My two young sons have just been given a choice: whisky or ice-cream.
Whisky, says one with a smile broad as the trunk of a gum at the end of a rail trail wending from Camperdown to Timboon in south-west Victoria.
Only joking, dad, says the eldest. I smile too but am thankful both boys have worked an appetite, not a thirst, while rambling a section of trail to an historic trestle bridge.
We’ve just lunched in a distillery, set in a converted railway station in Timboon, some 220km from Melbourne but just 17km inland from seaside Port Campbell, the closest town to the 12 Apostles and a captivating stretch of the Great Ocean Road.
Lunch included a dish of regional small goods “cheeses, meats and condiments but all of us have been eying post luncheon pursuits.
An ice creamery is just across a creek from the distillery. Whisky tasting is a stumble from the table we’ve dined at.
My wife and I let the boys have their independence – Timboon has a safe and friendly small-town countenance – and they depart for ice cream. The adults next stop is the bar by a copper still.
The whiskies are a surprise, much easier to drink than Scottish tipples and we buy a bottle of the Port Expression Single Malt with hand-written distilling information on the label. The feature is as charming as Timboon.
The last train whistled out of town in the 1980s and locals may have been busy reinventing their town since. A strawberry farm, gourmet food store, cafes and eclectic shopfronts complement the distillery and Timboon Fine Ice-cream, established by former dairy farmers some 20 years ago.
Later in the evening, after an afternoon tour of local farm-gates – the regions food producers have produced a map – pondering where I might hang the print bought from a local store, I’m surprised when I chew on crunchy pieces of pavlova.
The ice cream might be the finest I’ve tasted. I forget about the picture puzzle and wonder how the crunch in the pavlova has been preserved.
When my wife suggests we go wild and have a nightcap, we take nips of single malt to a deck, near gums silhouetted in the moonlight, while our boys ready for bed.
The aspiring comedian son re-emerges from the bathroom too quickly.
What is it?I ask.
Since we love you, and shared the ice-cream with you, maybe you’d let us taste the…
I don’t let him finish.
The strawberries we picked?
Must be the cheese.
I’m the funny one, dad.
We have slivers of Apostle Whey Cheese for breakfast. To humour the comedian I’d considered giving the whisky an appearance. But I’d packed early and already secreted it away.
Words by Greg Clarke
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.