Happy farm-gate trails
Find prime produce at farm gates throughout country Victoria.
Taking a drive in the country never tasted so good.
Regional Victoria is dotted with some of the best produce in the world, with farm gates selling everything from just-picked apples to free-range pork.
In a world where everyone’s in a hurry to get somewhere, farm gates offer a taste of life in the slow lane, where seasons set the speed. Stop for a chat with the award-winning cheesemaker who milks his own goats, or the beef farmer making swoon-worthy smallgoods.
Drive at your own pace. There’s no designated route. But these farm gates are worth the trip, stretching through south Gippsland and the Goldfields region in the central highlands.
Born and bred in Gippsland, chef Dave Stewart knows the windy back roads of Gippsland like back of his hand.
The owner and chef of Ascot Food Store in Moonee Ponds can’t drive past a farm gate and, as the weather cools, cravings start for a particular potato from his old stomping ground. But this isn’t just any spud. He has to get the Dutch creams from Thorpdale Organics, where Tony and Wendy Robins grow organic vegies in some of Victoria’s richest red soil.
“Those Dutch creams are amazing,” says Dave, who stops for supplies at the Robins’ bright green farm-gate shed whenever he’s passing through Thorpdale (1308 Mirboo North-Trafalgar Road – open daily from 8am to dusk and selling those Dutch creams for a bargain $3/kilo). “Mashed or roasted, it doesn’t matter. They’re always bang on.”
It’s been a slow burn, but foodies are heading east in increasing numbers to taste their way through Gippsland's fertile hills. Dairy, beef, pork, lamb and all manner of fruit and vegetables are grown in this vast region, stretching from Melbourne’s outer fringe to the New South Wales border in the far east.
At the southern tip, chef Rohan McCullagh says he is spoilt for choice with so much excellent local produce just a short distance from his kitchen at the RACV Inverloch Resort.
The menu at Rohan’s restaurant Radius in the resort is a love letter to South Gippsland produce, from Amber Creek Farm’s exceptional chorizo, kabana and kranski sausage to the famously tender grass-fed beef from Annie’s Angus. And let’s not forget the local Oak and Swan’s sourdough, baked in a wood-fired oven with hand-milled local wheat and Mirboo North rainwater.
“I also make sure we have cheese from Prom Country Cheese, which is made about 30 minutes’ drive from the resort,” Rohan says. “The whole range is beautiful, but the most popular would be the Woolamai Mist. It’s just delicious. I take whatever they’ve got, including the sheep’s milk yoghurt.”
Tomatoes in infinite variety.
Bronwyn and Burke Brandon from Prom Country Cheese.
Carrots straight from the soil.
Peruvian chef Alejandro Saravia (pictured at left) is set to open a Melbourne restaurant celebrating Gippsland produce.
Bendigo restaurateur Sonia Anthony with Belinda Hagan from McIvor Farm Foods.
The farm gate at McIvor Farm Foods.