The best Great Ocean Road foodie experiences
For the foodie in your life, the Great Ocean Road is full of fantastic experiences.
If your idea of the perfect road trip involves short bursts of driving sandwiched between breakfast, providore, farmers market and distillery, put Victoria’s famed Great Ocean Road at the top of your list.
Snaking between turquoise-green waters teeming with the bounty of Bass Strait and the fertile soils of the Otway Ranges and beyond, the 243-kilometre drive from Torquay to just shy of Warrnambool has much to offer the dedicated foodie.
Pick up lobster fresh from the boat, pick your own blueberries in season, sample coffee roasted oceanside, and indulge in cheese, ice-cream, whisky and chocolate lovingly crafted by artisan makers.
While the Great Ocean Road hugs the coast for much of its length, it’s worth diverting inland in places for a tempting array of gourmet goodies produced in the hinterland.
Slideshow images: Movida Lorne, Wye River General Store, Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. Photos: Visit Victoria
The Surf Coast’s surf capital is set up for sating big appetites. Fuel up with brekky at Pond cafe on the esplanade where an outdoor corner table comes with a side serve of rolling waves. Drop into Ocean Grind roastery for a coffee and a bag of Shorebreak, Ebb & Flow or Undertow beans to take home. And trick up your fish-n-chip order at Fisho’s with sweet potato cakes and Surf Coast slap hot sauce. If a cold beer’s your thing, slake that thirst at Bells Beach Brewing or Blackman’s Brewery and Pizza Bar. A sweet side trip will take you inland for one of Freshwater Creek Cakes’ legendary passionfruit sponges. And you might like to stay a night at RACV Torquay Resort, conveniently placed at No. 1 Great Ocean Road. Cosy up for a glass of local Leura Park Blanc de Blanc at the resort’s Harding’s Lounge, tuck into soft shell crab or kangaroo loin at Number One restaurant, where you can round off the meal off with a chocolate and marshmallow ice-cream sandwich.
Anglesea to Aireys Inlet
Set yourself up for a big drive with a dish of smoky baked beans with ham hock at Poppie’s nursery, cafe and wholefoods store in Anglesea, or drop into the Hot Chicken Project, where the heat factor ranges from mild Southern to Evil. Down the road at Aireys Inlet, A La Grecque makes a compelling argument for a lunch stop with simple, seasonal Greek-Australian dishes, while the Aireys Pub is a must-visit, with its huge wooden deck and expanse of grass drawing your eye to the ocean. The pub’s on-site Salt Brewing Co makes everything from a lager to coffee-infused stout. But if gin’s more your thing, you can taste your way through the menu at Great Ocean Road Gin, then settle into the Gin Garden with an award-winning tipple.
Start your Lorne morning with a Cold Shower breakfast burger or truffled mushrooms at The Bottle of Milk, and move on to Jetty Road’s taproom for fresh brews, lobster rolls and ocean views from the beer garden. There’s good Greek to be had at Ipsos where you can find beetroot labne, grilled local blue eye and slow-cooked lamb shoulder, or for a casual bite nab an outdoor table at the Swing Bridge Cafe. Inside the iconic Lorne Hotel, you’ll find Great Ocean Road outposts of two of Melbourne’s most celebrated eateries, Movida dishing up a chilled Spanish vibe on the ground floor and Coda plying its modern-Asian masterpieces upstairs.
Wye River and Forrest
Heading west towards Apollo Bay, make time for a coffee pitstop at the Wye General store and cafe opposite the beach, and perhaps a detour to Forrest in the heart of the Otways. Here you’ll find artisan treats with a view at Platypi Chocolate, along with homemade pies, casseroles, old-school milkshakes and a dog-friendly courtyard at Forrest General Store. The Forrest Brewing Co has a dining hall and taproom where you can sip on a Silvertop Lager or Irish Red with a brew-matching seasonal menu, and Otways Distillery turns out small-batch gins, vodka and limoncello incorporating local and foraged Otways flavours.
