It’s all about the food in this state. Victoria’s historic country pubs, whether it’s the alpine Wandi or the mountainside Wally, serve up excellent fare to match their local wines and craft beers.
The Kilcunda Ocean View Hotel
Sunday sessions at “The Killy” feature musicians performing against a spectacular Bass Strait backdrop. In winter, you’ll find listeners nursing a glass of Phillip Island or Gippsland wine in front of the fire in the piano bar.
3531-3533 Bass Highway, Kilcunda; (03) 5678 7245
The Farmers Arms
This 1857 country pub is big on hygge (cosiness) and great eating. Main events include baked free-range chook with chestnuts and sage.
1 East Street, Daylesford; (03) 5348 2091
The Wandi Pub
After a hard day on the slopes of Mount Hotham, thirsty powder hounds (or hikers and bikers in summer) head an hour down the mountain to refuel at the 150-year-old Wandi on big steaks, fat chips, bush-tomato snags and, of course, beer. Save space for the dessert jaffles and Sunday’s folk session.
580 Morses Creek Road, Wandiligong; (03) 5750 1050
The Wally Pub
Officially, but rarely, called the Walhalla Lodge Hotel, the weatherboard “Wally” in the historic gold town of Walhalla, tucked into a north Gippsland valley, is a welcoming place to have a beer with locals and tuck into hearty pub grub, including a top chicken parma.
Main Road, Walhalla; (03) 5165 6226
Mountain View Hotel
This low-slung pub in the King Valley hamlet of Whitfield offers charming old gardens, Italian-influenced dishes and a comprehensive wine list. Relax under the 90-year-old trees with a glass of kölsch or prosecco, the region’s signature tipple, and enjoy glimpses of Mount Buffalo in the distance.
4 King Valley Road, Whitfield; (03) 5729 8270
Royal George Hotel
Don’t be fooled by the $20 steaks and old-school parmas served in the front bar at this Central Victorian beauty. The glorious double-fronted gold-rush hotel dates from 1852 and caters to all-comers, from keen home brewers who meet here weekly to the Friday cocktails crowd. Expect craft beer and cider on tap and wines drawn from the Macedon Ranges.
24 Piper Street, Kyneton; (03) 5417 2345
Wye Beach Hotel
Starring a deck overlooking beautiful Wye Beach, this pub on a hill above the Great Ocean Road is always going to be a favourite. The menu has a dash of hipster with its sourdough toasties, duck-fat potatoes and locally roasted coffee. Regional wines include the Bellarine Peninsula’s Oakdene and there’s a guest tap for local microbreweries.
19-21 Great Ocean Road, Wye River; (03) 5289 0240
Seven Creeks Hotel
The stately two-storey hotel has fed and watered travellers since the 1860s. In winter, wood fires warm the bar and dining area; come summer, trees shade a sprawling beer garden. Wines from the Strathbogie Ranges and the North East Victoria region complement restaurant-quality, modern Australian-Asian fare.
2 Tarcombe Street, Euroa; (03) 5795 3034
Radio Springs Hotel
Nestled in the Central Highlands between chic weekend getaways Daylesford and Trentham, the rambling Radio Springs Hotel is made up of a front bar, parlour, dining rooms, lounge and beautiful gardens. There’s a regional wine list, craft brews on tap, a cracking range of single malts and, at weekends, cosy dinners and long lunches.
1 High Street, Lyonville; (03) 5348 5562
Fish Creek Hotel
Its seven-metre rooftop Stunned Mullet by local sculptor Colin Suggett has made Fish Creek Hotel a South Gippsland landmark. Perfectly located to reel in hungry hikers from Wilsons Promontory, the Art Deco pub plates meals showcasing Gippsland’s best produce. Local labels headline the wine list.
1 Old Waratah Road, Fish Creek; (03) 5683 2404
Forrest Brewing Company
The former general store in Forrest, an old logging town two hours’ drive south-west of Melbourne, has been reborn as a microbrewery, bistro and meeting point for mountain bikers. Four regular beers and some seasonal specials are always available. There are also wines by the glass, hearty country food and lots of Lycra.
26 Grant Street, Forrest; (03) 5236 6170
The Avoca Hotel
The wine list is so local at this grand old pub on the edge of the Victorian goldfields that even if the wine is made in the Grampians Pyrenees region, the Avoca won’t stock it unless the grapes were grown there, too.
115 High Street, Avoca; (03) 5465 3018
Royal Mail Hotel
Set in the foothills of the Grampians, the Royal Mail’s Parker Street Project, previously known as Public Bar, has full access to the cellar of its two-hatted sister restaurant. That means 101 pages of stellar drops, including 16 pages of pinot noirs from Burgundy.
98 Parker Street, Dunkeld; (03) 5577 2241
Max Anderson, Lee Atkinson, Keith Austin, Melanie Ball, Max Brearley, Hilary Burden, Mal Chenu, Mark Chipperfield, Carla Grossetti, Kendall Hill, Belinda Jackson and Natascha Mirosch.