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Cricketer Merv Hughes’ guide to the best pubs in Victoria
Cricket great Merv Hughes says these Victorian pubs are batting above average.
Aussie sporting legend Merv Hughes knows a thing or two about cricket. Representing Australia from 1985 to 1994, he made a name for himself through his mischievous sense of humour, magnificent handlebar moustache – and a cool 212 wickets over 53 test matches. Not to mention his iconic hat-trick against the West-Indies at the WACA in 1988-89.
His career took him around the world, and to his fair share of local cricket clubs. As a result, he also knows a thing or two about local pubs – and what makes a winning one.
“At the end of the day, all you’re looking for is a relaxed, laidback atmosphere," Merv says. "For me, if you can go to a pub, have a nice meal and catch up with some friends – you’re going to return.”
Live music is a bonus on a cruisy Saturday or Sunday afternoon and, of course, having the right beers on tap is a must. But the ultimate test? The parma, of course. “If I want to test a pub, or I’m trying a new place, I’ll always order the parmigiana. You’ve got to!”
From Port Fairy to Gippsland, we asked Merv what makes a quality pub, and where to find Victoria’s finest.
Slides: Rifle Club Hotel in Bendigo, Great Ocean Road Brewhouse and the Apollo Bay Hotel.
Six of the best pubs in Victoria, according to Merv Hughes
Star of the West
One of Merv’s personal favourites, this is the pub to beat. In picture-perfect Port Fairy you’ll find the Star of the West, a local haunt of Merv’s for more than 20 years. Built in 1856, the two-storey building wrapped in a wide verandah occupies a prominent corner spot and regularly hosts local musicians.
“There’s fantastic food, a good front bar, and during winter they’ve always got the footy on. It’s very easy to spend a Saturday afternoon there.”
Great Ocean Road Brewhouse
Head down to Apollo Bay and you’re spoilt for choice, with two solid options – the ‘top pub’ and the ‘middle pub’, nicknamed to match their locations in town.
With more than 100 craft beers on offer, the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse (the ‘top’ pub), with its dog-friendly beer garden, is the perfect place to while away a few hours with mates. Soak up views of the ocean and sample some of the region’s best local wines and produce in a lively atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you’ll also catch some live music.
Apollo Bay Hotel
If a relaxed afternoon with the family is more up your alley, head over to the Apollo Bay Hotel. With an outdoor dining area, the pub offers a wide selection of wines and boutique beers, along with all the classic counter meal staples.
In 2018 the Apollo Bay Hotel was awarded ‘Best Regional Pub Bar’ in the AHA Annual State Awards for Excellence and is nominated again for 2019.
“They’re both very good pubs. Each year in January [the family and I] go up to Apollo Bay, and you can always find the locals here.”