Apollo Bay Fisherman's Co-Op. Photo: Visit Victoria.
Apollo Bay boasts the Great Ocean Road’s last working harbour, making this seafood central for your trip. Make a beeline for the Fishermen’s Co-op at the far end of town for ridiculously fresh fish n chips harbourside – the boats bobbing beside you might have brought your catch in from Bass Strait. You can order southern right lobster, scallops and snapper from the cooked menu, or buy a wide range of seafood fresh to prepare and serve yourself. Fresh local seafood also features on the menu at The Birdhouse, while Apollo Bay Bakery’s scallop pies – plump specimens doused in mornay or curry sauce and tucked inside golden pastry – are rightly famous. Finish your meal with an award-winning icecream at Dooley’s where you can choose from flavours including blackberry, honey malt, unicorn poo or vegemite. Tastes of the Region offers local cheeses, chocolates, preserves, honey, beer and wine. And at the Apollo Bay Distillery you can take off on a gin flight sampling their SS Casino Dry Gin, Speculant Grapefruit Gin, Captain Chapman’s Navy Strength and Amphitrite Gin Elixir.
Port Campbell, Timboon and Cooriemungle
The Great Ocean Road turns inland after Apollo Bay, returning to the coast in time to take in the spectacular limestone stacks of the Twelve Apostles. Just beyond lies Port Campbell where boutique restaurant Forage on the Foreshore takes an uber-local approach to its ever-changing menu, be it southern rock lobster omelette, sous-vide abalone, or local beef, bread, cheese and walnuts. Just up the street the Sow and Piglets Brew Pub turns out beers with a German inflection, thanks to its German brewer – including a Kolsch, Dunkel and Marzen, alongside an India Pale Ale, Session IPA and Aussie Pale Ale.
Head inland here for a gourmet tour of food-focused Timboon where Schulz Organic Dairy’s Creamery and Cafe serves a fine morning tea, lunch, house-made dark hot chocolate or a cheese platter with Schulz’s own butter, fetta or quark. The town’s Railway Shed Distillery offers single malt whisky tastings (try Port Expression and Christie’s Cut), regional smallgoods boards or beef and whisky pithivier. And don’t miss Timboon Fine Ice Cream for a cone-full of maple and cinnamon or apple-pie flavours. It’s also worth backtracking a little to Cooriemungle for Gorge Chocolates’ artisan treats and some very fine camembert or blue vein at Apostle Whey Cheese, where you can watch their cows being milked at 4 every afternoon.
The Great Ocean Road officially ends at Allansford, just short of Warrnambool, but it’s worth driving the extra 10 kilometres for a taste of this vibrant oceanside city. Drop into Graze Urban Cafe for a friendly welcome and good coffee, bubble and squeak or a brisket sandwich. Myrtle Bar and Kitchen has house-made gnocchi, a charcoal grill and nuggets-free kids’ menu. Pronto Fine Food Merchants casts its net local and worldwide, with Childers Cove Cheese Co goodies and Otway Pasta Company torchio for sale alongside British cheddar and Dutch cocoa. And a Worn Gundidj tour at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve incorporates a search for bush tucker into its fascinating 90-minute talk-and-walk. You might like to stay a night at BIG4 NRMA Warrnambool Riverside Holiday Park (RACV members save 10 per cent when booking over the phone).
Along the way
You’ll find farmgate produce throughout your trip (keep an eye out for Volcano Produce in Tower Hill), and pick-your-own berry farms including Gentle Annie and Pennyroyal near Deans Marsh, Otway Blueberries and Little Organic Paddock near Gellibrand. Plan your trip to take in the Torquay Farmers Market (every Saturday), monthly Aireys Inlet Market, Apollo Bay Farmers Market (third Sunday of the month) and the Fresh Market Warrnambool (first and third Sunday of the month). And providores, food stores and supermarkets offer a host of local produce including the likes of Irrewarra Sourdough, Hot Chilli Mama products, Prickly Moses brews, Zeally Bay bread and Mount Moriac beef and olives.