Best food and wine along the Great Ocean Road

Acclaimed chef Dan Hunter has found a slice of paradise along Victoria’s breathtaking Great Ocean Road.

Lorne, a holiday retreat, has a stunning mix of natural wonders.
  • Krysia Bonkowski
  • August 2018

This has been a good year for Dan Hunter. Voted by his peers as Australia’s best chef in Australian Financial Review’s Top Restaurants, his Victorian restaurant, Brae, claimed the number-two spot in the same poll and 65th in the coveted World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. After earning his stripes (and multiple Chef’s Hats and Michelin Stars) in respected kitchens around Australia and the globe, Dan struck out to establish Brae on 30 acres outside of rural hamlet Birregurra, just off the Great Ocean Road.

How to see the best of Geelong in a day

The chef has discovered an idyllic setting for his first solo venture, and family life.

“A drive from Melbourne or Geelong along the Great Ocean Road via Birregurra takes you through some of the most fertile farming land in the state,” Dan says. “So stopping off along the way to sample some local produce before hitting the beach is a must.”

Dan shares his favourite stops in this beautiful region.

Ravens Creek Farm
742 Hendy Main Rd, Moriac
Hayden and Jasmin have created an oasis on their working farm, using regenerative farming techniques to produce really good free-range pork, grass-fed beef, eggs, vegetables, honey and berries, all available for sale in their farm café. When I have time, I stop off here on the drive home from the city, grab a coffee and one of their excellent pastries, and some ethically produced meat for dinner. My five-year-old daughter, Ivy, loves their kids’ tasting plates and visiting in summer, when she gets to pick her own berries.

Foothill Organics
80 Oakleys, Rd, Yeo
Joe Sgro has a roadside stall at the front of his organic vegetable farm, one of the biggest in the state. We visit weekly, to supplement our own organic produce for the restaurant and to shop for home. Apart from avoiding unnecessary pesticides and herbicides, I like knowing we’re supporting a local producer.

Sunny weather at apollo beach
The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243-kilometre stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia.

Gentle Annie Berry Gardens & Cafe
520 Pennyroyal Valley Rd, Penny Royal
This is the place I take visitors with kids for a day out in summer when we’re not keen on the beach. Kids love picking their own organic berries, fruits and vegetables, and the adults get to stroll the gardens, enjoy the peace and then relax over lunch with a few drinks in the café while the kids play outside.

Birregurra Farm Foods
43 Main St, Birregurra
We’re so lucky to have this provedore, ethical butcher and café all rolled into one right here in Birregurra. Miles and Annie have a great local cheese and wine selection, and do an excellent wood-fired pizza that you can eat sitting in the little courtyard on Main Street – the best seat in the street.

Natural wonders of nature
The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks, is a must-see for any visitor.

Bespoke Harvest
16 Grant St, Forrest
A great little restaurant where you can sit in the garden and eat a lunch of local produce, beer and wine under the shady hazelnut trees. A really peaceful spot for a relaxing lunch with visitors in summer.

Lake Elizabeth Walk
After lunch at Bespoke Harvest, I love taking visitors to one of my favourite outdoor spaces in The Otways. The rainforest walk to Lake Elizabeth can easily be done with a five-year-old in tow and is a great way to get a glimpse of the iconic giant tree ferns of The Otways.

Lorne, a holiday retreat, has a stunning mix of natural wonders.
Lorne, a holiday retreat, has a stunning mix of natural wonders.

Apollo Bay
At the peak of summer, our closest beach, Lorne, can be unbearably busy, so we take the windy road through Forrest to Apollo Bay, which holds a special significance for me as the place where my parents and I used to holiday when I was small, and still an only child. Later, in my early 20s I spent a summer working in a restaurant here washing dishes. I don’t know if it’s just nostalgia, but for me this is one of Australia’s most naturally stunning beach towns, and when I look back from the port, across the bay to the rolling hills in the distance, I’m always impressed by its beauty.

La Bimba
125 Great Ocean Rd,
Apollo Bay
This is the classic local fishing town restaurant. Chef and owner Steve Earl delivers on his promise of sourcing the freshest local seafood and regional produce from his own farm and the region. Last visit, for my wife Julianne’s birthday in late April, with the windows open to the balmy evening, we listened to waves crashing on the beach below and shared a local flathead and white wine. Perfect!

The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks, is a must-see for any visitor.
View the 12 Apostles at sunrise and sunset as they change colour from dark and foreboding in shadow to brilliant sandy yellow under a full sun.

Dooley’s Ice Cream
89 Great Ocean Rd,
Apollo Bay
Find Dooley’s Ice Cream on Facebook The best ice-cream on the Great Ocean Road. I don’t think I’ve been to Apollo Bay without visiting. Look out for the Vegemite ice-cream!

Wye River General Store
35 Great Ocean Rd, Wye River
Always great food, coffee and pastries. I love that you can come up from the beach across the road, sit outside on the deck and watch the waves roll in.