I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published June 25th 2019
Surf Coast Sojourn
Aireys Inlet is a popular seaside holiday destination on the Great Ocean Road, between Anglesea and Lorne.
Aireys Inlet boasts some of the best coastal vistas you'll find along the Great Ocean Road. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
While the beaches either side of Aireys are spectacular stretches of sand popular with surfies the town itself fronts a coastline of steep cliffs and rock shelves interspersed with small, secluded sandy beaches. There's a very popular and scenic walking track along the top of the cliffs and at low tide it's possible to walk the length of the beach at the base of the cliffs, fossicking in rock pools along the way.
Apart from its natural attractions Aireys Inlet offers a number of points of interest to visitors.
One of the first things you'll notice approaching Aireys Inlet is the spectacular Split Point lighthouse built way back in 1891 and a tour of the lighthouse is a not-to-be-missed experienced on any visit to this idyllic coastal village. Apart from taking in breathtaking views of the Surf Coast you'll learn about the history of the light and the keepers who've maintained it over the centuries.
Split Point Lighthouse is a local icon and continues to play an important role in maritime safety along this dangerous stretch of coastline. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Nearby are the lighthouse stables and two cottages used to accommodate keepers and their families. A walking track leads down from the lighthouse to a lookout point known as Eagle Rock and affording spectacular views of the coast to the south.
Guided tours are available every day, except Christmas Day, commencing every hour between 11 AM and 2 PM.
Tours take from 30 to 45 minutes and cost Adults $14, Concession $10, Children (5 to 16 years) $8 and a Family (2A 2C) $40.
There's been a pub in Aireys since 1904 but that burnt down in the Ash Wednesday bushfires of February 1983. The proprietors continued running the business from a tin shed before it was rebuilt but eventually faced closure in 2011. Fortunately a group of locals stepped in to keep the hotel open, saving Aireys Inlet the embarrassment of being a town with no pub.
The Aireys Pub has enjoyed something of a renaissance over recent years to the point that today it boasts three dining spaces, a beer garden, a stage for frequent live entertainment, open fires in winter and, wait for it, it's very own brewery, Salt Brewing Co. Sounds perfect to me.
Why not drop in for some great pub-grub and perhaps a tasting paddle of the local brews.
With the pub, restaurants, cafes, bars and quirky tea-rooms you'll have no problem finding somewhere to eat and drink in Aireys Inlet. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
If you'd prefer something a little stronger local entrepreneur Ann Houlihan is producing Great Ocean Road Gin in relatively small batches and featuring a range of Surfcoast ingredients including coast daisy, ruby & coast salt bush, hop wattle, pigface, kelp, two indigenous eucalypts, local 'Surfcoast Honey' from Torquay and local lemons, limes and lemongrass when they're in season.
Ann is producing two gins at present – Guvvos, a modern dry gin and Split Point, a Navy Strength gin that recently took out a Gold Medal for the 'Best Navy' at the 2019 Australian Gin Awards.
Great Ocean Road Gin
Tasting Room at 32 Great Ocean Road, Aireys Inlet
Winter Trading hours Saturday 12.30 PM to 7 PM and Sunday 12.30 PM to 5 PM. www.greatoceanroadgin.com.au
Tel: 0402 086 002
Apart from the pub there's a good selection of eating options available in town, everything from classic seaside fish & chips to pizza, great coffee and a range of cafes and restaurants to satisfy all tastes.
From the sheer cliffs, rocky beaches and the inlet itself Aireys makes for a great family day out in one of Victoria's iconic tourism regions. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
As you'd expect of townships along the length of the Great Ocean Road Aireys offers a broad range of accommodation for those tempted to turn a daytrip into a longer seaside experience, everything from rental houses to motel or bed & breakfast stays, caravan sites and on-site vans to fully self-contained cottages and villas.
Aireys Inlet is on the Great Ocean Road, midway between Torquay and Lorne, 124-Kilometres southwest of Melbourne and just over an hour's drive via the Princes Freeway/M1, C134 and Great Ocean Road.