Wye Beach Hotel
THEY say it's 99 steps from the beach to the bar, where a 180-degree outlook offers one of Victoria's greatest water views. Frequented by locals, nearby caravan park guests and those touring along the Great Ocean Road, much of the pub fare befits the view. Seafood dishes include a lovely pan-fried salmon fillet on pea puree, sauteed vegetables and saffron broth. Think local and order a beer or cider from the Otway's own Prickly Moses property. Four comfortable ocean-view rooms with private verandahs promise a fabulous sunrise.
19-21 Great Ocean Road, Wye River, 5289 0240; open daily. wyebeachhotel.com.au
The Stanley Pub
IT'S a good bet that a pub surrounded by apple, chestnut and berry farms is going to have a menu that's hard to drive past. Diners have been known to travel across state lines for the apple tarte tatin. The brined quail with picked heirloom carrots and Mount Zero olives is a great place to start and the beer garden, under the protection of a giant willow tree, is the best place to graze. Two French provincial-style guest rooms are available and owners Shane and Annemarie Harris will make you welcome. The pub, 10 minutes from Beechworth, also produces its own jams and olives.
6-12 Myrtleford-Stanley Road, Stanley, 5728 6502; dinner Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm and lunch Thursday to Sunday from noon. stanleypub.com.au
Tooborac Hotel and Brewery
THIS 150-year-old bluestone pub, 100 kilometres north of Melbourne, could easily be a day trip but with all the award-winning brews on offer, made in the inviting shed out the back, it makes sense to stay the night. The miner's cottage attached to the hotel suits couples, while the three bedroom house out the back accommodates larger groups. Owners and husband-and-wife team Valerie and James Carlin live upstairs and describe the place as ''an old-fashioned pub with town's modern ideas''. Their rabbit pie is a mainstay for the population of about 200, and the menu features seasonal ingredients sourced nearby.
5115 Northern Highway, Tooborac, 5433 5201; open daily for lunch and dinner. tooborachotel.com.au
Fish Creek Hotel
LICENSEE Amy Robson made a ''pub-change'', having owned a Collingwood local before venturing south three years ago. With a name such as Fish Creek - and given the giant fish gracing the roof - you'd be forgiven for assuming seafood would be king, but it's all about lamb in the dining room. Sourced locally, the three-point lamb rack on artichoke mash is a local favourite. After your meal, head to the front bar and mingle with the locals under exposed ceiling beams, before spending the night in one of the nine retro-style motel rooms at the back of the property.
1 Old Waratah Road, Fish Creek, 5683 2404; open daily. fishcreekhotel.com.au
Radio Springs Hotel
IT TOOK 11 years for owners Ken Parfrey and Jackie Airey to fully renovate this central Victorian classic. It was worth the wait. An old-school country front bar, comfy lounges and open fires give it a homely feel, while band members chat between sets. Jackie is on hand to guide guests through the acres of garden dotted with the odd film projector, a remnant from Ken's days as owner of Carlton's Cinema Nova. It's a tag-team kitchen, with a Thai chef on Thursdays (the chive dumplings are a must) and an Italian chef thereafter. Four rooms with en suites are available and the historic verandah is ideal for sampling local wines at sunset.
Corner of High and Main streets, Lyonville, 5348 5562; dinner Thursday, lunch and dinner Friday-Sunday. radiospringshotel.com.au