The Great Ocean Road is arguably Australia’s most famous drive, but I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s so much more to the Great Ocean Road than the limestone cliffs and beaches its famous for.
While the region may be known for tourism and dairy-farming, there’s a growing scene of artisan food and beverage producers, many of them award-winning.
In many of the local stores around Port Campbell, you’ll spot a the 12 Apostle Gourmet Trail map showing a 75-kilometre loop starting in Port Campbell taking in nine of the region’s best food producers. It should take you around 4 hours to visit all the producers, but I chose to do it over two days to really savour the experience.
Driving the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail
Strawberry picking is quite possibly one of my favourite activities and I was ready to get picking by the time we pulled up at Berry World in Timboon.
Pick up a tub from the office and cafe and then head into the fields and get picking!
There are 6 types of strawberries planted at Berry World. From the big robust Juliette to the smaller sweeter Albion; there’s even the Melba, a Australian breed which hold up well in the hot Australian summer and yields a large, robust and sweet fruit.
After the hard work is done, be sure to step into the newly opened cafe to taste Timboon strawberry jam, sweet strawberry chilli sauce and even strawberry relish! They also serve up chocolate dipped strawberries, ice cream sundaes, milkshakes, cakes, locally blended coffee and Reggie’s Tea House tea, and more.
My tip is to try their White Chocolate Strawberry Cake drizzled with strawberry sauce – delicious and perfect for sharing with two!
26 Egan Street, Timboon
For seasonal opening times, and what’s flowering, check their website.
Timboon Railway Shed Distillery
It may seem strange to find a whisky distillery near the Great Ocean Road, but since the 1890’s Timboon has had an underground scene. Local Tom Delaney because one of the most notorious distillers in the area, and is said to have made upwards of 100 gallons a week under the name “Mountain Dew”, even cheekily putting the official Government stamp on it!
The story goes on and is artfully weaved into the distillery and products with names like “Christie’s Cut”, a Single Malt Whisky 50% named after Detective Inspector Christie, the man chosen to capture Tom Delaney and his partner Jim Love (who has a Strawberry Schnapps named after him).
Breathing new life into the town’s former railway station, the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery is now a buzzing cafe and restaurant.
There’s also a wide selection of regionally produced foods for the producers along the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail and beyond.
I stopped by at lunch time and discovered a concise and tasteful menu on site which favours seasonal produce and plenty of options from the sea. I enjoyed the daily special, a buttery Chicken and Leek pie served with a generous side of mashed potatoes, but the most extravagant dish, and quite possibly the most popular, was The Shed Seafood Board a towering assortment of Tempura battered barramundi, Atlantic salmon fish cake, Ocean trout wrapped in creme fraise pastry, pickled octopus, sorrel mayonnaise, nam jim, butter lettuce, and a walnut pear and parmesan salad! Katherine, my road trip buddy, spend the rest of the weekend raving about how good it was.
While you are visiting, be sure to take part in a whisky tasting, or sample their premium vodka, coffee and chocolate creams and limoncello.
For those with a sweet tooth, be sure to cross the park is the newly opened Timboon Fine Ice Cream!
Timboon Railway Shed Distillery
The Railway Yard, 1 Bailey Street, Timboon
Newtons Ridge Winery
Drive down the unpaved driveway and be surrounded by lush rolling mountains and line upon line or grapes, hand-picked each season. This quaint cellar door is home to cool climate, boutique wines; many aged in French Oak.
The caretakers for the day (Newtons Ridge owner, Carla Falk, was away when we visited!) let us know that the community is a big part of the harvest season. As the BBQ sizzles, volunteers from the town, local CFA and various sporting groups come together to help pick the grapes.
The wines are delicious. I’m more a sparkling girl myself and enjoyed their Sauvignon Blanc, picking up a bottle to take home to pair with a nice cheese platter of other local ingredients I was planning on picking up; though I recommend taking a flight through all their wines to find the right one for you.
Be sure to grab a bottle to enjoy later that evening, perhaps while enjoying a spa bath at Anchors Port Campbell? Or bring a picnic lunch to enjoy surrounded by the vast vineyard.
Newtons Ridge Winery
1170 Cooriemungle Road, Cooriemungle
(Open Thursday – Monday 11am to 4pm from September through to the end of the April. Open some weekends in May.)
Apostle Whey Cheese
As I rounded the corner I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. There, perched atop a water tank, was Nessie. Nessie the Lochness Mooster!
Diane and Julian Benson are responsible for the giggle-worthy sculpture, and plenty of other bovine inspired sculptures throughout the garden.
Many of Apostle Whey’s Cheeses are Gold and Silver award-winning cheeses, a fact they are both proud and modest to share with visitors. One such cheese is the pungent and rich Grotto, another their creamy Southern Briez.
Be sure to try their Bay of Martyrs. A medium-strength blue cheese perfect for those not sure about blues. It is quite salty (like the waters it’s named after) and Julian (pictured above) told us it’s converted a lot of people to blue cheese – myself included!
After tasting all the great cheese, grab a cuppa and try their handmade gelato. The gelato wasn’t quite ready to launch when I was down there, but I’m excited to come back and taste it on my next road trip to the Great Ocean Road.
Apostle Whey Cheese is a great stop for the whole family. Along with tastings and watching the cheeses being made, you can also watch the cows being milked (4 pm daily) and see into the Mooternity Ward, where you might be lucky to see a baby calf or even one being born during certain seasons!
Apostle Whey Cheese
9 Gallum Road, Cooriemungle
It’s time to demystify snails. That’s what I thought as we wound our way into the driveway of the Hawes’ property. You can’t miss their place, a big ‘snail crossing’ sign with a cute painted snail shows visitors the entrance to their farm, and Helene was waiting for us as we arrived.
