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  • Writer's pictureRakesh Saha

Go to Inverloch if you don't want

Updated: Jul 14

a jam-packed holiday!


Time visited: April 2024

Time spent: Two nights


After nearly sixteen months, six of us - two families bonded by their love for travelling - were back on the roads. Only this time, it was for a shorter period and not during a school holiday break. What used to be our yearly, and in some instances, biannual ritual, hadn't happened for a while, so we were excited to just venture out somewhere together. Even though it was only for two nights, we were looking forward to this quite unexpected in-the-middle-of-a-school-term break to the seaside town of Inverloch. There was an added layer of excitement. We found a newly-added four-bedroom Airbnb, meaning we would be the first guests to stay there!


Well, why Inverloch? We were searching for a town within about two hours’ drive from Melbourne that would have affordable options for us to explore and relax. Inverloch ticked all the boxes. It is only 136 kilometers from where we live, meaning it would take about two hours if we drove without any pit stops. Inverloch is one of the seaside towns we'd heard about and gone past on a few occasions, but never had the opportunity to explore. Last but not least, there were affordable Airbnbs within our budget.


We left on a Saturday morning in April 2024. We took Monash Freeway followed by Koo Wee Rup Bypass, South Gippsland Highway and Bass Highway to reach Zen Den Invy, the nickname lovingly given to the accommodation by the owners. We did our initial inspection of the property and loved what we saw. With its thoughtful seaside-themed interior design, ample living and dining space filled with natural light, a comfortable sofa to watch television, beautifully landscaped front yard adorned with garden sculptures, a strawberry bush with fruit so red that initially we thought it was artificial, a decent size backyard with covered outdoor dining space, and a ping pong table for family games, the house had it all. On top of that, it was very clean and had a welcome hamper with a lovely note for us, the first visitors. We couldn’t fault it. Even if the weather wasn’t that great for outdoor activities, we could simply relax at our accommodation for the length of our stay.



Day 1

The town centre was just 2.7 kilometres from the Airbnb. We headed there around noon and picked Lime and Co., a family-run Mexican food truck with a 4.4 rating on Google Reviews, for lunch. We ordered the jackfruit burrito bowl ($22 each), beef-loaded sweet potato fries ($18) and sweet potato fries ($9). Even though the last two items were flavoursome and cooked to perfection, the jackfruit burrito bowl was a bit too tangy. We were served generous servings, but the jackfruit, the star of the dish, was too soft and not spicy enough to make it an enjoyable gastronomic experience.



After lunch, we wandered in the town centre to orientate ourselves and learn a bit more about local attractions. While strolling through the main shopping strip on A'Beckett Street, we came upon the Inverloch Visitor Information Centre. The lovely lady at the counter spoke to Tupur at length and gave her a list of places to explore in Inverloch. We decided to visit the Inverloch Community Farmers Market at Inverloch Glade and the State Coal Mine at Wonthaggi the following day. For the rest of day one though, we had a plan. We decided to do the 14-kilometre Bunurong Coastal Drive from Inverloch to Cape Paterson.



The scenic route of Bunurong Coastal Drive reminded us of the Great Ocean Road, only with less traffic. We drove to Cape Paterson Bay Beach, the farthest point of the drive. From Cape Paterson-Inverloch Road, we turned left and then followed the Surf Beach Road that took us to the car park near Browns Bay. A short walk through the bush led to an opening wherefrom we saw the beautiful sea. It was a relatively small beach, which we had to ourselves. To be honest, it wasn’t spectacular but was a relaxing experience.


Our next stop was the Oaks. This beach was only a 3-minute drive from Cape Paterson Beach. The parking at the Oaks was quite elevated and the higher altitude offered a beautiful panoramic view. Apparently, between May and October, with the help of a pair of binoculars, visitors might see the migratory Humpback and Southern Right Whales from the car park and the adjacent viewing deck. The track from the car park led to stairs that went all the way to the sandy beach. It was a beautiful 4-5-minute walk through Bunurong Marine National Park. The best part of the short walk was an overarching tree. A few metres ahead of the car park, the Instagram-worthy spot created a natural canopy and quite a mystic environment.


The beach was beautiful. Not in a clichéd way though. With its stunning shades of blue and turquoise green combined with bright-white sea foam and 2-3 metres of swell, it was a feast for our eyes. Except for us and two amateur surfers, there was no one. Although lucky for us, it was unusual as we felt the ambiance was bound to attract tourists. We spent some time strolling on the sand, taking in the beautiful surroundings. It was quite rejuvenating.



Our next destination was Eagles Nest Beach. The unusual rock formation of Eagles Nest is possibly the most photographed location in Inverloch. We saw it on postcards, key rings and magnets in the Visitor Information Centre and the local souvenir shops. From the car park, we walked to the left and came upon a staircase. There was a viewing balcony with an incredible view of the beach. After standing there for a bit, we realised that the climb down wouldn't take us to the rock formation. So we turned back and followed the trail that was on the right side of the car park.


