Great Ocean Road, Victoria – A weekend getaway.
Now that the winter chill is in full swing with the mercury barely hitting the low teens, what better time to plan ahead for a weekend getaway in regional Victoria. Spring is only just around the corner, right?
A few months ago over the Easter holidays, three friends embarked on a 3 day road trip (aka food adventure) along the stunning Great Ocean road – with sunsets overlooking the 12 Apostles, a never-ending feast on fine local produce, and leisurely strolls through rainforests and sandy beaches.
Day 1 of 3
[Duchess of Spotswood]
Where: 87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood
Contact: 03 9391 6016
When: Daily brunch
We start our adventure by filling our bellies at a little café nestled in the shadow of the West Gate bridge, namely Duchess of Spotswood. This English inspired brunch spot, is hugely popular and is an institute in western suburbia for serving up quirky brunch items like: “idle tongues” (smoked ox tongue), “duchess of pork” (crispy pig’s jowl), “autumnal melancholy”. Read more about Duchess of Spotswood here.
Brunch was quickly followed with a light tipple in the Geelong wine region. There is ample supply of renowned wineries and exemplary eateries around Geelong and along the Bellarine peninsular. We would’ve liked to have acquainted ourselves with a few more in the region, but that’ll be for another trip. Before you head out, be sure to grab a copy of a winery map.
[A La Grecque]
Where: 60 Great Ocean Road, Aireys Inlet
Contact: 03 5289 6922
When: all day Wednesday – Sunday
We settled our afternoon / lunch cravings at this modern-Greek restaurant in Aireys Inlet. A relaxing ambiance serving fresh seafood from the region.
Given our activities so far had largely revolved around enjoying the scenery (i.e. sleeping on the car) and sampling produce (i.e. stuffing our faces at every chance), it seemed like a good idea to take a leisurely stroll around Aireys Inlet. Split point lighthouse and the nearby inlet salt lake (accessible via Inlet crescent) are definitely worthwhile stopping for a few snaps.
A few more snaps of the evening sky.
Where: 4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra
Contact: 03 5236 2226
When: Dinner – Thurs to Sun. Lunch – Fri to Mon.
The entire day was to be a grand lead-up to what would emerge as the highlight experience of the weekend. Dan Hunter’s (ex-Royal Mail Hotel) newest venture – Brae – was one of the reasons the Great Ocean Road was the destination elected for this road trip. It is truly a regional degustation experience not to be missed. Read more about our degustation dinner at Brae.
Day 2 of 3
[Bottle of milk]
Where: 53 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne
Contact: 03 5289 2005
Again we start our day with a hearty breakfast to kick start our momentum for the long day ahead. Burgers for breakfast? Why not! When the lads at Burger Adventure say it is “definitely” recommended, how could one pass up the opportunity to take a bite out of the juicy patties, toasty buns, and towering filling.
Maits Rest rainforest walk: 30 min easy loop. Don’t really want to get indigestion after breakfast now do we? To be honest this is a lovely walk through a part of the Otway national park, great for bird spotting. We didn’t spot many birds, but instead found ourselves spotting poisonously colourful mushrooms unnervingly like the ones we had for dinner at Brae.
As the moist rainforest air gives way to the salty breeze of the sea, you know you are not far from the 12 apostles. Gibson steps, the 12 Apostles viewing platform, and Loch Ard Gorge will be some of the first check points. If you time your trip well – you might catch the sun setting behind the 12 apostles and a penguin parade, from the main visitor centre viewing platform.
Where: Port Campbell Hotel, 40 Lord St, Port Campbell.
Contact: 03 5598 6320
Our last meal for day 2 at Port Campbell hotel’s bistro would be one of seafood overload, and incredible value for money.
We finished our day driving back down to Melba Gully. In retrospect it might’ve been easier if we had stayed in Apollo Bay (15min drive from Apollo bay, 45 min from Port Campbell). It was worth the drive nevertheless. Amongst the mossy rainforest tree ferns and towering myrtle beech at Melba Gully, the glow worm colony provides a dancing light show for those who dare to brave the darkness well after nightfall. It is quite easy to miss the glow worms if you have glaring torches on, and fail to keep an eye out for them. (Where: Melba Gully Rd near Lavers Hill, just off Great Ocean Road,)
Day 3 of 3
[12 Rocks café & beach café]
Where: 19 Lord St, Port Campbell
When: daily, all day from 7.30am.
You know the day ahead will be gluttonous when you start it off with pancakes & Timboon ice cream. Beautifully fluffy pancakes, with gorgeous vanilla bean ice cream from a boutique ice creamery. So glad there are a few stockists in Melbourne.
From Port Campbell, the journey continues a little further west traversing the nearby cliff tops (Port Campbell discovery walk), the Arch, London Bridge and Grotto. From here we turn inland for our homeward bound leg of the adventure.
[Timboon Railway Shed Distillery]
When: opens 7 days.
Where: The Railway Yard, 1 Bailey St, Timboon.
Of course, what would be a food adventure without checking out more of the Otway Harvest Trail. We checked out the locally distilled whisky, tasted a few more flavours of Timboon’s ice cream, before settling down for lunch. The honest country cuisine would be our final venture into food coma territory – with no regrets.
That concludes our gluttonous Autumn adventure on the Great Ocean Road. Stay tuned for my next post on Brae – Dan Hunter’s new restaurant.
For more information on each of the destinations check out the links posted throughout the post. Here’s a few links for Great Ocean Road tourism information: Visit Victoria, Visit12Apostles, Australian Good Food Guide.