The best roadtrip destinations in Victoria for live music fans

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The best roadtrip destinations in Victoria for live music fans


The roadtrip is an age-old ritual that loosens the shoulders and washes away any worries.

There’s nothing like jumping into a car and hitting the open road to create some bonds and refresh your poor city-stomped soul. While we may think of Melbourne as a one-stop shop when it comes to live music, Victoria’s regional towns boast a treasure trove of live venues to rival our inner-city hangouts. So grab some mates, buckle up and start making your way through the best gig venues that are well worth the trek.

The Eastern, Ballarat

Ballarat’s enigmatic dive The Eastern has a feverish appetite for rock’n’roll, turning heads with quality local and international lineups week after week. At the top, The Eastern has welcomed the likes of US talents Spray Paint, Guantanamo Baywatch, Sonny & The Sunsets and The Screaming Females while it’s local billings are equally impressive – Kim Salmon, The Meanies, The Peep Tempel and Cable Ties have jumped on board. The Eastern’s a testament to the profitability of modesty and proficiency combined with punters concurring the friendliness of the venue’s staff.

Theatre Royal, Castlemaine

The Theatre Royal’s history harks all the way back to 1854, where it fulfilled the social desires of thousands of diggers who flocked to the region to fossick golds and riches. Irish dancer and courtesan Lola Montez commenced its entertainment legacy in 1856, stimulating males with raunchy displays atop the stage. Since then, the Theatre Royal’s become a versatile hunting ground for any form of showbiz – strip shows, film and most notably, live music. Over the past year, Total Control, Gold Class, Gareth Liddiard and the Cosmic Psychos have graced the stage.

Barwon Club, Geelong

As Geelong surmounted the first decade of this millennium, a raging storm loomed. Live music would reach a lull and once prominent venues such as The National, The Wrong Crowd and Yarra Hotel would be forced to close its doors. Once energetic punters became shy and the city would have to rely on its Melbourne neighbour to pull crowds. The storm that drove venue after venue into a vortex did nothing but steel The Barwon Club. The venue survived and has your Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays sorted week after week. Recent slots from Japandroids, Horrorshow and Ball Park Music are particular highlights.

Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan

Walk into the Meeniyan Town Hall on any given day and absorb the resonating hollers reverberating from its walls. So many drum kicks, guitar riffs and vocal croons have traversed the bandroom that unanticipated murmurs have become eternal. Think of Paul Kelly, Kurt Vile, Renee Geyer and more and the South Gippsland music lifeblood has played host. It’s an intimate setting best fitted for discreet composers which has seldom undergone alteration facilitating its perpetual charm.

Major Tom’s, Kyneton

The Kyneton Town Hall foots the town’s bill when it comes to theatre and stage productions but what about music? The Kyneton Music Festival continues to grow year after year but for somewhere you can depend on, Major Tom’s is your outlet. Not many music venues can boast an equally killer food menu but Major Tom’s has consummated its marriage of the two pillars – their burgers are something else. La Bastard dropped in recently while Ben Salter has also taken to the stage.

Baha, Rye

Rye’s riotous music haven Baha is the Mornington Peninsula’s indelible live hotspot outside of Frankston. Rock juggernauts have come and gone, including the likes of Dallas Frasca, Ocean Alley and Dirt River Radio while the eloquent songwriters, Kim Churchill and Sarah McLeod, have also performed. Not many venues nail the partnership of music and food like Baha – a stellar taco menu keeping punters happy before and after the show.

Golden Vine Hotel, Bendigo

The Golden Vine has stood strong despite Bendigo’s undulating music appetite. The calendar’s always full as the venue endeavours to put live music back on the map. Bands of blues and roots heritage commonly fill the venue but also rock outfits such as Smoke Stack Rhino and Birdhouse have dropped by recently. Golden Vine’s menu is just as enduring – the pork belly and nachos definitive favourites.

Karova Lounge, Ballarat

Looking for contemporary hit-makers in a regional setting? Look no further than Ballarat’s Karova Lounge. The big names don’t stop with Meg Mac, Illy, British India and Boo Seeka making the trip over the next few months. Booker Shaun Adams is a genius and has a knack for locking in names exceeding the venue’s reputation. Earlier this year, Karova hosted Peking Duk for a street party in the venue’s carpark. Enough said.

The Loft, Warrnambool

Conquer Victoria’s idyllic expanse, the Great Ocean Road, and you land at the feet of Warrnambool. The capital of the south-west caters for all the needs and luxuries of those a bit jittery amidst the big smoke, while also boasting one of regional Victoria’s most prolific live venues. The Loft nurtures Warrnambool revolving wave of musicians and is consistently billed on regional tours. Credentials include Thy Art Is Murder, Frenzal Rhomb and The Bennies.