Discovering Barwon Heads on a road trip is like hitting gold. A tiny town with a big personality, nestled along the Bellarine Peninsula about 1.5hrs from Melbourne, it's one of those places that makes you feel like a kid again. Expect instead of blue heaven milkshakes and newspaper-wrapped fish & chips (of which there are both), you're surrounded by provedore delights and gorgeous designer clothing and homewares.

The main street, Hitchcock Ave, is lined with eclectic boutiques interspersed with an old-school post office, newsagency and milk bar so you don't forget your roots. Unlike other towns that have risen to similar popularity, Barwon Heads has managed to remain unpretentious. Sandy thongs and surf gear are still welcome here.

It has another magical element; even in the cold, it smells like summer.

I spent a sunny afternoon there taking happy snaps of some of the amazing boutiques and chatting with the super friendly locals. Here's a few of my favourite spots:

Annie's Provedore
First stop, gourmet lunch at Annie's Provedore, a fabulous cafe & produce store worthy of a very long lunch.

Image courtesy of Annie's Provedore

An amazing melt-in-your-mouth duck terrine.

A major retailer of world-renowned Finnish textiles and clothing design company Marimekko, you can't go past Kiitos for a quirky and colourful selection of homewares, clothing and gifts. There's also an array of eco-friendly products, from biodegradable belts to wallets made out of recycled maps. Kiitos stocks a wide range of Marimekko products including homewares, fabrics and kitchenware, as well as my personal favourite, Funkis clogs! You can shop online (http://www.kiitos.com.au/) but it's worth a visit in person.

Moss Grotto
A trip to Barwon Heads would not be complete without spending a little time browsing through the gorgeous selection of eclectic artefacts, homewares and fashion items found in Moss Grotto. Many of the products are handmade in South Africa, Mexico and India and you can feel that there's a story behind them. There's nothing mainstream about this store. I fell in love with the design, it's an absolute visual feast featuring plenty of wood and ethnic colours and textures. Owner Alex O'Halloran follows a 'decoration without explanation' mantra... there are no rules, if you love it, surrond yourself with it. Makes sense to me.

The Red Pigeon
Yet another stunning little store jam packed full of decorating goodies, many of which are eco-friendly. Again, I loved owner Martine's use of natural wood to decorate the space.

And I couldn't close without leaving you with a glimpse of the natural beauty of the Bellarine Peninsula...

Annie's Provedore: 2/50 Hitchcock Avenue, 03 5254 3233, http://www.anniesprovedore.com.au/
Kiitos: Shop 2, 5-7 Bridge Road, 03 5254 1835, http://www.kiitos.com.au/
Moss Grotto: 3/53 Hitchcock Avenue, 03 5254 2277, mossgrotto.blogspot.com
The Red Pigeon: Shop 3, 45 Hitchcock Avenue, 03 5254 1840, http://www.theredpigeon.com.au/


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