Apollo Bay is a very typical seaside resort with lots of motels and holiday accommodation. Its primary appeal is that it is accessible from Melbourne and is one of the key towns on a particularly beautiful stretch of coastline.
Where is it?: Apollo Bay is located 186 km south west of Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road,
The main recreational activities centre around the ocean. The water is clear and perfect for swimming, surfing and diving. Sea kayaking with local seals, deep-sea fishing and horse ride along the beach at sunset are also popular. Apollo Bay is an important fishing port with a large fleet scouring the southern ocean for crayfish, shark, whiting, flathead and snapper. Enthusiastic amateurs will not be disappointed by the rock and beach fishing.
The Apollo Bay Music Festival is held each year in March.
The Apollo Bay Great Ocean Road Information Centre is located on the Apollo Bay Foreshore, tel: 1300 OTWAYS.
Old Cable Station Museum
Open on weekends this museum is housed in the old cable station which was established to achieve telecommunications between Tasmania and the mainland. It contains a good and interesting collection of local memorabilia. A submarine cable terminus 3 km north of the town. Inspection can be made by arrangement. Contact (03) 5237 7173 for more details.
Bass Strait Shell Museum
Located at the eastern end of Noel Street the Bass Strait Shell Museum is open most days. It has an impressive collection of local and overseas shells. Contact (03) 5237 6395 for more details.
View of Apollo Bay from Marriners Lookout
Lookouts, Picnic Spots and Walks
The town is surrounded by interesting lookouts and picnic spots including the Barham Paradise Scenic Reserve and Marriners Falls, the exceptionally beautiful Barham River Valley, Grey River Scenic Reserve and Walk (23 km east of Apollo Bay), Elliot River and Elliot River Walk (10 km south-west of Apollo Bay). Marriners Lookout provides panoramic views across the town below and is a popular take-off point for hang gliders.
Maits Rest Rainforest Walk
Maits Rest Picnic Ground is located 17 km west of Apollo Bay, just off the Great Ocean Road. The Maits Rest Rainforest Walk is a 30-minute stroll through fern gullies and eucalypts to a viewing platform beneath a 300-year-old myrtle beech which is on the National Trust register. It is an unusual growth combining two or three trees in one. The route is wheelchair accessible.
Cape Patton Lookout offers spectacular views east towards Apollo Bay and Skenes Creek. This lookout lies east of Apollo Bay and just off the Great Ocean Road.
Situated on Hayley Point and facing Mounts Bay just 2.5 kms from the township of Apollo Bay, Marengo is both quiet and exclusive. Marengo is on a very popular stretch of coast for fishing, with the beaches and rock platforms giving good access to holes and gullies. Marengo and Swell Point have relatively safe bathing beaches. Storm Point is dominated by rocks and has small beaches on both sides. The reefs at Marengo, called Infinities, are popular with surfers, as they provide left and right handers during moderate to high swells. They are the only rideable waves along this rocky section of coast.
The Marengo Reef Sanctuary ensures the wildlife is undisturbed and there is plenty of it. On any given day you can watch the seals basking in the sun on the outer reef. It is a haul out where seals come to take rest. Not only does Marengo have a marine reserve it has a flora and fauna reserve as well. The area to the rear of Marengo is set aside so you can enjoy the peaceful setting of the natural surrounds without interference of cars or trail bikes.
Some of Australia’s best rainforest scenery can be found in the Otway Ranges. Many walkways in Great Otway National Park have been created to give access to the tall trees, ancient plant life and lush ferns. You can walk among giant tree ferns at Maits Rest or experience the full beauty of the rainforest on the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk. There are many waterfalls in the national park’s narrow valleys, ranging from the impressive Triplet Falls to secluded falls over fern-fringed pools. Spot native wildlife such as glow worms at Melba Gully, the elusive platypus at Lake Elizabeth or koalas at nearby Kennett River.
The park is a popular area for interstate and international tourists, with companies operating tours in the region. It contains three camping areas at Johanna, Aire River and Blanket Bay. The park is accessed from the east via Apollo Bay, from the north via Forrest or Beech Forest, or from the west via Princetown. The park covers both coastline and hinterland in the Otway Ranges and so includes both beaches and forest, accessible via walking trails. The park and the Aire River campground are home to a significant koala population. The Cape Otway Lighthouse is adjacent to the park and is open to tourists throughout the week. Migrating whales and dolphins such as southern right and southern humpback, and bottlenose dolphins can be observed from the coasts.
