Apollo Bay is just one of many interesting places to to stay on the Great Ocean Road but it depends on what you’re after as to where you stop. I chose Apollo Bay as it’s the half-way point between Torquay and Warrnambool, plus, I heard it’s got a beautiful stretch of beach for the kids.
The town’s distinguishing feature is that it is nestled against the picturesque Otway Ranges, so instead of just pure open water, you get lush, green hills as a backdrop, inspiring many an artist’s paintings.
Apollo Bay is named after the vessel of Captain James Loutit who took shelter there during a storm in 1845. Like many of the small towns in the area, Apollo Bay has a history of timber, saw mills, whaling and fishing. The town is still charming but adorned with other embellishments like gift shops, bakeries, home-made ice cream parlours, Food Works and your friendly Asian takeaway.
Things to do
Apollo Bay is famous for its beach, perched on top of a little rise. It’s a very long stretch of beach but the main portion is probably right in front of the town centre.
The playground is a good landmark and hard to miss (it has an impressive selection of playground paraphernalia your child will instantly gravitate towards and some unique furniture such as a bench that looks like a whale).
Follow the path behind the playground towards the bushes and trees. When you suddenly find yourself on top of a mound facing the sea, you would have discovered Apollo Bay.
The Otway Ranges offers dozens of walks which can take you through to breathtaking rainforest, waterfalls and maybe a koala or two. One of its unique offerings is the Otway Fly Treetop Adventure which is a forest canopy walk that lets you take a stroll above the trees.
Comprising sturdy metal walkways, the walk is accessible to all, young and old, and should take about 1-1.5 hours to complete. Little ones can enjoy a mini-jurassic adventure by looking out for dinosaur (statues) along the way.
This is the star of the Great Ocean Road. The Twelve Apostles are stacks of limestone formations rising out from the ocean through millions of years of erosion. Though it is named Twelve, there are only eight left. The landscape will continue to change as the years go by but the Apostles will remain a testament of nature and its powers to create.
Some take a helicopter ride to view the Twelve Apostles and the Great Ocean Road like a serpent winding along the coast line. But you can just as well walk out to the lookout deck for an excellent view of the limestone stacks.
There is a fair bit of tourist traffic so you might just want to take a photo to say you were there. There are plenty of other things to do in the area such as visiting a historical lighthouse, going horse-riding or exploring numerous trails that can take you all the way to Port Campbell. Just check in at the local tourist centre to find out more.
Where to stay
Apollo Bay has a wide choice of accommodation from caravan parks to fancier hotels. Popular choices seem to be the motel units facing the sea but if you find yourself a little further inland that is fine too as the beach is probably only minutes away. Places like the Otway Ranges are about an hour away so you’re probably going to end up driving anyway.
Offers the charm of a fishing village, near the beach and five minutes from the shops.
For a little more luxury, The International is located right in the town centre with quick access to the main beach and shops.
A five minute drive to Apollo Bay town centre but more affordable. Marengo beach is a three minute walk away and rooms have been recently renovated.
Located right in front of the main beach, excellent for families with kids.
Apollo Bay has everything a good stopover should offer whether you are travelling alone or with all the family.