Esplanade, Paynesville

Local seafood is the Sardine Eatery and Bar’s main game, with the restaurant’s focus on produce from across East Gippsland.

  • Badger and Hare Cafe 

20 Tyers Street, Stratford 

The go-to place to stop for a coffee and a toasted sandwich on the 3.5-hour drive between Paynesville and Melbourne, pick up some house-baked goodies at Badger and Hare on your way out. 

  • The Long Paddock 

95 Main Road, Lindenow 

Fresh local produce is the hero at The Long Paddock, an unpretentious but fabulous cafe/restaurant in sleepy Lindenow, northwest of Paynesville. Be sure to leave room for the house-made cakes! 

Oysters at Sardine Eatery and Bar in Paynesville.

Oysters at Sardine Eatery and Bar in Paynesville. 

Hall's Gap, Grampians

Carly and Richard Flecknoe ditched their corporate jobs in Melbourne to transform an old 1950s weatherboard into a thriving woodfire pizzeria, Raccolto Pizza, forging bonds with the region’s farmers and winegrowers.    

“We’ve been part of the rebuild and business has only gone up since we opened. But this summer has been hard. Even when the fires are on the opposite side of the state, it creates bushfire fear. If the weather’s hot, people stay home.” 

So, they welcome your visit. As well as the walks and soaring scenery of the Grampians National Park nearby, Halls Gap also has Victoria’s biggest regional zoo, with more than 160 native and exotic mammals. 

Where to go for food and drink in Halls Gap:

  • Paper Scissors Rock Brewery 

119 Grampians Road, Halls Gap

Pick up some fresh beers to take home at the Paper Scissors Rock Brewery, but make sure you taste a few brews first, paired with seriously good beer food. 

  • Great Western Granary

6 Cubitt Street, Great Western  

Don’t leave Harvest without a loaf of Anthony Kumnick’s sourdough at the Great Western Granary, made from locally fermented grain. With five gold Australian Fine Food awards, make sure to grab a loaf that is ‘baked and raised’ right in the Grampians.  

  • Raccolto Pizza (previously Harvest Café)

2 Heath Street, Halls Gap

Billing itself as pizza ‘served with love,’ the Flecknoes latest iteration Raccolto Pizza is a friendly, warm dining experience filled with flavour in the heart of the community. 

Boroka lookout at Hall's Gap.

Boroka lookout at Hall's Gap. 


Fires blazed just 35 kilometres and two valleys away from Beechworth’s historic town centre in early January, leaving a thick shroud of smoke and fear over the town. Restaurants, bakeries, shops and hotels that would normally be buzzing over summer were eerily empty as visitors were scared off by the fire threat.  

Michael Ryan, owner of the two-hatted restaurant Provenance, was especially hard hit, and encourages visitors to the beautiful holiday region. “If you’re thinking about taking a long weekend, jump in the car and come up. It’s a beautiful time of year.” 

But there’s more to Beechworth than food. There are high-country rail trails and waterfalls to explore, cool-climate wines to taste and hand-crafted beers to sample in the beer garden at Bridge Road Brewers. And there’s history in spades with a line-up of beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings that tell the story of Victoria’s history, including the courthouse where Ned Kelly was tried for murder. 

Where to go for food and drink in Beechworth: 

  • Beechworth Honey 

31 Ford Street 

Fourth-generation beekeepers Jodie and Steven Goldsworthy have gone all Willy Wonka with their honey tasting room at Beechworth Honey, offering dozens of honey varieties from around Australia to taste and buy, along with an active hive safely tucked behind Perspex. 

  • Beechworth Provender

18 Camp Street, Beechworth

Whether it's wine and cheese, or a rummage for some jewellery and crystals to take home, this electic little cafe is a wine bar, coffee shop and treasure haven all in one. 

  • Silver Creek Sourdough 

42 Gilchrist Ave 

Louise Richie is famous for her slowly fermented loaves at Silver Creek Sourdough. Get in early, as she usually sells out by noon, and be sure to grab some of her sourdough crumpets. 

  • Beechworth Ice Creamery 

3 Camp Street, Beechworth 

This summer, head to the Beechworth Ice Creamery for icy treats made on-site using traditional recipes and seasonal fruits. 

Beechworth Provendore.

The local Beechworth Provender.

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