Yesterday’s Age newspaper covered Monday night’s The Age Good Food Guide awards with the title ‘Good food puts country towns on the culinary map’. The restaurant of the year award again went to the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld under the guidance of Dan Hunter, and the best new country restaurant was won by Loam on the Bellarine Peninsula, owned and run by Aaron and Astrid Turner. I have had the privilege to visit both establishments and I cannot speak highly enough of their commitment to local seasonal produce and innovative hospitality delivered by highly skilled staff. Both restaurants provide a strong model for local young people who not only get to see acclaimed cuisine but also see high skills in the kitchen as well as in front of house.
The local economies of Dunkeld, Drysdale and Portarlington benefit, but the wider tourist industry of western Victoria also prospers.
Both establishments play key leadership roles in the local tourism industry, similar to the role played by the Lake House in Daylesford and the Deco Restaurant at the Peppers Springs Retreat in Hepburn Springs. I encourage as many people as possible to come and taste the delights of western Victoria. We have much to offer, and we encourage people to not just come and taste but also stay. Western Victoria is not just a great tourist attraction, it is a great place to live, work, raise a family and enjoy life.