Deans Marsh: the Great Vic Bike Ride’s unofficial "Best stop-over"
Published on 19 December 2019
Deans Marsh was the final rest stop on the Great Vic Bike Ride 2019 and the riders were in for a surprise when they arrived in the hinterland farming village after travelling the Great Ocean Road from Robe, past Port Fairy and the 12 Apostles.
It was an overcast morning, with a few ominous-looking clouds threatening to call into action the back-up plan. But, after checking and re-checking the Bureau of Meteorology website for forecasts, the optimistic call was made to run the market outdoors.
As stallholders arrived, so too did the first of the riders – providing an early traffic management challenge for the capable Bicycle Network volunteers.
But, it wasn't the weather or the traffic management challenges that brought the biggest surprise for the riders. It was the warm (and delicious) welcome they received from the eleven local businesses and community groups from Deans Marsh, Pennyroyal Valley and surrounds, who set up an impressive mini-market.
By midday, when the market and camp site were due to open, riders crowded at the gate, eager to find the source of the tantalising smells of smoked meats and wood-fired pizzas.
Hungry bellies were soon filled with the tempting tastes of the region, with particular highlights coming from the Phillip's family pizzas, and smoked meats and vegetables from Gentle Annie Berry Gardens.
The gong for "First to sell out" went to the Birregurra CWA baked goods store, while Dom and Krystina from Pondalowie Vineyards were still busy with sales, even after the other stallholders had packed up.
Many of the riders said the Deans Marsh activation was the best welcome they’d seen from any town along this year’s ride - some going so far as to declare it the best town activation ever.
Charitable donations made by stallholders as thanks for the opportunity to participate in the market will contribute to the Deans Marsh Community Cottage Local Food Showcase, to be held on the opening night of the 2020 Deans Marsh Festival.
Surf Coast Shire Council and Deans Marsh Community Cottage collaborated to deliver the mini-market as a community activation, recognising the opportunity to showcase the town’s many agri/food tourism attractions to a more or less captive audience of over 4,000 visitors.
Other attractions for the day included a special opening of the Frogwood Arboretum, as well as a kids’ activity zone and Pony Poo Lotto organised by the Deans Marsh Primary School community.
Council’s Economic Development team also created and promoted several Discover Deans Marsh cycle tourism routes. These routes will help rider (and non-rider) visitors explore some of the fantastic food and wine destinations within short (less than one hour ride time) loops.