From knockout coastal views to acres of established gardens, these country beer gardens, courtyards and decks are prime summer road trip destinations.
A 10-minute drive from Wonthaggi, the tiny town of Archies Creek is home to a beer garden that has lazy, sunny afternoons written all over it. The easygoing charm of Archies Couch makes it a favourite with locals and visitors alike who can be found kicking back in the beer garden, often catching a band or DJ set on the outdoor stage. The unpretentious menu champions local producers such as Bass River Dairies and Annie's Angus, a beef farm that shares a back fence with the venue. The 100 per cent local wine list namechecks some of Gippsland's best including Dirty Three Wines and Fleet Wines, with ales from Loch Brewery & Distillery, Ocean Reach Brewery and Little Gippsland Brewery. Visitors who get a little too acquainted with Gippsland drops can crash at Archies Couch. Well not on the couch, but in one of the simple rooms available from $89 a night.
89-91 Archies Creek Road, Archies Creek, 03 5678 7344, archiescouch.com.au
A Surf Coast gem found in the Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club, Captain Moonlite offers enviable ocean views from its clifftop perch, sans the dated decor found in so many surf clubs. The outdoor areas of the Euro-inspired bar and eatery are the ideal setting to enjoy a relaxed lunch while watching the waves roll in. Matt Germanchis (ex Pei Modern and MoVida) has created a menu packed with Mediterranean flavours (saganaki, calamari and tzatziki all feature) complemented by an all-Victorian wine list with pours from near (Moorabool Valley, Bellarine Peninsula) and far (Beechworth, Grampians and beyond). Don't feel like driving home? A renovated, two-bedroom beach house named 'Moonliters' has you covered.
100 Great Ocean Road, Anglesea, 03 5263 2454, captainmoonlite.com.au
A rustic weatherboard exterior, wraparound veranda, and rumours of a resident ghost – Trentham's Cosmopolitan Hotel has all the hallmarks of a good country pub. But the Cosmo has something else up its sleeve; an acre of heritage gardens perfect for a slow-paced lunch in the sun. While the Cosmo's comfy dining room is popular during winter, the beer garden is undoubtedly the place to be when the sun's out. Whether enjoyed outside or in, the menu of elevated pub classics (burgers, steaks and wood-fired pizzas) makes the most of neighbouring producers such as Istra Smallgoods, Barfold Olives and Sher Wagyu. Drops from local winemakers Paramoor, Granite Hills and Kyneton Ridge are best savoured under the elm trees that have stood for a century.
21 High Street, Trentham, 03 5424 1516, thecosmopolitanhotel.com.au
When the sun's shining, there's plenty of space to spread out at Daylesford Cider. While the cosy tavern gets a workout during winter, the picture-perfect lawn and landscaped gardens are the best pick for an afternoon of tasting award-winning cider made from 17 different English heritage cider apple varieties, all grown in the farm's orchard. From sparkling cider to wild fermented cider (and non-alcoholic cider for designated drivers), stretching out on the lawn with a tasting paddle is how to do summer right.
155 Dairy Flat Road, Musk, 03 5348 2275, daylesfordcider.com.au
Forrest Brewing Company is a cyclist haunt. Photo: Forrest
Forrest Brewing Company
On the edge of the Otways, this microbrewery, cafe and cyclist hangout boasts some of the state's best mountain bike trails nearby. Sit on repurposed tree stumps outside and soak up some sunshine while sampling the hand bottled and labelled ales that put the timber town of Forrest back on the map. Make a weekend of it and stay in the Brewer's Cottage.
26 Grant Street, Forrest, 03 5236 6170, forrestbrewing.com.au
Faded beer signage on the exterior of the Inverleigh Hotel. Photo: Supplied
Only 20 minutes inland from Geelong, the Inverleigh Hotel is a cracking bluestone pub known for serving hearty meals a cut above your average pub fare. Surrounded by fertile farmland, the extensive menu focuses on premium ingredients such as Mount Mercer Pork, SageFarm grass-fed beef and free-range Caravan Eggs. Built in 1856, the hotel has kept its heritage charm. Sit on a deckchair under the front veranda or head to the beer garden to enjoy lunch and a game of giant Jenga under the shade of peppercorn trees.
1 High Street, Inverleigh, 03 5265 1220, inverleighhotel.com.au
Tables on the boardwalk outside the Metung Hotel. Photo: Supplied
Occupying prime real estate in the Gippsland Lakes village of Metung, there are plenty of good vantage points at the Metung Hotel. A laidback spot for a long lunch or afternoon beer in the sun, you'll see everyone from holidaying families to local anglers at this sprawling, waterfront pub. Book a table at the bistro to enjoy local fish, prawns and scallops with views of Bancroft Bay or nab a table on the boardwalk to sink a few beers right by the water. Kids and Storm Boy fans will enjoy watching the pelicans being fed at noon, while boat owners can take advantage of free mooring at the hotel's jetty. Don't own a boat? Hire a runabout or arrive in style aboard a water taxi. If you're in holiday mode, avoid the drive home by staying overnight in one of the hotel's simple rooms.
Kurnai Avenue, Metung, 03 5156 2206, metunghotel.com.au
The Wandi Pub
Six kilometres from the alpine township of Bright, the friendly Wandi Pub's huge, shady beer garden is a popular pitstop for road-trippers exploring north east Victoria. A menu rich with produce from surrounding areas is matched by a strong list of local wines from Rutherglen, Milawa, Alpine Valley and King Valley. Bands play regularly on the pub's small stage so make a weekend of it and stay onsite in the self-contained apartment from $110 a night.
580 Morses Creek Road, Wandiligong, 03 5750 1050, thewandipub.com