WHY ADRENALIN IS THE PERFECT WINTER WARMER ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROADby JOEY NOSEDA
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 those visiting ‘my backyard’ – the incredible Great Ocean Road.
1. Surfs up, so cover up and dive right in
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.
2. Canoe the rivers and estuaries
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.
3. Have your horseback movie moment
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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4. Surrender to towering trees and waterfalls
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 favorites 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.
5. Aim high for the best coastal views
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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6. Coffee, art n’ chill in Apollo Bay
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!
Suggested place to stay
My big travel tips
- If you’re in Port Campbell, visit Forage on the Foreshore. Café chef and owner Sam Anderson’s handmade gnocchi is a local secret that’s simply unforgettable.
- Wherever you choose to stay, make time to cruise around the towns’ local roads; you’re guaranteed to stumble upon local treasures that are just as beautiful as the main attractions.
- Get to know the local folk. They’ve got plenty of tips & advice for what’s happening in the area all year round so don’t be afraid to ask someone. We’re all super friendly around here!
What to see & do
Park Trek Walking Holidays
Park Trek Walking Holidays run both scheduled departures and private departures along the Great Ocean Walk.
Hedonistic Hiking is a small company, owned and operated by Jackie and Mick Parsons, offering gourmet guided walking holidays along the Great Ocean Walk.
The Aussie Stop offering Breakfast with Koalas
Two local businesses working together. The Aussie Stop Cafe/ Restaurant now offers the opportunity to have breakfast with a great Aussie touch.
Known as the Jewel of the Otways, Melba Gully is one of the wettest places in the state.
Auswalk Walking Holidays
20 years family owned guided and self guided inn-to-inn walking holidays. Our experienced team will transport your luggage, provide local food and wine, and comfortable accommodation.
Forrest Hire Bikes
Forrest Hire Bikes are based at Forrest, Victoria in the heart of the Otway Ranges. About 30 kilometres inland from the Great Ocean Road and 162 kilometres from Melbourne.