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Visiting Loch, Victoria

Seven months ago when I first launched the HC Blog, I mentioned that I might write about travel. Well, the day has finally come! I am very happy to share with you my first travel piece. Given that we can't travel at the moment, I thought now was a good a time as any to share this trip, for a little bit of vicarious living, but also to encourage everyone to support our local communities, wherever they are able, once we can travel again.

Last May, my partner and I spent a weekend away in Loch, a lovely little town one and a half hours drive from Melbourne. Originally I had chosen Loch as our destination, as the town is home to a unique brewery/distillery. As self-confessed gin aficionados, we are always keen to try new gin varieties. However, we soon discovered what a true treasure Loch is. Situated within South Gippsland, Loch Village is exactly what you'd picture when you daydream about a weekend away in the country. The quiet main street is home to a selection of cafes, craft stores, antique shops, galleries, and restaurants, plus a general store, opportunity shop, petrol station, and a Post Office. Further down the road, there is a recreation reserve with barbecues and a playground, a skate ramp, and a suspension bridge just beyond town affectionately named the ‘Loch Stock & Barrel Pedestrian Suspension Bridge’. And that’s it. The rest of the village branches off into quiet side streets before expanding to green surrounds.

We drove down early Saturday afternoon and checked into our accommodation; a 120-year-old worker's cottage named Greengage House. To say I was impressed is an understatement. Located within easy walking distance of the main street, Greengage House has a lounge room with an open fireplace, joint kitchen dining room, two bedrooms, a bathroom (complete with rain-head shower) and separate toilet. Outside is a large undercover deck with an extendable dining table and a huge backyard. On top of being generous in size, it is clear a lot of care and consideration has gone into curating the space and all the accommodation necessities. In fact, since this trip, I have held Greengage House as the style standard for all properties I look at booking on Air BnB, and I can honestly say, very few compare on space and style.

Once settled in, we wandered up the street for a bite to eat at Udder and Hoe, a beautifully modern glass-fronted building. The store is both a cafe and pantry, stocking local and organic produce, and I thoroughly enjoyed browsing the Pinterest-worthy pantry shelves. Afterward, we ventured over the road to the distillery, housed in a stunning 100-year-old red brick bank building, with an outdoor area available for BYO picnics to pair your gin tastings with. Being May we opted to sit inside the cozy cellar door. After whiling the afternoon away, sipping and sampling gin, we decided to take two home with us (because what's the point of discovering new gins if you don't take some home!) We chose the Classic Dry Gin, designed to mix as a gin and tonic (or gin and soda for me), as well as the Gin Liqueur, designed to drink neat; delicious sipped over ice. Heading back to our accommodation we spent the evening doing nothing but relax by the open fireplace, reading our books.

For dinner that night we walked to Amalia's; a family-run restaurant honouring the past while celebrating locally-sourced, home-grown ingredients. Not having booked a table, and with a full house, we were extremely lucky to be offered the window-bench, overlooking the main street. Making everything from scratch and cooking with the seasons, the menu changes regularly. During our visit, we had the pappardelle with slow-cooked shredded beef ragù, then shared a slice of decadent chocolate olive oil cake for dessert. I mentioned how lucky we were to have been offered a seat, and I meant it, as the food here was unbelievably good. I'm so glad we were able to enjoy such a splendid meal (even more so, as in the year since our visit I've learnt Amalia's has been sold). Back at the cottage, we resumed our place by the fire, reading books and playing backgammon late into the night.

The following morning we had breakfast at Olive at Loch, a cafe meets pantry meets homewares store. Full of books, crockery, glassware, pottery, and an assortment of kitchen utensils and decor items, all displayed on top of one another on old wooden tables and shelves. The kind of place I walk into wanting to buy everything, then realising I'd have no idea what to do with it all when I got home. At the same time, aromas from the cafe's country kitchen fill the air, it is an enjoyable place to be. For breakfast, I had a very large savoury scone with relish, while my partner had a lamb, pumpkin, and rosemary pie. Full of fresh, local ingredients, both were delicious. Paired with our favourite tea and coffee orders (mine an English Breakfast, his a flat white) it was a lovely way to spend the morning. After breakfast we wandered along the main street, soaking up as much charm as we could, before heading home to Melbourne.

All images by Harrington Creative

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