From the coast to the state border here are five breakfast spots worth a mid-morning pit stop.
Go-to dish: Bacon steak and scrambled eggs.
Why: Even if you're not just back from a surf, the sea air stokes a fierce appetite. It's sure to be sated by the thick-cut kaiserfleisch and creamy scramble piled over sourdough ($15) at this surf club eatery. Chef Matt Germanchis brings fine dining finesse to everything so this outstandingly simple brunch is morning magic.
The experience: Captain Moonlite's takeover of the old Anglesea Surf Lifesaving Club is as sensitive as it is delicious. If clemency or crowds keep you from the deck overlooking the surf you can sit inside among honour boards and old salt paraphernalia. Breakfast runs till 10.30am but if seaside brunch turns into a lazy afternoon affair, the Captain comes through with easy snacks such as croquettes and grilled cheese. It's all classy stuff.
100 Great Ocean Road, Anglesea, 03 5263 2454, captainmoonlite.com.au
Bean Station Cafe
Go-to dish: Apple and rhubarb crumble hot cakes.
Why: Blow-out brunches don't come more beautiful or balanced than these fluffy hotcakes ($18.90), topped with vanilla ice-cream and candied rhubarb. Pistachio crumble and a pour-your-own pitcher of burnt caramel custard add to the brilliance of this border-town beauty.
The experience: There's an optimistic feeling at this indoor-outdoor cafe which is part of the Junction Square redevelopment of the old railway station. Sunny days on the platform with cold drip, corn-and-carrot fritters and a canine companion make a Wodonga weekend.
Wodonga Railway Station, Elgin Boulevard, Wodonga, 02 6056 5006, beanstationcafewodonga.com.au
Kombucha overnight oats with coconut yoghurt at Bendigo Wholefoods Kitchen. Photo: Supplied
Bendigo Wholefoods Kitchen
Go-to dish: Kombucha overnight oats.
Where: Bendigo Wholefoods Kitchen, Bendigo.
Why: If someone had to think of soaking oats in kombucha it might as well be the modern hippies at Wholefoods. Their spin on bircher muesli ($16.90) is bolstered with shredded apple, raw almonds and coconut yoghurt. The fact that it's vegan and low-carb is noted on the menu (as are FODMAP, keto and gluten-free options).
The experience: Part of the sprawling community hub that is Bendigo Wholefoods, the kitchen is seasonal and sustainable in action, using the same produce found in the adjacent foodstore. Flexible, kid-friendly and bursting with good cheer, Wholefoods is also beloved for its breakfast bruschettas ("with delicious dabbles, drizzles and dollops") and build-your-own bowls. Coffee comes every which way, including "bulletproof" with butter and coconut oil and even coffee-free as a wacky "alternate latte" with beetroot, turmeric, matcha and blueberries.
314 Lyttleton Terrace, Bendigo, 03 5443 9492, bendigowholefoods.com.au
Mansfield Coffee Merchant
Go-to dish: Batch brew.
Why: Because your five bucks gets you a bottomless cup of single origin coffee, lightly roasted by owner Mat Picone to bring out the true flavours of the beans. Brewed a litre at a time in a trusty Moccamaster, the coffee has a tea-like consistency, delicate fragrance and sweet flavour profile.
The experience: There's a two-pronged approach here: the large, comfortable cafe and restaurant is a haven for city holidaymakers starting to fear they'd driven beyond the latte-and-sourdough zone. It's also a town hub, thronging with locals and spreading the good word about specialty coffee and next-level brunch using quality produce from nearby High Country farms. Brunch standouts include the chilli eggs with housemade spicy sauce and the ham-and-gruyere croquettes with vegetables pickled on premises.
23 Highett Street, Mansfield, 03 5779 1703, mansfieldcoffeemerchant.com.au
Go-to dish: Acai bowl.
Where: Red Hill.
Why: Not because it's superfood central but because the layered arrangement of acai, chia, nut butter (basically a homemade Nutella), strawberries and goji berries ($12) actually tastes good.
The experience: A lot of restaurants on the Mornington Peninsula are aimed at wine-tripping weekenders. Many Little is more of a local joint, run by the Polperro Wines crew, and using produce from their farm. Sit on the sprawling deck, perch in the bar, or snuggle into a booth in the sleek timbered dining room. It's an all-season place with decent coffee and a why-wouldn't-you approach to morning cocktails. Brunch is a weekend-only offering; if you want more ballast than the acai bowl offers, go the okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) with smoked bacon, poached egg and togarashi pepper.
159 Shoreham Road, Red Hill, 03 5989 2471, manylittle.com.au