A freelance writer who loves photographing the beauty of nature, travelling, writing, swimming, and singing
Published April 7th 2017
Chocolate-lovers Munch Your Way Through These Molten Morsels
Here I was thinking I was going to hike the majestic Great Ocean Road (GOR) in Victoria - you know, get a little fitter, lose a little weight. Instead, I find myself at a most decadent destination, so all those plans go up in smoke (or down in chocolate). Situated at the start of the GOR, between Torquay and Anglesea, Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice-Creamery is just 20 minutes drive from Geelong, about an hour from Melbourne CBD, and is one of the 'biggest' chocolate experiences I've ever had. Being a chocoholic, it's rare I find myself intimidated and overwhelmed when faced with a chocolate experience. However, this time I was so inundated by delicious delicacies, I could barely decide what to buy. With no time to prepare, as soon as the sliding doors open to welcome you, the fun begins. There were literally thousands of chocolates in front of me. Huge bowls filled with milk, white and dark chocolate buttons placed on the welcoming counter offered free tastings. Who am I resist? "Just grab a spoon and help yourself", I hear my little voice say.
I scan the row of tempting morsels but, deciding not to rush into things, I move onto the aisles - rows and rows of more chocolate creations, and in flavours I'd never imagined. There were the obvious and familiar - rocky road, mint, vanilla crème, and choc-coated strawberries, but also flavours inspired by the produce of their own bush-tucker gardens and orchard, such as lemon myrtle, lavender, orange, and blueberry. The cocoa is sourced from eight different regions from around the world and packaging is designed by local indigenous artist Nathan Patterson. Friendly staff roam around me offering free tastings and I'm not one to be rude. So with mouth full, I browse the array of gifts, books, mugs, tea-towels and mementos, and end up at the end of the building watching the action happening through the picture windows.
This is the second venture for chocolatiers Ian and Leanne Neeland, their first one opening in the Yarra Valley in 2012. They've employed chocolatiers from Belgium and France, and have cleverly created a sensation for the senses. They've addressed taste (obviously), but also sight, sound (it's so peaceful here), smell and touch (the packaging is so pretty and appealing I find myself picking up just about every type of treat and gift).
I'm exhausted and incapable of a decision so decide, instead, to take a break in the café; a cappuccino will give me the time to ponder and decide just how much I can fit in the boot of the car. That is, until I see all the tempting coffee accompaniments - eclairs, slices, scones, and many gluten-free options.
The Chocolaterie finishes its inside masterful work outside with its surroundings. Sitting on 15 acres of peaceful gardens, Ian and Leanne have planted hundreds of fruit trees, a 300-seat outdoor ice-creamery and café, plus a giant lavender maze and sandpit, so there's plenty to keep the children entertained. They also run 45-minute Junior Chocolatier Classes in a 'parent-free' zone for children aged 6 - 12 years, so that's a win for everyone. Check out their website to see what else is on through the school holidays, and definitely make this your new favourite pit-stop along the magnificent Great Ocean Road.