52 Great Weekends

No 45: Great Romance in Lorne & Apollo Bay

Fall in love with the seaside towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay.

Escape for the weekend to some of the most romantic getaways on the Great Ocean Road. Destination – the sophisticated seaside towns of luxurious Lorne and the natural attractions of Apollo Bay. This itinerary is packed full of romance – from strolling hand-in-hand on sleepy, sandy beaches to sharing thrills and spills in a variety of electrifying adventures, experiencing some of the most exciting dining destinations on the coast and staying at romantic retreats so luxurious you will never want to leave.

Lorne

Located 150km from Melbourne, luxurious Lorne is a picture-perfect surfside resort town that backs onto the lush gullies of the Great Otway National Park. Epic coastal views make the drive part of the destination but you know you’re close when you’re greeted by the iconic Great Ocean Road memorial arch. Lorne offers the perfect place for romance – oceanfront fine dining, boutique shopping and sidewalk cafes – all alongside the sparkling waters of Louttit Bay.

STAY: DLUX + ESCAPE @ LORNE

The first part of planning your couple’s weekend away on the Great Ocean Road is to choose the right accommodation. We chose the dlux + escape @ Lorne – a three level, two bedroom, two bathroom, light and airy North Facing Apartment because it was in the heart of the Lorne main street. So close to the beach, pool, Erskine River, restaurants, cafes and shops and only a short drive to rainforests, waterfalls, oceans and rivers.

Other features that made this accommodation great was the romantic loft style main bedroom with ensuite and the wraparound balcony – perfect for the provided continental breakfast in cosy robes or an after beach bbq.

Friday

10AM: LIVE WIRE PARK

Get sparks flying with your partner and tackle Australia’s most electrifying zipline and treetop challenge – Live Wire Park. This elevated experience set in the towering treetops of the Otways is not for the faint hearted. The Shockwave Zip Coaster is the most extreme zip line in Australia, twisting and turning for 525 exhilarating metres through the towering treetops of the Otways. And the Super Circuit is the most challenging of the treetop trails with 53 mid-air trails, suspended bridges, tree scaling activities, Tarzan swing and a supercharged 10m QuickJump bungee – it’s not just a physical challenge but a relationship challenge too!

LUNCH: CODA LORNE

Even the most frazzled nerves will be soothed by a seafood and champagne lunch at coastal chic, Coda Lorne. It started as a summer pop up at the Lorne Hotel and due to overwhelming success is now a permanent addition.

Lorne Hotel is fast becoming a dining Mecca on the Great Ocean Road – with the pub in the middle and Coda now up the top! Ocean views and its prime main street location also seal the deal.

The Coda interior is as beautiful as the food itself. Relaxed and breezy, a celebration of local produce and people. This close to the ocean we couldn’t resist dining on the super fresh, flavour forward crispy prawn betel leaf, rock oysters with spanner crab and nam jim dressing, kingfish sashimi, Coda slaw and barramundi with jungle aromatics. Bliss.

2PM: TEDDY’S LOOKOUT

A romantic scenic spot that’s well worth a stop is Teddy’s Lookout. Located out the back of Lorne, the newly constructed walkway leads you to the viewing platform then …. tada!… the breathtaking, sweeping views of St George River. If you feel like a short walk to help work off lunch the lower platform will further reward you with views of the mountain peaks and St George River winding its way through the fern filled valley.

3PM: BEACH WALK TO LORNE PIER

Spend the afternoon swimming in the sparkling water of Louttit Bay and exploring the rock pools at Shelley Beach on your way to Lorne’s iconic pier. Keep an eye out for whales as they migrate between May and September.

Saturday

BRUNCH: SWINGBRIDGE CAFE AND BOATHOUSE

It was sad to check out of our home away from home, dlux+ escape @ Lorne but the promise of coffee and breakfast at the iconic Swing Bridge Café and Boathouse perked us up. Located at the mouth of the Erskine River and beside the historic swing bridge, this café is one of Lorne’s best kept secrets. Far away from the bustling hive of main street the Swing Bridge Café is the perfect place to keep the serenity of a seaside morning intact.

12PM: KALIMNA FALLS

Keep the romance alive with a wander and even a plunge at the fern lined pool of Kalimna Falls. The gentle 3km walk from the Sheoak Picnic Area to the falls follows a historic timber tramway route, you can see some of the original sleepers used to build it along the way. The tranquil trail follows a creek valley filled with ferns and huge blue gums all the way to Lower Kalimna Falls. Whilst not the biggest waterfalls in the Otways, Lower Kalimna Falls comes with its own unique charm. Water trickles from the overhanging rock ledge leaving a large cave behind the falls – an idyllic spot to explore or take in the view of the large pool, mossy rocks and surrounding ferns. The brave can even freshen up in one of nature’s most romantic showers before heading to the next destination – Apollo Bay.

