APOLLO BAY TO PORT FAIRY: OUR ANNIVERSARY ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROADby ALI VELLA
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous coastal routes in the world. But like many Victorians, I have barely seen half of it.
So, to celebrate our anniversary, Shaun and I decided to clear four days and take a road-trip from Apollo Bay to Port Fairy.
Here’s what we got up to:
DAY 1 – MELBOURNE TO APOLLO BAY
We had a slow start, leaving Melbourne after lunch. The first stop was Apollo Bay which is about three hours from home. We took the scenic route through Torquay, Anglesea and Lorne, where every bend in the road revealed a new landscape; from lush forest to peaceful cove.
On our way, we stopped at Kennett River, a small seaside town, just outside Lorne. It boasts a spectacular coastline, winding river and abundance of wildlife, including parrots, cockatoos and koalas.
About one hour later we reached Apollo Bay, where lush, green hills meet a calm, blue bay. We took in the view while eating fish and chips at Apollo Bay Fisherman’s Co-op. The local favourite eatery has been operating for more than 70 years, serving fresh seafood, straight from Bass Strait to your belly.
DAY 2 – APOLLO BAY TO OTWAYS
The second day was overcast with quite a lot of rain, but that didn’t stop us from exploring the natural wonders of the Great Ocean Road. We drove through thick forest to reach the Otways, stopping at Castle Cove to watch wild waves crash against the cliff face.
Then, we went to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures for an extreme rainforest experience. We had so much fun speeding through the leafy canopy and getting a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Otway Ranges from up high.
Afterwards, we drove 15 minutes down a gravel road to Triplet Falls. It was one of the most spectacular waterfalls I have ever seen, and definitely a highlight of the trip for me.
We were starving after our hike, so we stopped at Great Ocean Road Brewhouse for a parma and pint of Prickly Moses Handcrafted Beer. There was live music playing and the beer garden was packed; creating a lively atmosphere for our final night in Apollo Bay.
DAY 3 - APOLLO BAY TO WARRNAMBOOL
To celebrate our four year anniversary, Shaun and I went to the 12 Apostles – one of the most iconic landmarks on the Great Ocean Road. Then, we walked to Loch Ard Gorge to feel the sand between our toes and explore nearby caves.
For lunch, we headed to Simon’s Waterfront which is located in Warrnambool. With floor to ceiling windows, the view from the restaurant is spectacular. We took it all in with a glass of wine in hand as we watched the surfers zip in and out of the waves. With great service, fresh produce and an epic outdoor area, it’s no surprise that Simon’s Waterfront is a local favourite.
Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any more romantic, Shaun and I stumbled across Lake Pertobe Motor Boats and cruised along the lake, arm in arm. We may not have been on a gondola in Venice, but it sure as hell felt like it!
DAY 4 – WARRNAMBOOL TO PORT FAIRY
We kicked off the last day of our Great Ocean Road adventure with a coffee overlooking the water at Pavilion Café & Bar in Warrnambool. The coffee was to die for, and kept us warm as we walked the foreshore boardwalk, searching for a whale that was spotted the day before.
Port Fairy was a short, and scenic 25-minute drive from Warrnambool. Once we arrived, we headed straight to Griffiths Island, which is located at the mouth of Moyne River. We walked along the white sand and black rocks until we reached Port Fairy Lighthouse.
After, we fuelled up at Bank St + Co, which lived up to our expectations. We ordered a couple of their famous toasties and hot chips, along with an ice-coffee and decadent brownie. The cafe courtyard was the perfect place to soak up some afternoon sun.
We meandered Port Fairy’s beautiful town centre and boutique shops, before making our way back to Melbourne, with a quick stop at Basalt Wine’s rustic cellar door. We tasted Shane Clancey's award-winning pinot noir and brought a couple of bottles home for the family.
Exploring the Great Ocean Road was such a magical way to spend our anniversary weekend. We're already planning our next trip to Victoria's south west!