I’d never eaten snails. Not even in France. The idea still makes me a little squeamish. On the other hand, my road trip buddy was raring to go; a lover of the delicacies.
Originally Queenslanders Denis and Helene Hawes moved to the area on a mission to build a free-range snail farm after discovering that the climate was perfect for their particular type of farming.
Helene grew up in France before moving to Australia as a teenager, and it wasn’t until nearing retirement that they decided to try their hand at a new project – snail farming.
Today, thousands of snails are feasting and growing in specially made eight-by-four metre plots enjoying a diet rich in greens, flowers and kale to fatten them up. Once the snails reach a certain size they will be processed for sale. The work doesn’t end there. The snails eat a special diet of minced bran and oats to purge their system and then fasted ensuring that their stomachs are emptied. This signals a biological response for the snails to hibernate. It’s after this that they are cooked, removed from their shells, and are put into plastic trays and frozen; though some restauranteurs do prefer to deshell them.
The Hawes’ goal is to be able to supply Australian restaurants with fresh, free range snails. While they have been blessed to have many restaurants interested, Helen told us that some of Australia’s top restaurants still use rubbery tinned snails. Simpsons Snails are soft and tender.
I won’t deny that I was still a bit hesitant to touch one but Helene quite happily wiped the residue slime on her face after holding a snail. Turns our snail slime is a common ingredient in skin care, and she’s got a backyard of the stuff!
If you are keen to taste snail, Helen offers up a taste. You can try snail the traditional way with garlic, butter and parsley or, and this is especially good for the first timers, you can try escargot as a vol-au-vent with fresh herbs. If they take your fancy, you can buy frozen escargot from the farm to take home with you, or for the most passionate, Simpson Snails host an introduction to Snail Farming course each October!
And yes, these snails are exactly the same breed as what you will find in your garden!
Please ring before coming. Call +61 (0) 427 589 872
Simpson Snails are closed during winter.
G.O.R.G.E. is not a business, it’s a lifestyle. Owners Jason and Melanie work here, their home is next door, and their daughter is one of the delightful shop attendants; though still happily lets Dad make the delicious hot chocolates.
It’s a whole world of delicious treats as one of the shop/shed is covered with baskets housing more and more chocolates – think chocolate coated liquorice, chocolate frogs, giant freckles, and of course you can’t go past a bar of your favourite!
Enjoy a hot beverage in the cafe. Jason recommended their chocolate mint hot chocolate and after the first sip it was easy to see why. Creamy and delicious with that fresh aftertaste, perfection! If you like mint, be sure to try their Otway Green Tree Frogs, made from white chocolate and what tasted like tiny pieces of jellied mint, and their mint and chocolate hot chocolate was by far the best thing I drank all weekend!
They also support local producers and sell an array of jerkies, jams, sauces and other treats. Jason will eagerly urge you to try the bacon jam – a sweet chutney with bacon chunks. My travel buddy, Katherine, quickly bought a jar.
1432 Princetown Road, Cooriemungle
Be sure to stop by…
The best thing about the food trail is that you can customise it! I ran out of time and so didn’t have the chance to stop at a few of the producers, including;
- Schulz Organic Farms – milk, cream, cheese and… beauty products? All made from fresh Friesian and Jersey dairy farm.
- Scotts Creek Saffron – one of the most delicate and delicious spices in the world!
- Aldo’s Olives – table olives and olive oil, including delectable garlic and chilli marinated oils.
- Spence Australia – while not part of the food trail, they are located in Port Campbell and the perfect place to pick up an Aussie-made souvenir or a delightful gift.
While you are on the road…
12 Apostles Food Trail
Click here to see the full 12 Apostles Food Trail map.
How to get around: While I recommend you rent a car to drive the 12 Apostles Food Trail, I’ve been told that Timboon Taxi’s conduct tours of the trail, along with speciality cheese tour and Great Ocean Walk transfers. To find out more information, ring +61 (0)438 407 777
Where to stay on the Great Ocean Road:
The Great Ocean Road is long and while you can see parts of it in a day, it’s best experienced over a few days. I’d recommend a minimum over two but three or four is best.
Recommended accommodation in Port Campbell;
- Anchors Port Campbell – luxury self-contained villas set just outside Port Campbell. The villas include full kitchen facilities and a spa bath.
- Waves Port Campbell – large comfortable modern accommodation in the centre of Port Campbell, each with a balcony or court area. Be sure to try their on-site restaurant, Waves Cafe Bar & Restaurant, for delicious meals and Devonshire teas!.
How to get to the Great Ocean Road and Port Campbell:
The Great Ocean Road is 243 km long and winds through dozens of towns between Torquay and Allansford, a small town near Warrnambool – the largest town on the Great Ocean Road.All of the activities mentioned in this post are centred around Port Campbell, just a few minutes drive from The 12 Apostles.
All of the activities mentioned in this post are centred around Port Campbell, just a few minutes drive from The 12 Apostles.
To get to Port Campbell, the best way is to rent a car and drive! Renting a car gives you the flexibility to go where you want to go when you want to go without restrictions.
I would say that the drive is of moderate difficulty – while drivers of all levels will be able to drive it, be aware of a few tight bends and plenty of one-way each way roads which may make some drivers uncomfortable.
Remember: keep to the left and, if you feel uncomfortable on one-way roads, pull off to let vehicles pass you. With those two tips, you’ll be fine!
You can also take the train to Geelong (multiple services daily) and then a bus (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s) to Port Campbell. Click here to see the full Great Ocean Road bus timetable.
Click here to discover more ways to travel to the Great Ocean Road!
I visited Port Campbell as a guest of Visit Great Ocean Road,
but I do visit the Great Ocean Road a few times each year for personal trips.
All thoughts, opinions and copious amounts of cheese consumers were, as always, my own.