The Flying Doctor’s Favourite Country Bakeries 2022 

Just as our planes need to refuel every few hours, so too do our road crews whenever they're crisscrossing our state’s freeways, highways and country roads.  

That’s how our teams have become the unofficial – yet unimpeachable – experts on the best bakeries worth stopping at across country Victoria. 

As a result, we polled our road crews to determine their favourite bakeries, and their go-to freshly baked treats. We were inundated with votes, glowing recommendations and impassioned testimonials, which led us to create our inaugural list of the Flying Doctor's favourite bakeries from around Victoria. 

Each of these bakeries keep our road crews properly fuelled, allowing them to continue to provide vital health care services to Victoria’s rural communities.  And considering how far our teams travel every single year, it's safe to say these refuelling stops are incredibly important to the work we do.

Wild Rye's - Cann River

Must try savoury treat: Cauliflower blue cheese pie
Must try sweet treat: Carrot cake

Wild Rye’s story began in 2005 in Pambula, NSW, as a producer of continental breads and fresh pastries. After gaining a following that couldn’t be contained in one shop front, the bakery expanded across the Victorian border into Cann River in East Gippsland.  

As owner Todd explains, the secret to Wild Rye’s success is a commitment to using only good quality ingredients. “Myself and my business partner, we both have a passion for food. We believe in letting the ingredients speak for themselves, rather than trying to do too much to try and enhance a poor-quality ingredient.” 

And you can really taste the difference. From the beef and lamb to the flour in the pastry, all of their ingredients are top shelf – and as local as possible. “All our dairy comes from Gippsland,” says Todd. 

Todd notes that Cann River was chosen as Wild Rye’s second home as it was the natural stopping point for him whenever he travelled south on the Princes Highway – “It’s the first place you stop if you leave Pambula, and it's the last place you stop coming back from Melbourne”. Being in the heart of the Far East Gippsland region, where many of our services operate, Wild Rye’s has also naturally become a favourite stopover point for our teams in need of a quality feed, and a fantastic coffee. 

What our team says:

“The BEST EVER steak and kidney pies, with chunks of kidney. The coffee’s great too.”
- Robyn, Flying Doctor Wellbeing - Bushfire Recovery Counselling and Support 

Bridgewater Bakehouse - Bridgewater on Loddon

Must try savoury treat: Cheese and bacon pie
Must try sweet treat: Vanilla slice

Bridgewater Bakehouse has been a staple of the Loddon region for more than 10 years. “We moved to town with our trucking business and decided that a bakery would be a good thing for the town and good for us as well,” says owner Patrick. The career change proved a successful one, and Patrick and wife Theresa have since opened two second outlets, in Bendigo and Kangaroo Flat. 

Located near the banks of the Loddon River, the original store is today a must-stop for those travelling the Calder Highway, not least of all due to the many awards its vanilla slice has won over the years. However, the bakery has also cemented itself as a local favourite, with Patrick and Theresa working hard to embed themselves in the community.   

“We spend a lot of money and time with the community with the football clubs and sponsoring any event that's happening,” says Patrick. “We give back as much as we can to support the town because they support us”. 

What our team says:

"My eyes say yes, my hips say no. If your patience can stand the lunchtime rush hour – which actually lasts three – you’ll be well rewarded. They do made-to-order sandwiches, kick arse sausage rolls and delicious coffee. I actually gained 1kg by just driving past this place!"
- Tom, Flying Doctor Education Program

Bakery on Broadway - Wycheproof

Must try savoury treat: Sausage roll
Must try sweet treat: Iced doughnut

To paraphrase an old proverb, it took a village to raise a bakery in Wycheproof. Six years ago, four local couples felt their town needed its own bakery, and so without any professional baking experience, they bought a building together and got to work transforming it into a bakehouse. 

“When we first opened, we thought, ‘Oh my god, what have we done?’ We couldn't keep up,” says co-owner Ann with a laugh. “We were making pies at midnight to keep up! Over the years though we added more staff, and today it’s a busy bakery with very good coffee.” 

With Wycheproof sitting halfway between Melbourne and Mildura, the bakery is naturally a great spot for drivers to stop, stretch their legs and refuel. However, at its heart Bakery on Broadway is still very much a bakery for the locals. 

“The idea of the bakery was to support other local businesses, as well as reinvigorate the town,” says Ann. “So, for instance, we get all our premium quality meats from our local butcher. And we support other businesses and clubs, and they support us.  

“We feel it’s a community bakery. We have a little box with books in it, and a gold coin donation goes towards our community car to keep that running. And a lot of locals will bring in their excess fruit and leave it here for people to grab as they’re heading through.” 

What our team says:

"They have amazing sausage rolls!"
- Lia, Flying Doctor Dental Clinic

Sharp's Bakery - Birchip

Must try savoury treat: Anything with their house-made bread
Must try sweet treat: Vanilla slice

Sharp’s is perhaps one of Victoria's most well-known bakeries, owing in no small part to its vanilla slice’s stella reputation. In 2022, Sharp’s Bakery won the Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph for the fifth time, as well as the annual Baking Association of Australia award for their vanilla slice in February. As a result, it’s now not uncommon to see a line snaking out the door and around the corner each day, with people from far and wide eager to try the country’s official best vanilla slice for themselves. 

Of course, there’s a lot more to Sharp’s than just their vanilla slice. As baker Brad points out, his is one of the only bakeries in the area that bakes all its own bread for sandwiches, instead of using store-bought bread. “We're pretty proud of that,” he says. 

Brad and wife Tara, who own the bakery together, both grew up in Birchip, and are passionate about giving back to the community through their steady stream of quality pies, pasties and, yes, vanilla slices. 

“We love producing fresh products for our town,” says Brad. 

