Foodies will have a great weekend at the gateway to the Otway Harvest Trail.
Venture inland from the Great Ocean Road to the hidden, gourmet township of Forrest – a half hour drive from Apollo Bay. Just because you’re out in the wild doesn’t mean you have to rough it on the foodie front. Forrest is the gateway to the Otway Harvest Trail – an easy to follow driving route that weaves its way through the lush Otway Ranges to reveal its showcase of some of the state’s best produce.
SATURDAY 11AM: HOT CHOCOLATE BOMBS AT PLATYPI CHOCOLATE
What better way to start the weekend than with the visual feast at Platypi Chocolate. Breathe in the fresh bush air while you sit 5m high in the Otway treetops and cradle a hot chocolate. But not just any hot chocolate, Playtpi are not only famous for their artisan chocolates but also for their signature deconstructed hot chocolate.
Founders Mandy and Michael encourage you to play with your food here. Choose your hot choccie bombs (we chose the milk chocolate and hazelnut chocolate bombs), place it into Platypi’s very own chocolate sauce then pour over the freshly frothed milk to melt the rolling ball of chocolatey goodness. Stir, stir, stir and pop a marshmallow on top for good measure, then sit back and indulge your senses in the comfort of the architecturally designed balcony.
1PM: DINNY GOONAN WINES –THE BOUTIQUE WINERY WITH BIG HOSPITALITY
What this boutique winery might lack in size it makes up for in huge amounts of country hospitality. From the moment you’re welcomed into the cellar door for a free tasting of the award-winning wines or served your informal vineyard platter you feel right at home at this friendly winery.
After a tasting of the 2020 Riesling, 2020 Chardonnay, 2015 Botrytis Semillon, 2020 Pinot Noir and the 2017 Shiraz we chose to sip on a bottle of the 2020 Chardonnay. It’s no wonder this dry but lively white with the refreshing aromas of white flowers, lemons, limes and citrus is also a favourite of James Halliday. It pairs beautifully with the locally sourced cheese platter served alongside the 40 year-old vines. We couldn’t resist taking our glasses for a little stroll through them to say thank you to the grapes for the great work they are doing!
4PM: MILKING AND AWARD-WINNING CHEESEMAKING AT APOSTLE WHEY CHEESE
Watch the magic happen at the sustainable dairy farm of Apostle Whey Cheese. At 4pm every day the specially bred herd of Aussie Red Jersey cows make their leisurely stroll up through their home of 367 acres of rolling green pastures to the milking sheds. Then, see for yourself how this paddock to plate farm works. Dairy farmers and owners, Julian and Denise Benson pipe the pure, quality milk direct to the adjacent boutique cheese factory that then churns it into the award-winning Apostle Whey Cheese.
You can be the judge when you venture inside for a free cheese tasting of their range of hand-made blue, fresh, milk, semi-hard and soft cheeses. Our favourite was the Southern Briez, apparently also the judges choice at the Australia Grand Dairy Awards.
7PM: GOOD FOOD AND EVEN GREATER BEER AT THE FORREST BREWING COMPANY
As the sun sets a pint of ‘Lost gold’ at the Forrest Brewing Company tops off the day’s foodie adventure. Once the towns general store the Forrest Brewing Company is now their much-loved brewery, bar and dining hall. Home of ‘Lost gold’ – a local phrase used to describe their much sort after, small batch beers that can be a little hard to get hold of elsewhere. Don’t worry, brewing and bottling happens onsite so there’s no chance will the friendly owners and beer makers will let this pub and 600L brewhouse run dry of their year-round, seasonal and special release brews.
You won’t just find great beer here. It has equally great food too. The team serve up fresh, locally sourced informal pub classics as well as international dishes in their warm, rustic and relaxing dining hall. Bike friendly, dog friendly, family friendly – Forrest Brewing Company is a Forrest favourite that is friendly all round!
9.30PM: GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL IN A TRADITIONAL GUESTHOUSE – FORREST GUESTHOUSE
When the food coma finally sets in your traditional accommodation at the historic Forrest Guesthouse is only metres away. You’ll feel instantly at home in the country with the long veranda and lush gardens. And the boutique décor is a history lesson in itself – our bedroom walls were lined with the local newspapers dating back to the days when the guesthouse was built, fascinating! We stayed in the Forrest Suite so it was only fitting that we explore its namesake in the morning. The quiet country air, comfortable room and full bellies made for a great night’s sleep, perfect for getting us ready for our next day’s adventure!
SUNDAY 9.30AM: FORREST GENERAL STORE – A TASTE OF FORREST ALL IN THE ONE PLACE
Stock up on local goodies at the Forrest General Store and take them on an adventure with you! Located in the heart of the main street this quaint store is a haven of curated comfort food, famous local delicacies, artisan crafts and hand-made souvenirs – it’s a taste of Forrest all in the one place.
Sally, the general store owner packed our picnic hamper with a mix of local gourmet treats and Victorian produce, then sent us on our way to Lake Elizabeth. We weren’t going to go hungry, that’s for sure.
10.30AM: A PROVEDORE PICNIC AT LAKE ELIZABETH
After all those foodie adventures, it’s time for an outdoor one to help work it off. Look no further than the majestic lake of Lake Elizabeth, formed by a natural landslide over 50 years ago. Located just 15 minute’s drive from Forrest and 1hour return rainforest walk you’ll reach the shores of Lake Elizabeth. The lush rainforest gives way to reveal the slightly eerie lake. The enormous, ghostly tree trunks emerging from the still water gives the lake a prehistoric feel – it’s like the land before time. If you visit closer to dawn you might spot one of the resident platypus frolicking in the shores or if you visit at dusk you might see the glow worms on the walk in and out as well.
We unpacked the local produce from the Forrest General Store and set up our picnic on the picturesque Lake Elizabeth jetty. The two green kayaks permanently moored here provide the perfect props for an Insta-worth pic. And backrest for settling in for some platypus spotting!