Marengo is just under three hours from Melbourne, on the wild southern ocean, with plenty of nature surrounding, and lots of good food, coffee and things to see and do. The only thing left to figure out is where you should stay.
Cypress Hill is atop the hill past the township of Marengo, five kilometres from Apollo Bay, as the road turns inland. Set on an acre of land, with a handful of black-face sheep in a fenced-in corner, the house is immediately recognisable from the Great Ocean Road with it's imposing concrete and glass facade.
We booked through Airbnb for an 8-person birthday weekend away, and the property is ideal for a group booking. With three bedrooms (master king, queen and bunk-bed & queen) set on one side of the house, the other end hosts the uninterrupted dining, kitchen and living areas. In the middle of the house, opposite the impressive entryway of early 20th century Commonwealth Bank doors from Little Collins Street, is an open study. Throughout the house are floor-to-ceiling windows offering views over Bass Strait, lush green fields, and the eucalypts surrounding the property (including a resident koala or two).
The kitchen is well equipped, with plenty of pots, pans and utensils to match the microwave, dishwasher, coffee machine (not working when we visited) and 5-burner chef's Technika stovetop and oven. The cooking bench is spacious and allows plenty of interaction with the rest of the entertaining space, central to which is the amazing handmade timber dining table extending, which can comfortably seat 16 people on the naturally-shaped twin wooden benches. Past the dining area is a couch, coffee table, and entertainment system, with some DVDs, music and board games included. Outside offers undercover decks wrapping around the house, including a smaller dining table and seating, and large gas barbecue. During the colder months, a wood fire in the dining area is centrally placed along the wall, and there are split-system air conditioning units at either end of the house.
With an ensuite featuring heated floors, towel rack and an enormous walk-in robe, the other two bedrooms are served with a separate toilet to their own bath and shower. Throughout the bedrooms and study are soft carpet floors, and in the entertaining areas of the house and passageways are hardwood floors. The house is well-insulated and very peaceful.
Marengo is two kilometres away, and continuing along the Great Ocean Road or parallel beach is a good walk to Apollo Bay. Be warned, though, as the return journey features a 150 metres ascent back to the property! As mentioned, there are a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants to try within Apollo Bay.
Going the other direction, Great Otway National Park is less than ten minutes away by car, or can be reached on foot via the nearby Elliot River track. There are plenty of hikes available, ranging from just under two kilometres to more taxing five kilometres-plus. About twenty kilometres along is the Otway Lighthouse Road, leading to 'Australia's most important light station,' as well as additional hikes, walks, and beaches. Beyond, the Great Ocean Road stretches onwards to the Twelve Apostles.
Cypress Hill is pet and kid-friendly, inside and out, with a couple of doghouses in a fenced in area near the property water tanks. There are some very interesting architectural and design features throughout the house, such as the section of Westgate Bridge from the 1970 collapse, and the exposed concrete throughout the house. The house notes include a detailed history of the house and Cypress Hill was also featured on the Channel 9 travel show, postcards. Holiday Great Ocean Road are very easy to deal with and responded within a few minutes to any inquiries.