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is where rolling green foothills of the Otways meet the sparkling ocean of the Southern Ocean – just under 200km from Melbourne. Here you can wander sandy secluded beaches, enjoy the freshest of seafood, explore waterfall filled rainforests and the vibrant culture scene. It’s a real catch!

STAY: BIMBADEEN ON BUSTY – YOUR HILLTOP HIDEAWAY

Arrive at your hidden hideaway Bimbadeen on Busty and be greeted with 360 degree views of the ocean, trees and lush hills. Perched high on top of a rolling green hilltop, this magnificent two-bedroom, fully equipped home oozes romance, luxury, beauty and privacy with every convenience at your fingertips. You won’t want to leave and you don’t have to – you would have a great weekend relaxing in the beautiful surrounds or by the fire of this secluded romantic retreat even if you did nothing else! Bimbadeen on Busty offers incredible views from every room so you can admire the vibrant, colour streaked sunrise 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! But if you’re up for exploring, Apollo Bay is only a twelve-minute drive away.

2PM: AWARD-WINNING ICE CREAM ON THE BEACH

The walls of local icon Dooley’s Ice Cream 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.
Take your 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 your ice cream tasting session.

3PM: THE BEST VIEW OF APOLLO BAY

Leave the sand behind and check out this tranquil fishing village from great heights, at Marriners Lookout. A short drive from Apollo Bay and an easy 10-minute walk from the carpark takes you to this romantic picnic and lookout spot. Here, the whole town, spectacular ocean and lush, green hills lay 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: GRAZE APOLLO BAY

Graze on season produce while you gaze into each other’s eyes at Apollo Bay’s newest dining experience, Graze. Located in the heart of Apollo Bay and away from the prying eyes of the main street, Graze Apollo Bay restaurant and bar opened in April 2021 and delivers a contemporary, relaxed atmosphere. It has quickly established itself as a place where locals and visitors alike can enjoy an evolving modern Australian menu using local produce and regional wines, beer and signature cocktails.

Sunday

WALKS

Start your Sunday with a hand-in-hand stroll. You’ll be spoilt for choice of secluded sandy beaches.

 

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 tackle the Marengo Surf Walk section of the trail – from Marengo Caravan Park to the rocky platforms and rockpools of Shelly Beach. You’ll pass the Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary along the way – home to the local colony of Australian Fur Seals.

 

BLANKET BAY
The Otway Coast Hamlets have pockets of secret beaches. One well worth a visit for fishing, swimming or exploring is Blanket Bay. The sandy foreshore of Blanket Bay is 200m long and surrounded by steep sloping Manna Gum trees and rock and reef coastline and is met by its own creek. At low tide you can still find the remains of an 1880s jetty built for landing supplies to this remote area, it still feels remote today.

 

CRAYFISH BAY
Close to Blanket Bay you will find the nearly deserted beach of Crayfish Bay – tackle the beach track then return by the clifftops on the way back. The beach is at its best at low tide – explore the shallow rock pools and small caves of the grottos at the end of the first beach then stop for a swim or even a snorkel when you arrive at Crayfish Bay. Climb up the clifftop track and you’ll be rewarded with the view of Cray Bay and all the way out to the Otway Reef.

LUNCH: THE BIRDHOUSE, APOLLO BAY

Some of the best seafood in the country only has to travel across the road to this beachfront boutique restaurant perched on top of the main street of Apollo Bay. It’s no wonder the restaurant celebrates locally caught fish served up with a carefully curated wine and cocktail list. Sit back with freshly shucked oysters, locally caught Southern Rock Lobster and a pan full of the signature seafood paella while you enjoy your partners’ company and the views of the spectacular Apollo Bay beach and foreshore. You can even see the fishing boats coming in from the restaurants sweeping ocean views.

3PM: HOPETOUN FALLS

Nature lovers won’t want to the weekend to end without visiting the roaring Hopetoun Falls, it plummets 30m into the Aire River. Soak up the view from the upper platform (20m from the carpark) or descend the 200 steps and feel the spray for yourselves. The lower platform is roughly a 1km, 30m minute trip but don’t worry, there’s a romantic rest stop at the bottom to take a moment and ‘admire the view’.

REDWOOD FORREST

The Aire River flows through another romantic must-see of the Otways – The Redwood Forrest. Its banks are lined with native ferns that make way for the towering 85 year-old California Redwoods. On this 500m easy walk, you’ll wander through their massive trucks and gaze up at an awe-inspiring canopy. The lack of undergrowth muffles sound making it feel like your own magical hideaway. Unforgettable.

Watch the episode

Top 5 things that made the weekend great

  • Dlux stays in Lorne and our own hilltop hideaway in Apollo Bay

  • Ocean front fine dining and locally sourced seafood

  • Hand-in-hand strolls and swims on secluded beaches

  • Wandering waterfalls and the Redwood Forest

  • The romantic lookouts and peaceful picnic spots

Isn’t it time for a romantic retreat on the Great Ocean Road?


 

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, 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.