The Otway Fly is 45 minutes drive from Apollo Bay if you are staying there and you can spend a full day if you add Beauchamp Falls, Triplet Falls or Hopetoun Falls to your sight seeing. Drive back to Apollo Bay via Aire River on the coast and enjoy the magnicent Great Ocean Road.
Surf Coast Walk
The 35 km Surf Coast Walk can be followed in either direction, along the coast. Offering natural beauty and easy access, the Walk lets you relax and enjoy a world-class walking destination at your own pace. Many distinctive tracks invite you to explore inspiring landscapes on foot or bike beyond the edge of Victoria s beautiful Great Ocean Road. Discover ancient Aboriginal traditions, fascinating surf culture and abundant wildlife as the walk connects you with the coastal town comforts of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. Whether you’re a nature lover or a fun lover, whether you take an hour, a day or a week, the Surf Coast Walk puts a stunning and unique coastal environment within easy reach.
The Great Ocean Walk stretches 104 kms from Apollo Bay, to within sight of the magnificent 12 Apostles. It weaves through beautiful National Parks, deserted beaches and pristine marine sanctuaries. Cape Otway, the first major feature on the walk, has dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches and the historic Cape Otway Lighthouse (1846-48). The big skies and wild nature of the Walk will astound you. Discover the region s diversity of plants, animals and scenery. Weave your way through tall forests, coastal heathlands, beside wild rocky shores and along windswept cliff-tops presenting amazing views.
There are some sections of the Great Ocean Walk that are accessible for visitors with mobility limitations and for families with strollers. These sections vary in level of difficulty and are dependent on the type of mobility equipment used. Visitors to the Great Ocean Walk are required to travel in an east to west direction. Allow 8 days to complete the whole walk.
The Great Ocean Road, which passes along the picturesque Shipwreck Coast, featuring some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Australia. The coastline contained within Port Campbell National Park is what those who drive the Great Ocean Road come to see – sheer limestone cliffs overlooking offshore islets, rock stacks, gorges, arches, and blow-holes. As part of the Shipwreck Coast, it hosts several well known attractions; including The Twelve Apostles, the London Arch (formerly London Bridge), Loch Ard Gorge, the Gibson Steps, and The Grotto.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area around Apollo Bay was inhabited by Aborigines who lived largely on the produce of the sea. Ancient middens have been discovered on the Otway Peninsula near the Aire River.
By 1840 the enterprising Henty brothers had established a major whaling station at Portland and over the next seven years they had a small whaling station at Point Bunbury which is where the Apollo Bay golf course now stands.
The first major European settlement occurred in 1850 when timber cutters moved into the district. They cut timber and floated it out to ships moored off shore. This industry led inevitably to the establishment of a number of sawmills. At this time the settlement was variously known as Apollo Bay (after the schooner Apollo) and Middleton. Then in 1877 the name was officially changed to Kambruk. It wasn’t until 1952 that it officially became Apollo Bay. Not surprisingly, throughout the 19th century the major access to the town was by sea.
By 1864 farmers had moved into the area. John Cawood, one of the town’s founding pioneers, was farming land around the Barham River. A decade later (in 1873) a Colonel Heath started farming at Mounts Bay. That year also saw a fortnightly road mail service. Further land sales occurred in 1877 and a school was opened in 1880.
On 10 July 1932 Apollo Bay was the scene of one of the greatest shipping disasters ever witnessed on the Australian coast. The coastal steamer Casino, with a number of locals aboard, tried to berth at the town’s jetty. It was hit by freak waves, listed and sank, taking ten men down to their deaths. This occurred in front of the townsfolk gathered on the jetty who did all they could to save the people on the boat. The anchor from the Casino is located outside the Apollo Bay Post Office.
The road to the town was upgraded in 1927 and in 1932 the Great Ocean Road was completed. This ensured the town’s future as a tourist and holiday destination.