In fabulous news for Victorians, Bendigo and the Central Victoria region was last week announced as Australia’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. In celebration, this extremely indulgent road trip itinerary passes through the tasty locations of Trentham, Daylesford and Kyneton before heading north to the heart of it all, Bendigo. It’s bound to please even the most critical of foodies.
NB: strategic fasting is strongly recommended the day prior to allow ultimate enjoyment of the various dining and tasting opportunities.
Length: 2 Days, 1 Night
Day One - Morning
Departing Melbourne, the most efficient route to take is along National Highway M8 and the C141. After a journey time of approx. 1.5 hours, road-trippers will enter the stunning town of Daylesford, nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and widely known for its natural mineral springs. Aim to arrive around breakfast-time, but resist the various temptations of the main drag and instead take a right towards the Botanic Gardens to discover Cliffy’s Emporium. 30 Raglan St, Daylesford
Despite recent renovations, the café retains a rustic charm and is undoubtedly one of the cutest in Daylesford. What’s more, it’s a haven for foodies who will appreciate the proud dedication to local Victorian produce. Enjoy goat’s cheese from Meredith’s Dairy, mineral water from Spring Creek, smallgoods from Country Style (Ballarat) and eggs from the truly free-range Honest Eggs Co, where less than 50 chooks roam per average sized AFL ground. And don’t forget to skim the shelves of the Emporium for an assortment of delectable jams, piccalilli, honey, gherkins and much more before jumping back behind the wheel.
By now, it’ll be nearing mid-morning (and let’s face it, it’s midday somewhere!) so let’s head to the next stop on the itinerary, which is Daylesford Cider Company. Only a ten-minute drive from Cliffy’s, their English Tavern-style cellar-door is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm, doling out a range of organically fermented apple ciders to drink in or take home. The established orchard features 17 varieties of heritage listed English cider apples, meaning their ciders range in flavour from sweet, bittersweet to sharp – all made from 100% fresh apples. (Daylesford Cider Company) 155 Dairy Flat Rd, Musk
Continue south-east on the C317 and after a 13-minute drive arrive at the Lyonville Mineral Springs. Take a moment to rehydrate and fill up a bottle of fresh mineral water before driving on to the majestic Trentham Falls, one of the longest single drop falls in Victoria. Take an easy walk from the carpark to the viewing area for the best view of the 32m plunge or choose one of the more challenging walking tracks in the surrounding forest.
Just around the corner, the enchanting town of Trentham is tiny but punches above its weight when it comes to food experiences. Red Beard Historic Bakery is one of the few bakers in Victoria that retains an old Scotch oven and this is evident in the quality of the fresh bread. Red Beard's simple doughs of organic flours, salt and water are hand-shaped using traditional techniques, natural fermentation and wood fired baking. Pick up a loaf as you pass through to enjoy later on in the evening alongside one of those ciders. (Red Beard Historic Bakery) Wolff Ln, Trentham
A true highlight of this region – and Trentham – is Annie Smithers’ French-style farmhouse kitchen, du Fermier. The dishes here change every weekend and revolve around ingredients that are being harvested from the garden or taken from the store cupboard. Du Fermier is open for lunch Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and the menu is a very reasonable $80per person. Be sure to book ahead. There’s a new Chocolatier in town too, make sure to drop in to Atelier Chocolat to pick up some of Laetitia Hoffmann’s carefully crafted sweet treats to take home to friends and family. (du Fermier) 42 High St, Trentham , (Atelier Chocolat) 16 Market St, Trentham
Day One - Afternoon
Given spring is all about rediscovering the great outdoors, it’s now time to let lunch digest while exploring part of the Daylesford – Macedon Flower Trail. Marvel at the beauty of Tylden Farm, Acre Of Roses and Spring Hill Peony Farm before arriving in Kyneton, the perfect place to spend the night.
Mollisons boutique accommodation is centrally located in Kyneton, a magnificent property just a short walk from Piper Street. This is a great place to base from, allowing for exploration of the town on foot after a long day of driving. (Mollisons) 116-118 Mollison St, Kyneton
Park the car for the afternoon and take a left down Piper Street to Animus Distillery. Sink into one of the sumptuous Chesterfield Lounges while sampling a flight of premium small-batch handcrafted gin. Those more into their wine can stroll just a few minutes to Musk Lane Wines. Opened in June 2019, Musk Lane blurs the lines between Cellar Door, Neighbourhood Wine Bar and Beer Garden with all wines available by the glass or to take home. (Animus Distillery) 1/89A Piper St, Kyneton, (Musk Lane Wines) 1 Turner's Lane, Kyneton
There are various excellent dinner options in Kyneton for those who still have an appetite. Both Source Dining and Midnight Starling were awarded One Hat in the 2020 Age Good Food Guide and are conveniently located on Piper Street. (Source Dining) 72 Piper St, Kyneton, (Midnight Starling) 60 Piper St, Kyneton
Day Two - Morning
After a restful night’s sleep with a full and happy belly, it’s time to take the road north to Bendigo. Having just been announced as a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO, this regional hot-spot should be top of the list for all food aficionados. The designation recognises the rich concentration of food and wine culture in the region, with the award highlighting indigenous food culture particularly.
Located in the heart of Bendigo’s art precinct within a classic camera shop, Ghosty Toasty opens at 10am on a Sunday and provides an excellent cure for a sore head from too many wine samples the night before. With freshly baked sourdough, they serve a range of comforting celebrity-oriented toasted sandwiches that range from the Vin Cheezel to the Salami L Jackson. (Ghosty Toasty) 35 View St, Bendigo
Even the hungriest foodie occasionally needs an optional break from eating, so below are two options of day tours that showcase some of the most interesting cultural sights of Bendigo.
Option #1: Bendigo Street Art Tour
Kicking off with a much-needed coffee (Ghosty Toasties can be nap inducing) and some sticker designing at Get Naked Espresso, this unique tour provides insider knowledge of the local street art scene. Led by a local artist from Nacho Station Artist Collective, the Bendigo Street Art Tour shows visitors the true city, taking them to some of the hidden gems that they might otherwise never know existed. It costs $35pp and the next available tour is on Saturday, 16 November.
Option #2: Food Fossicking Tours
Commencing at Mister Grimsby Coffee at 9:30am, this guided tour gives visitors a taste of Bendigo’s finest local cuisine, while also teaching them about the history and culture of the city through the eyes of its producers. Expect to see some intriguing venues, from The Good Loaf to Indulge Fine Belgian Chocolates and even a behind-the-scenes peek at Bendigo’s Historic Post Office. It’s here that guests will enjoy tastings with a local winemaker alongside a seasonal platter from Pepper Green Farm. Price is $75pp and the next available tour is Saturday, 14 December 2019.
Both tours conclude around lunchtime so why not finish off this indulgent weekend with a meal at Masons of Bendigo, which is a fine option for a long lunch. One of the most critically acclaimed restaurants in the city, it’s a crowd favourite for great value and share-style dishes – especially worth a try is their Roaming Menu ($75 for dinner and just $37.50 for lunch). Masons is proud to highlight indigenous food culture, using indigenous teas made by a young, school-aged woman from the Dja Dja Wurrung clan. (Masons of Bendigo) 25 Queen St, Bendigo
Day Two - Afternoon
From Bendigo, it’s just under a two-hour drive back to Melbourne along the Calder Freeway, although there are many additional places that are worth a glance on the way home including Mount Macedon, Castlemaine, Hanging Rock and Woodend, each which boasts excellent produce and scenery.
If that’s not an option this time around, all the more reason to start planning another visit to the region..