52 Great Weekends

No 13: Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is a salt of the earth fishing town.

Here you can enjoy tranquil beaches, the freshest of seafood and a vibrant culture scene. It’s a real catch! Get sand between your toes on the Great Ocean Walk, try a famous scallop pie, then take in the view from Marriner’s Lookout – where the rolling green hills meet the sparkling ocean. Make friends with the playful ‘sea puppies’ at the nearby Marengo seal colony then meet some more friendly locals – the makers behind the excellent, locally made produce the area is famous for before retiring to your own hilltop hideaway.

ITINERARY

FRI: LIVING THE HIGHLIFE

PM: BIMBADEEN ON BUSTY – OUR HILLTOP HIDEAWAY

We arrived at our deluxe accommodation, Bimbadeen on Busty at sunset and were greeted with 360 degree views of the ocean, trees and lush hills. Unforgettable.

Perched high on top of a rolling green hilltop, this magnificent two-bedroom, fully equipped home oozes luxury, beauty and privacy with every convenience at your fingertips. You won’t want to leave and you don’t have too – you would have a great weekend relaxing in the beautiful surrounds or by the fire of this secluded hilltop hideaway even if you did nothing else! But if you’re up for exploring, Apollo Bay is only a twelve-minute drive away.

#1 CRAFT BEER DESTINATION ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD

Pull up a stool and enjoy a paddle of 5 Prickly Moses hand-crafted beers or a tasting of 4 local wines from the region at The Great Ocean Road Brewhouse. The friendly staff love a chat and sharing their knowledge about Australian craft beers (pouring 15 on tap), the brewing process and their tips for the best local produce.
The Great Ocean Road Brewhouse is so much more than a tasting room and bottle shop with over 100 Australian beers. It’s also a local region provedore promoting fellow makers in the Otway and Great Ocean Road region.

Their mission is to help locals and tourists alike to get ‘Tastes of the Region’. You can sample them for yourself with a choice of three delicious tasting platters or take treats home with you. Choose from locally made cheese, premium meat products, herbs and spices, artisan chocolates, a range of jams, chutneys and oils, locally produced honey and lots of other delicacies as well as handcrafted gifts and souvenirs.

We didn’t want to gorge ourselves too much, we were heading into the brewery’s award-winning bistro for a pub classic meal. This is one of the oldest hotels on the Great Ocean Road and the seasonal menu features local farmers and producers too. We loved that the pub also supports local musicians and you can dance off your parma to live music on weekends.

SAT: SEAL KAYAKING, FAMOUS LOCAL PRODUCE AND THE BEST VIEW IN APOLLO BAY

AM: SUNRISE START TO SATURDAY

 We had a big day ahead and woke early. Thankfully we did because the sunrise was mind blowing. Bimbadeen on Busty offers incredible views from every room so you can admire the vibrant, colour streaked sky from the comfort of your queen-sized bed or enjoy your morning coffee outside as well as the view. What a way to wake up!

10.30AM KAYAKING WITH AUSTRALIAN FUR SEALS

The morning was off to a good start and just got better! Conditions were perfect for our guided kayaking tour with Apollo Bay Surf & Kayak. We were headed to the nearby Australian Fur Seal Colony at Marengo Marine Sanctuary, an easy 150m paddle on two-seater kayaks from Marengo Beach. Founder Mark has been running this is awesome experience for over 11 years, it’s the only one like it on the Great Ocean Road.

All the equipment and instruction you need is provided for this 1.5h adventure around the two reefs of the Marine Sanctuary – home to hundreds of adolescent, mainly male Australian Fur Seals. These boisterous, highly entertaining blokes like to put on a show, grunting, groaning and picking fights with each other.

Naturally curious, these playful creatures are often called ‘sea puppies’. As we arrived, a bunch of them comically clambered down from the rocky outcrops and into the water around us – not in a threatening way, they wanted to play! Leaping, diving, bobbing and weaving these cheeky chaps want to check out who’s come to visit and prove that when it comes to water agility, we’ve got nothing on them!

The 1.5h tour flies by. But for one last thrill you can kayak the surf break into shore. Might inspire you to do a surf tour with the team next time!

