There aren’t many destinations that warrant a five-hour return trip from Melbourne, but Dooley’s Ice Cream in Apollo Bay is definitely one of them.
Nestled in the beautiful seaside village of Apollo Bay, Dooley’s Ice Cream is conveniently located within a stone’s throw from the beach on the Great Ocean Road. Famed for their award-winning ice cream, they have developed somewhat of a cult following amongst locals and tourists alike since opening their doors in 2002. In the heat of summer (or even chilly days for that matter), it’s a common sight to see a queue of hungry ice cream fans lining the street to get their hands on one of their sweet treats.
To prove just how good their ice cream is, Dooley’s Premium Chocolate ice cream has just been awarded the esteemed 2016 Australian Grand Dairy Champion Award, which is no mean feat. The Australian Grand Dairy Awards began in 1999 to recognise and reward excellence and innovation in Australian dairy produce. More than 300 of Australia’s top dairy products – from milk, cream and butter to yoghurt, ice cream and cheese – were put through a rigorous judging process, assessed by 24 expert judges. Only gold-medal winning producers were invited to enter, meaning Dooley’s chocolate ice cream has won the ‘best of the best’ ice cream in the country. And only last year they won the 2015 award for their Premium Vanilla ice cream.
To make the award even sweeter, I had the pleasure of visiting Dooley’s Ice Cream a couple of weeks ago to discover the tricks of the trade and the secret behind their success.
Founder, Dooley Milner and his daughter Alyciandra, lead the team at Dooley’s– and they are just the most delightful, down to earth people you’ll ever meet. It’s obvious they have put their heart and soul into their family business over the last 14 years.
Dooley has always loved ice cream, but is quick to admit he can be quite fussy. Prior to opening the shop, he struggled to find a quality scoop of ice cream. According to Dooley, many of the other options “lacked flavour and body”. So he took matters into his own hands and started researching and reading dozens of books about the art of ice cream making.
In 2002 he purchased the shop and started weaving his magic in the on-site kitchen, and after much trial and error made a base ice cream formula which he was finally happy with. By 2008, the Royal Melbourne Show asked Dooley’s Ice Cream if they wanted to enter their awards. Out of six entries, they won one gold and three silver awards. They have since won a staggering 314 awards to add to their collection and 14 trophies, which they display proudly in the shop’s prized trophy cabinet.
There’s a great range of flavours available at Dooley’s Ice Cream with both ice cream, gelati and sorbet on offer. A contemporary ice cream container, shipped all the way from Italy, takes centre stage stocking 24 ice creams, eight gelato and six sorbets at once. From traditional flavours like vanilla, cookies and cream and honeycomb (the crowd favourite), to innovative flavours like liquorice, lemon curd and black truffle, all ages and palates will be looked after here. Vegemite fans will love the Vegemite ice cream which has a really interesting contrast between savoury and sweet, the perfect accomplice to the Premium Chocolate flavour.
If you’re looking for creamy comfort of the liquid kind, don’t miss one of their luxurious milkshakes, which can be made from any ice creams of your choice.
Produced on the premises, I had the pleasure of seeing the process behind their creamy delights. It starts with the ice cream base which is processed first in the mixtronic, then moved to the ageing vat for at least 24 hours, before being placed in the batch freezer where it churns and freezes it. The most fun part is seeing the velvety ice cream pour out of the blast chiller in the final stage.
So what is the secret behind Dooley’s success? “Quality and premium ingredients”. says Dooley proudly. Well, I can’t wait to try more.Next time, I will come prepared with an esky to takeaway a stash of their tasty tubs.
Dooley’s Ice Cream
A 89 Great Ocean Rd, Apollo Bay VIC 3233