The stretch of the Great Ocean Road between the beautiful beach city of Lorne and the laid back coastal city of Apollo Bay is quite possibly the most stunning part of the entire highway:
This stretch of road is really dramatic as it twists and turns along the base of the mighty Otway Ranges as they crash into the ocean:
Once the highway descends off the Otway Ranges it begins to level off and run parallel to a long beach that leads right to beautiful Apollo Bay:
Apollo Bay was named by Captain Loutit in 1845 who sailed into the bay to shelter his ship from a severe storm. He named the bay, Apollo Bay after the name of his ship The Apollo. He eventually worked his way up the coast and began logging operations in Lorne, but the name he gave to the area has remained to this day. However, settlers would soon come to Apollo Bay in 1850 to begin their own logging, farming, fishing, and whaling operations. Much of the wood logged from Apollo Bay would eventually end up being used to build the railway ties between Melbourne and Bendigo.
As land was cleared grazing operations would begin as well in 1864 and was much more successful then in Lorne and continue to this day with large ranches based on the cleared cut hillsides along the beaches heading to Apollo Bay:
Going into the 20th century Apollo Bay’s economy continued to be based around agriculture, fishing, whaling, and logging but tourism became a major industry with the opening of the Great Ocean Road in 1932. In 1935 the first telegraph station from mainland Australia to Tasmania opened in Apollo Bay and continued to operate until 1963.
Today agriculture and fishing continues to play a part in the local economy but by far tourism is what the town is most known for today. The town currently has a population of 1,095 people and has been able to cultivate a town with a greater laid back vibe then even Angelsea with its beautiful beach, quaint hotels, tidy cottages, nice restaurants, and various boutiques:
The seafood restaurants in the town I particularly recommend checking out because the seafood is extremely fresh because it literally comes right off the fishing boats and into the restaurants. The best place to find out about all the options available in Apollo Bay is at the local visitor center that is easy to find as it is located on the northern end of town right next to this sculpture of a family of seals:
Another great way to get yourself oriented while visiting Apollo Bay is to take a quick drive up to Mariner’s Lookout. The lookout is located up a steep signposted road on the north side of town. Once at the parking lot you have to take a short walk to the lookout:
The trail is an easy walk to the summit of a clear cut hill used for grazing land:
From the summit of the hill there is stunning view looking north up the Great Ocean Road that provides a perspective of how much grazing land is located around Apollo Bay:
The summit also gives a picture perfect birds eye view of Apollo Bay:
If you look at the far upper right of the above photograph you will see a small peninsula that served as the location of the caravan park my wife and I stayed at while visiting Apollo Bay. For those looking for discounted accommodations there are multiple caravan parks in town that have plenty of grassy camp sites like our campsite shown below:
Since our caravan park was right along the ocean we decided to take a campsite near the beach. The ocean was literally right behind the bushes of our campsite. It was nice during the day to sit back and listen to the waves hit the shore, but at night when a heavy wind storm hit the town; the bushes provided a great wind break, but the ocean waves were hitting the rocks like thunder. That night was like trying to sleep through a non-stop thunder storm because of the crashing waves.
However, in the morning the storm died down and we were welcomed with a spectacular sunrise over the Southern Ocean:
As the sun came up my wife I took a short walk on Apollo Bay’s beach back towards the downtown area of the city:
There was a lot of people out walking their dogs on the beach and couples walking hand in hand that morning. The town really does have a nice vibe to it, even early in the morning. We only stayed two days in Apollo Bay, but if we had time we would have loved to stay longer in this charming seaside town.