If, as Irish comic David O’Doherty says, the final 18 months have been good just for racists and makers of speciality gin, you have to ask if the world actually wants one other juniper-based fermentation (we actually don’t want extra of the previous).
But context is the whole lot and, amid the beautiful vineyards and cellar doorways of the Bellarine peninsula, a powerful copper nonetheless producing an fragrant and oh-so-easy-to-drink gin makes a pleasant departure from the grape. Especially if you’re sitting on the rustic bar with ebullient hosts because the solar units on one other day of maximum sport-level indulgence. The citrus notes of the gin are refreshing and cleaning. Just what’s wanted.
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We’re on the newly opened Whiskery on the Bellarine Taste Trail and sure, they make whisky too however proper now the gin has taken over the nonetheless. It’s the most recent addition to a high quality ecosystem of providores and grazing locations on this pretty peninsula south of Geelong and 90-minutes from Melbourne.
Owners Lorelle Warren and Russell Watson wished to arrange a household business, noticed this property with an previous Cobb & Co coach watering gap and, given the proliferation of wineries within the area, they settled on spirits and woodfired pizza to fill the hole. It’s a welcoming house and idea. Their canine Teddy, who gave his title to Lorelle’s personal recipe gin (Teddy and the Fox) pads about as they clarify their plans for rising their very own juniper berries and opening a round cigar room in an previous grain silo.
The patchwork panorama of the Bellarine peninsula is a disparate mixture of creeping suburban improvement, grazing land, little cities, wooded tracts, vineyards, olive bushes, bayside glory, and semi-rural holdings but it surely comes collectively on one factor – it’s a fantastic place to eat and drink for just a few days.
The eponymous Teddy at The Whiskery distillery. Photograph: Geelong tourism
The group of producers right here all help their fellow meals and wine makers alongside the path – the mussel farmer lauds the winemaker who lauds the restaurateur who lauds the fish smoker who lauds the liquor maker who lauds the cheesemaker who lauds the beekeeper. Add a clutch of fantastic eating locations that promote native merchandise and also you have an entire that’s way more than the sum of its components.
This is the place you come to with pals for 3 days of indulgence. Frankly, two can be higher for one’s well being however then it will be too exhausting to accommodate all of the sights.
What to do
There are some ways to eat like there isn’t any tomorrow, however the Bellarine has a few particular choices that benefit from the bay and likewise the disused rail line.
Dinner on a practice to nowhere and again? The Q Train runs from Queenscliff to Drysdale and again over the course of three hours, throughout which passengers can indulge within the culinary delights of head chef Greg Egan. It’s an historic practice of previous Queenslander rail carriages kitted out with eating choices in both non-public cubicles (the previous sleepers, $159 per particular person together with wine matching) or an open eating carriage (way more sociable, $119 per particular person not together with drinks).
A kitchen automotive divides the eating vehicles and right here they produce a stellar menu benefiting from native merchandise, from Barongarook pork served with corn bread, cauliflower puree and piccalilli, to Sage Farm salted beef diced and served with pear, pepper, wasabi mayonnaise, sesame oil, dehydrated tomato, Thai basil, and black Russian tomato gel. Sounds busy, proper? It does seem to be a very florid menu with too many components, however Egan pulls them collectively masterfully.
This is a enjoyable three-hour expertise and, relying on the time of yr, you’ll catch a sundown over Swan Bay because the practice pulls out of the station.
The three-hour journey on the Q Train, from Queenscliff to Drysdale and again, offers passengers the chance to get pleasure from head chef Greg Egan’s meals.
Speaking of the bay, it’s also possible to eat in-motion on the ferry to Sorrento. The newly devised Captain’s Lunch on the Bay ($65 per particular person together with wine), on the primary Saturday of the month from April to October, is one other showcase for native produce. Shared tables and shared platters are for grazing, antipasto and breads, then slow-roasted meats and roast greens, all paired with native wines. On a wonderful day, consuming out on the water is unbeatable.
