The sun is out and while there are still a few months to go until the summer break kicks off, we’re already thinking about hitting the road for a holiday escape!
For pinotphiles looking to discover something new, the Great Ocean Road is a surprising place to indulge in food and wine, particularly Pinot Noir.
One of the world’s finest coastal drives, the cool climate area is also home to some of the finest beaches and historical towns in Australia – all well worth taking the time to explore and stay between drinks.
To help you plan your Great Ocean Road trip here’s a list of the top places to stay, things to do and Pinot Noir to taste along the way.
Merrijig into Port Fairy
If you’re coming from South Australia begin your journey by stopping over in the delightfully cute fishing village of Port Fairy.
Its strong Irish heritage will take you back to the old country, while exploring the town’s cute little pubs, moorings filled with old wooden boats and quaint eateries.
Known throughout Australia and the world for its thriving Port Fairy Folk Music Festival, a four-day music, arts and culture event held in March every year – Port Fairy is also known for its folk music culture.
If you’re looking to indulge and stop over for a night or two, we’d recommend staying at the Merrijig Inn.
Claiming to be Victoria’s oldest inn, the Merrijig is home to a classic bed and breakfast complete with fireplaces, well stocked bookshelves, and a full breakfast. It also houses one of Port Fairy’s most highly regarded restaurants the Merrijig Kitchen, a gourmet restaurant, with an award-winning wine list.
Gorge yourself along the whey
Continuing along the coast, there are plenty of gourmet food stops to keep your hunger at bay along the long and winding Great Ocean Road.
The award-winning hand-made Apostle Whey Cheese is a genuine paddock to plate operation and a great place to experience the cheese making process.
While you’re at it, situated just minutes from the 12 Apostles is Gorge Chocolates, a local business adored by visitors and locals. Boasting a delectable range of rich Belgian-style chocolates, it’s also home to a quaint farm shed turned shop cushioned between the hills of the Otway countryside.
The only way is Otway
Further up the Great Ocean Road are The Otways, home to stunning rainforest scenery and a perfect spot for you to stretch your legs and have a wander through secluded spots like Triplet Falls, Maits Rest and Melba Gully.
Between beaches and rainforests, you’ll also find vineyards and cellar doors peppered throughout The Otways, such as Otway Estate Winery and Brewery.
Boasting a wide selection of wines, including its own refreshingly light Pinot Noir, Otway Estate is also home to a boutique craft brewery and offers its own stunning accommodation for those who’d like to settle in for a few days.
See you in Anglesea
If you’re looking for some beach time, steer clear of some of the busier towns and set up camp in Anglesea, a warm seaside village with great beaches, forests, cafes and a golf course inhabited by friendly kangaroos.
Head to McGain’s Nursery Café for a lazy brunch, tee-off in the afternoon with mates and then settle back in to a rented shack with a glass of wine collected from The Otways.
Bellbrae at Bells
Just next-door to Anglesea sits Bells Beach, the perfect coastal town renowned for its surf. Surrounded by cliffs with excellent vantage points for you to sit back and watch the surfers as they carve the waves.
Bells Beach is also home to a delightful little cellar door Bellbrae Estate which produces a range of cool climate wines. Make sure you try the Bellbrae Estate Bird Rock Pinot Noir named after one of the area’s most acclimated local surf breaks.
Get in the mood at Modewarre
In the hinterland of the Great Ocean Road is the little town of Modewarre.
Home to Brown Magpie Wines which is one of the area’s most highly reputed cool climate wineries, it’s a must-visit for Pinot Noir lovers, with a number of single site Pinot Noirs to try, as well as a refreshing Pinot Noir Rosé.
Take in the Saltair
What better way to wind down from exploring the coastline and local rainforests than slipping into a robe in the region’s original day spa?
The Saltair Day Spa is located just outside of Torquay, another stunning coastal town along the Great Ocean Road.
With an extensive menu of spa treatments to choose from, and a stunning view of lush hillsides and expansive blue ocean, it’s the perfect way to calm your body and soul at the end of your adventure.