How to live like the locals in the western end of the Great Ocean Road region

How to live like the locals in the western end of the Great Ocean Road region

Travelling somewhere new is a thrilling adventure. Nothing beats the rush of arriving somewhere for the first time, understanding what life looks like over there, and visiting all the must-see attractions. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist–but what if you want to go deeper?

To travel like a local means discovering all the lesser known hidden gems and immersing yourself in the local know-how. It means eating, drinking, shopping and playing where locals do. It can be tricky when you don’t know where to start, so luckily, we’re here to help!

South West Victoria truly has it all, from enchanting inland country towns with rolling green hillsides, to breathtaking coastlines with dramatic ocean views. But when you look beyond the surface, it’s so much more than that.

The best way to truly experience the South West is to stray off the beaten path, and see it through the eyes of locals who have lived and loved it there for years.


Discover the best places in the South West to score a satisfying bite, tried and tested by locals of the area.

Element Cafe and Larder in Casterton

Nestled in the main street of Casterton, you’ll find this beautiful cafe that perfectly balances old-school charm with a quality, elevated selection of delicious foods available for dine-in or takeaway. Pull up a seat on one of the many outdoor tables and you’ll join smiling locals relishing the sunshine and tucking into their regular meal. With plenty of other local businesses to explore along the street, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a slice of Casterton living.

Heywood Bakery

Nothing says local like a well-loved bakery. Adored by residents and passer-bys, this charming bakery is the perfect pitstop anyone after a hearty meal. It offers a full range of traditional bakery product including pies, pasties, sausage rolls and a large range of cakes and slices, as well as full meals to eat in or take away. If you’re looking for that perfect mouth-watering, eyes-rolling, sleeve-wiping and happiness-inducing meat pie to attack… then look no further.

Coffin Sally Pizza in Port Fairy

No road trip is complete without a good ol’ traditional pizza. Housed inside a 19th century building with a cosy, rustic interior, Coffin Sally is anything but inauthentic. Think thin-crust, Italian-style pizza bursting with the intense flavours only found in ingredients sourced from local suppliers. After you’ve no doubt overindulged, wash it all down with a pick of over 30 craft beers or a delicious drop from the local wine list. You’ll find locals snuggled up by the crackling fire during winter, or soaking up the summer sun in the adorable courtyard.


There’s plenty of trendy destinations to sit back and relax with your favourite beverage in hand. Check out the places below and treat yourself to some of the finest tipples in town.

Suffoir Winery in Macarthur

Family owned and operated, Suffoir is a winery, brewery, cidery and distillery set in a beautiful country landscape. Enjoy your beverage as you listen to the tranquil chatter of animal life residing on the property.

Suffoir exclusively makes Pinot Noir, however since the establishment of their gin distillery, it has taken off and now takes up most of their production. The lovely owners truly make you feel a part of the family from the moment you step inside, and are more than happy to faciliate a wine tasting at the Cellar Door, or help treat you to the full ‘Wine in the Vines’ experience as you privately drink and dine in the heart of the picturesque vineyard.

Groke Burgers in Portland

Portland’s #1 burger and cocktail bar, Groke Burgers has much more to offer than simply what the name suggests. Located in the heart of Portland, Groke offers an extensive selection of rotating craft beers plus delicious cocktails made with premium spirits. Sit back and sip on your beverage of choice with a beautiful view of the bay, or hide away in their groovy courtyard and admire the vibrant pop-art decorating the walls.

Casterton Distillery

You can’t pass through town without calling into the Casterton Distilling Co. It’s a small batch craft gin distillery located in the historical Albion Hotel, where the entire distilling process is completed from start to finish on-site. Carefully sourced local botanicals are used when crafting the spirits, and you can spend time with the distiller to learn more about how the premium gins come to life. There’s a viewing area of production and tastings are available–or if you want to learn to distil like a pro, enrol in the gin distilling master class and take home a personalised bottle of your unique gin blend!


Locals of the South West are never short of activities to fill their day, from action-packed pursuits through to mindful moments of calm.

Surf at Cape Bridgewater

Not only are the beaches in Cape Bridgewater spectacular to look at, but there are plenty of spots to join the locals on their daily surf and catch some waves. If you’re an experienced surfer, you might want to check out breaks like Blacks Beach, Whites Beach or Shelly Beach. If you’re new to surfing and want to splash around in some mellow waters, try Bridgewater Bay or The Hole when the swell is small.

Tower Hill Hike

Victoria’s largest dormant volcano, Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve offers ample walking routes for all abilities against the stunning backdrop of a large volcanic crater. From easy scenic strolls, through to steep climbs sure to raise the heart rate, you’re guaranteed to feel restored after spending your day completely immersed in nature. Join the locals on their daily laps to the top and back, and get to know the other kind that dwell among the native flora… emus, echidnas, koalas, and the rest!

Fish at Port of Portland

There’s plenty of spots to pull out the camping chair and cast a line at Port of Portland. The Lee Breakwater is open to the public and forms the northern boundary of the harbour at 1179 metres long. The Lee Breakwater is enjoyed by many members of the angling diving and local community, so it’s the perfect opportunity to spend an evening like a true local. What’s more, you don’t have to fish to enjoy the Port–park the car, grab some snacks, and settle in for a relaxing evening as you listen to the waves and watch the sun slip away behind the horizon.

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.