Worth a Trip: Noorat
Detouring inland from the Great Ocean Road, you'll come across the Kanawinka Geotrail, a fertile, undulating region stretching across the entirety of southwestern Victoria and into South Australia. It's characterised by its several-thousand-year-old volcanic features, including a string of extinct (or possibly dormant) volcanoes. Most famous are Tower Hill and Mt Eccles, but the grassy rice-bowl crater of Mt Noorat is one of many little-known stops along this route.
The tiny township of Noorat, a 30-minute drive north of Timboon, is so small that in 2012 it was officially stripped of its status as a town when its population dipped below 200 residents. Experiencing something of a revival since, Noorat has seen a number of new businesses open in abandoned buildings.
The shining example of this rebirth is the Mt Noorat Hotel: in the hands of new owners, the grand 1909 red-brick pub received a classy refit. It now features a tasteful dining room, a rustic front bar and art-filled pub accommodation decorated in a mix of contemporary and vintage chic.
As for Mt Noorat volcano, you can climb to its crater rim for excellent views of the vast landscape out to the Lakes and Craters Precinct. The trailhead is on Morack St along the Alan Marshall Trail; from there it's a 25-minute return walk to the rim or around a 40-minute return hike to clamber to the 310m peak.