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Two Days in Portarlington

Home > Melbourne > Bars | Cafes | Escape the City | Restaurants | Walks
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe to my articles. I'll update you with lots of fun and often free adventures in your home town.
Published February 8th 2014
For tranquility and tantalising food
Image Geelong Tourism

Nothing like a few days away to recharge. This week I found myself at Portarlington on the Bellarine Peninsula which is past Geelong and about an hour and half from Melbourne.

Exterior Angasi Bar and Grill. The best room is at the top on the right hand side as it has views over the ocean. Image Angasi Website.

I'd booked mid week because there are some great deals to be had although a lot of the touristy sites only open on the weekend. I stayed at the Angasi Bar and Grill. There are a few positives and negatives about this place.

On the positive side it is beautifully done up with polished floorboards, exposed brick work and high ceilings. The new managers are decidedly pleasant and quite helpful. I apparently had the best room in the house and did have lovely views out over the bay. Ask for room # 3.

The upstairs rooms can get a bit hot but there are good ceiling fans and with the window open and the bay breeze wafting through it was quite lovely.

Angasi website

There is a small room downstairs with a range of cereals plus tea and toast making facilities. Unfortunately mid week they also use this room to store all their stackable outside chairs. This gave the feeling of breakfasting in someone's closet.

The grill itself isn't open for meals until Fridays and then it stays open for the weekend so everything is pretty much packed away. The owners give you a key which opens the front door and you are pretty much left to your own devices.

My bedroom was long and narrow and had one of the most unusual bathroom facilities I've ever seen. Being an old hotel the new owners must have decided to modernise and put a toilet and shower in each room. However they didn't build a separate bathroom but simply put a half wall like a horse stall in front of each toilet.

Unusual bathrooms something behind that half wall is the toilet. Image Angasi Bar and Grill.

I was there on my own so it was fine but I don't think I would have liked to have been there even with my partner. A loved one's toileting habits in the same room is just a bit too much information.

During the day you can walk the strip of shops in five minutes and it has mostly eateries such as fish and chip and pizza places. There is a great Indian restaurant, Tandoori Mahal, and hand lamb Saag (mutton and spinach dish) was the best curry I have had in the last ten years.

There are some dress shops but even some of these were closed during weekdays. Thankfully there were two good op shops in town. One is behind the Bendigo Bank and the other one is as you drive into town.

There were however a couple of brilliant walks along the waterfront. If you are in the main street and turn right down to the ocean you can walk along the cliff tops and there are sweeping view over the bay. If you walk the other direction you come to the caravan park. This is not just any caravan park but rather caravan city. There were enough people here to justify it having its own postcode. I walked along the beach frontage of the park and it seemed to go on for miles. It was hot, the sun was setting. Campers were having a dip to cool off or sitting outside their sites on their picnic chairs with a glass of vino, some even dangling a line in the water. It looked a fine life.

Again there were sweeping views of the coastline and at the end of the bay you could just make out Melbourne's skyscrapers. They were so distant they looked like upright matchsticks. It was funny to think that I live there in that way yonder rise place was and going back there. But I can see it from a distance and think clearly about life there now that I am away for it. The value of even short breaks is they soon put life into perspective.

Image Geelong Tourism

There are lots of great great wineries in the area (including Scotchman's Hill Spray Farm which has absolutely stunning views from its hilltop outlook) but I had done those before so decided to do something different and do the food trail.

A friend from Geelong arrived and we visited the Londsdale Tomato Farm which has a farmgate store. You could pick lettuces so fresh you were pulling them out by their roots and the hydroponics tomatoes smell the way tomatoes used to smell when I was a kid. Open Thursday to Sunday 10am - 4pm.

We also went to the Lighthouse Olive Mill Shop in Drysdale. The have an olive press and quarter certain fruits into a selection of their olive oils. You can buy oils infused with lime, lemon or ruby grapefruit. These are a pleasant addition to salads and cooked dishes.

Tuckerberry Hill, where you can pick your own blueberries and and strawberries, was closed during the week (except in January) but my friend assured me it was a wonderful food bowl and well worth a visit.

Image Visit Victoria

For lunch I was keen to try a little place called PIKNIK which is housed in a disused road house virtually in the middle of nowhere between Portarlington and Queenscliff. People still come here from all over, drawn like filings drawn to a magnet, because of the good coffee and innovative dishes.

Apparently the name comes from the fact that the owners used to pick and nick fruit from their neighbours backyards. They started selling their goods at local markets and they became so popular that they set up this cafe and produce shop. Here you can purchase such joys as sage jelly and caramelised onion jam. The food I had was seriously good -- a chicken salad on a bed of shredded green mango with a tangy Asian dressing.

Back in town it was really hot and I didn't want to sit in my upstairs room. I tried the pub but only the bar was open and it was loud with blaring horse races. Most of the cafes had closed for the day. This is retiree land where kitchens close at 3.30pm and people go home early.

Luckily the ice-cream parlour opens late 10am and closes late at 8pm and it was a fine place to sit in the shade, with a cup of rum and raisin ice-cream and a cool breeze coming in off the ocean.

Image Saints and Sailors

They recommended Saints and Sailors next door for dinner and I am so glad they did. The bar has an extended happy hour that runs between 6 and 9pm on Thursdays. It's a slice of Brunswick bohemian in Pensioner Portarlington. Crazy decor and artwork. Not sure how it got there but it is certainly a lot of fun. They sell tapas style food and I had their salt an pepper squid which was amazing. The table I sat was covered with LP covers and the wall gave me plenty to look at.

After I left the music from this beacon of bohemia drifted into my room, which was next door, way after midnight. The neighbours must hate it but maybe this a little town that could do with a bit of shake up.

Angasi Bar & Grill
40 Newcombe Street, Portarlington,
Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria,
Phone : 61 03 5259 3355

PIKNIK
1195 Queenscliff Road
Swan bay Victoria
Phone: 03 5258 5155
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Why? Take a break from the city
Where: Portarlington
Your Comment
I love reading your stuff, Nadine
by Sue Stevenson (score: 2|569) 1621 days ago
Great article but I'm wondering if Angasi has closed by now? When I was holidaying in Portarlington a few months ago, I read in their local paper that it had been bought by Nurses who were going to turn it into a respite home!
by KazAitch (score: 0|9) 1163 days ago
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