52 Great Weekends

No 48: Otway Coast Hamlets

Explore the seaside tiny towns along the most picturesque stretch of the Great Ocean Road.

Spend the weekend at the hidden hamlets of Cumberland River, Separation Creek, Wye River, Kennett River and Wongarra – nestled between the pristine ocean beaches and the mountains of the lush Otways. These tranquil tiny towns are far away from the busy tourist bustle and are where you can relax and connect with nature.

Camp beside clear water creeks and dramatic cliffs at Cumberland River. Stroll to Jebbs Pools, take in the ocean views of Teddys Lookout then hit Cumberland Beach. Continue along to the Twin Hamlets Coastline to the sandy beach of Separation Creek. The cliffs of Paddy’s Path will lead you to the sparkling water of Wye Beach. Step off the sand straight to lunch at the Wye General Store and Cafe or to dinner and drinks at the famous Wye Beach Hotel. Then return to your hillside retreat amongst the gumtrees.

Keep going to Kennett River where you’ll stay in riverside luxury, the walking trail out front shows you straight to the secluded beach. Enjoy lunch at the Kafe Koala and then spot them for yourselves on the Koala Walk. There are a million reasons ‘Wye’ to visit the coastal hamlets of the Otways.

Drive

Drive the most spectacular section of the Great Ocean Road.

The journey is part of the adventure along the Otway Coast as the high cliffs
soar above the waves crashing on the rocks below. Many visitors vote the coast
drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay via Cumberland River, Wye River, Separation
Creek and Wongarra as the most spectacular part of the Great Ocean Road.

Take the time to stop at the scenic lookouts including the birds-eye views of Mt
Defiance, Teddys and Cape Patton Lookouts.

Cumberland River

Cumberland River is the secret seaside spot where you can tune out or take in all that neighbouring Lorne has to offer.

Located just 7 minutes past Lorne, Cumberland River is a tranquil riverside getaway that makes you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere – with the luxury of Lorne just around the corner. The dramatic cliffs that flank Cumberland River Holiday Park not only creates one of the prettiest campgrounds in Victoria but also a wi-fi free hideaway. Who needs a device when the peaceful pools, rippling waterfalls and the nearly private surf beach are your playground, all within metres of your riverside campsite or cabin?! Offline may just be the new luxury… but if you’re looking for the ultimate in seaside sophistication, nearby Lorne serves up some of the finest dining, shopping and experiences on the Great Ocean Road. Best of both worlds!

STAY: CUMBERLAND RIVER HOLIDAY PARK

Set up your home for the weekend right beside Cumberland River’s popular swimming hole. The Cumberland River Holiday Park runs along the banks of the bumbling river, nestled between a lush green valley and dramatic cliffs. It is easy to see why this is one of the most picturesque holiday parks in Victoria. The biggest decision you’ll have to make is where to swim – the family-friendly natural rockpools right at your front door or the private 200m sandy surf beach where the river meets the Southern Ocean.

WALK: JEBB’S POOLS

Set off on the easy walk to Jebb’s Pools, located at the rear of the Cumberland River Holiday Park. You’ll follow the river valley through cinematic canyons, pebbled river crossings, tranquil fern gullies to the peaceful pools and cascading falls.

Separation Creek

Separation Creek is one of the smaller secret hamlets. While there are no shops in town it is home to a stretch of sandy beach, a number of exclusive luxury holiday homes and spectacular wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, echidnas and an abundance of birdlife. The conveniences of Wye River are just around the corner and connected by the infamous Paddy’s Path.

WALK: PADDY’S PATH – SEPARATION CREEK TO WYE RIVER

Stroll along the original tramway track linking the timber mills at Separation Creek to Wye River. In 1989, the local residents named this track ‘Paddy’s Path’ in honour and admiration for Patrick (Paddy) James Harrington, a legendary member of the Otway pioneering family. A bushman, builder, firefighter, champion axeman, timber craftsman Paddy built 73 homes in the area.

Newly reopened in 2019 this solid path and timber walkway offers sweeping coastal views or at low tide the opportunity to explore the rockpools and ancient volcanic formations below. There are dozens of spectacular spots to take in the views over the beaches and rocky outcrops. The birdlife is prolific and native animals including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and possums have made the bush around Separation Creek and Wye River their home. No wonder!

Wye River

There’s a million reasons ‘Wye’ to visit this hidden hamlet.

Slightly bigger than its closest neighbours, Wye River is one of the smaller townships spanning the length of the Great Ocean Road. Discover the secluded sandy bays and cool off in the sparkling water of Wye Beach. Step off the sand straight into the riverside general store café and to dinner and drinks at the town’s only pub. Return to your luxury home among the gum trees and drink in the magnificent beach views framed by a rugged mountain backdrop. Then spend your Sunday chasing waterfalls in the Great Otway National Park.

STAY: KEMBALI HOUSE

The word Kembali is used in Indonesian meaning ‘return’ and as soon as you see the enviable location, stunning architecture and ocean views I am certain that you will. Nestled into the Wye River landscape, a mere 120m stroll down to the beach, this spectacular 4 bedroom home (sleeps 12) is the perfect coastal destination for your family and friends.

The fit for a chef kitchen, 12 seater dining in the treetops, ocean view lounging, multiple deck areas to chase the sun, and let’s not forget the resident koala ‘Kenny’, all make for a contemporary, earthy and fun holiday. Come once and I am sure you will come again.

