GREATEST DRIVING TOURS AND HERITAGE TOWNS
Before the Great Ocean Road detours around Cape Otway it passes through sleepy Apollo Bay. The town’s mid-week languor has appeal, and for most of the year there’s great swathes of beaches and secluded parks with not another soul in sight. Eventually, most people head for the tranquil, breakwater-protected port where rippling clear water reflects gleaming yachts and salt-crusted fishing boats.
The town has broad beach-side gardens opposite the main street shops, and a good information centre giving touring and accommodation info in town and further along the Great Ocean Road.
For morning tea or lunch the Bayleaf Gourmet Deli is recommended - especially their expresso coffee. The bakery or takeaway shops are another option, and sitting on the port’s breakwater with fish and chips is hard to beat. But Apollo Bay is similar to most Australian coastal towns where you can’t always buy a good feed of fresh-caught local fish, even though the commercial fishing’s great.
Apollo Bay was first sighted in 1800 by Lieutenant Grant aboard the sailing vessel Lady Nelson. About the same time, whalers and sealers came to plunder the now protected species, and a whaling station was established here. In 1845 the bay was named by Captain Loutit who sheltered here in his vessel Apollo. Three years later the first Cape Otway lighthouse was built and by 1849 settlers arrived.
A little of Apollo Bay’s interesting early history can be viewed at the Old Cable Station museum, a building with some recent history itself. Opened in 1936 at the Victorian end of the submarine telephone cable link to Tasmania (near Stanley), it ended service in 1980. These days the volunteer-staffed museum is open 2-5 pm weekends and holidays.
Apollo Bay is far enough from the city to be a fairly quiet backwater most of the year. This probably suits the keen anglers who fish from beach or breakwater and golfers who tackle one of the State’s most scenic courses. Over the last few years many new motels and upmarket holiday cottages have been built, offering good choices for staying the weekend.
From here, take a drive through the Otway forests to the Cape's lighthouse, and explore nearby forest and waterfall walks. On a fine day take a scenic plane flight from the Apollo Bay airstrip to the Twelve Apostles - certainly recommended.
Apollo Bay is about 185km west of Melbourne via Geelong, a three hour drive. A longer alternative return is via Forrest and Birregurra to the Princes Highway.
STAY THE WEEKEND AT:
Claerwen Retreat, in the hills behind Apollo Bay, luxury B&B and 2br cottages. Cooked brekky.
see my images at www.australianplaces.net
For the past
25 years Peter Robinson has travelled far and wide but Australia,
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