Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published June 7th 2016
Apolla Bay, a Perfect Base in Nature's Wonderland
6 Things to Do on an Apollo Bay Weekend Escape
Arguably one of the most scenic coastal drives in Victoria the Great Ocean Road also traverses country rich in natural wonders and history. At under three hours' drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road Apollo Bay is an ideal base to explore the region, its beautiful coastlines and the magnificent Otway Ranges.
Panoramic Views at the Twelve Apostles (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
For the tourist there is panoramic coastline, rainforests, waterfalls, fine wine and food, heritage buildings, and wildlife. Beachside accommodation offers relaxation and the Otway Fly awaits the adventurous.
Take a Break at the Grand Pacific Hotel
Just two hours from Melbourne on Victoria's Surf Coast is the seaside town of Lorne. Get an early start and be in Lorne for morning tea or get a late start and be there for lunch and what better place for a snack or a meal than the historic Grand Pacific Hotel.
The Grand Pacific Hotel at Lorne (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Built in 1879 the Grand Pacific Hotel with the top two of its three storeys framed by imposing lacework verandahs is but one of the superb buildings to be seen on a Great Ocean Road trip. On opening day in 1880 Cobb & Co coaches offered an express service for guests.
The Hotel is in pride of place at Point Grey opposite the Lorne pier and offers fabulous sea views through floor to ceiling windows. We stopped for morning tea and after a stroll around the pier and along the beach enjoyed a welcome coffee and a bite to eat.
Ocean Views from Lorne (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Twelve Apostles are around an hour and a quarter drive from Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road, 6kms west of Princetown. These imposing offshore limestone stacks are the result of erosion from waves, wind and rain. The softer limestone surrounding the stacks has been worn away providing us with the amazing vista we see today.
Incredible Views of The Twelve Apostles (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Nearby Loch Ard Gorge is 8kms east of Port Campbell and although not as famous as the Twelve Apostles, it is no less spectacular. Trails ranging from 200m to 3kms give access to Thunder Cave, The Blowhole, Broken Head, and the Razorback. The Loch Ard Wreck and Mutton Bird Island Lookouts allow sweeping views across the area.
Crystal Clear Waters and Picturesque Cliff Faces at Port Campbell National Park (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Come prepared as seeing this wonderful area could take all day. View these wonders from above or take the steps to the beach for a different perspective and a greater appreciation of size. Visit at dusk for magnificent sunsets and when between September and May thousands of shearwaters (muttonbirds) can be seen returning to roost on the stack that is Mutton Bird Island.
At Lock Ard Gorge (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The rainforest walk takes about an hour, unless of course you are so captivated by the forest's beauty you are reduced to a dawdle. At around 2km in total the walk includes the 600m long treetop walk which rises to 300m in height. It is the longest and highest of its kind in the world. Heights are not my thing but I felt quite secure on the steel walkway although I confess I did not venture onto the cantilever or climb the tower.
The 45m Tower of the Treetop Walk (Photo from Otway Fly Treetop Adventures Facebook Page)
Otway Fly Treetop Adventures also has a two and a half hour Zipline Tour. This thrilling adventure has 8 cloud stations, 6 flights and 2 suspension bridges. The tour is guided at all times and includes training.
The Otway Fly (Photo from Otway Fly Treetop Adventures Facebook Page)
Cost: (June 2016) Treetop Walk: Adult $25.00, Child $15.00, Family $70.00 and Seniors $21.50. The Zipline Tour: Adult $120.00, Child $85.00 and Family $375.00.
Who could help but be enchanted by a waterfall for are they not the stuff of fantasy. What fairy or goblin might spring from behind them? Or perhaps it is the pristine beauty of them paired with the roar which heralds their presence long before they are seen. If waterfalls beckon you, The Great Ocean Road and Otway Ranges area is just the ticket.
One of the Three Cascades of Triplet Falls (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Erskine Falls are at Erskine Falls Access Rd, just 10kms north west of Lorne. These 30m high falls can be appreciated from a viewing area above the falls or if you are able to tackle the sometimes steep walking track, from the base of the falls.
Triplet Falls are at Lavers Hill-Beech Forest Road, Wyelangta about 3kms past the Otway Fly and around 70kms from Apollo Bay. These fairly unique falls have not one but three cascades. A scenic walk of around 2kms accesses several viewing platforms allowing each of the three cascades to be seen. The walk takes about an hour and there are some steep steps but it is worth the effort.
At Triplet Falls (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Aside from Erskine Falls and Triplet Falls the area also boasts Beauchamp Falls, Hopetoun Falls, Hopkins Falls, Cora-Lynn Cascades, Currawong Falls, Little Aire Falls, Phantom Falls, Sheoak Falls, and Kalimna Falls.
Sometimes travel presents us with opportunities we would never have thought to seek out. For us it was glow worms. After dark on the soil banks along bush tracks these tiny insects set up a glow and excrete prey snares that resemble fairy like threads of lights.
Prey Snares of Glow Worms (Photo by Mnolf (Photo taken in Waitomo, New Zealand) CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Common)
Glow worms are the larvae of the fungus gnat. The glow which shines from their abdomens attracts their prey. The prey snares are threads of sticky, glowing droplets. The glow attracts the prey and the threads ensnare them.
SunRoad Tours offer a one and a half hour tour from Apollo Bay to a local glow worm site where there is only a short walk to the soil banks. This understated tour is not to be missed. Bookings are required and pickup is from your accommodation.
For those who like to go it alone glow worms can also be found at Melba Gully at Lavers Hill in the Otway Ranges. Lavers Hill is just over a half hour's drive from Apollo Bay.
The Lighthouse, put into service in 1948 is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia. It remained in service until 1994 when it was replaced with a solar powered beacon. The stairway to the top is narrow but the views from the observation deck beneath the light room are worth the climb.
The Old Telegraph Station (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Telegraph Station, now restored and presented as a museum, was built in 1879 for Australia's first submarine cable. The cable failed within six months and the telegraph station became instead a signal station. The building which was also home to the operators is of significant size and style.
A 1942 WWII Generator Bunker at Cape Otway (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The WWII Radar Station was one of four in Bass Strait and while it was operating there were up to 50 defence force personnel stationed at Cape Otway.
There is a café on site so there's no need to hurry away from this relaxing and historically interesting area. On site accommodation is also available in the old lighthouse keeper's cottage or the manager's cottage.
View from the top of the Cape Otway Lighthouse (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)