YHA Victoria’s new business manager Kim Francis headed down Victoria’s Great Ocean Road for a winter getaway with a difference! The Great Ocean Road is a beautiful stretch that runs from Portland & Discovery Coast all the way to Geelong & the Bellarine, which is located just south of Melbourne.
The Great Ocean Road near Melbourne
It’s a cliché, but the best thing about the trip to Apollo Bay is undoubtedly the journey. A road full of twists and turns and views are amazing, plus in the winter sun the ocean looks amazing! The driver had trouble keeping his eyes on the road as every second comment was about the perfectly formed waves or beautiful breaks. Despite some crumbling sections of road, this is Melbourne’s best ‘drivers’ road, and would be the perfect stretch to hire a sexy rental car! The signs reminding people to drive on the left hand side are little disconcerting though.
Eco Beach YHA Apollo Bay Hostel
We arrived with time to whip down to the local pub for tea and drinks. Dinner was heartier than gourmet and drinks were pretty steep but we left full and content with our meals. Back at the hostel, it’s was not my turn to pick the DVD so the Jackal it was. The beanbags were forgiving and we had the warm lounge to ourselves to watch our violent film!
Great Ocean Road Attractions
We had a great sleep in, but couldn’t wait to sightsee! After peeling ourselves from toasty warm covers we made our way to the little township of Apollo Bay. I’m excited to find cumquats for sale at the Salvo opp shop down the road. I’ve no idea what a cumquat is, but it sounds fascinating and just a little bit rude – what a letdown to find they’re just little sour mandarins!
Further down the coast, salad rolls in tow; we stop at Cape Otway Lighthouse to take in the freezing windy view, and are greeted by a pirate/lighthouse watchman. At our next stop, we are lucky enough to get to Gibson’s Steps while it is was deserted and we wander out to take pictures of the slowly disappearing Apostles. Next stop’s the 12 Apostles lookout, (in actual fact they are down to 8 as the formations slowly crumble into the ocean over time). Be warned- you’ll be joined by many-a-tourist, and may experience camera lens envy!
We venture away from the coast and into the Otway National Park, trees arch over the narrow windy road; we spot foxes, a possum AND a psychopath dog – plus three koalas slowly lumber across the road! Next stop is Zip Lining at Otway Fly Treetop Adventures.
Zip-lining costs $115 (YHA members save 10%) is all I was hoping for, but damp and chilly so dress for rainforest conditions! There are 6 sections to the line, think flying fox equipped with an armchair. It feels safe, well organized, and guides know their stuff. It does take most of an afternoon to experience it all. Rated a medium level adrenaline experience- bit of an overstatement for the average backpacker – but still really fun!
If you are after a cheaper experience, the Otway Fly Treetop Walk is at the same location and gives a great view of the surrounding forest. A giant steel boardwalk has been built through the forest and has viewing towers along the way- don’t look down! Cost is $24 (YHA members save 20%).
My recommendation: prep your own meals and drinks at the hostel; Eco Beach YHA Apollo Bay has a great stainless steel kitchen with all the utensils you can imagine! Divert funds to the experience and food and drink in Apollo Bay in my experience was disappointing for the price, but the bakery has great pastries and good reviews from fellow guests on the Thai restaurant across from the hostel. Hostel atmosphere was lovely with guests sharing food, chatting over red wine, hassling Gilbert the hostel manager for his scary looking cucumber and chilli juice in a champagne flute!
If you would like to contact YHA Apollo Bay hostel directly, you can email on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone them on (+613) 5237 7899 or even better become a Fan of their Facebook Page and send them a message there! The hostel can also be booked online here.
Action of Relaxation? Pay 2, Stay 3
Idyllic Apollo Bay, between the rainforest of the Otways and the rugged Great Ocean Road, gives you the best of both worlds. And with Apollo Bay Eco YHA offering three night’s accommodation for the price of two, there’s never been a better time for some mid-year R&R or adventure.
With this special Mid-Year offer – stay two nights and get your third night absolutely free!
- from $60 per person multi-share
- from $170 for a twin/double room
- from $220 for a family room
Includes three night’s accommodation, prices quoted are YHA member rates, standard rate also available. Valid to 30 September 2012, excluding school holidays 30 June – 15 July, 22 September – 7 October 2012. Own transport required to suggested activities, and charges may apply.
Click here to book the Apollo Bay Special Offer.