Flinders is a weekender’s dream. It’s where farmland meets wine country meets beach town with great surf, which is why it and its local surrounds (Red Hill and Dromana) tick so many boxes. With just two days there’s only so much you can eat, drink and do. We’ve found a few lesser-known places and new additions to add to this beaten track. With an impressively slick new cellar door and bistro, a Middle Eastern cafe and a man with mussels on the pier, there is bounty to be had at this spot just 80 minutes from Melbourne.
Flinders Sourdough is a bread institution. From its humble organic bakery on the main drag of Flinders, Margaret Carey and Dave Alan now sell their loaves to cafes and supermarkets across the state. Using a scotch oven to bake the bread, the signature loaf is a 1.8-kilogram boule (large and round), baked at low heat for hours to produce a chewy crust with a soft texture and great sourdough flavour.
58 Cook Street, Flinders
Fri to Sun 9am–4pm
Tree1 is home to a charming selection of products by Australian designers and makers. This neat little homewares and clothing store sells fun beach-house items. Find Aesop hand cream and candles by True Grace, Viktoria + Woods knits, colourful beach espadrilles and handmade ceramics by Kaz.
47B Cook Street, Flinders
(03) 9589 0886
Mon to Fri 10am-4pm
Sat & Sun 10am-5pm
Terminus at The Flinders Hotel
The Flinders Hotel has had many iterations since 1889. It’s now a public bar and bistro-style pub that fronts a small dining room called Terminus. The kitchen is run by Algerian chef Pierre Khodja, who has put together a sophisticated menu of North African and French cuisine using local produce. The food is ambitious for the area, with dishes such as twice-cooked lobster tail and Turkish delight soufflé. It is a refreshing change from the more standard offerings in the neighbourhood. It has some interesting Moroccan wines, too. The hotel also offers accommodation at The Quarters.
Corner Cook and Wood Streets, Flinders
(03) 5989 0201
Thurs to Sat 6pm-11pm (last sitting at 8.30pm)
Sat & Sun 12pm-3pm
Harry the Mussel Man
If you head down the Flinders pier between Christmas and June you can pick up mussels from a rough old seaman by the name of Harry. He only operates on a Saturday between 11am and 4pm, and we hear you may have to wake him from a seaside slumber to purchase your goods. But at $10 a kilo, it’s worth the trouble.
There’s no lack of great wineries in this area: Port Philip Estate, Foxey’s Hangout, Montalto and T-Gallant. But the newest addition is a small winery on a 25-acre property called Polperro. Owned by winemaker Sam Coverdale (of Even Keel winery in Canberra), Polperro opened in May 2014 as a cellar door for his new local wine label, Polperro by Even Keel. It is also an elegant country bistro. Designed by renowned Melbourne architects Hecker Guthrie, the interior is dark and moody while still warm and cosy. Keel is serving serious bistro food with his wine, but Coverdale’s approach is decidedly laid-back, and the result is spot on. This is an absolute must.
Polperro also has four villas on the property for guests. Go midweek for lunch, wine and an overnight stay for $400.
150 Red Hill Road, Red Hill
(03) 5989 2471
Cellar Door open daily from 11am–5pm
Tucked down an alley, behind Felix boutique and across the road from the beach, is a cosy little coffee shop, The Alley Espresso. Owners, couple Tani Knight and Jasmine Pranskunas, have turned this old carpet shop into an open-plan cafe, with a colourful, mismatched style. It serves strong local coffee (Esco Beans and Little Rebel Single Origin), house-baked sweets (such as a killer lemon tart by Pranskunas’s mum) and fresh cafe fare made with produce from Transition Farm in Fingal.
167 Point Nepean Road, Dromana
(03) 5981 4624
Mon to Sun 6.30am–4pm
Just around the corner from The Alley is Dee’s Kitchen, where Israeli cook Dee Busani-Caligiuri (also of Cellar & Pantry in Red Hill) has put together a healthy Middle Eastern menu. Produce-driven dishes include an old-school hummus and pita with spiced lamb, pickles and spices; a carrot and black bean pastili (Tunisian pastry cigars) with an ancient grain salad; or smoked trout chimiraki. Breakfast is served all day with Coffee Supreme coffee, but the lunch menu is pretty special. Order with a glass of Busani-Caligiuri’s house-bottled wine (surplus from local wineries). Dee’s will also be open for dinner during the summer months.
19 Pier Street, Dromana
(03) 9581 4666
Open daily 8am–5pm