How to Eat and Drink Your Way Around Gippsland's Inverloch This Spring
Escape the city for a weekend filled with sipping cool-climate vino and stocking up on local produce.
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One of the best parts about being in Melbourne during spring is getting out of it. No, really. We love all the outdoor happenings that start to pop up following the winter hibernation — markets, rooftop bars and outdoor gatherings — but it's also a great time to explore other parts of the state. And, at just under two hours drive southeast of Melbourne, Gippsland is perfectly primed for a weekend escape. The region has all the right ingredients to let you indulge in the better weather while escaping the big smoke and breathing in that fresh out-of-town air.
If you need a helping hand with planning your getaway, you're in the right place. For starters, we suggest staying in Inverloch. The seaside town is a great place to base yourself and start your series of adventures around the region. Read on to discover the seasonal produce and local vino you should be sampling, places to get your culture fix and outdoorsy activities keep your bones warm.
From pristine beaches and bountiful wine regions to alpine hideaways and bustling country towns, Australia has a wealth of places to explore at any time of year. We've partnered with Tourism Australia to help you plan your road trips, weekend detours and summer getaways so that when you're ready to hit the road you can Holiday Here This Year.
While regional holidays within Victoria are allowed from May 31, some of the places mentioned below may still be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please check websites before making any plans.
TAKE A COASTAL DRIVE
Start the day with a cuppa from The Coffee Collective in the centre of Wonthaggi, just ten minutes from Inverloch. While you're there, grab a house-made cake or sweet treat to enjoy on the road. After you've got your caffeine kick, hit the road and make your way along Bunurong Coastal Drive. Include a stop at Flat Rocks Beach, and along the 14-kilometre strip you'll be presented with some pretty spectacular coastal scenery running from Cape Paterson and finishing back at Inverloch.
Once you arrive back in Inverloch, treat yourself to a nice glass of wine and a hearty pub meal. Head to Inverloch Esplanade Hotel (or the Invy Espy as the locals call it) for the roast of the day, a chicken parma or scotch fillet. Want something beyond standard pub fare? Head upstairs to the Captain's Lounge for split king prawns with chimichurri, roasted chicken with maple brussels sprouts or pan-seared mackerel.
FARMHOUSE CHEESE AND FURRY FRIENDS
If you feel like starting the day a tad later than usual, then roll out of bed and take a leisurely drive to Fig and the Bay in Glen Forbes. The brunch menu is perfect holiday fare — think beef brisket benedict. Afterwards, head to Bassine Speciality Cheeses to keep the food train steaming ahead. Once you've stocked up on artisanal farmhouse cheese, head over to Maru Koala and Animal Park to walk off the day's feast. While there, take part in a spot of mini golf and get up close and personal with koalas, kangaroos, dingoes, emus, wombats and even a crocodile.
On your way back to Inverloch, swing by Bass River Winery's cellar door to sample some of its single-vineyard drops, including pinot noir and chardonnay. The cellar door is open every day except Wednesday, between 10am–5pm.
RIDE AND DINE
Build up your weekend appetite with a cycle around the Bass Coast Rail Trail. Pump your calves on the 21-kilometre track between Woolamai Race Course and the old Wonthaggi Railway Station and take in views of farmland, rugged coastline and coastal bushland along the way. On your way back, drop by Harman Wines and enjoy a glass of cool-climate vino with views of the region. The vineyard, which is family owned and run, also serves woodfired pizzas on Fridays and Saturdays.
GET A TASTE OF FARM LIFE
There is no better way to start your day than with a big brekkie at The Bayside Lady, right in the centre of Inverloch. After you've had enough eggs, hash brown, house-made baked beans, spinach and mushroom to keep you going till Christmas, jump in the car and head west along the coast to Macca's Farm. This buzzing space is full of fresh seasonal produce, including hydroponically grown vegetables, free-range meats and honey. You can also pick your own strawberries from over one-kilometre of waist-high rows.
Treat yourself to some (more) vino at The Gurdies Winery, which specialises in cool-climate drops including riesling and chardonnay. Haven't had enough of the great outdoors yet? Book into one of The Inverloch Glamping Co's luxury bell tents and you can spend the night sleeping under the stars.
TAKE A DIY LOCAL PRODUCE CRAWL
One of the best parts about a sojourn in the Gippsland region is getting the chance to sample all the local produce — and you can make a day of it. Start with breakfast at Vaughan's Cafe Deli in the heart of Inverloch. Before you leave, stock up on goodies from its jam-packed deli cabinet — think artisanal cheeses, cured meats and olives.
Follow that with a trip to neighbouring town Kilcunda and visit Udder & Hoe. This quaint little store, which is set behind Kilcunda General Store, is packed to the brim with local goods. You'll find tubs filled with fresh produce, stacks of freshly baked sourdough, olive oils and buckets filled with nuts and grains.
Then for dinner, head to The Grove — a 60-acre farm with olive and truffle groves. Every week its restaurant changes its menu based on what local produce is in season. One week you'll be tucking into wild mushroom gnocchi, another week it's grilled fish with chimichurri and Jerusalem artichoke.
PAINTINGS, PINOT AND POOCHES
Kick off the day by taking a squiz at the Fiona Kennedy Art Studio, where you'll find the artist's large canvas oil paintings. Next, take a short walk down to and along Inverloch Beach to gaze upon something just as beautiful: doggos at the beach. The stretch of sand between Grandview Grove to Cuttriss Street is an off-leash area, so you can watch the pups go wild with freedom.
Once you're finished playing fetch, giving pats and getting wet-nose kisses, stroll through town to Dirty Three Wines and indulge in a midday drop or two (you are on a getaway, after all). The urban cellar door specialises in pinot noir and the three 'dirts' the vines grow in. For the folks behind the drop, it's all about creating wine with soul and passion — so you know it's got to be good.
Whether you're planning to travel for a couple of nights or a couple of weeks, Holiday Here This Year and you'll be supporting Australian businesses while you explore the best of our country's diverse landscapes and attractions.
Top image: Inverloch Beach, Visit Victoria.
Published on May 29, 2020 by Marnie Vinall