The Eagles Nest viewing deck wasn’t too far. We marvelled at the beautiful view of the bay, especially the gentle swell that attracted quite a few surfers. The centre of attraction, the iconic Eagles Nest, stole the show. We could see its resemblance to an eyrie, but it seemed more like a relic of an old sandstone structure that had been gradually eroding by the powerful forces of nature, the wind and the sea. The viewing deck was a busy spot. It seemed fair to make way for other visitors.  



The next stop was Dirty Three Wines. We wanted to taste the local wine and it seemed the right place. The winery is owned by a local couple. It also has a 4.7 rating on Google Reviews. It took us less than 10 minutes to reach the place on Cashin Street. The outdoor dining area was full. Everyone seemed to enjoy their Saturday afternoon over beverage and food. Unlike us, they possibly knew what to order! As wine tasting was our goal and we needed a guide, we enquired inside. They didn’t have a cellar door experience as the vineyard and the production centre were somewhere else. It was more of a retail outlet where they sold/served their wines. We settled for just wine tasting for $10 per person. They had a choice of five wines - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Rose and Sparkling. We stood at the counter as one of the staff named the wines and poured them for us. It was an average experience.

 

A bit dejected, we decided to go to the Esplanade, hoping to have a leisurely walk by the bay. Well, that didn’t eventuate as it was a busy inlet with amateur fishermen sitting comfortably with their fishing rods set in anticipation of a big catch. We didn’t want to bother them. It was also getting late and chilly. The only logical next step was returning to our Airbnb to relax.


Time for our holiday rituals - jhalmuri (spicy puffed rice), a Bengali snack that Tupur prepares with only four ingredients: puffed rice, chanachur, chopped onions (and chillis), and mustard oil; and charades. With a bowl of freshly prepared jhalmuri, we all picked a spot on the sofa and the game of charades started. We played for hours and stopped only for dinner.


Darshana prepared her new recipe, paneer (Indian cottage cheese)-stuffed toasted Turkish bread, which blew our minds. It was tasty, good-looking and most importantly, an ingenious Indian take on Turkish bread sandwich. Dinner was followed by watching Prey, the most recent rendition of the late 80s' classic science-fiction action thriller Predator.


Day 2

We woke up early to leave for Pandesal Bakery in Meeniyan. This is a bakery we came to adore so much during our trip to Wilsons Prom four years ago that not only did we have breakfast there two days in a row, but also promised ourselves that we'd revisit if we had the chance. The day had come! We were really excited! It took us less than half an hour to reach Meeniyan from Inverloch. The drive was smooth through Bass Highway, Koonwarra township and South Gippsland Highway. We parked at the central shopping district. The town looked exactly the way we left it in December 2020. Walking towards Pandesal, we were prepared to queue up as we did four years ago, but surprisingly, there weren’t too many people and luckily, most of them were there for take-away. We picked the same big table we sat at last time and ordered a variety of breakfast items on offer. I had a ham and salad slider, a hot chocolate and a pear and walnut Danish. They were simply divine. I savoured every bit of my breakfast. The pear and walnut Danish needs a special mention here. It was so good that I couldn’t resist ordering a second one.



Like me, everyone else in our group enjoyed their breakfast. Hats off to Pandesal. They continued to be our happy place by offering tasty, soulful food. With its retro interior design, cosy ambiance and of course, the beautiful food, it needs to be on Tourism Victoria’s ‘must-visit’ list.



Then we headed back to Inverloch - our next destination, the Inverloch Community Farmers' Market at the Glade. The timing of our trip was just perfect as the market only takes place on the last Sunday of every month. It looked like any other farmers' market, only a bit more intimate. Most people seemed to know the stallholders and were having conversations with them. There was an abundance of stalls with local produce, and garden and pet supplies.


In the midst of all that, there were a few unique sellers that caught our eye. One of them was Jane Dawes' elegant and colourful glasswork embedded in driftwood collected from nearby beaches. The craftsmanship on display was simply magnificent. There were quite a few letterboxes and garden and home decorations.

Not far from there, we spent some time at Pickle My Chilli. Nevis was selling fermented chillis that pack a punch. From the display, we tasted the hot honey - Birdseye Peppers (heat level 3/10), Jamaican Peppers (heat level 4/10), and Ghost Pepper (heat level 7/10). They all were full of flavour and made our tastebuds experience the sensation of both pleasure and pain simultaneously.



The final stall worth mentioning is Charlie + I.. Named after her loving Golden Retriever Charlie, Lisa’s stall of botanical skin care products persuaded us by its calming aroma. We spent some time talking to Lisa and learnt about her amazing journey - how she took the bold step of starting this brand after a major brain surgery. Lisa specialises in creating natural botanical products that support healthy living. From conception to production to marketing, she manages all aspects of the business on her own. Doing all this so well deserves recognition. We bought a Rollerball Blend called ‘Balance’ from Lisa.




