One of the most satisfying thrills of a road trip around the compact state of Victoria is happening across a tiny-town that is full of surprises.
These tiny towns may have a population less than 1000, but they pack a punch in other ways.
Punches above its weight for: Gourmet hot spot
Vibe: Rural and welcoming
Known for artisan producers and such as Timboon Distillery which makes aged whisky and gin, and Timboon Ice-Cream for their natural premium ice cream. They are joined by producers of organic yoghurt, classic French cheeses, milk, butter and honey . There is also a pick-your-own fresh strawberry farm. Timboon is a feature of the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail which takes up a 70km loop from Port Campbell. It punches well above its weight with award-winning produce and gourmet treats suitable for the most discerning traveller.
Punches above its weight for: spirited welcome
Vibe: quaint and crafty
The picturesque village of Loch sits in a valley surrounded by lush green undulating mountains. The one street town is home to Loch Distillery and Brewery which produces small batch gin, beer and whisky; Olive café, offering home-style baked goods and a carefully curated selection of homewares, crafts, candles, cookbooks, confectionery and collectables; as well as organic goods store and café Udder and Hoe. Perfectly located for a coffee break for those venturing further into Gippsland – but also enough to keep visitors overnight.
3. Fish Creek
Punches above its weight for: quirky arts
Vibe: eclectic and surprising
Fish Creek is a quirky and arty town in Gippsland, on the way from Melbourne to popular Wilsons Promontory. It has an unusually high number of art and craft outlets including ‘Ride the Wild Goat’ and ‘Gecko Studio Gallery’ on Falls Road. The iconic Fish Creek Hotel (1939) is a magnificent Art Deco building located in the heart of Fish Creek. The giant fish sculpture which adorns its roof by artist Colin Suggett is a favourite of locals and visitors alike.
Punches above its weight for: flora and fauna
Vibe: Port-side chill
A fishing town away from the crowds on other parts of Phillip Island, Rhyll has a laid-back vibe and its mangrove boardwalk is a haven for pelicans, black swans, gulls and straw-necked ibis and all manner of migratory wading birds from Rhyll Inlet and wetlands. Royal spoonbills, little pied cormorants and the rare hooded plover visit annually to feed and breed. Echidnas can also regularly be seen walking along the roads and around the campsite.
Punches above its weight for: antique hunting
Vibe: Retro country cool
Inglewood lies at the heart of Victoria’s golden triangle encompassing some of the richest alluvial goldfields in the world. It is surrounded by bush and in particular the Blue Malle Eucalyptus tree, known locally as the ‘Blue Eucy’. The town is a step back in time, its main street lined with Victorian era shop and cafes. The six or more antique and opportunity shops that line street provide hours – if not days – worth of happy hunting for visitors into collectibles, antiques or a good bargain. Inglewood Butchers on the main street produces quality grass fed Angus beef direct from the farm and it is sold in the best restaurants in Victoria.
6. Port Campbell
Punches above its weight for: big nature
Vibe: seaside chic
As the town closet to the famous 12 Apostles, one could be forgiven for assuming Port Campbell could be uncomfortably full, yes it’s the closest township to the big landmarks of the Great Ocean Road, including Loch Ard Gorge, the Gibson Steps, and the serene Bay of Islands, but, during the winter months, the colourful seaside village is a laid back home to restaurants and cafes with views of the beach, bakeries selling homemade goodies, and plenty of vibrant shops and galleries to explore. Sheltered by cliffs and Norfolk pines, the town has the atmosphere of a safe haven on the edge of wild nature.