SWIM OR STROLL: WYE BEACH

A beach day at Wye Beach is unforgettable. Families will love the pure sands, swimming in the shallow river as it meets the shore and exploring the rock pools.

And for those after more action, take a surf lesson and hit the waves of this 200m long beach like a pro. Waves average 1.4m but beware of the strong permanent rips against the rocks at the end of the beach. Wye River’s long established Surf Lifesaving Club patrols the beach from the end of November to the end of March. Check the Wye River SLSC site for details.

EAT & DRINK: WYE GENERAL STORE

This riverside general store and café is cosy all year round. And the all-day ‘brunch’ style menu boasts both breakfast and lunch items meaning you can have whatever you want, whenever you want it! Whether you’re looking for a coffee and French butter filled pastry, a Bloody Mary and a beef burger, a local wine and brunch or perhaps a pot of chai and vegetarian salad, this relaxed dining destination has got you covered. If you’re there in the summer months, they have got you sorted for dinner too! Adults will love kicking back in the spacious alfresco area overlooking the river and ocean, and the kids will love the wooden playground.

THE WYE STORE

If you’re looking to pick up some wholesome food and everyday supplies pop next door to The Wye General Store. They have everything you need from daily eggs, fresh fruit and veg, small goods, cheese, milk and housemade breads to personal goods, camping supplies, souvenirs, and the daily paper. There’s even a post office to send a postcard to your nearest and dearest!

WYE BEACH HOTEL

Step off the sand and straight into the Wye Beach Hotel, the town’s one and only pub. Sitting upon the hill above Wye River’s idyllic beach the hotel serves up one of the best pub views in Australia, year-round. It’s the perfect place to stop for a drink and a bite in a family friendly setting with relaxed atmosphere. The menu focuses on providing food and beverages from small-scale and independent producers, both from the local area and further afield. So sit back, relax and drink up that amazing view.

Kennett River

Kennett River is full of simple pleasures. Located on the Great Ocean Road 170km south west of Melbourne. Approximately 35 minutes drive from Lorne and 5 minutes further on from Wye River. Kennett River has beautiful walks, including the Grey River Reserve where glow worms can be spotting by night, however you’ll be able to spot koalas in the trees all around the town as well as birds and other wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled.

STAY: RIVER HOUSE

River House is an idyllically located riverfront with a flat wildlife walking path right on your doorstep. This wildlife walk will take you along the town’s namesake river to the beautiful Kennett River beach. The home is large and well thought out with 3 levels, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and an extra toilet in the downstairs playroom/shed. Spend the weekend enjoying the expansive open plan living spaces, huge wraparound deck and spa with spectacular ocean, river and native bush views. Kennett River has an abundance of wildlife and the friendly local birds will definitely pay you a visit!

SWIM OR STROLL: KENNETT BEACH OR RIVER

Which will you choose? The patrolled (in peak season) beach for swimming, the river for kid friendly water play or the beach break and right hand point for surfing? Even on cooler days this stretch of coastline is a spectacular point, keep a lookout for dolphins, seals and whales (May – September).

WALK: KENNETT RIVER WILDLIFE WALK & KOALA WALK

Follow the river from out the front of the River House for the Kennett River Wildlife Walk. There are a number of wildlife viewing platforms and photo opportunities along the way. Your dogs can join you too if kept on leash.

Extend the trail along Grey River Road to include the Koala Walk too – one of the most popular stops to spot koalas, king parrots, rosellas and kookaburras.
The Grey River Road leads you up to the Great Otway National Park, which is a nature lover’s dream. You’ll find the unassuming beginning of the track in between Kafe Koala and the holiday park.

EAT: KAFE KOALA

On your way to the Koala Walk make sure to stop in for a coffee or fish & chips, a burger or a takeaway meal at the town’s one and only café – Kafe Koala. Known as just “Kennett” to the locals, this quaint café also offers homestyle fresh and frozen meals, basic groceries, locally sourced souvenirs, gifts and produce and tourist information.

Wongarra

Two and a half hours drive from Melbourne, Wongarra is the last of the Otway Coast Hamlets – located just before Apollo Bay. Get away from it all in this tiny town where you will wake up to the sounds of waves crashing. Stretch your legs on the secluded beaches or explore the nearby waterfalls of Great Otway National Park or the icons of the 12 Apostles.

STAY: WHITECREST RESORT

Whitecrest Resort is in a beautiful spot on the Great Ocean Road. The perfect place to help you to get away from it all, to indulge yourself and be a central base for your getaway. Surrounded by nature your luxurious apartment comes complete with a private balcony offering ocean views and a gas log fire to curl up beside.

Watch the episode

Top 5 things that made the weekend great

  • Camping right beside Cumberland River, device free!

  • Wandering Paddy’s Path at sunrise – from Separation Creek to Wye River

  • Swimming in the sparkling blue water of Wye Beach

  • Staying in riverfront luxury in Kennett River

  • Spotting koalas on the Kennett River Koala Walk

Discover the hidden hamlets of the Otway Coast for yourself.


 

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All Accommodation

All Things To Do

Places To Eat & Drink

Kafe Koala General Store

Kennett River

Wye General Store

Wye River

The Wok

Warrnambool

Casterton Distilling Co.

Casterton

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.