As I got into planning our road trip along the Great Ocean Road it quickly became clear that selecting accommodation was going to be a bit of a challenge. One of the things we were most looking forward to was the rugged beauty and isolation. We knew that the renowned spots such as the 12 Apostles and London Bridge would be overwhelmingly busy with the tour bus crowd but that a very small walk off of the primary tour circuit would yield equally beautiful scenery and the serenity we wanted to experience.
To enhance our appreciation for the area we knew we wanted to base ourselves somewhere close to many of the attractions for a couple of days and also find a beautiful and relaxing place to come home to during our exploration of the area. We like to stay somewhere that is a little luxe but not pretentious, a bit unique, convenient to the attractions but not in the middle of town. For this trip we also had a preference for self-contained accommodation as, after the culinary delights of Melbourne city and the Yarra Valley, we knew the Great Ocean Road foodie highlights would be limited and not our priority as we had a lot of ground to cover in 4 days.
I quickly identified somewhere around Opollo Bay would be ideal. It wasn’t too far to drive on our first day cutting across from the Yarra Valley as we knew we’d want lots of stops once we hit Bells Beach and the start of the ocean stretch. It was also close enough to the Otway National Park, Cape Otway and many of the Great Ocean Road scenic highlights to make a good base.
Accommodation along the Great Ocean Road is limited and has a reputation for being expensive for what you get so I wanted to share this gem that we found online and thought offered real value. We found it a wonderful place to stay, it’s fit out was new and clean with high-end fittings and lots of extra touches that really made it a welcoming base. The location was also something special, for its convenience, views and setting. Check current prices for Seafarers Getaway.
Why we enjoyed Seafarers Getaway
First up I’d have to say the view was amazing. Beyond our windows were uninterrupted views of the paddocks, the beach and pounding surf. Such a beautiful outlook to enjoy, it was no hardship to wake up in time to watch the sunrise casting its first light across all of this.
The roar of the ocean, salt in the air and this adorable herd of alpaca gazing at you over your breakfast bowl is a top way to start the day.
That peaceful and private patio for relaxing probably deserves its own mention. Equipped with comfortable loungers and a wide enough decking area that you could move them in or out of the sun at your whim. I would say it was a great place to curl up with a book and unwind but really it’s not that easy to take your eyes off the view, I would definitely want to stay longer next time so we could have more of a balance between enjoying the relaxation and seeing the sights.
As for the studio it achieves the right blend of comfort, style and function. The kitchen area is compact but has everything you would need to cook up a full meal and a small bar table with seating to eat at although we ate outdoors. The fridge was full size and there’s a capsule coffee machine if you need a decent cuppa to get started in the morning. There was a sparkling clean Weber BBQ out on the deck which gives the ability to cook almost anything and again they’d thought to not only line the grill for easy cleanup but had a spare stack of foil liners. This area and the bathroom are elevated above the lounge and bedroom area giving separation, a feeling of space and ensuring you had the same great view while you did the dishes or prepped dinner.
The bathroom was modern with quality fittings. It included a separate toilet, double basins and twin monsoon shower heads. Best of all though was this view from in the shower. Elevation and a privacy screen ensure your modesty while allowing you to watch the waves crashing on the beach below.
Then there were the smart extra touches that made it that step above your average high-end villa or studio. A chess board set on its own table and ready to play, a telescope for watching the night sky or dolphins playing in the bay, enough linen that you had a fresh towel when you wanted one. One of my pet peeves is hotels and resorts that label themselves as ‘luxury’ then give you one miserable towel that ends up draped over the chairs to dry off making you feel like you’re camping in a laundromat.
Everything was very clean and modern. The styling meant that while the studio wasn’t large you also didn’t feel it was overly small. The bed was comfortable and perfectly positioned to wake up to a view of the coast if you were happy to leave the windows uncovered and wake up with first light and the crashing surf.
We opted for one of the studios for this trip which means there isn’t a separate bedroom. That suited us fine as we are a couple and were doing so much touring during the day. There are lodge options for a family or if you need more space. The only downside I’d note was there was limited storage space to unpack into and no wardrobe or hanging space other than a couple of coat hooks on the wall. There also wasn’t any laundry facilities which may be an issue for a longer stay.
The hosts were friendly and very unobtrusive, we saw them only when we picked up the key and dropped it back. Other cars came and went in the carpark so we clearly weren’t the only ones staying but we didn’t see anyone else on the property which is an indication of how well positioned the units are. There was another row closer to the beach than us but they were so far down the hill they weren’t visible and I presume it was the same from the lodges up the hill behind us.
Things to do in and around Apollo Bay
The Great Ocean Road offers stunning scenery and a wide variety of things to see and do. We cover more in our travel guide article but a few of our highlights accessed from here include:
- See the forest from a birds-eye perspective either on the Otway Fly or Treetop walk. The drive up here is stunning but it’s slow on the narrow windy roads. You’ll also want to allow plenty of time for the walk, although it’s not long there is so much to see that you don’t want to be on a tight timetable. We got up there for opening well ahead of the tour buses and had a very peaceful experience. There are a number of other walks and waterfalls in the immediate area that makes the drive up the mountain worthwhile.
- Cape Otway has many walking tracks and the lighthouse precinct at the end is worth a visit for its history, views, or if you have a thing for lighthouses as I do. Their indigenous section is great if you stop and have a chat you’ll almost certainly learn a lot in a short time. The drive out here is also one of the best places in Australia to see a koala in the wild. You can literally drive down the road to the cape and see them in the trees from your car. We turned down a side road and walked a couple of hundred metres down the road and saw 4 koalas. Coming from Queensland where their numbers have been so dramatically reducing it’s incredible to see them like this. The lighthouse is a 40-minute drive away.
- The coastal attractions keep on coming. It’s rugged and interesting all along the coast but despite the crowds, you don’t want to miss the famed stops including the 12 Apostles, Gibson steps, London Bridge and Lock Ard gorge. The 12 Apostles and Gibson steps are first, about a 90-minute drive and the others are further west but easily built into a day trip. Initially I was a little disappointed that our visit didn’t coincide with the blue sky and smooth seas I’d almost come to expect from the postcards but to be honest the intense stormy sky and roar of the surf is far more what this exposed shipwreck coast is all about, what ever the weather you encounter this part of the Australian coast is stunning.
Seafarers Getaway Information
Seafarers Getaway is located at 6080 Great Ocean Road in Apollo Bay, Victoria, 3233, Australia.
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