Bellbrae – on the Great Ocean Road

A popular holiday seaside destination in Victoria is the coast area along the Great Ocean Road. Towns such as  Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay see their numbers swell during the summer holiday season, with day trippers from Melbourne as well as those wishing to spend a week or two pursuing the delights of sun, sand and surf. The well known surfing championship venue of Bell’s Beach can be found between Torquay and Anglesea, as can the hamlet of Bellbrae where we spent a restorative week doing as little as possible!

Our accommodation was a bushland resort which is a member of our timeshare group, so a last minute bonus week was a very economical outlay. The Bellbrae resort is popular with families despite it being off the main road and quite a distance from the beach, as it has a large games room, pool, mini-golf and a tiny wildlife reserve. But you don’t have to go far to see the locals in their natural habitat, as we discovered during one of our walks nearby.

The gateway to the Great Ocean Road is Geelong, Victoria’s major provincial city, which we usually bypass on the freeway.  This time we stopped for a while, interested to see how things have changed here in recent years.

The foreshore area near the old pier has been developed into a tourist hub, with an ultra-modern information centre, restaurants on the pier and amusing, decorative bollards along the coastal path.

This holiday was to be spent doing coastal walks, reading on the balcony of our unit and catching up with friends. Very low key. But a holiday for us would not be complete without some effort to find wineries and a game or two of golf, would it? Luckily for Vin, our friends were able to join us for these outings, so hubby had a golfing partner and lovers of a good red wine to share his passions with.

One novel winery was the Oakdene Vineyards and Cellar Door in Wallington. An original 1920’s homestead, Oakdene has been beautifully restored and boasts an eclectic, intriguing art garden setting offering dining, accommodation, wine tasting and tours of the vineyard. Oakdene’s cool climate wines are produced in limited quantities from estate grown Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. The award winning contemporary restaurant Marty @ Oakdene is very popular, with the casual cafe Mr Grubb @ Oakdenee  offering more casual dining.

Also in Wallington, the retro-inspired Flying Brick Cider House is another landmark venue. In this innovative space you can choose from a tasting paddle of ciders,  gourmet food, local wines and a solid selection of beer, with Friday night live music to round it off. Flying Brick Ciders are made from 100% fresh fruit, traditionally crafted and contain no sugars, colours, flavourings or concentrates. It is also home to Yes said the Seal, which produces refined, limited release cool climate wines. The winery was rated 5 Stars by James Halliday’s Wine Companion in 2017 and the 2016 Yes said the Seal Pinot Noir was awarded ‘Best Pinot Noir in Australia’ in the 2017 inaugural Australian Pinot Challenge.

As for Golf, a couple of enjoyable rounds were played, one of which was at Clifton Springs Golf Club. Situated near Drysdale on the Bellarine Peninsula, the course first opened in the late 1800’s. With views across Corio Bay to the You Yangs, the course, a par 71 of 5,783 metres for men and a par 72 of 5,213 metres for women, boasts wide fairways and subtly sloping greens.

Overlooking the rolling greens below and the breathtaking Bellarine Peninsula coastline, the course Bistro offers a broad range of meals and was the perfect place for a wind-down drink on the balcony before dinner.

One of our many walks took us to the Split Point Lighthouse at Airey’s Inlet. The Lighthouse was built in 1891 and towers 34 metres above the coastline. From the cliff walks it is possible to access many secluded coves perfect for rockpool rambling, swimming, surfing, snorkelling and beach combing.

Along the road to Anglesea is the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, a chocoholic’s paradise. Here you can delight in free chocolate and ice cream tastings, watch the art of chocolate making, and explore the spectacular showroom choc-filled with thousands of chocolates to tempt you. The Pod Café menu features produce from their kitchen garden, offering breakfasts, lunches and specialty desserts. Outside the kids are free to wander in the native garden and orchard or play in the lavender field and sand play area.

Anglesea’s main beach, a wide sandy expanse beside the Anglesea River, is perfect for swimming, surfing, or simply relaxing, while young children can paddle safely in the protected waters at nearby Point Roadknight beach.

This surf coast holds much of interest for the holiday maker, both in man-made attractions and the natural beauty of the area. We certainly enjoyed our time here!

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