Quaint and quirky: Small towns with big hearts
Whether you’re a foraging foodie, history buff or adventure junkie, these Victorian day-trips are a delight.
All bibliophiles should bookmark this pretty little Goldfields town north of Ballarat. It’s home to so many bookshops that it’s been declared an International Book Town – one of only 22 worldwide. Along with the beloved Booktown Festival each May, Clunes hosts Booktown on Sundays – every third Sunday of the month – featuring free author talks. But on any given day, visitors can fall into the peaceful rhythms of the well-read community, where some of the state’s best-preserved 19th-century buildings house cafes, bistros and, of course, bookshops.
You can’t miss the Fish Creek Hotel. The looming art deco building topped with a huge, stunned mullet by Gippsland artist Colin Suggett has become a beacon to those travelling through the rolling countryside to Wilsons Promontory, or tackling the Great Southern Rail Trail. Go for a gallery hop around this “arts capital of South Gippsland” – including the gallery/bookshop of adored children’s author/illustrator Alison Lester, and Celia Rosser’s eponymous gallery showing her intricate botanical drawings – before a lunch of fine Gippsland pub grub at the destination watering hole.