LUNCH: THE FAMOUS APOLLO BAY SCALLOP PIE

You can’t visit Apollo Bay without trying the famous scallop pie at the Apollo Bay Bakery. I tried the Curried Scallop and Leek Pie, full of juicy scallops with a mild curry taste all wrapped in buttery, golden pastry – yum. If seafood pies aren’t your thing there are 25 other varieties to choose from as well as freshly made sandwiches, rolls, cakes and pastries.

2PM: JUDGE THIS AWARD-WINNING ICE CREAM FOR YOURSELF

Scallop Pies aren’t the only famous foods in Apollo Bay. The walls of local icon Dooley’s Ice Creamery are lined with the uncountable awards that they have won. Dooley’s opened in 2020 right in the heart of Apollo Bay with a mission to share their love of ice cream home-made with the finest of ingredients.

We took our waffle cones across the road to the white sand of Apollo Bay’s crescent shaped beach with its fishing harbour at the south end. This 3km patrolled beach is relatively safe for swimming and is just stunning – the rolling hills and sparkling ocean provided the perfect backdrop for our ice cream tasting session. They score a gold medal in our book too.

3.30PM: THE BEST VIEW OF APOLLO BAY

Leave the sand behind and check out this tranquil fishing village from great heights, at Marriner’s Lookout. A short drive from Apollo Bay and an easy 10-minute walk from the carpark takes you to this must-see spot. Here, the whole town, spectacular ocean and lush, green hills lay themselves at your feet. There isn’t a better view of Apollo Bay unless you can fly high above, hang gliders often launch from here too.

DINNER: FISHERMAN’S CO-OP – FROM BOAT TO BELLY

The Apollo Bay Fisherman’s Co-op has been serving up the freshest seafood in Apollo Bay for over 70 years. Founded in 1948, local fisherman grouped together to increase and better market their catch.

Not just fish and chips, here you can sit on the seaside deck 7 days a week and watch the fisherman unload their catch of the day at the harbour below. Southern rock lobsters, scallops, flake, snapper, barracuda and octopus caught in Bass Straight are then served straight to your plate.  We ordered ½ grilled lobster with chips, salad and lemon and a seafood platter from the specials board… no wonder the is billed as the best place in town and on the south coast for seafood.

SUN: APOLLO BAY – THE START OF THE GREAT OCEAN WALK

Starting at Apollo Bay and finishing with a hikers-only view of the Twelve Apostles, the full 8-day Great Ocean Walk is over 90kms long. But walkers of nearly any ability can make their own once-in-a-lifetime adventure – tackling shorter ½ day walks, day walks, overnight walks or multi-day trips.

We decided to explore Day 1 and 2 of the walk – from Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay.  This is a big day walk (it takes roughly 6h to walk the 21.5km route) but since we weren’t carrying packs we were up for it. Make sure to keep your eyes out for the yellow triangle pointers that indicate when to enter and exit beach sections, with long walks like this you don’t want to have to backtrack!

We walked at low tide along the beach tracks, boardwalks and rocky platforms to Shelly Beach Marengo, passing our new seal friends along the way.  As we continued on the countryside changed to rural farmland before the steep decent to The Blowhole, followed by the boggy crossing at Three Creeks Beach then your first experience of the Great Otway National Park.

There is a junction here that can take you to Shelly Beach or the Elliot Ridge Campsite (the end of Day 1 of the GOW) or you can continue on for another 11.8km to Blanket Bay.

The next part of the track leads into the towering, hilly forest of Mountain Ash, home to some of the biggest trees in Australia reaching up to 65m high. The trail rejoins the ocean at Blanket Bay, an isolated and picturesque stretch of sandy beach. This is one of the only safe swimming spots along the walk and the perfect spot for us to rest the legs before our drive home to Melbourne. What a great way to finish a great weekend.

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Getting there

From Melbourne CBD take the West Gate Freeway on ramp to the M1 (Princess Freeway) and follow the signs to Cape Otway Rd. Take Forrest-Apollo Bay Rd and turn right onto Great Ocean Road. This will take you straight to Apollo Bay!

Top 5 things that made the weekend great

  • Staying in our own hilltop hideaway at Bimdadeen on Busty

  • Kayaking with the playful fur seals in Marengo

  • Tackling the start of the Great Ocean Walk

  • Eating the freshest catch of the day right on the harbour

  • Taking in the epic views of Apollo Bay from Marriner’s Lookout

Great food by night. Adventure by day. We had a great weekend in Apollo Bay.

 

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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.