If you really want to get a feel for a country town, stop in at a local pubic house. Victoria's historic Gold Rush era pubs and heritage facades are often the grandest buildings on Main Street and home to some of the best country kitchens and locally brewed ales and beers. Local characters propped at the bar will happily help you with directions, or swap a yarn.
Great Ocean Road
Port Fairy's Caledonian Inn claims to be the oldest continuously licensed pub in Victoria. Queenscliff also has a host of plush, old colonial drinking joints, and you'll find lovely locals in beachfront pubs at Torquay and Lorne.
Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges
Around here you'll find great local produce on bar menus and in swish hotel dining rooms. Eat at the Farmers Arms and the Daylesford Hotel, and try the pub breakfast at the Royal George Hotel. Stop at the Cosmopolitan Hotel or Lyonville's Radio Springs Hotel for live music and Sunday sessions.
Historic Goldfields pubs are gems worth travelling to for a Sunday session. Head over to The Provincial Hotel in Ballarat, Bendigo's Goldmines Hotel or Maldon's Kangaroo Hotel, formerly a changing station for Cobb & Co.
For great food, visit the grand old Tanswells Commerical Hotel in Beechworth, and well-loved locals the Mountain View Hotel, Whitfield, and the Thoona Pub, at the foot of the Warby Ranges. Book in at the renowned Stanley Hotel for great French fare.
Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges
While you're out and about exploring wine country, make time for long-time local favourite Healesville Hotel, which keeps its old-school country charm while unassumingly raking in food awards.
In the remote foothills of the Dargo High Plains, a visit to the Dargo Hotel makes for an old-school, no-frills country pub experience. Pop in for a meal and a pint, and sleep off your big meal in a log cabin behind the pub.