Where are the best country pubs in Australia? That’s a debate that really has no end, and there’s no clear winner when it comes to historic venues filled with charm, good food and even better drink. These are the hubs of hospitality any good country road trip is made of after all, so you better believe there’s more than enough to go around each state. Although some of the country’s finest can be found when scanning the best country pubs in Victoria.
Why? It mostly has to do with the produce Victoria is so renowned for, making many of these pubs as much dining destinations as they are convivial local watering holes. That means many of them have been modernised, built on a local history that respects nostalgia but also competes rather fiercely with the city’s finest restaurants – often with luxury accommodations on top to encourage visitors to really get out and explore the locales.
Take note of the following 11 best country pubs in Victoria for your next drive around the state. However, if you want to stick closer to the capital, check out the best pubs Melbourne has to offer.
Best Country Pubs Victoria:
The Lorne Hotel
With dramatic views of Victoria’s coastline, The Lorne Hotel is one of the most essential stops along the iconic Great Ocean Road. Whether you’re popping in to dine at MoVida, take advantage of the extensive drinks list, or soak up some live entertainment, there’s little doubt that you’ve just found what is perhaps the single best country pub in the state.
Recently the historic hotel, which has been around since 1876, was purchased by Sydney hospitality giant Merivale and owner Justin Hemmes. Plans for the historic pub remain to be seen, but the keys will switch hands from the current owners to Merivale later this year.
Address: 176 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne
Contact: (03) 5289 1409
Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld
Fit snugly into the foothills of the Grampians National Park, Dunkeld simply wouldn’t be as frequent as it is without The Royal Mail Hotel. The iconic dining destination is undoubtedly one of the best country pubs in Victoria – no, the entire country. It’s resident higher-end dining restaurant Wickens is a constant shoo-in for Chef’s Hats, with fine food lovers regularly pinpointing the dining destination for the kitchen’s firm grasp on local produce, best experienced through a seven-course degustation. Although the fine-dining aspect is definitely what Royal Mail is best known for, the three ingredients for a high-quality country pub is still key to the experience here – location, atmosphere, and a drinks list that puts many city restaurants to shame (expect a cellar with around 28,000 different wines). No surprises that this is also the best local accommodation, with 17 rooms designed to the idea of understated elegance.
Address: 98 Parker St, Dunkeld
Contact: (03) 5577 2241
The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Trentham
Drive about 87km north-west of Melbourne and you’ll end up in the small, boutique town of Trentham, fiercely focused on regionality and proud of Victoria’s abundant produce. That pride is perfectly echoed at the treasured Cosmopolitan Hotel, which puts just as much focus on its top-quality wines as it does exceptional food. Grab a spot in the large, shady beer garden for prime position – you’ve just found one of the best country pubs in Victoria.
Address: Crnr High Street and Cosmo Road, Trentham
Contact: (03) 5424 1516
Farmers Arm Hotel, Daylesford
It’s impossible to have a weekend away in Daylesford and not end up at the town’s oldest pub, covered in red-brick and greenery with a history dating back to 1857. Country charm is embedded in the very bones of this building, stamped alongside a sophisticated, contemporary menu, and extensive offerings for both beer and wine lovers. The charming motel-style accommodation seals Farmers Arm Hotel as one of the best country pubs in Victoria.
Address: 1 East St, Daylesford
Contact: (03) 5348 2091
Tinamba Hotel, Tinamba
If you’re heading on over to Gippsland, a stop at the European-styled Tinamba Hotel is a no-brainer. The venue has been standing since the 1870s, most recently refining its focus on dining using as much local produce as possible. With a family farm nearby, the large 120-seat on-site restaurant has redefined the pub as a bit of a destination dining venue, although the public bar is still a heavy drawcard for locals and the visitors who want to truly soak up a night out in Tinamba.
Address: 4-6 Tinamba-Seaton Rd, Tinamba
Contact: (03) 5145 1484
Radio Springs Hotel, Lyonville
Head north-west from Melbourne and it won’t take long before you trip up on Lyonville, not a frequented destination for sure, but one that just might change your plans entirely. If you have the good sense to end up at the Radio Springs Hotel then any structured road trip will be thrown right out the window. Eccentric and homely, it’s a hub of fancied pub classics, convivial drinking, and even rowdy film nights in the pub’s very own indie cinema. It’s unexpected and absolutely one of the best country pubs in Victoria.
Address: 1 High St, Lyonville
Contact: (03) 5348 5562
Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel, Beechworth
With a history dating back to 1853, this gorgeous double-storey pub is exactly what makes country pubs in Victoria so special. The décor here feels like it was ripped straight from a movie set, with moulded metal poles in the main bar and a charming old fireplace that’s the ideal spot for those ice cold beers. The likes of John dory and baked gnocchi should easily take care of those hunger pangs, while the no-fuss, proudly Australian drinks list is best paired with some of the regular live music that stomps through here. A decent but small offering of local accommodation is worth it when you can wake up to a venue this glorious.
Address: 50 Ford St, Beechworth
Contact: (03) 5728 1480
The Wandiligong Hotel, Wandiligong
The Wandi Pub has been standing proudly since 1864, in a town of less than 500 residents. The intimacy here is incomparable, even when considering the many country pubs that are valued for their small-scale and communal atmosphere. The Wandi Pub redefines the standards of a country pub, bringing it back to a time when drinking holes weren’t all about the modern renovations and modern dining options. To make the most of it, grab a seat outside of a Sunday afternoon to watch local bands test out their latest material while you sink back some of the beer (or wine) in the region.
Address: 580 Morses Creek Rd, Wandiligong
Contact: (03) 5750 1050
The Metung Hotel, Metung
It’s all about drinking by the water here, and enjoying some of the best seafood in the area. The Metung Hotel has the benefit of siding right up to the town’s breezy waterfront, and uses the location to its complete location with tables set up on the edge by all the boats that bop up and down at the marina. The town is exactly the kind of restorative city-escape the Gippsland region is known for, so if you end up here consider checking out the well-appointed accommodation which the pub also offers.
Address: Kurnai Ave, Metung
Contact: (03) 5156 2206
The Bunyip Hotel, Cavendish
The heart of Cavendish since the 1840s, positioned just four hours west of Melbourne and owing much of its relaxed atmosphere to the surrounding Wannon River. Like many of the best country pubs in Victoria, it’s just as much about dining here as it is about drinking, with a loving approach to local produce that celebrates the state and is dedicated to showing off only the best parts. To double down on the dining focus, there’s even a chef’s table offering for those that are serious about sampling what makes the region so consistently delicious.
Address: 17-25 Scott St, Cavendish
Contact: (03) 5574 2205
Gunbower Family Hotel, Gunbower
Follow the Murray downstream and you’ll eventually stumble across the town of Gunbower, a town with a little over 550 residents. The village is at its liveliest when the locals gather at the historic Gunbower Family Hotel, envied by rural pubs in neighbouring towns for the simple fact that it’s considered one of the best places in the entire country for a good, hearty steak. That’d be thanks to publican Richard McGillivray, who owns a nearby cattle farm and knows the cuts back to front. If you’re looking for an unforgettable steak and beer, it’s hard to pass by this treasured local.
Address: 18-20 Murray Valley Highway, Gunbower
Contact: (03) 5487 1214