I’ve lived in Apollo Bay my entire life and the best thing about winter on the Great Ocean Road is there’s no stopping those with a love for action and adventure.
There’s definitely a whole different vibe on the beach during winter. As a local, I never tire of exploring the region with family and friends to unearth a different story to share around every corner. You’ve just got to rug up and make the most of it.
Whether you’re planning a weekend escape, or an extended stay, here are my top local recommendations when visiting ‘my backyard’ – the incredible Great Ocean Road.
I dare any keen surfer to stand by and observe the surf in winter. The ocean calls them rain, hail or shine. Of course the infamous Bells Beach at Torquay shouts out loud to the experienced surfer, and the waves are always pumping at Anglesea, Aireys Inlet and Lorne. And, if you’re a beginner, there are plenty of local experts who offer surf lessons too. So deck yourself out from head to toe and jump in to that rumbling winter surf for a salty, refreshing adrenalin hit.
The rivers and estuaries that feed into the ocean open up a different sense of adventure. They’re beautiful, serene and full of fish and bird life. One of my favourite places to hang out is at the picturesque Baraham River. Or if you’re over Anglesea way, Adrian at Anglesea Paddle Boat and Canoe Hire is always ready and willing to show you the hidden gems of his local river.
For some, horse riding on the beach is a dream come true and I’m lucky to live close to the majestic Fairhaven beach. Blazing Saddles (giddy up!) at Airey’s Inlet operates guided tours for riders with different levels of confidence. In winter, you’re pretty much guaranteed a free run of the beach. So saddle up and make sure your mates are on standby to film your very own movie moment!
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When you hit the Great Otway National Park it’s like stepping into another world. Meander amongst towering trees, magical waterfalls and enliven your senses with that cool, crisp, fresh forest air. Park the car, grab your jacket and beanie, hit the walking tracks and get ready to fill your Insta feed with photo opportunities everywhere you look.
There are so many different walks suited to all levels of fitness, and most of them lead to a waterfall or waterway of some kind. One of my favourites is the Sheoak Falls in Lorne. Make sure you stop by Live Wire Park too – it’s loads of fun for both little and big kids! The Shockwave zip coaster will really get your heart pumping.
If the Great Ocean Road is super stunning from the road, just imagine what it’s like from the sky. The helicopter flights along the coast line are truly awe-inspiring and give you a really different perspective of the 12 Apostles. It’s such a special experience with stories you’ll share forever.
For those who love to pump the pedals, Forrest Hire Bikes is your go-to for an awesome day out. These guys can take you on a guided tour of the best mountain bike trails in the surrounding area, with tracks suited to all levels of rider. Then as a reward, hit up the Forrest Brewery – open for a lunch and dinner with local brews and delish food in a cosy setting that’s very hard to leave.
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I’m probably a bit biased, but my hometown is an amazing place to unwind after a day of action and adventure. It’s quiet and relaxing, with pretty beaches and scenery that set the perfect backdrop for a winter escape. I love to grab a coffee and treat from the Apollo Bay Bakery and just watch the world go by. If you’re staying on a weekend, check out the artisan markets on the foreshore. Also the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse in the heart of town is a laid-back fun spot to hang with friends. Remember Apollo Bay is famous for its seafood too, so bring the esky for the trip home!
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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.