Tale of Two Towns


With an abundance of high quality local produce and passionate foodies in the  community, it’s no wonder that the small towns of the West Gippsland region are emerging as rural food hubs. Situated around 70km southeast from Melbourne, the villages of Bunyip and Garfield are nestled among the picturesque Gippsland hills, and are home to some of the best locally produced food in the area. With a smattering of cafes, bakehouses, restaurants and niche retail stores, this area is rich in quality, handmade food and produce.

In the main street of Bunyip, Biddy Martha’s Cafe is set in an old rail house building that juts out over the hill near the train tracks. Large windows set into the corrugated iron building open up to let in the fresh air and reveal to the patrons a widespread view of the hills and countryside of the West Gippsland region. We take our seats at a grand wooden table, warming our backs in the sun that streams in through the front of the cafe and place our orders. The small, intimate kitchen smells divine, and before long our meals are delivered to us; a serving of the butter chicken curry with rice and a fantastic home made pulled pork roll. Just like the careful manner in which they present their food, the old rail house has been tastefully restored, with the original metal high beams still in place. With the quirky mismatched chairs, delicate china tea cups and jars of locally produced jams, chutneys and relishes for sale, the overall experience at Biddy Martha’s is one of comfort and charm.

A strong ethos and commitment to quality extends to wine in the West Gippsland region, with several wineries dotted around the hills producing some of the finest wines in Victoria. Cannibal Creek Vineyard is located in the foothills of the Black Snake Ranges. With the grapes hand picked and the wine carefully crafted with a minimal amount of handling, the Cannibal Creek Vineyard favours a return to traditional style and premium wine.

Situated on the edge of the Bunyip State Park, Jinks Creek Winery in Tonimbuk resides in what was once an old wool shed, now perched above the vineyard. Renovated from a house a restaurant, art gallery and cellar, with breathtaking views of the native bushland, it is the perfect place to enjoy a glass or two of some fine wine.

The Lady Lavender’s Tea Rooms make for a great excuse to pull off the highway, settle down and relax in the quaint country cottage atmosphere. Just off the Princes Highway on your way to Warragul, the Lady Lavender’s Tea Rooms offers a quintessential afternoon tea experience, with the rolling green hills of West Gippsland providing a lush backdrop to the lavender plants surrounding the cottage. The extensive menu of traditional comfort food, decadent desserts and scones are all made with homegrown and locally sourced ingredients, with something for everyone.

A few kilometres up the road, the township of Garfield has its fair share of fine food and quirky characters. The Cannibal Creek Bakehouse has its wood fired oven burning on even the hottest of summer days, and the smell of freshly baked bread wafts from the traditional redbrick building and down the quiet main street. Further down the road is boutique howewares store and cafe Impodimo. The cafe has a strong focus on clean eating and homemade produce. Set in an old house, the waitress serving us entertains us with customers stories and memories of the old house before its transformation to a cafe. The raw berry and coconut cheesecake is a unique delight, and a favourite with the regular customers. Both sweet and refreshing, it satisfies your sweet tooth without being sickly, and the raw berry compote dolloped on top is divine.

Wherever you look, tucked away in some quiet corner of the town or proudly on display in a treasured old building on the main street, a strong emphasis on quality service and fine food is of paramount importance in the townships of Bunyip and Garfield, and well worth a visit.