It’s lucky that Forrest is leafy-green. If not, there’d be some bloody confused tourists passing through. This tiny town in Victoria’s Otway region, positioned between Birregurra and Skene’s Creek, is famed for its mountain biking track, nighttime Platypus tours and brewery. With just a handful of businesses, this little green town is the chilled-out Yin to the city’s fast-paced Yang.
We recently had breakfast with Emma and Pete, returning Forrest locals and owners of Forrest Guesthouse and its on-site restaurant, Bespoke Harvest.
Pete: The Forrest Guesthouse was established 20 years ago before cafes and tourism were part of the town. It used to be a timber milling town and farming hub.
I worked as a park ranger for nearly 20 years around Victoria and Broken Hill, and still love to talk wildlife. Join him on a mountain bike ride on the Forrest MTB trails, and you’ll discover things about our local bushland you never knew.
Emma: I suppose we’ve always had something to do (plus its a great place). My great, great grandfathers were timber cutters, my Pa and Dad were dairy farmers, and now we run a Guesthouse and Restaurant. Australian history 101 right there.
My favourite thing about offering accommodation is giving people the opportunity to escape from their everyday. Especially in Forrest, where there are no shops, we don’t have TV in our rooms, so people find themselves relaxing and smelling the roses. Modern lifestyles are very much 24/7 with smart phones, news feeds and social media. It’s nice to put that aside for a couple of days.
We get a great range of guests – 25% are mountain bike riders, 25% are international tourists exploring the Otways and doing platypus tours, 25% are having a weekend away, and the balance are here for work or a group activity – ie. birthday, special occasion.
We tell them to get outdoors and have fun. The Otways are blessed with an abundance of spectacular natural attractions. Just a short walk in the local bush will rejuvenate your senses.
We offer bed and breakfast, so many days start at 7am preparing the buffet breakfast in our café. Our café operates seven days a week, so I’m often hanging out there from 10am – 4pm. Plus, getting our kids to school, taking them to sport and friend’s places.
We bought the guesthouse as a going concern two years ago. We fell in love with the gorgeous country style – timber floor boards, timber panelling, big verandahs.
There’s a bright future [for regional accommodation] I hope.
My Mum’s stovetop espresso. It’s always served with a 2-hour catch-up on local news. Our leaf tea – our tea provider in Geelong. I love trying their new blends.
We have koalas everywhere.
Best road trip?
Anywhere around Broken Hill. We used to live there, and I still miss the massive vistas. Australia is blessed with a colour palate of countryside that creates lifelong memories and relationships.
Dream road trip?
INXS on the playlist, knowing you had plenty of time, a long open road and someone beside you willing to talk about renewable energy, sustainable practices (in a solar powered car, of course!)
– Visit the site next week for our interview with Simon Stewart, Chef at Bespoke Harvest –