Then there are the vineyards, after all. They’re in every single place, which implies cellar doorways are open and ready in your palate. Basil’s Farm is a beautiful small label, and right here it’s also possible to get an off-the-cuff lunch or afternoon tea overlooking their gardens in the direction of the bay. Grab a bottle of their pinot noir from the cellar door on the way in which out.
Also within the space is the well-known Scotchman’s Hill, the lesser recognized however simply as fabulous Oakdene wines, and the Terindah Estate and Jack Rabbit Vineyards with their views over Swan Bay.
Where to remain
The Nest is three little pods of luxurious perched on a hill on the Geelong-Queenscliff highway, overlooking wild marshland in the direction of the seaside city of Ocean Grove. Opened earlier this yr, it provides a snug place to retreat and loosen the flies that bind after consuming your physique weight in Bellarine delights. Beautifully appointed, that is particular lodging, with little touches like free snacks, plush bathrobes and a personal scorching tub on the deck to put again and have a look at the celebs at evening. Breakfast – left in a basket by the entrance door – is recent fruit salad, yoghurt and bread from the native bakery to toast and eat with selfmade apricot jam. The neatest thing other than the massive sky view? Hands down probably the most snug mattress within the state of Victoria.
The Nest, 2140 Bellarine Highway, Point Lonsdale. Priced from $275-350 an evening.
Each pod at The Nest has a personal scorching tub on the deck to lie again and have a look at the celebs.
Where (else) to eat:
Apart from the cellular eating experiences of the Q-Train and the Captain’s Lunch on the ferry, there are different must-try locations: head to the Bellarine Smoked Fish Company on the Portarlington Road to select up some sensational smoked fish and pâtés for a picnic by the water in Portarlington or Queenscliff. Jarron Mason discovered fish smoking on the age of 5 from his grandfather in New Zealand, and his delectable merchandise are a world away from the semi-petrified hot-smoked fish you discover on grocery store cabinets. Grab some sourdough bread from the Alchemy Woodfire Bakehouse in Queenscliff and and a neighborhood pinot gris and also you have a easy picnic.
Port Phillip Bay is well-known for its mussels, so cease in on the Little Mussel Cafe on the Bellarine peninsula.
Port Phillip Bay can also be well-known for its mussels, so you have to go to The Little Mussel Cafe the place you’ll style mussels in additional methods you thought potential. Owner Tracy Bold, who, uh, by no means actually preferred mussels a lot herself, will educate you concerning the ugly little buggers. Her household has been farming mussels for 30 years; they know what they’re doing, and their mussels are so, so good. Try the smoked mussels (from $5 per kg).
Breakfast at Piknik, a really cool café in an previous transformed Golden Fleece servo on the highway between Portarlington and Queenscliff. Here homeowners Dave and Denise Humphris serve up excellent breakfasts to loyal locals (“That’s Dolly’s table, she comes every Saturday morning”) and visiting teams. They barter with the neighbour, whose 40 fruit bushes provide the Piknik label jam – strive the apricot and vanilla.
The magnificent foot at Merne at Lighthouse restaurant on the Bellarine Peninsula is created by chef Josh Smith.
Merne at Lighthouse Restaurant can be your white linen, lengthy and languorous lunch vacation spot. Set above the olive grove that provides the Lighthouse Olive Oil cellar door downstairs, this elegant room is overseen by the pleasant and skilled Caleb, who is so clearly happy with this enterprise and the magnificent meals served up by chef Josh Smith. This is actually world class, this restaurant on a rustic highway on the southern finish of Australia.
Guardian Australia visited the Bellarine peninsula as a visitor of Visit Victoria and the Bellarine Taste Trail. Getting to the Bellarine is simple in the event you’re flying in – it’s a 45-minute drive to the peninsula from Avalon airport. From Melbourne, it’s a 90-minute drive.