Local's Guide on the Best Things to Eat in Dunkeld

The produce gardens at Royal Mail Hotel, Victoria

Surrounded by the brooding peaks of Mount Abrupt and Mount Sturgeon, part of the Grampians National Park, the tiny western Victorian town of Dunkeld boasts plenty of natural attractions and walking tracks but the jewel in its crown is the Royal Mail Hotel. Its smart accommodation is a boon for visitors to one of Australia’s destination diners in the form of Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel. The award-winning modern food of chef Robin Wickens bases its joys on the mammoth kitchen gardens and the region’s best produce – and as the chef explains, the farming district’s rich culinary attractions mean you can create a road trip to remember. Here are his picks of the area.

Royal Mail Hotel executive chef Robin Wickens

Koopmans Dunkeld for coffee

“Just across the road from the Royal Mail, you’ll find this atmospheric café inside an old mechanic’s garage. It’s a great little spot with a real Melbourne vibe to it, down to the fantastic St Ali coffee. We send our house guests over for breakfast. Eggs on toast, all the trimmings…”

The Bunyip Hotel for croquettes

“James Campbell, the co-owner and chef of this fantastic country pub, used to be at MoVida in Melbourne and Sydney and it shines through the menu. It’s not slavishly Spanish but there’s a produce-driven style to it. The croquettes are always changing with the seasons – most recently we had cheese and leek – and he also does addictively good spicy paprika fries with a fried egg on top. It’s in a town called Cavendish, which is a 25-minute drive from Dunkeld and similar in size. We like to go there for a Sunday afternoon session in the beer garden, which is stunning.”

Dunkeld General Store for local produce

“It’s pretty good when your supermarket is this general store (93 Parker Street, Dunkeld; 03 5577 2418). It specialises in artisan goods from the region so there’s French farmhouse cheese from L’Artisan and buffalo milk cheese from Shaw River and plenty of products from Mount Zero olives. You can pick up wine, too – Crawford River and Best’s Great Western – and there’s a good list of takeaway food. My go-to is a bacon and egg roll, made with Istra bacon and Kiss & Run eggs.”

Noodledoof Brewing Co. for craft beer

Noodledoof brewery

“On the road to Port Fairy, this craft brewery and distillery does tasting paddles of beer and gin. They’ve been making our house gin at the Royal Mail with us and come out to our kitchen garden every few months to pick different botanicals to experiment with. We’re also working on a beer together because there are lots of hops growing in the garden, too – we’re doing a lot of testing!”

Noodledoof brewery co-owner Sam Rudolph
Image credit: Emily Weaving (Top banner)

Poco for ice-cream

“You have to head to Port Fairy on the Great Ocean Road for the region’s best ice-cream. There’s always a queue out the front of Poco (27 Cox Street, Port Fairy) but it’s worth the wait for flavours like roasted almond ice-cream.”

Penshurst Store for doughnuts

“Twenty minutes drive from Dunkeld is a classic Australian bakery (110 Bell Street, Penshurst) that’s always worth a stop. It’s just a solid local that makes its own excellent meat pies in-house. I can’t go past a doughnut – jam-centred, sugar-dusted goodness.”

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