Colac Otway: A tasty move to country Victoria

Dan Hunter, restauranteur

April 20, 2015

Dan Hunter secretly hoped he’d find his latest project in the Otway hinterland. Little did he realize he would grow his business to be in the World’s Top 50 Restaurants.

And he’s certainly attracted great attention amongst gourmands, the media and closer to home, in Birregurra, the closest town to his new restaurant Brae, and the Hunter family’s new home.

While his hopes were to find something in the region, it took a three-year search to find exactly the right property, formerly Sunnybrae, a must-stop former farm house, transformed and run as a restaurant of choice for decades by George Biron and Diane Garrett.

“I’d spent childhood holidays in Apollo Bay so I’ve always appreciated this region,” he says.

“We looked at  a lot of different properties all over the place, but eventually we found the perfect opportunity in Sunnybrae – now Brae.”

Hunter previously spent six and a half years at the acclaimed Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld, and his latest move to country Victoria is in the magical foothills of the Otways – attracting a bevy of adventurous foodies to the region, and hauling in more accolades and headlines as he settles in.

“What I love is the accessibility we have here – obviously to Geelong and Melbourne, but the proximity to the coast (just 20 minutes down the road) is just phenomenal,” Hunter says.

“On the production side, we’re also really accessible to a broad range of excellent product – whether it’s whipping down to get seafood from Apollo Bay, or picking wild blackberries in the Otways…it’s all just down the road.”

At Brae – there is a new polish with its new inhabitants.  In a restaurant that was fiercely loved by locals and the ‘weekender locals’ from beach side communities over the hills; it seems Dan has moved in and quietly adjusted, polished, and reworked (not dramatically), but enough to call it his own.  Like the seasonal produce he works with to coax out the most memorable of flavours, he’s worked the landscape and the original restaurant and drawn out its best.

Of course, having such a well-renowned chef is also a boon for the region. Brae is now ranked 44 in  the World’s Top 50 Restaurants and attracts local, interstate as well as international guests to dine and stay in Birregurra.

“It’s an incredibly open community.  We found people walking up to us on the street to welcome us when we first arrived.  Not in a creepy way, more in a hospitable, ‘we know who you are and if you need anything let us know.’”

And that same hospitality found in downtown Birregurra is one that carries on to the homestead on the hill, Brae, and one of its newest residents.

Follow the example of one of the country’s leading chefs. Make the move to country Victoria and enjoy life in Colac Otway where you’ll discover the great jobs regional Victoria offers, some of the most affordable housing in Victoria and a family lifestyle to envy.