If you’re like me and you get just as excited about finding the perfect spot for lunch as you do seeing, say, the Twelve Apostles, then I have just the road trip for you! On the second day of our Great Ocean Road adventure, Jules and I needed to head back inland for a platypus tour (most unique X-mas gift ever from Jules’ mom)! Originally we weren’t sure if there would be many sites inland, as the Great Ocean Road is really mostly about the ocean, go figure. Luckily we did a little investigating and learned about this equally amazing and insanely delicious road trip called The Victorian Gourmet Trail. My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it.
The Victorian Gourmet Trail is a series of local food and beverage makers just inland from the Great Ocean Road. Among the wide selections are producers of cheese, berries, ice-cream, chocolate, wine and whiskey. So pretty much everything delicious in this world.
Our first stop was Cheese World. Yes, a whole WORLD of cheese. I’ll wait while you let that image settle into your mind…. Cheese World was everything we’d hoped it would be and more. Besides having the biggest selection of diary products I’ve ever seen, there’s a small restaurant and a kitschy cheese museum out the back.
We participated in a free cheese tasting (they had me at “free cheese”) and had some of the yummiest little blocks of deliciousness that could ever fit on the end of a toothpick. Two of their cheeses had just won prestigious awards including best Australian for their matured cheddar and an international award for their extra tasty cheddar.
After sampling everything they had on offer (twice) we settled on a block of the matured cheddar to take home and a smaller block of garlic and pepper cheddar to eat then. We hopped back in the car, keeping our eyes out for a nice spot to set up a picnic. Our stomachs got the best of us, though, and we ended up just pulling to the side of the road to devour the entire cheese block with a fresh baguette and cherry tomatoes. Yum.
The Mousetrap Cafe
Our next stop was The Mousetrap Café, which is an adorable shop that sells local dairy, as well as wine and beer. We did another cheese tasting, this time with French cheeses including a triple (!) cream cheese and a beautiful Brie. The selection was mouthwatering and the tasting was very informative, but we were a bit cheesed out at this point and were craving milkshakes! Jules had his heart set on a Schulz milkshake, but they only had Schulz milk available. By this point I was pretty over everything cow-related, but Jules was determined to have his Schulz fix. We ended up buying a whole liter of low-fat milk and drank the entire liter while sitting in their gorgeous garden. It was actually super delicious.
At this point we were ready to move on from all the dairy products, so we were stoked to find out our next stop on the Victorian Gourmet Trail was Berry World. Berry World is like Cheese World’s healthier, hippy little sister. With little more than a field of berries and an office in a shed, this place is what the Victorian Gourmet Trail is all about – independent local producers making delicious, wholesome food. It’s “pick your own berries,” so we bought a small plastic container (available for purchase there for about 60 cents) and started picking. Their main selection is strawberries and they are as fresh and sweet as you’d imagine. Pro tip: The super red small ones are the sweetest!
They also have a section of boysenberries, loganberries and silvenberries. These are hit and miss and while we were there the ripe berries were slim pickings. We had a few face-puckering moments before we learned our lesson to only pick the dark, juicy ones. After some time we wandered off a bit further and were stoked to find bushes and bushes of ripe loganberries. We nibbled and picked until our case was almost full. One of the workers came over and pointed out how great this section was because no one ever comes back here. She said it’s usually closed to the public because there’s a poisonous berry that grows in that area as well, so just be careful of the ones that look like blueberries. Needless to say we finished off our container with strawberries.
After wrapping up at Berry World and listening to Jules make terrible berry puns to the woman behind the counter (“thank you berry much!”), we were back on the road. Since we’d spent our previous day on the gorgeous coast, I told Jules I wasn’t expecting much from the landscape inland. But I definitely ate my words (among many other things that day). The scenery was gorgeous. From flat golden farmland to narrow dirt roads almost completely enclosed in Eucalyptus trees, it was breathtaking. After the crowds on the Great Ocean Road, it was a refreshing change to have the backstreets to ourselves. One of my favorite parts about the Victorian Gourmet Trail was passing by all of the independent family farms, each with a sign out the front displaying which dairy company they produce for, so we knew exactly where our milk and cheese was coming from. As we passed we gave all the cows a big “mooo” in appreciation.
Timboon Railway Shed Distillery
As our afternoon of delicious was coming to an end we debated between calling it quits or pushing through to one more stop. We decided to finish our day at the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery with the one thing we’d been missing – milkshakes! Timboon Ice-Cream is a local company that makes fresh ice cream and it can be purchased at the Railway Shed, which also doubles as a distillery for single malt whiskey. We had a long drive ahead of us so we didn’t sample the alcohol, but we did split one of the best milkshakes I’ve had to date. The distillery is an old building and its walls were lined with black and white photos of generations of previous farmers and beverage makers. Thanks to them we were leaving with our bellies very, very full!
Side note: We didn’t have time to make all of the yummy stops on the Victorian Gourmet Trail. Next time we’ll have to check these out:
Apostle Whey Cheese – more free cheese tasting!
G.O.R.G.E. Chocolate – chocolate made fresh on site and free samples available. We did take some home from the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery! Yum!
Newtons Ridge Estate – wine tasting!
If you took a trip along the Victorian Gourmet Trail what would be your priority? Where would you stop first?