For those who have done a bit of research on the Great Ocean Road already, you will most likely be aware that ideally, you would want to give yourself approximately 3 days to enjoy every bit the journey. However, for those who are time poor, this may not be an option. So here is my guide to a quick one-nighter down to the south coast of Victoria from Melbourne.
Having brunch in Melbourne (or its surrounding suburbs) is an absolute must. Even though I am a true Sydney-over-Melbourne girl, I must say that Melbourne does brunch better. We visited Serotonin in Richmond which was a quick 10 minute drive from the Sheraton and I’m definitely glad we chose this café – even though it was full vegetarian. This is the kind of place where you wish you had more stomach space to be able fit in 5 different dishes.
We ordered the waffles, avo on toast, peanut butter latte and matcha latte. The food was delicious and fresh – all it was missing was some bacon, but that’s our fault for missing the vego memo. This café’s décor is absolutely stunning – one of those places you wish was your home. To top it off, the customer service was impeccable.
Driving down from Melbourne, Altona Beach is along the way south. This one is a pretty chill beach and there are markets nearby to make your day even more enjoyable. To be quite honest, this isn’t my kind of beach as the water is a bit murkier than I like and there aren’t any waves. You can walk along the pier and towards the end of it, you can jump into the water. This looked pretty fun but at the time we were there, there were a ton of kids jump left and right so we chose to skip it.
You know those hotels that you see online where the photos look so grand and perfect? Then you arrive and immediately regret judging a book by its cover? The Mansion Hotel and Spa definitely does not fit that profile. It was really hard finding any accommodation south of Melbourne for one night on Australia Day. Thankfully, I was able to book in the last available Superior Room here. The photos available for this place doesn’t quite do it justice. The second you step out of your car, you feel like you’ve stepped onto the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Okay, so it might not be quite the same but I did feel like one of those people who sip on their tea and ride one of their many horses for leisure.
This estate dates back to the 19th century and you can really feel the history. Although, when you step inside, don’t expect the interior to be from that era. The décor is modern, sensible, and luxurious. We were greeted by the concierge who checked us in and provided us with a map of the grounds as well as a glass of sparkling wine on arrival. The room was nice and spacious, the only thing I didn’t like was the shower over bath, but that’s not that big of an issue.
Once we put down our bags, we immediately went outside to explore. The gardens are absolutely stunning and so well kept. We also saw a nice spot that looks reserved for wedding ceremonies and receptions. We made our way to the winery on the other side of the estate where we had our free wine tasting. Just outside the winery is the vineyard that you can observe from the comfort of some outdoor seats while you sip on your drinks.
During the night, we thought we would go for a dip in the hot tub but quickly found that it wasn’t really a hot tub at all – the water was only slightly warmer than the pool. Instead, we went back to our room and I had a nice soak in the bath.
The next morning, we had breakfast down at Joseph’s. It had a great selection of food ranging from your usual bacon and eggs to cheeses and cured meats. I wish we could have gone to the spa as well but we were running out of time.
Please do go visit Mansion Hotel and Spa if you’re in the area – it is honestly such an amazing place filled with charm and history.
Right outside the Mansion Hotel and Spa is the Werribee Open Range Zoo. I couldn’t resist, seeing as it was so close to us, I really wanted to go see the animals. We went after we checked out of the hotel and paid just over $30 each for entry. We headed straight for the Safari Bus that would take us around to see the rhinos, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and a whole lot of different species you would usually find in Africa. What I loved about this zoo is that they are first and foremost, conservationists. Secondly, there is so much space for the animals to live in. One tip: make sure the bus you go on isn’t loaded with toddlers like ours was – we couldn’t hear our guide over all the screaming.
Once we got off the bus, we went around the walking track and saw monkeys, a cheetah and a pack of lions. The lions were gorgeous and not shy at all. Because of the hot weather, the lions were given bones frozen in ice to keep them cool.
You only really need to set aside an hour or so for this zoo, there is very little walking involved and most of the land is for the animals – not you.
After the zoo, we drove down to Lorne Beach which took about an hour and a half. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t properly check the route Google Maps had planned for us so instead of driving to Torquay and then onto the Great Ocean Road, we went through the countryside and only hit the Great Ocean Road at Lorne. But it was actually a blessing in disguise – Lorne Beach is magnificent. There is so much space on the sand and the water is amazingly clear.
Another great surprise for us was finding this fantastic Argentinian café just off the beach. The guys here are so nice and laid back and the food is some of the best I’ve had. We ordered ‘The Usual Suspects’, bacon and eggs, and the ‘Porkadillas’, quesadillas with pulled pork. I really didn’t think you could improve bacon and eggs that much, but I was proven oh-so-wrong. The flavour in this dish is divine. The Porkadillas were also dreamy, meaty, a bit spicy, and that slaw just give you that freshness. And to top off a brunch in the sun on a 30 degree day, I got the frozen apple which is like a slushie with the flavour of cloudy apples.
Once we were finished at the beach, it was time to make our way back to Tullamarine Airport. This time we got onto Great Ocean Road and the view was spectacular. I’m sure we only got a taste of it but we will just need to experience the area around Port Campbell another time to see the 12 Apostles.