Primary care is the foundation of a nation’s health care system. Real world research is a requirement of a health system built to deliver the benefits of a strong primary care community. In the last decade, new approaches to optimising the impact of research on practice and policy have been formulated across disciplines. However, in Australia, the primary care research community remains small and primary care researchers are not well represented in either receiving support for or governing research. While practice-based research networks (PBRNs) have brought GPs and, sometimes, other clinicians together with academics, few have managed to bring local decision makers and other primary health care stakeholders into partnerships where they can work together on common problems. This paper outlines a novel three-way partnership between a health authority, a primary care organisation and a university in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. A case study was undertaken based on author experience of the Southern Academic Primary Care Research Unit (SAPCRU) and semi-structured interviews with representatives from partner organisations. Interviews elicited perceived barriers and facilitators, including complex financial, human resources and governance challenges, associated with bridging the gap between research and practice. It was found that SAPCRU has been successful in engaging with research partners and has begun to develop links with policy makers and orient research themes to the needs of its varied communities.Especially with the introduction of Primary Health Networks (PHNs), the model has the potential to translate to different settings but barriers should be noted.