Home to beautiful beaches, rugged coastal walks, limestone caves, and luxe hot springs, Gippsland is a region of great diversity. This vast part of Victoria is also a playground for producers and, unsurprisingly, a place where you’re never far from a great feed. In Gippsland, you can head straight to the source and tuck into fresh fruit and veggies showcased in a slew of wholesome dishes, from pastries and pasta to sourdough and sardine toast.
Following Melbourne Food and Wine Festival's successful regional edition (which celebrated the best of Gippsland), we teamed up with Visit Victoria to chat to Australian culinary legend Adam Liaw. Here, the passionate foodie and father shares where to go for a no-fuss feed in Gippsland, the spots his kids would love to visit, and hidden gems for flaky pastries.
How would you describe the food scene in Gippsland?
The Gippsland food scene is one of the best in the country, but it’s exciting because it’s very much a community of producers. Rather than just a few producers making high-quality stuff, it’s extremely high quality across the board. There’s a community ecosystem in Gippsland, meaning restaurants support producers and producers support restaurants. Everywhere you go there's a real pride in the regional produce that has a kind of multiplying effect, where the range of things produced keeps getting more interesting and the quality keeps getting better.
Wilsons Prom, Victoria
You’re on a family road trip—where are the kids begging you to take them?
My kids saw a few episodes of my Great Australian Bites series that I filmed with Poh earlier in the year and the absolute top of their list is Wilsons Promontory National Park. They love beaches and the water—and the park has stunning turquoise water and sand dunes, as well as local wildlife and hikes. The kids also really want to visit the Coal Creek Community Park and Museum in Korumburra because they’re really into history.
Wilsons Prom Beach, Victoria
What’s your drink of choice in the Gippsland region?
I love the chardonnay and pinot noirs from Dirty Three Wines—they have a cellar door you can visit in Inverloch, too. They remind me of a lot of the excellent examples from Bourgogne. I recently had a lovely sparkling pinot from Glenmaggie Wines—it was a perfect match with some venison I ate.
It’s your mate’s birthday—where are you settling in for a long lunch?
Definitely Hogget Kitchen in Warragul. Trevor Perkins’ food is exceptional and the atmosphere is just incredible. The view from the dining room over the vineyards has to be one of the best marriages of kitchen, dining room and ambience in the country.
Hogget Kitchen, Warragul
When you’re looking for a no-fuss feed, where do you go?
The Borough Dept. Store in Korumburra is a beautiful café that has great food, lovely tea and coffee, a calming and stylish atmosphere, and really lovely staff. It’s a favourite of mine.
The Borough Dept. Store, Korumburra
What do you always pick up to take home with you from Gippsland?
The last thing I brought home with me was a pack of local goodies (many of which are available from community markets) with eggs from Forge Creek Free Range, some Tambo Valley Honey, sourdough from Seasalt Sourdough and Gippsland Jersey butter. These kinds of packs are great because they give you a taste of just how connected so many of the regional producers are. After the bushfires, a lot of these producers banded together to support the community and the community supported them right back.
What does your perfect day in the region look like?
I’m probably biting off more than I can chew here, I'd likely need a whole week to explore everything on my Gippsland wishlist. First, I’d wake up from camping in Wilsons Prom with a quick bit of fishing as the sun rises. Then, pack up the tent and head with the family to Tarra-Bulga National Park for some bushwalking to see the waterfalls. Next up, I'd take a scenic drive to Ninety Mile Beach for a swim and some fish and chips for lunch on the beach. Then, a winery or two—say Lightfoot Wines—on the way to Paynesville to finish the day with a leisurely dinner at Sardine Dining.
Sardine Dining, Paynesville
Which venue is Gippsland’s best-kept secret?
The Invy Baker in Inverloch makes some fantastic pastries—the Swedish-style cinnamon and cardamom buns are my favourite. It's a favourite in Inverloch. You can pick them up at the Inverloch Community Farmers Market on the last Sunday of each month, or at the Loch Grocer in Loch. If you ask the locals in Inverloch, they’ll tell you Gippsland’s best-kept secret is Tomo’s Japanese Inverloch on A'Beckett Street.
The Invy Baker, Inverloch
Finally, tell us about the best dish you’ve eaten in the region.
I had a great meal at Trulli Restaurant in Meeniyan while I was there for the local garlic festival. The atmosphere is so important in a meal, and Trulli really felt like the essence of casual Southern Italian hospitality. There were plenty of great dishes, but the highlight was probably the cavatelli with broccoli rabe—a simple dish executed fantastically well.
Editor’s note: this article was produced in partnership with Visit Victoria as part of the "Stay close, go further" campaign. Thank you for supporting the partners who make Urban List possible. To read our editorial policy, click here.