First populated by the indigenous Gadubanud people, Apollo Bay was a land explored largely by foot and sea

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In the beginning...

The Gadubanud (Katabanut) people occupied the rainforest plateau and rugged coastline of Cape Otway including the current towns of Lorne and Apollo bay. By the early 1800's this area was also familiar to sealers and whalers.

In 1845 the Bay was named by Captain Loutitt after he sheltered here in his vessel 'Apollo' on a voyage from Melbourne to Port Fairy.

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Aboriginal History

The Cape Otway area is part of the traditional lands of the Gadubanud Aboriginal People. The coastline and hinterland supplied the indigenous people fish, shellfish and other resources of food, implements and spiritual meaning over many thousands of years. 

Archaeological surveys reported numerous midden and tool making sites around Cape Otway, containing shells, fishbones and remanence of tools. Some of these artefacts are on display at the Mia Mia Indigenous Culture Centre located at the Cape Otway Lightstation. Indigenous guides stationed at the Mia Mia share stories and knowledge of their people as well as teaching kids about bush tucker.

Descendants of the Gadubanud people are represented today in local communities.

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Mia Mia Indigenous Cultural Centre2
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The Tale Of William Buckley

William Buckley was an escaped convict who was discovered by the Wathaurang people, and lived with them for many years until Bateman's party came across him in 1835.

"You've got 2 chances, Buckley's and none!"

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Apollo Bay History Trail

Take in the rich history of Apollo Bay along the Apollo Bay History Trail which follows the foreshore depicting some of the history of Apollo Bay since European settlement.

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The Old Cable Station Museum

The Cable Station officially opened on the 1st April 1936, it was the Victorian end of the first submarine telephone cable linking Tasmania via King Island to the mainland. The cable provided 6 telephone channels, 7 telegraph channels and a broadcasting channel for the ABC radio between Melbourne and Hobart. The cable operated until 1968, when a failure occurred in the section between king Island and Stanley, in Northern Tasmania. The link was then provided by radio.

Today the Museum is housed in the buildings from which the undersea cable connected Tasmania to the mainland and is operated by the Apollo Bay Historical Society. The museum displays relics from some of the shipwrecks and ship that were essentially the primary means of access before the Great Ocean Road and of the life of what was an extremely isolated community.

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Great Ocean Road History

The building of the Great Ocean Road is a story of resolve and conquest over adversity, and a triumph of great Aussie spirit and mateship.The road was built by returned soldiers, constructed as a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in the First World War. It was a huge engineering feat with Blood, sweat and anguish, resulting in a faster access for vehicles via a coastal route from Barwon Heads to Warrnambool. The Ocean provided the first connections with coastal settlements that mostly sprang up for commercial reasons.

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Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch

Built as a tribute to the soldiers from the First World War who were engaged in the construction of the Great Ocean Road. The Memorial Arch is made out of wood, with the sides being made out of stone and cement for support. The first arch was erected in 1939, and was replaced a few more times over the decades, including a time when a truck ran into the side of the arch, and another was created in 1983 when it was destroyed in the Ash Wednesday Bushfires. With all of the rebuilds and tear downs, the original sign still sits on the top of the arch, for all to see.Alongside the arch is a sculpture also commemorating the returned servicemen, which was commissioned and placed during the 75th anniversary of the road constructions.  These historical plaques can also be found all along the Great Ocean Road.

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Shipwrecked Coast

By the 1830's Bass Strait became an important part of the sea route between Europe and New South Wales, with many ships passing Cape Otway. The Cape Otway Lighthouse was built in 1848, commissioned by the New South Wales government to help ships cross the hazardous entrance of Bass Straight from the Southern Ocean. Many ships were wrecked along the coast of Cape Otway including SS Casino (1932), SS Shomberg (1855), Marie Gabrielle (1869), Loch Ard (1878), Eric the Red (1880) and Fiji (1891).

Anchors from the Marie Gabrielle and Fiji are embedded in the rocks at Wreck beach and can be seen on low tide.

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