There's not much at Wye River, population about 100. But once the surfers and sun-seekers descend each summer along this little stretch of the Great Ocean Road between Separation Creek and Kennett River, numbers can swell to about 4500.
Clever, then, are the entrepreneurial new owners of the old-style convenience store and manual post office. They recruited architectural firm Six Degrees to spruce up the original old red-brick building and add a small takeaway food kiosk at the side, a spacious beach cafe, a large deck with blinds and heater and a baker's oven in the cafe kitchen that seems to pump around the clock.
When the chefs have finished producing meals each day, baker Pip Hayes (recently back from Paris, where he took tips from Poilane) starts baking for the following day: classic artisan bread, croissants, Turkish bread and divine pastries, Polish doughnuts, brownies, clafoutis, macarons and Portuguese tarts ($3.50 to $5.50 each) — from which guests often choose a selection for dessert.
While surfers might waft in and out in wetsuits, guests can sip a coffee, wine or beer on the deck while still being able to keep a watchful eye on any offspring who might be playing in the adjoining park.
Menus are written on a blackboard with breakfast specials until 11.30am and a full roast offered on Sundays. We sip a Foster e Rocco rose from Heathcote ($9.50 a glass, $42 a bottle) while we contemplate the offerings.
We decide to share a bowl of North African spiced pumpkin soup with lemon yoghurt ($12.50) — deliciously flavoured with cumin, caraway seed, paprika, coriander and fenugreek.
I then opt for a slow-braised lamb dish with white beans ($26) while my husband can't go past the fish and chips — perfectly cooked rock ling and fat hand-cut chips ($26).
You can still buy everything from baked beans and bait to tent pegs in the revamped general store but the range of comestibles has gone up a few notches to cater for the discerning holidaymakers.
Reviewed by Tricia Welsh, who was hosted by Tourism Victoria.
The Wye General Store and Cafe, 35 Great Ocean Road, Wye River 5289 0247. Open daily 7.30am-4pm, Fri-Sat until 10pm. See wyerivergeneralstore.com.au. VicRoads 519 S6. To stay: nearby options include The Deck House (www.thedeckhouse.com.au), Horizons (stayz.com.au) and Surfbreaker (greataccommodation.com.au/site/skenes).