Surrounded by water on three sides, The Bellarine, 90 minutes south-west of Melbourne, is the breeding ground for some of the country’s best seafood.
Visitors to the region will find events celebrating the abundance of fresh seafood available, restaurants serving up delicious fare and passionate producers selling local mussels, oysters and abalone.
Each year in January the region celebrates its love affair with seafood at the Portarlington Mussel Festival. In 2016 the event will celebrate its 10th birthday with chefs, music, market stalls, cooking demonstrations and of course tonnes of mussels! Last year more than 10 tonne of mussels were sold at the festival and this year promises to be even bigger.
Visitors don’t need to wait until January to buy fresh mussels though, with fresh seafood available year-round. Sea Bounty Mussels is a premium producer which has been operating for the past 30 years in the cool, clear waters of Port Phillip Bay. Sea Bounty supplies mussels to Coles supermarkets and a number of high-end restaurants, including Australia’s most highly awarded restaurant, Melbourne-based Attica, which serves a dish dedicated to the mussels.
Sea Bounty’s owner, Lance Wiffen, also recently took Rene Redzepi from the acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, on a research trip on his boat to explore the regions iconic Australian blue mussel ahead of the launch of his Noma pop-up restaurant in Sydney.
Visitors can purchase sweet, succulent mussels direct from the farm gate at Advance Mussel Supply in Portarlington. Another family owned and operated business, oysters are also on the menu here, with the company growing and selling these delicious fresh local oysters direct to the public. The café serves up mussels in a variety of tasty ways.
Abalone is regarded as a delicacy around the world and Jade Tiger Abalone at Indented Head produces more than 180 tonnes a year of live, frozen, canned and cooked vacuum packed product, mostly for the export market. Russell McGlashan, fromMcGlashan’s Wallington Estate winery, is an abalone diver himself and serves up this unique dish on a gourmet platter at his cellar door.
Along with world-class primary producers of seafood, The Bellarine has a range of amazing dining experiences utilising this beautiful fresh produce, from high quality fish and chip shops to cafes and restaurants. Visitors looking to try some local seafood have a myriad of choices.
Scully’s Oyster Bar & Grill is located at Queenscliff Harbour overlooking the picturesque marina. A range of meals are served here with an emphasis on seafood. Not just a cafe or restaurant, it’s also a provedore for buying takeaway seafood, fresh or frozen.
At The Heads, an iconic destination restaurant in Barwon Heads, is a one of a kind dining experience offering unique views of the mouth of the Barwon River and Bass Strait, a great menu and friendly staff. Seafood is a star of the menu with fresh oysters, seafood platters, fish and chips and seafood marinara highlights.
Once the old Fire Station, the BeachHouse Barwon Heads showcases some of the Bellarine’s finest produce, wine, cider and beer. Fish of the day and fish and chips feature prominently on the menu, as do other seafood favourites such as spanner crab and calamari.
The Grand Dining Room at the historic Vue Grand in Queenscliff’s main street offers beautiful meals and excellent service for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. Choose from the five-course Bellarine Tasting menu featuring local smoked octopus and clams or the a la carte offering.
Visit The Shed at Terindah Estate and you can see the mussel farmers at work from the outdoor seating or through the floor to ceiling glass walls. The panoramic views of the vineyard and vistas across the bay are spectacular. The Shed is open every day from 12 noon and offers succulent local seafood.
The menu at the fine dining Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant is designed using local and regional produce, giving visitors a wide variety of carefully prepared dishes representing seasonal ingredients with unique flavours and textures. Choose from the a la carte or tasting menu and be inspired by the delicate and delicious offerings.
For those wishing to make a weekend of it, a wide range of accommodation can be found on The Bellarine and in nearby Geelong. Visitors can choose from big name hotels, luxury apartments, boutique B&B’s and award winning holiday parks.
For further information go to www.visitgeelongbellarine.com.au.