Australia is huge. Huger than you can imagine. Sure it looks big on a map but until you are trundling along a barron road in a camper van that sounds like it may explode at any second, you can't possibly comprehend the size.
As a result, we found it really hard to plan where to go. We hadn't done much research for our road trip because... Where do you start?! Obviously we had a couple of places on the hit list but aside from those when faced with a gargantuan map of Queensland and New South Wales, you can't Google every town listed on there or you'd never get anywhere!
We employed a combination of taking tips from people we met (Australian people are awesome!) which resulted in a number of off the beaten track, different locations that we would have missed, and choosing places that sounded funny. Hence, Gin Gin.
As a girl who loves a G&T or three, I couldn't not go through Gin Gin. Even when the internet returned little to no information about the place, it was firmly on the route. We stopped here between 1770 (the place, not the year... Obviously) and Coochin Creek (the latter being a story for another time..) and honestly, there was pretty much nothing there.
Nothing, apart from a small, cosy bakery and the quintissential landmark, Gin Gin hotel!
We eagerly hopped out of our camper van and walked across the sprawling mass of Gin Gin town in approximately 30 seconds and entered what was soon to become the holy grail of bakeries.
Rows upon rows of cakes, pastries, iced buns and doughnuts. A glass case filled with pillowy cream filled goodies and sumptuous custard tarts. A display case of freshly baked meat pies, steaming and delicious.
We stood there, eyes glazed over and slack jawed at the treasures that lay before us. A friendly lady behind the counter saw us and bemusedly asked if she could help us. I told her that we were happy to take her recommendations as we'd never be able to make a choice ourselves.
She insisted we get a meat pie. It was about 9.30am, but I was totally fine with that. It's not the first time I've had pie for breakfast (oh how I miss the good old FedEx days) and Aussie pies are a big part of the cuisine. There were so many flavours to choose from, so I figured the best thing to do would be go for the classic. Beef pie. Nothing fancy, keeping it simple.
And then the sweet stuff... It was so so hard to decide. I narrowed it down to something custard based and she suggested a custard slice thing. There was one next to it with caramelised almonds on the top which my eyes kept being drawn back to so I had to go for it. Harry got a custard tart, again, keeping things simple. Sometimes when there's that much choice, it's the best thing to do.
We collected our goodies and sat outside in the sunshine. I spilt my coffee in anticipation and we quickly realised that sharing a pie is pretty tough with no cutlery. I took a bite, burnt my mouth and then tore it in two with minimal mess. The mouth burn was worth it.
The pastry was light and flaky, the meat beautifully tender and the gravy so flavoursome and the perfect consistency. We devoured it in 0.83 seconds and sat there in silent shock and pleasant surprise at just how wonderful a beef pie could be.
But then, the piece de resistance. My almond custard slice.
It was effectively a slab of custard contained by two sheets of a thin chewy biscuit, the top one made with those caramelised almonds. As I bit through the chewy layer, through the perfectly set custard that wasn't too stodgy or too runny, angels sang. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. I nearly had tears in my eyes. The almond layer was sweet, but the intense vanilla flavour of the custard balanced it out perfectly. Harry's custard tart was good, but my choice definitely blew it out of the water and I begrudgingly gave him a few bites because it really was too good to keep to myself.
If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Gin Gin, the bakery is worth a huge detour. It was without doubt the best bakery we went to in Australia and we sampled a fair few (purely in order to give this review some gravitas - it was a tough job but someone had to do it). Most bakeries were pretty good, some great even, but Gin Gin bakery was a slice'o'pie above the rest.