Monday, July 23, 2018

Little River Hotel, Little River by Foghorn Leghorn

Little River is a speck on the map between Melbourne and Geelong, but it has a couple of claims to fame. It gave its name to the Little River Band, and it was a filming location for the first Mad Max movie.

Little River Hotel, Little River, lamb shanks
Lamb shanks

Mrs Shiraz and I occasionally go for a stroll in the You Yangs, and the closest place to eat afterwards is the Little River Hotel. It’s a country-style pub, similar to what you’ll find in small towns much further from Melbourne.

Normally in a country pub we choose the lowest-risk option, which is fish and chips. The meal goes straight from the freezer into boiling oil, so there’s not much that can go wrong. But looking around the pub in Little River on a Sunday, we could see that lots of people had driven from elsewhere to have lunch, so the food should be better than the country average. We decided that I would try the lamb shanks, and Mrs Shiraz would have a scotch fillet steak.

Little River Hotel, Little River, steak
The steak turned out to be very good. We asked for medium rare, and that’s what arrived – in most country pubs they overcook it to death. The accompanying chips were nice and crisp.

The lamb shanks were middling (see first pic). The meat itself was good, but it was lying in a puddle of watery gravy which had half-dissolved the potato mash. There was lots of broccoli. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “Gee, I wish they served more broccoli with the meals”. President George HW Bush famously banned it from the White House.

Including a bottle of wine, the meal cost us $81. That’s a full Melbourne price, and more than I expected to pay. Thinking about it afterwards, I wondered why we didn’t just hop on the train to Sunshine, 30 minutes away, for yum cha. Mrs Shiraz said we can’t eat yum cha every weekend, but I don’t see why not.

Little River Hotel, Little River
Still, it was pleasant to sit outside in the winter sunshine. This is one advantage of a country pub: there’s usually lots of outdoor space. The trick with Little River (and the You Yangs) is that it’s best to go in winter or early spring, as the area is notorious for its dryness. It’s in the rain shadow of the Otways, so its annual rainfall is comparable to that of Shepparton or Echuca. If you go in summer, you might find it a bit desolate.

Little River Hotel, Little River. train station
Little River train station

Little River is easily accessible by train. It’s on the Melbourne-Geelong line, has trains every 40 minutes on weekends, and is 45 minutes from Spencer Street, 20 minutes from Geelong. The station has beautiful old bluestone buildings from the 19th century. Sadly, it’s all boarded up, but perhaps somebody will see the potential for a restaurant or cafĂ© one of these days.

The train journey has its own point of interest. The new train line (2015) runs through suburbs that didn’t exist a few years ago. Melbourne’s population grew by a million people in the last decade, and many of them moved into this part of town. Strangely enough, Little River itself is untouched. The next stop along the line, Lara, has grown from a few hundred people to 30,000. Little River has stayed at around 1,000.

Little River Hotel, Little River, You Yangs
Melbourne view from You Yangs

Getting to the You Yangs, 8 km along the You Yangs Road, is more complicated. Ten years ago it was a pleasant bike ride along a quiet country road. Now, with suburban growth all around, there are too many cars for comfort. Maybe they’ll put in a bike path or footpath one day (there’s plenty of room along the road reserve), but for the time being the best option is probably taxi or Uber. I don’t know if there are Ubers in Little River, there are bound to be some in Lara.

Little River Hotel, Little River


We liked it
We liked it.
Mid value
Mid value.


Overall, then, we liked the Little River Hotel. It’s not cheap, but it’s a country experience that’s an easy day-trip from Melbourne.

Find it at

Little River Hotel
14 Flinders Street
Little River VIC 3211
Phone: (03) 5283 1113

Little River Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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