What our team says:

"I loved everything from Sharp's Bakery, but the vanilla slice is a standout. The centre is soft and creamy while the pastry was crisp without being too dry."
- Austin, Flying Doctor Mobile Eye Care

Penshurst Store - Penshurst

Must try savoury treat: Sausage roll
Must try sweet treat: Jam doughnut

When Amanda and her husband decided to move to Penshurst from Horsham and open a bakery, they had no idea if theirs would be a story of success or ruin. 

“We quit our jobs, sold our house, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best,” laughs Amanda. 

The gamble turned out to be a winner, with business booming in a town grateful to have its first local bakery in more than five decades.  

“It's been really good just being part of the community here,” says Amanda. “You just help out where you can. We sponsor pretty much everyone here, clubs, schools, all that sort of thing. We give to them, and they give to us as well. It's really fantastic.” 

So committed are they to servicing their community that Amanda says her team will frequently have coffees and food ready for the local hospital staff and passing paramedics, even after they close.  

“We close at 2pm, and occasionally some of them will ring up and say they're coming through but they won't get here till maybe like half past. And we just say, ‘Yep, that’s no worries, we'll have your order ready'. We're normally here 3pm cleaning up anyway. So, if we can do things like that, we will.” 

It’s safe to say that Penshurst’s bakery is here for the long haul. 

“Although it was pretty nerve wracking at the start, we couldn’t have picked a better spot.” 

What our team says:

"Penshurst bakery do the best meat pastie that is full of chunks and not mush... love ‘em."
- Phillip, Flying Doctor Mobile Patient Care

Ouyen Mallee Bakery - Ouyen

Must try savoury treat: Chicken burger
Must try sweet treat: Vanilla slice

In northwest Victoria's Sunset Country, regular refuelling stops are essential, and you can’t go past Ouyen Mallee Bakery for a fresh-out-of-the-oven pick-me-up. 

This family-owned bakery is run by cousins Leah and Megan and their husbands, and was born out of a desire to be their own bosses, and give back to the community they loved. And since taking over the bakery in June of 2021, they have turned the space into an unofficial community centre. 

“The bakery is like the hub of the town. It's a place where people come to eat and catch up,” says Leah. “It's such a social place.” 

And with Ouyen sitting at the intersection of two of our most well-travelled highways – the Calder and the Mallee – it's not surprising the Ouyen Mallee Bakery has become a key stopping point for Flying Doctor road crews needing a well-earned break. 

What our team says:

"They have the best toasties and really good coffee."
- Tracey, Flying Doctor Dental Clinic

Elmore Bakery - Elmore

Must try savoury treat: Satay chicken pie
Must try sweet treat: Vanilla slice

For 13 years, Nathan and his wife have been at the helm of Elmore Bakery, a bustling bakehouse ideally located between Echuca and Bendigo. 

“It's just one of those stories of long hours spent working for someone else, and sort of figuring that if I'm going to do long hours, I might as well try and have a go myself,” says Nathan, reminiscing about his motivation to open his bakery in the first place.  

These days, Nathan starts baking every day at 1am, but the proof of his success is in the pudding – or, more accurately, the pie. Such hours are necessary though to turn out the quantity of cakes, pastries and other baked goods needed to stock not only their Elmore bakery, but their second storefront in East Bendigo. 

However, Nathan insists that even after more than a decade, it is still a labour of love, and he relishes the opportunity to feed Elmore’s locals. 

“It's the sort of community that everyone chips in and helps out when someone needs it, which I think is really good,” he says. 

What our team says:

"Elmore has the best coffee and doughnuts in central Victoria - prove me wrong!"
- Hayley, Flying Doctor Community Transport

Bucks Country Bakehouse - Yarck

Must try savoury treat: Veggie pastie
Must try sweet treat: Giant wagon wheels

Bucks Country Bakehouse is a family business in the truest sense of the term, with owners Dianne, Barney and their three children all involved in the running of the Yarck bakery. While having the whole family involved has proven to be a recipe for success, it has also led to some friendly competition in the kitchen. 

“We compete a little bit with our skills; for example, I do the prawn and scallop pie, but [son] Ben does the crab,” says Dianne. “And when we entered the pie competition, Ben got gold for his crab pie, and I got silver for the prawn and scallop. And he goes, ‘I’m the best’, so I’m thinking, ‘Right, that’s it, I'm gonna beat you next round’.” 

The family’s journey to Yarck was a long one – it even involved a stint at a station in New South Wales, where the three kids attended the School of the Air, and where both sons Ben and Will needed the Flying Doctor on separate occasions. However, now that they’ve become a part of the Yarck community, they don’t plan on heading anywhere else. 

“We really try to look after people as much as we can," says Dianne. “For example, we do muffins, and if you called up and said, ‘I really wanted six muffins’, but we’d run out, I'd say, ‘Give us a couple hours and we'll bake them for you, no worries’. And we'll have them ready for you when you come in a couple of hours. This is where we go the extra mile.” 

At their heart, Bucks is a family bakery for the whole community. 

“That's what we love about running a bakery: the people. I love customer service, and it costs nothing to be friendly. You know, people have got to come back. If you don't make a good product, people aren't going to come back, and if you're not friendly, they're not going to come back. So, I believe that you should never worry about what anyone else is doing, just worry about what you're doing and do it well.” 

What our team says:

"Our crews are on the best vanilla slice hunt, but my personal fave is Bucks Bakery."
- Naomi, Flying Doctor Mobile Patient Care

Every good Victorian road trip deserves a stop at a great country bakery.

These ones have the Flying Doctor’s tick of approval. 

Did we leave your favourite country bakery off our list? Nominate them to become an official Flying Doctor Refuelling Stop in 2023 by email us at