The bustling gold rush city of Ballarat is a destination for many Melburnians and tourists from far away places. But just 20-minutes north-west of Ballarat you’ll come across a beautiful small town called Learmonth, and in it you’ll find Café Sidra, an excellent cafe that needs to be at the top of your list.
We recently caught up with Cafe Sidra owners Anthony and Belinda to have a yarn about Café Sidra, and Learmonth itself.
How long have you owned Café Sidra? Was it a café beforehand?
We’ve just celebrated our second year as Café Sidra. The older you get the faster time goes and vice versa but it is really hard to believe that two years have passed already. We have met so many great people over time and we have had a lot of fun, so time flies.
The café premises has had several iterations over the years dating back as far as 1855. The Barnes family operated a wood merchant operation until the changed careers to funeral directors and still operate in Ballarat today. Then came the Ryan family dynasty that operated as a café and in more recent memory a fish and chip shop. Then to today’s layout as 321 Café and now Café Sidra.
What would someone head to Café Sidra for? And why the cider focus?
I think the reason people head out to Café Sidra is to enjoy wonderful house-made cakes, delicious lunches and to dine in the beautiful surrounds. The café is a beautiful building and we try our best to make people feel relaxed and comfortable.
The cider focus is all about 321 Cider. The 321 Cider is made from the heritage style cider apples that grow only a few kilometres from the café. Apples with names like, ‘Court of Wick,’ and ‘Yarlington Mill’, just to name a few, cover the hillside of Mt Weatherboard and produce the most amazing ciders.
A project to look forward to is the micro cidery that will open in the next few months, just across the road from Café Sidra. This will be where the apples from the orchard will be processed and a truly local Learmonth cider will be made.
What should first-time visitors know about Learmonth?
The township of Learmonth predates that of Ballarat and in fact, the original town hall for the Ballarat region was built on the High Street here in Learmonth.
It’s a beautiful, tree-lined town, nestled on the shore of Lake Learmonth and surrounded by rolling hills. It is right on the edge of the Great Divide and is the gateway to the Grampian Pyrenees wine region.
Any other great businesses in Learmonth or nearby that day-trippers should know about?
One great business that I must mention is Eastern Peak Winery. For any discerning foodie or wine buff, you have to pay a visit to see Norm or Owen. These guys know the area better than most and the wines Owen creates have won him the title of ‘Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of The Year‘.
Next door to Café Sidra is the Art Hall. Run by local artists Sarah and Geoff the Hall is not just a place of creating but one of learning and fun. It is a great place for a pop in if Sarah and Geoff are about.
The Stag Hotel is also another great spot to call in and have a cold refreshment. You will find the Stag at the end of the High Street, you can’t miss the pink fence.
Where: 321 High Street, Learmonth
Phone: (03) 5343 2272
Learmonth is located on the Sunraysia Highway, on the road to Avoca, St Arnaud and the Pyrenees wine region, and is surrounded by an agricultural, pastoral and dairy region. At the 2016 census, Learmonth had a population of 438.
- Creswick | 19km | 17-minute drive
- Clunes | 20km | 17-minute drive
- Ballarat | 22km | 21-minute drive
- Beaufort | 38km | 30-minute drive
- Daylesford | 48km | 41-minute drive
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- 5 Of The Best Airbnbs In The Kangaroo Valley
- 5 Of The Best Airbnbs Along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road
- Inside Jetty Road’s New Lorne Tap Room
- A New Airstream Hotel Has Popped Up At Nagambie’s Mitchelton Hotel
Image credit: supplied by Cafe Sidra