These days it’s so easy to catch a flight to NZ or Bali when we’re after a short holiday, but Melburnians have some pretty incredible places to explore virtually right on our doorstep.
We recently road tripped along the Great Ocean Road and stopped in at some beautiful little towns along the journey. Here are our picks for the perfect weekend getaway.
Forrest Brewing Company
High up in the township of Forrest is the Forrest Brewing Company, a humble brewery run by siblings Matt and Sharon Bradshaw. These two put their heart and soul into creating the finest brews for locals and travellers alike. With a menu designed to “educate rather than intimidate”, FBC caters for both the unfamiliar and the beer nerds. Drinkers can order taste-tester pallets and are encouraged to try the Bradshaw favourite ‘The Untamed Turkey’, a bold brew boasting intense malt flavours, toffee, caramel and rum-soaked apricot.
Offering dawn and dusk canoe tours along Lake Elizabeth is Otway Tours’ Paddle with the Platypus. Personally, we dug the dusk version as it’s a lovely way to end a day of exploring with the surroundings so quiet and the water so still, apart from those cheeky platypuses. After a 20-minute walk down to the lake, the tour includes afternoon tea and the stunning sight of glowworms on the way back, lighting up the forest trees.
Chris’s Beacon Point restaurant
From the interiors, to the view of Apollo Bay, to the delectable flavours on your plate, Chris’s Beacon Point restaurant is a must for Great Ocean Road explorers. Some stellar dishes on the dinner menu include the confit duck leg with spiced poached quince, golden raisins and potato, the seafood ‘kakavia’, featuring a selection of fish and shellfish with spring vegetables, and let’s not forget a dessert delight – the cardamom and cinnamon crème brulée with earl grey tea sorbet and poached fruit compote. Chris heads a team of warm and welcoming staff, nurturing his passion for food for over 40 years since his early days in Greece.
12 Apostles Helicopters
It’s one thing to visit the 12 Apostles, it’s another to do so in a helicopter. Get to the chopper! 12 Apostles Helicopters offer remarkable views from way up high in 3 different scenic flight packages: London Bridge, Bay of Islands and Cape Otway. Pilots will take you through the history of the sites as you sail past and each pad can take up to 3 passengers, with flight times ranging from 15 to 60 minutes. Do yourself a favour and make this an itinerary must. You won’t regret it.
Meet the Maremmas
Dogs trained to protect penguins, who would have thought? The Maremma, an Italian sheep dog, has become quite a phenomenon in the town of Warrnambool after a local farmer suggested using the breed to protect the penguin colony on Middle Island. The population of these little guys had dropped from a total of 700 to less than 10 over a period of 7 years due to fox attacks, but since the initiation of the Middle Island Maremma Project, penguin numbers are on a steady rise. The release of the feature film Oddball this month tells the incredible story of the project’s humble beginnings and it’s sure to place a spotlight on Warrnambool for a great little Aussie getaway. If you’d like to get up close with the pups and learn more about their work, you can book tours through the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village.
What better way to end the weekend than to soak up some rays while wining and dining at Proudfoots Boathouse. Open Wednesday to Sunday, these guys serve an extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu in a charming venue on the Hopkins River. Keep with the theme and tuck into their epic seafood platter, including Crystal Bay prawns, sashimi and pickled octopus, or head for the hearty pork schnitzel with apple slaw and potato puree – whatever your choice, Proudfoots can do no wrong.
Image credit: Emilie Guillemain for The Urban List