Victoria-born actress Georgina Haig found fame in the States with gigs such as Queen Elsa in Once Upon a Time and as seamstress Emilia in Snowpiercer before returning home to play Rachel Rafter in the reboot of Packed to the Rafters. Now that she’s back in Australia, she’s bought a house in her hometown of Dromana. It’s a pleasant culture shock for Haig, her husband and young daughter, after living in Sydney and LA.

“Dromana’s only an hour from Melbourne, but it hasn’t been gentrified in the way of Sorrento,” she tells Broadsheet. “It’s got a drive-in with a 1950s diner, which adds to that kitsch, holiday-maker vibe. There’s a beautiful foreshore walk with all these beach boxes, and in winter it has all the drama of a stormy coastal town.”

And just 10 minutes away are the wineries and undulating hills of Red Hill. “Right now, all the leaves are changing colour and the mushrooms are coming up for foraging; it’s such a gorgeous time of year,” she says.

In partnership with American Express, Haig gave us her insider’s picks of the area.

STAY & DO

Peninsula Hot Springs
A 20-minute drive from Dromana, the Hot Springs are equally perfect for a day visit or a glamping overnighter. “They’ve done such an amazing job of landscaping to make it feel like you're in the natural environment,” says Haig. “There’s also an amphitheatre so you can watch musical performances while you’re sitting in the spring.”

EAT

Pier Street Kitchen
On the main drag of Dromana, this cafe has a modern Middle-Eastern twist. “I always go for the pumpkin and potato mash,” says Haig. “It’s perfect comfort food. They do still do Melbourne classics like the avocado smash, but Pier Street has unique dishes as well, and good coffee.”

Abelli Estate Winery
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to wineries in this region, but Haig’s newest go-to is Abelli Estate. “It’s really low-key while boasting a stunning valley view,” she says. You can sit on the balcony and eat Greek tapas. I’d recommend the tomato salad. It’s so simple but so good. Apparently it's something to do with a secret breed of tomatoes the owner stumbled across!”

DRINK

Many Little
Haig says this stylish restaurant is great for bar food and hearty Sri Lankan meals alike, but to cut to the chase: “The bartender makes great cocktails.” Try a Kirby’s Margarita, made with El Jimador Blanco, cucumber, agave nectar and lime, or the only daiquiri we could in good conscience ever recommend: the “Hemmingway”, made with toasted coconut, Havana Club, grapefruit and Maraschino liqueur.

SHOP

The Factory Antiques
“My friends from Melbourne who come down are like, ‘Is this the best industrial estate in the country?’” Haig says. As well as being home to Factory Antiques, there’s a meat chiller, a brewery, a gin distillery and a cheesery. “George from Factory Antiques has sourced me wool hooks and found me a Shakespearean doorknocker… He’s always finding stuff for me.”

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the American Express Shop Small program, encouraging Australians to support small business while travelling domestically. Learn more about Shop Small here.