Anglesea is the perfect ‘Choose your own adventure’ destination.
Located just 10 minutes past Torquay – the start of the Great Ocean Road, Anglesea is a natural playground that the whole family will love. With so many things to do we made this a ‘Great Long Weekend’ to try and fit in as many adventures as we could. Anglesea is the perfect ‘Choose your own adventure’ destination – here you can play in the waves at a choice of safe beaches, meet the local abundant native wildlife in the Anglesea heathlands, paddle on the calm waters of Anglesea River and wander through the wetlands boardwalks. You can feel the wind in your hair as you ride horses on wide sandy beaches, explore the rockpools of marine national parks, roam the sandstone clifftops of the coastal walks and mountain bike down bush trails. All with the luxuries of day spas, fine dining restaurants and the conveniences of a vibrant seaside village within walking distance of your Palm Springs style, riverside accommodation.
The Anglesea River snakes through the centre of this vibrant seaside town with boardwalks that allow you to explore the many unique landscapes of the area. Get your weekend off to a great start and hire a canoe, fun- boat or SUP from the iconic Anglesea Paddle Boat and Canoe Hire. Owner Adrian has run this business since 1978 and he’ll soon get you paddling on the calm waters – the shallow estuary of Anglesea River is a great place to get your adventure ‘sea legs’. We launched our two-person canoe beside the Anglesea bridge and set out for a 2h explore of the Coogoorah Reserve, a 2.5km circuit bustling with birdlife, flora and fauna.
If you have the kids on board Coogoorah Playground is the perfect play-break pit stop when small arms get tired. Or if you’d like to explore the area but keep your feet dry, the extensive boardwalk offers a great way to wander the wetlands from land.
Canoeing is hungry work and luckily there are countless café, restaurants and takeaway options only a short walk away. We couldn’t go past the huge range of burgers from Morgan’s Bar & Grill, located right in the centre of the main street. We took our ‘Surfin’ Bird’(chicken burger) and ‘Big OZ’ (burger with the lot) to one of the many jetties on the boadwalk for a picnic overlooking the next lot of paddlers to hit the water.
The Surf Coast Walk provides a stunning way to work off those burgers. Take on the full 44km journey from Torquay to Fairhaven or tackle sections of this world-class walk. Anglesea sits perfectly in the middle so we set off at Point Addis Marine Park for a 10km clifftop and coastal walk to Pt Roadknight – my favourite beach in Victoria! On this rugged stretch, you will rollercoaster from the tops of vibrant ochre sandstone cliffs to the shores of sparkling blue oceans shores, walk the rims of clear rockpools and then through the dappled green heathland. If that wasn’t enough, spotting kangaroos, native wildlife and even whales at the right time of year will definitely keep the walk interesting.
After our canoeing and coastal walk we deserved some chill time. We were staying in Palm Springs style at the Anglesea Riverside Motel. This 1970’s modernist motel is located right in the heart of Anglesea, just a short walk from beaches, restaurants, cafes and parks with the river right across the road. Recently refurbished, this affordable accommodation comes complete with access to the neighbouring Great Ocean Road Resort’s facilities – including indoor pool, tennis courts, fitness centre, trampoline park, day spa and dining options. After our adventures a swim in the indoor heated pool followed by a relaxing jacuzzi were the perfect ways to end the day.
There’s no better way to get into the holiday mood than breakfast in bed. At the Anglesea Riverside Motel the local treats from the Riverside Juice Bar are delivered to your door. Their refreshing juices, smoothies, coffee and toasties all taste even better when you don’t have to change out of your PJ’s.
Morning beach walks are a great way to start the day. But have you tried a beach horse ride? Blazing Saddles Aireys Inlet have been operating for over 30 years and offers one of the only experiences in Australia where you can ride on the beach – in summer the horses might even decide to take you for a swim! The 2.5h ride starts in the bush then you leisurely make your way on horseback to the sea. This beach and bush ride caters for confident riders (previous experience necessary) that can canter along the sandy 6km stretch of Fairhaven Beach. It’s quite the sight leaving the famous Split Point Lighthouse (you might remember it from the 90’s ABC show ‘Round the Twist’) in your sandy wake.
If, like me you haven’t ridden in a while your muscles might need some TLC. A full body treatment by the specialised massage therapists at Lux Spa & Wellness at Great Ocean Road Resort will sort them out. The relaxation begins with your choice of essential oil from the Aroma Bar, a hot towel compress on your feet and a heat pillow on your back while your coastal lux treatment room is being prepared for you. Then lie back and unwind for the next 90 minutes of bliss as the talented staff make your muscles forget they ever went horse riding!
Relaxed? Now let the resorts fine dining restaurant The Coast rejuvenise you. Executive Chef, Chris Barlow serves up the region’s best locally sourced produce in Australian fusion dishes and sharing plates so carefully curated they look like artworks. Fitting really, as the mission of this modern Australian restaurant is to showcase local produce and Surf Coast artists – the dinnerware is hand-made by surf coast artist Angela Nicholson, water jugs by ceramicist, Melinda Solly and the bar is stocked by local makers such as Great Ocean Road Gin and Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. It’s like a gourmet harvest trail that comes to you in the comfort of a luxury, romantically firelit, fine dining restaurant. Bon Appètit!
Sometimes it takes caffeine to be able to put one foot in front of the other on a Sunday morning! We grabbed a coffee from Riverside Juice Bar and set off for a lap of the Anglesea River boardwalk – the riverbank market provides a more leisurely shopping stroll if you prefer. The river trail takes you through the ever-changing landscapes of Anglesea… where the river meets Anglesea main beach, through Anglesea Heath, across the wetlands we explored by canoe and even to Fairyland – a nature reserve on the east side of the river earning its name from the twisted Moonah trees protecting the secret world that lives in the spongy green moss.
Adding to Anglesea’s ‘Surf Coast’s Adventure Capital’ credentials is the Anglesea Bike Park. Grab your bike and go for a two-wheel hike! Designed in 2016 by legendary trail builder Glen Jacobs, this was Victoria’s first professionally designed Mountain (4X) Class track. This naturally sloped, hillside trail takes you through Anglesea’s scenic bushland and over well-designed mounds, rollers, jumps and table tops. Popular with families, this park is suitable for a range of skill levels and ages.
You’ve probably had ample opportunities to meet the native wildlife over your great weekend. But if you haven’t, a guaranteed place to meet the resident Eastern Grey Kangaroos is at the Anglesea Golf Course. Which makes sense, as the course nestles into the natural bushland of Anglesea Health but these locals love the immaculate green grass of the fairways much better. They’re not moving out of their prime position in the shade for any golfer! After a few snaps it was time to head home to Melbourne. Until next weekend!
From Melbourne CBD take the West Gate Freeway on ramp to the M1 (Princess Freeway) and follow the signs to Geelong. Continue on the Geelong Bypass and take the exit to Anglesea.
Paddling along Anglesea River and through Coogoorah Nature Reserve
The ever-changing landscapes of the Anglesea section of the Surf Coast Walk
Mountain biking trough the bushland
The edible artworks at The Coast Restaurant
Enjoying the resort life, Palm Springs style
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawuurung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Ancestors, past present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.