Unbeknownst to Melbourne foodies, just over four hours drive away is possibly Australia's greatest cheesecake.
The town of Nhill, otherwise famous for being located halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, is an easy scenic drive via Ballarat through the eucalyptus filled Grampians.
As most day-trippers head west along the Great Ocean Road or North to Hanging Rock, you'll be blessed with quiet roads and few tourists.
Nhill is your typical Aussie town––a single main street, a pub on the corner, a talking horse statue, which when the button is pressed gives you history about the working draught horses of Nhill.
You can't miss Amber's Sweet Bliss in Nhill with it's colourful decor and facade. Image by Jade Jackson.
Opposite the horse statue is Amber's Sweet Bliss. A cute purple and green painted cafe with stained glass windows, which is home to incredible home-made cheesecake.
Freshly baked each day, Amber (who does all the baking, plus daily operations) offers up homestyle baked goodies, made with love. Behind the register there's a little oven, so warm chocolate chip cookies and muffins can be churned out, throughout the day.
Unlike typical bakeries that offer up neenish tarts or finger buns, Amber puts her own unique twist into every creation.
A quick flick through her facebook page will give you an idea of the delicious looking cakes you're likely to encounter, however as each day brings something new, you could visit every day for a week and not consume the same thing twice.
Orange and ginger cheesecake at Amber's Sweet Bliss Cafe, Nhill. Image by Jade Jackson.
I ate a slice of the orange and ginger cheesecake; soft and smooth, I can only liken it to consuming a cloud. Despite orange and ginger sounding like harsh conflicting flavours, neither was overly strong and like a warm refreshing burst of sunshine, both worked together to brighten my day. My brain released a high dose of endorphins as approval and with three quick blinks, it was gone.
The biscuit base was crunchy yet crumbly. Sweet but blended perfectly with the cheesecake to give it texture, ensuring the aftertaste lingered longer than a mouthful did.
Afterwards, I sat in awe. I wanted to scream from the rooftops how amazing it was. My only disappointment was that it was over too quickly. I spoke to a grey-haired couple next to me sipping tea, asking if they'd experienced the cheesecake. They were locals and were well attuned to the scrumptious offerings.
To make sure it wasn't a one-off fluke, I also bought a pumpkin and date scone to take away. It too delivered far more than expected. Sweet yet savoury, firm but soft. Doughy yet light. It contradicted itself with every mouthful.
I should mention the coffee is decent too.
Raspberry Redskin Cheesecake at Amber's Sweet Bliss. Image supplied courtesy of Amber's Sweet Bliss Facebook page.
Since following their facebook page I've seen date and hazelnut fudge brownies, Snickers cheesecake, Nutella and banana muffins, pumpkin maple walnut muffins, cookies and cream cheesecake, white chocolate and pistachio cheesecake, red-skin cheesecake... it's like everything you wished you could create on a whim for a bake-off television show.
Besides baked stuff, they also have ice cream, lollies, locally made jams and sauces. It's the perfect place for afternoon tea after a long drive through the countryside.
If heading there on a weekend, call ahead or check their facebook page in case there is a catered event happening that might affect opening hours but otherwise they're open:
Tuesday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm
Saturday 9am to 4pm
Closed Mondays and Sundays.
I live near Sydney, so a drive back to Nhill is 12 hours each way. It seems ridiculous but it's a trip that I've considered making many times, just for a slice of cheesecake. Yes, it's that good.
Save up the change because you can play every pinball game at the museum. Image by Jade Jackson.
Weeping Yellow Gum Tree (only known specimen in Australia)
Big Desert and Little Desert National Park
There's several reasonably priced motels along the main strip so you can easily spend the night, allowing you time to explore the region.
Fifty minutes drive from Nhill (along zig-zagged country roads) is the town of Rainbow which is famous because (no surprises here), it has a big rainbow.
Plan your next weekend getaway and return home with tales of incredible baked goods, eaten beneath the only known specimen of a Weeping Yellow Gum Tree in Australia, along with a selfie beneath the big rainbow. It's the ultimate FOMO inducing trip.
The Weeping Yellow Gum Tree of Nhill. Image by Jade Jackson.