Next, we went to the State Coal Mine in Wonthaggi. According to Parks Victoria, it is the only historic coal mine experience in the Southern Hemisphere. Mining started in Wonthaggi in 1909 to supply coal to the Victorian Railways. From its humble beginning as a tent-city that attracted European workers, it soon flourished into a full-fledged township catering to the burgeoning needs of the miners and their families. However, competition, and most importantly, the use of diesel engines that replaced steam locomotives run by the Victorian Railways, put an abrupt end to the mine’s operation in 1968.



When we visited the mine, the underground tour was suspended. So, following the instructions and a map, we did a self-guided tour of the overground structures. We explored the caretaker’s cottage, outhouse, token/hat room, blacksmith shop, bicycle shed, canary cages, Locomotive K192 and railway wagons, stables, and the gardens. They have been kept in excellent condition with clear signage and bite-size accounts of history for every exhibit. We found the historical accounts fascinating and learnt a fair bit about the life and struggles of the miners and their families.



At the end of our visit, we watched a 14-minute video titled ‘When the Whistle Blows’ in the theatrette adjacent to the Visitor’s Centre. It reinforced our understanding of the history; however, in hindsight, I think we should have watched the movie before the self-guided tour.  The Visitor Centre was also a souvenir shop. We browsed through unique mining memorabilia and items that celebrate the history of the mine and the local community. There was a café there too. Although we didn’t eat there, the food and the ambiance were quite inviting.

 

We thought we wouldn’t be hungry after our big breakfast, brunch to be more specific.  But after so much walking in the State Cole Mine, we were feeling a bit peckish for something that would complement our holiday favourite ‘jhalmuri’, which we were thinking of making again after returning to the Airbnb. Harsh and ShNaajh opted for gelato from the Invy Café Al Mare Gelato Alley, a cosy cafeteria on Williams Street. Harsh seemed content with his hazelnut gelato; ShNaajh’s gingerbread and honeycomb gelato, however, wasn’t very satisfying as it left a slightly bitter gingery aftertaste that wasn’t to her liking.  While the kids were having gelato, we ordered vegetable pakoras ($12.00), onion bhaji ($12.00) and vegetable samosas ($12.00) from The Chutney Bar, the only Indian restaurant we saw in the area. We bought them hoping they would complement our home-made Jhalmuri; however, when we reached home, we had them on their own. They were simply delicious. Sorry, no photos!


Having missed the sunset on our first day and the sunrise on our second, we were desperate for a glimpse of the setting sun before calling it a day. The closest spot to watch the sunset was Inverloch Surf Beach, which was only a kilometre from our Airbnb. As soon as we left the Airbnb, we realised that we were on a footrace to beat the fast-setting sun. How could we get there in time? We ignored Google Maps' advice to take Toorak Road, which was a main road in the area but with no footpath, and decided to walk through Ceres Road, which ran through the neighbourhood. But there was a problem. Ceres Road suddenly ended and there was no visible connection to Goroke Street, which, Google Maps promised, would take us straight to the beach. We took a leap of faith and went through what looked like someone's driveway and were extremely pleased to discover a hidden path that linked Ceres Place to Goroke Street.


We managed to reach the pristine beach in time; however, we realised quite quickly that the sun was setting behind us. That didn’t dampen our mood though because we witnessed something surreal. We saw the rose-gold and power-blue sky with its rolls of grey clouds reflected on wet sand. It captivated us. The muffled roar of the high tide was the perfect white noise blocking out all kinds of distractions.



As the temperature dropped in the absence of the sun and we turned into silhouettes, we returned to our Airbnb. It was time for dinner.


Returning home

The morning we left Inverloch was cloudy. It seemed the overcast condition was a projection of our mood. Yes, we were sad that our trip had ended, but we were content. with the restful weekend spent in Inverloch. We had a bit of everything – tranquil beaches, wine tasting, a memorable brunch, a self-guided tour of a once vibrant mining colony, a walk through the local farmers' market, a calming sunset, and most importantly, the company of loved ones. What else could we ask for?


Adios Inverloch. We hope to be back again someday.



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8 commenti


Ospite
07 lug

Incredible description of your experience. Made me want to go there. :)

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Ospite
05 lug

Picture গুলো যে কি অপূর্ব কি বলবো!!!

-Sheuli

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Ospite
05 lug
Risposta a

Thank you, Sheuli. The pictures are taken by Tupur.

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Ospite
05 lug

Great overview of Inverloch and surrounds. Good photography too. Next time go to Harman's Winery for a good wood fired pizza. We are actually here this weekend.

-Arna

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Reema Sarwal
Reema Sarwal
05 lug

Inverloch looks like a very laid back and relaxing spot. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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Ospite
05 lug

Excellent trip. Definitely, Inverloch is added in my list to visit 🔜

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