There is no place like home! And for the last few years I have been lucky enough to call the iconic Great Ocean Road my home.
Beautifully combining some of the world’s most awe-inspiring landscapes – rugged cliff lines, perfect waves, untouched beaches, rich marine life and thriving rainforest; and a passionate and welcoming community, the Great Ocean Road truly is a must-stop destination for any nature-based or coastal explorer.
My latest journey was an adventure-filled weekend, with my border collie Anzac in tow, enjoying the area’s most magical outdoor experiences in the most sustainable way possible. Naturally, all of my activities had to be puppy friendly.
Stop 1: The iconic Bells Beach.
The morning started with a picture-perfect sunrise at iconic Bells Beach, overlooking some amazing waves and with a cup of my absolute favourite sustainably-produced coffee from local cafe, Ocean Grind (in my reusable coffee cup of course!).
While this area is best known for perfect, back-to-back surf breaks and the annual WSL Bells Beach Pro competition, if you are up for a morning walk I would also highly suggest one of the ocean view treks that wind themselves along the rugged coast line.
If all of this isn’t enough, the oceanside nature reserve backs onto a series of rolling hills, which often play host to a family of indigenous Kangaroos at sunrise and sunset.
Our next stop was a hidden beach paradise called Sunneymead.
There is no better way to describe this place than ‘magical’.
Surrounded by sun-kissed bushland and an untouched open beach for the puppies to play, it was the perfect spot for Anzac to have a run around and for me to explore the low-tide rock pools.
Captured by Belinda VZ Photography
While in the area we had to stop at Aireys Inlet to see the iconic ‘ Around The Twist ‘ lighthouse. Not a nature-based location I know, but certainly a beautiful place to visit. And if you’re looking for the perfect photo op or maybe even a morning snack, there is a quaint little, locally-run cafe right next door.
Next, it was time for a surf!
Easy to spot from the Great Ocean Road and only a few minutes on from Aireys Inlet, Fairhaven Beach is a great spot for both you and your dog to enjoy. After being joined by my friend Sam, we caught a few small waves under the warm autumn sun. We were very lucky to have such a clear day and the ocean was absolutely sparkling.
After a surf, it was time for a winding drive through the Otway National Park, enjoying the beauty of where the rainforest meets the ocean, to find the perfect afternoon waterfall adventure. On your way, there are some magical Great Ocean Road views and I’d recommend stopping by Lorne or Kennet River for some delicious, locally-sourced food.
Beauchump Falls is one of the only waterfalls and Otway walks where your puppy is welcomed on a lead, which is why it was a must for our weekend adventure.
Only a 1.5km walk through rich rainforest, this magic waterfall is truly worth the trip. All the beauty without the crowds, this untouched wonderland sums up why this area is so worthy of our love and protection.
By this stage, we thought it was time to slow down and enjoy a homemade meal at our final destination, Johanna Seaside Cottages. Situated amongst sunlit, rolling hills of Johanna farmland and only a 10-minute walk from a rugged open beach, these cottages really were a dream come true.
The quaint ocean view cottage not only had a safe outdoor area for Anzac, but also included a relaxing timber deck, wood-filled fireplace and three comfortable bedrooms.
This trip encompassed everything you would need for a quintessential coastal weekend away and Anzac and I feel truly blessed not only to explore this iconic area, but to do it in a sustainable manner while supporting local communities.
I’d highly recommend exploring this beautiful coastline, as it’s worth every minute and I’m sure you will love it as much as I do.
Written by: Zoe Strapp, @Akuaodyssey
Thank you to all the amazing people that made this trip possible including,
- Melbourne City Lexus: For the environmentally sustainable RX350 SUV Hybrid vehicle
- Will & Bear : For you beautiful & sustainable adventure hat
- Need Essentials: For my Torquay local surf wetsuit.
- Johanna Sea Side Cottages: For our magical and dog friendly acccomodation