Known for its rugged beauty and its towering apostles, the Great Ocean Road is not a newly discovered tourist destination. But, venture a little further from the road itself and you’ll discover some hidden gems. It’s entirely likely I’m not alone in these discoveries, nevertheless, these are some of my favourite spots to visit when I’m wanting to unwind.
McGains Nursery, Cafe & Food Store
On arrival into Anglesea, make a quick left down Simmons Court and you’ll soon reach this local treasure. McGains Nursery, Cafe & Food Store is a bit of peace and quiet within the beautiful tourist town. Have a piece of cake, buy a pot plant and collect some freshly picked vegetables from the small grocer at the side. Word is quickly getting out about McGains (not least of all because of a Postcards visit to the venue), so head there while you can still get a table.
Gentle Annie Berry Garden
Tucked away behind the throngs of tourists in Lorne is the Gentle Annie Berry Garden. The pick-your-own-berries operation is located on a stunning, secluded property in nearby Pennyroyal. After you’ve finished filling your baskets with the fruits of your labour, head back to the farmhouse style cafe for an array of berry themed treats and local cheeses.
A hot spot for the surfers of Airey’s Inlet, Sunnymeade beach is a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular tourist beaches in Torquay, Anglesea or Lorne. The small car park at the entrance to the beach looks out to incredible views of open water, making this spot perfect for a car picnic or a wander along the cliffs.
Airey’s Inlet Caves
Just a little along from Sunnymeade Beach lies Airey’s Inlet’s main beach. When the tide isn’t in, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a short walk to the caves and rock pools which occupy the left side of the beach. Look directly up from the caves and see the Split Point Lighthouse, probably known to most as the lighthouse from Round the Twist.
Californian Redwood Forest
About three hours’ drive from Melbourne, the Californian Redwood Forest is an odd sight on first glance. It looks more than a little out of place. Far from their native home, the cluster of trees was planted in 1939 as a softwood logging experiment – the trees now stretch to a staggering 60 metres high and continue to grow. The area is nearly silent owing to the soft forest floor and is the perfect place for a picnic beside the quietly burbling Aire river.