Port Fairy is one of those rare holiday finds – a town with a great beach that is still super laid-back and underdeveloped, but with enough of a foodie scene that you are guaranteed a weekend of great eating.
It’s an excellent spot to base yourself if you’re driving the Great Ocean Road and you’re keen to see the Twelve Apostles.
We spent a long weekend there scouting the best restaurants, bars, and beaches. Here’s where to go.
Where to eat
I am a foodie, so this section will make up the backbone of this list. Dig in …
This is an absolute stand-out and is one of the best meals we’ve ever had in regional Victoria. Do yourself a favour and book a meal at the Merrijig Kitchen immediately. Walk through the doors of Victoria’s oldest inn and you’ll immediately feel at home. The staff treats you like family, and the food – my goodness the food. It’s outstanding. They use fresh local ingredients and are super passionate about what they do (there is also an excellent sommelier who will take you on a wild and tipsy journey if you give him the green light).
It’s also exceptional value – we had an $80pp set menu when we went.
They also have a great beer garden and excellent looking accommodation if you’re looking for lodgings. www.merrijiginn.com
This pizzeria / bar has a cracking ambience for a casual dinner with pals. Their pizzas are top-notch and they have a cocktail and wine list that is great fun to explore.
Conlan’s Wine Store
Sadly this was closed the weekend we went there, but a foodie friend who lives nearby swears this place has some of the best food and tipple in town. www.conlanswinestore.com.au
For a cocktail: Ministry of Ombibulous Studies
Curl up in the dimly lit bar with a stand-out negroni in the winter months, or watch the world go buy at a table out the front in summer. They do a seriously good martini with anchovy stuffed olives. www.ombibulousstudies.com.au
Where to stay
The Oak & Anchor Hotel – which was established in 1857 – has recently had a fresh makeover and the boutique accommodation upstairs is absolutely gorgeous. There are seven light-filled bedrooms suites to choose from and each has been decked out with beautiful designer furnishings. And the best thing about staying above a hotel? You can nip down and have a cold ale in the beer garden downstairs whenever the urge takes you.
Where to swim
East Beach is super popular as it is fairly safe and has long stretches of sand. It has waves that are perfect for people learning to surf. But our favourite is the oddly named Pea Soup – a beautiful sheltered cove with rock pools and calm water perfect for snorkelling.
Where to see emus
Because let’s face it, emus rule. Take a short drive to Tower Hill, one of Victoria’s oldest dormant volcanoes, and set off on a little walk (you’ll probably need it after all that good food). This area has a rich Indigenous history and you can do a guided tour. Bonus is: you’ll most likely see emus chilling in the wild.
How to get there
It’s about a three-hour drive from Melbourne. Our recommendation – if you are into food – is to do a bit of a loop and drive the coastal route in one direction, and come back via the Grampians and eat at the stunning Wickens restaurant at Dunkeld (stay the night at the Royal Mail Hotel), and have Sunday lunch at The Bunyip Hotel in Cavendish (which we have previously raved about).
This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com