Where The Project host Gorgi Coghlan goes in Ballarat
Journalist and The Project host Gorgi Coghlan shares her guide to the best of Ballarat.
For journalist and regular host of The Project, Gorgi Coghlan, moving to Ballarat was an easy decision. Having grown up in Warrnambool, she knew it was only a matter of time before she got back to her country roots, so when her husband suggested making the move full-time almost eight years ago, she didn’t blink.
Now, the couple live on a farm with their daughter and co-own the historic Provincial Hotel, which recently underwent a major refurbishment.
For Gorgi, the combination of an ever-evolving food and tourism scene and the tight-knit community of a regional town makes her sure she’s found her home.
Lola at The Provincial Hotel, Ballarat
We asked her to reveal her favourite local haunts.
Where I go
For a great cup of coffee…
I know I’m biased, but I’d go to our cafe, Lola... Our barista, Will, even has groupies. If I had to choose somewhere else though, it would be Fika. Like us, they use Sensory Lab beans - they’ve really set the bar for great coffee.
For a long lunch…
Definitely Mitchell Harris Wine Bar, for a glass of wine and some beautiful bar food. They offer a really relaxed dining experience. I love going there with a girlfriend and spending a few hours sharing four or five dishes over some wine.
To get back to nature…
We have horses at our property, and my daughter and I love to ride through the bush around where we live. There’s nothing except the sound of birds, and it’s really grounding.
To treat myself…
Underbar, from Derek Boath and his wife Lucy, is incredible. It’s open only on Fridays and Saturdays and they serve 12 people each sitting - it books out months in advance. Derek used to work at Per Se in New York (which earned a cool three Michelin stars), before bringing Underbar to Ballarat. The restaurant serves a degustation menu highlighting seasonal produce, and was hatted in the 2019 Good Food Guide.
For a culture hit…
The Art Gallery of Ballarat is always great. They had an exhibition recently called ‘Becoming Modern’, which focused all on female artists from between 1920 and 1950 (ENDS ON AUGUST 4). They always have beautiful works, from really talented artists.
You can also go on a truffle hunt in Ballarat, which I’d highly recommend – as well as a trip to Kilderkin, a gin distillery out in Alfredton. They recently won multiple awards at the Australian Gin Awards 2019.
For a special gift…
Wen & Ware Living has an impressive legacy in Ballarat - it opened 15 years ago. Owners Wendy, Andrew and Prue have an incredible eye and ability to pick out unique, bespoke pieces. They source a lot of products from Indonesia and when you buy something you walk about feeling like you have something no one else has.
If I had a full day to myself with no plans, I’d go for a bike ride around Lake Wendouree. For lunch, particularly in winter, I’d sit by the fire at Cafe Sidra in Learmonth, and maybe take my book. Belinda, one of the owners, does lots of delicious home-cooked recipes and they make their own cider. In the afternoon I might hit Sovereign Hill – I know it’s cliche, but I do love it, or maybe check out what’s on at the gallery. I’d then go for a pre-dinner cocktail at Moon & Mountain on Mair Street, and then finish up with dinner at Lola.
Although, to unwind, I do also really love quiet days on the farm, away from everything. It’s my oasis.