Couples’ guide to planning a Great Ocean Road getaway
Spice up your love life with a weekend away on the Great Ocean Road.
Sparkling ocean, fern-fringed forests, windswept vistas and ocean-side tables for two – all the ingredients for romance are laid out along the narrow ribbon of road connecting surf-side Torquay with the wild Shipwreck Coast. No matter how long your Great Ocean Road itinerary – just a quick trip or a days-long wander –just a quick trip or a week-long wander – this iconic stretch has all the elements for a memorable trip for two, especially if you travel in style with a luxury car from Thrifty.
Slideshow images (by Lisa Luscombe unless specified): Apollo Bay sparkles; Torquay (Visit Victoria); Livewire Park (Visit Victoria); Wye River General Store (Visit Victoria) Thrifty rental car, Movida Lorne (Visit Victoria).
Torquay and Bells Beach
Get your journey along this iconic stretch of road off to a great start at RACV’s award-winning Torquay Resort, perfectly placed at No. 1 Great Ocean Road. All curving timber and glass, the resort has floor-to-ceiling windows throughout framing epic views across rolling green to the ocean. Cosy up for pre-dinner drinks at Harding’s Lounge, enjoy first-class local produce crafted into delicious meals at Number One restaurant, and bliss out together at One Spa’s array of experiences including steam room, thermal stone room, pools, and a state-of-the art Lusar room with steam, aroma-infusion, drench, mist and showers. Once on the Road take a quick detour to Victoria’s own surfer’s paradise Bells Beach, then drop into Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery for treats to share.
Anglesea to Lorne
Seaside villages dot this section of the road, each with its own character. Stroll riverside Anglesea’s boardwalk or tackle a clifftop section of the Surf Coast Walk connecting Torquay to Fairhaven. At Aireys Inlet explore galleries, markets and whopping ocean views from red-hatted Split Point Lighthouse. And at Lorne discover the quintessential beachside getaway beloved of Melbourne’s fashionable set since the 1920s, home of artists, festivals and art-deco architecture. If cascading water is your thing, there are 10 waterfalls within 10 minutes’ drive of Lorne, including Won Wondah Falls, a 3.6-kilometre wander through a pretty fern gully. At lunch or dinner take a table for two at MoVida or the Jetty Road Brewery. And if you’re still not sure what the Great Ocean Road fuss is about, head to Teddy’s Lookout for the perfect selfie of you, your love, and a frameful of magnificent turquoise ocean. For a dash of adventure, head to Live Wire Park’s range of treetop dare-devilling experiences including the Short Circuit and Super Circuit high ropes courses and Shockwave Zipcoaster.
Take a selfie at Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne. Image: Visit Victoria.
Lorne to Apollo Bay
From here the road laps the beach in soft curves that are a joy to drive, white sand and brilliant blue water just metres away. Dip your toes in at Wye River or Kennett River, or park up and take a brisk beach walk to build an appetite. Because if seafood is the food of love, Apollo Bay’s the place to indulge. Go casual with Apollo Bay Bakery’s famed scallop pie, perfect for a quick and delicious seaside lunch. For a more elaborate spread make a visit to the Fishermen’s Co-op set beside bobbing boats that might just have brought your southern right lobster, snapper or octopus from Bass Strait to the harbour. And if a special lunch or night out is on the cards, take the high road to Chris’s Restaurant perched high above the bay with views through manna gums to the ocean below, the perfect pick for an intimate meal. Just outside Apollo Bay is Wildlife Wonders, where you’ll find Otways fauna living as nature intended, in a landscape designed by Brian Massey, an art director of The Hobbit.
In the Otways
After Apollo Bay the Great Ocean Road turns inland to meet the cool and ancient Otway Ranges. Stay on the road towards Port Campbell with a beauty stop at Maits Rest Rainforest Walk where you’ll plunge into a jumble of tree ferns and giant myrtle beech trees along a shaded boardwalk. Further along, Cape Otway Lightstation (look for koalas on the road in) and windswept Johanna Beach are worthwhile diversions if you have the time. Or from Apollo Bay take the road less travelled by backtracking a little and detouring north via Skenes Creek and spectacular Turtons Track to reach Hopetoun Falls, and beyond the falls take in the intriguing Californian redwoods plantation planted by foresters as an experiment in the 1930s. It’s doubtful they had romance in mind, but you might – the towering redwoods march down towards the fern-fringed Aire River and wandering among these giants across a carpet of soft needles is simply awe-inspiring.