Pubs tell you a lot about a place. Whether they're grand, rustic or somewhere in between, you'll find many offer great meals, a selection of local wines and beer, and the kind of friendly welcome only a country pub can provide. In the case of the six pubs below, they also offer something quite different.
So if you’re bored with your local, or keen to experience some country hospitality, grab your designated driver and check out these great pubs, all within three hours drive from the Melbourne CBD.
* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.
Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld
At the southern edge of the Grampians National Park, in the tiny township of Dunkeld, you’ll find the Royal Mail Hotel, one of Australia’s great gastro pubs. In 1944, fires destroyed one third of the buildings in the Dunkeld township and the Royal Mail is one of the surviving buildings.
Enjoy stunning views of the Grampians, you can wander the pub’s 1.2 hectare kitchen garden. or check out the award-winning wine cellar that holds 28,000 bottles.
For food, there's the high-end restaurant Wickens, offering degustation menus that take produce from the kitchen garden and turn it into world class cuisine. More casual dining can also be had at the pub’s other restaurant, the Parker Street Project.
Gold Mines Hotel, Bendigo
This rambling two-story pub sits on 1.2 acres, across the road from Bendigo’s historic Victoria Hill Mine site. While Bendigo has no shortage of pubs – it is said that during the gold rush there were 20 people for every pub, many of which remain today - this beautiful historic spot is worth a visit, whether you sit inside the rooms that hark back to yesteryear (or around the fireplace if you go in winter) or outside in the gardens on a hot summer night.