A weekend of fun for the whole family at Great Ocean Road’s best kept secret.
Aireys Inlet is located on the Great Ocean Road, approximately 120km south-west of Melbourne, pretty much right in the middle of Torquay and Lorne. It is a boutique coastal hamlet where the Great Ocean Road meets the Great Otway National Park. And one of the Great Ocean Road’s best kept secrets. Aireys Inlet is loved by the young. And the young at heart. The tranquil river valley, rockpools and beautiful beaches make it perfect for families. And the nautical history of Split Point Lighthouse, the 70m spectacular sandstone cliffs and the renowned music, arts, food and literary scene entertains all ages.
Three generations of our family set off on the 90-minute drive for a weekend of feasts, fun for all ages activities and to unwind by the sea to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. Aireys Inlet proved itself to be the gift that keeps on giving, for all of us – from toddlers to grandparents.
We stayed at 6 Inlet Crescent, hosted by the lovely team at Great Ocean Road Holidays. The spacious four-bedroom property is accurately named TEARMANN- pronounced Tchar-monn which is Gaelic for sanctuary. It provided us with the stylish, architect-designed space to unwind right in the middle of the sort after Lighthouse precinct. From this quiet, leafy and luxurious home everything is a short stroll away – the beach, the shops, the cafes, pub, restaurants, playgrounds, walks and the famous Split Point Lighthouse and Tea Rooms. If you choose to leave that is!
A great way to start your Saturday is with an easy stroll on the Split Point Discovery Trail. From the various lookouts perched high on the stunning 70m tall sandstone cliffs you’ll gain insight into the history of the area, take in the epic views of the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary and spot the sandy coves and rockpools below. We’ll explore those later!
On the way you’ll wander through the Lighthouse Precinct area and discover Bark Hut. It’s a replica of a settler’s hut from 1860 which unfortunately was destroyed in the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. My toddler twin niece and nephew loved the playground here too.
Next, soak up the maritime history of Airey Inlet at its famous must-see, Split Point Lighthouse – you might remember its role in the TV series ‘Round the Twist’. You can spot its iconic red cap from nearly all areas of Aireys Inlet. Still in automated operation today, for a $10 entrance fee you can see the inner workings for yourself on a self-guided lighthouse tour (open daily, weather permitting). Learn how it was built, how it operates and about the lightkeepers and their families. You’ll be rewarded for climbing the 135 steps of the 34-metre high tower with 360-degree coastal vista views of the Ship Wreck Coast.
Note: Children under 5 not permitted. Our toddler twins were only permitted to level one under supervision of the tour operator and both parents.
Next it was time to spoil Mum with a ladies Devonshire morning tea at the iconic Lighthouse Tea Rooms. The café is one of the original lighthouse precinct buildings dating back to the early 1900’s and the outdoor garden offered the perfect, tranquil setting to devour those famous scones.
Our favourite beach in Aireys Inlet is the hidden gem of Sunnymead Beach – a quieter alternative to other local beaches. Its unique sandy rock formations make you feel like you’re on another planet and offer up an all family adventure exploring the secret coves and even swimming through the tunnel. I can’t wait to visit again at sunrise – the warm yellow tones of the sandstone formations make for a photographers dream!
There’s no such thing as a little feast here! The two Italian Mumma’s who own and run Little Feast serve up a taste of Italy right in the heart of Aireys Inlet.
Dishes such as Calamari Fritti, Eggplant Melanzane and slow cooked Pork Ragu are made with a passion and a love of quality, artisan ingredients. Little Feast is a great place to celebrate with family in true Italian style – with generous fine food, live music (Saturday nights) and of course, amazing vino.
The all ages activities continued at the Great Ocean Road Mini Golf. The Ship Wreck Coast course (18 holes) and 12 Apostles course (12 holes) are custom-built and offer unique obstacles that celebrate the local area while challenging the kids, big or small!
The birthday weekend was drawing to a close, but knowing we were stopping on the way home to try some of the best chocolate and ice cream in Australia made saying goodbye that little bit easier. Book a tasting session and try special limited-edition flavours and one-off creations made onsite by the European trained chocolatiers. We loved the White Chocolate Cookies and Cream Chocolate from the Gourmet Collection – not just for the delicious taste but also for the watercolour painting of Split Point Lighthouse on its packaging! Sold!
Head southwest from Melbourne’s CBD then on to Geelong Ring Road and you will be in Aireys Inlet in just under 90 minutes, without one set of traffic lights.
Celebrating together for a whole weekend at the family friendly TEARMANN property (book through Great Ocean Road Holidays)
So many activities that are fun for all ages that are right on your doorstep
Learning about the maritime history of Split Point Lighthouse
Exploring the lunar landscape of Sunnymead Beach
The laid-back non-commercialized beach lifestyle of Aireys Inlet
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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.