the sound I had not wanted to hear. The clock had finally ticked over to 10:00.00am. It had been the moment I’d been dreading. It was time to leave this amazing retreat.
Begrudgingly it was time to point myself northwards and leave the luxury Points South by the Sea cottages.
Location, location, location.
I had come to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road for three days or exploration and photography. And I had big plans. I wanted to explore the rain forests and waterfalls of the Otways as well as Australia’s fabled southern coastline and of course the iconic 12 Apostles.
My base was to be Wongarra nestled between Lorne and Apollo Bay. A mere dot on the map with no town to mark it and missed by all who pass by. And boy, they are missing something very special. Three luxury self-contained cottages located on a whisper of rolling green farmland. Each villa overlooks a pristine secluded beach below and affords grandiose sweeping views out across the deep blue yonder. But more on the cottages very soon.
Sharing a lesson.
So yes I had big plans and it’s fair to say I can get quite ‘intense’ when I know I have a lot of ground to cover and much to explore. But something became plainly obvious. That is you can’t travel anywhere in the Otways or along the Great Ocean Road (GOR) quickly. It’s not so much to do with the speed limit but more to do with the roads themselves.
They are winding! And when I say winding I mean two snakes fighting over spaghetti winding. Then throw in the undulating hills and hairpin turns and you ain’t going anywhere quickly – certainly not by car you’re not.
This was a big lesson to me that I’m keen to share. On that first afternoon I fought against physics and carved off a lot of driving and a reasonable amount of territory. By the end of the day my neck and shoulders had put a contract out on my life so I decided to change tack. The next two days, because of this, were blissful.
So be realistic with your travel plans. 100kms on a freeway is nothing. Here even 50kms in an afternoon can be rather epic. So stay and explore local and share the driving if you can.
Once I had decided to stay within roughly 50-70kms of home-base for my excursions my cottage became a relaxation magnet. I became like a moth to a flame. It was as if the luxurious fingers of Points South by the Sea would only unravel enough to let me explore for a few hours at a time. Drawing me back to wistfully stare out to sea, eat a meal or for a mid afternoon lie-down. That most indulgent of holiday elixirs.
Something else that kept me in a villa more than I had expected was the sound of the brooding ocean lapping at the rocks and beach below me. I live in a hectic inner-city suburb with a constant hubbub and surrounded by the noise of modern-day living. The rhythmic pulse of the waves were almost mesmerizing to me. A total juxtaposition to my everyday. In fact I found them so soothing that I slept with the sliding doors ajar at night. Now looking back all-those-years-ago I see why ‘waves’ was an option on my babies white-noise machine.
The deck was a place of catharsis and rejuvenation for me. The perfect spot for a sundowner or three. I watched the colours tease and morph in the sky. Dancing between golden yellows and peach.
And after the sun had bid her farewells the stars began to replace her. Starting as tiny specks upon a blue-hued sky before transforming into a spectacular blanket of sparkling fairy dust against pitch black. There is no light-pollution in this location whatsoever.
I recommend to keep your bedroom blind up when you go to bed. I watched the Southern Cross slowly descend towards the blackened horizon and delighted to see a couple of shooting stars bid me goodnight. Don’t worry about the road below. After dark you’ll be lucky to see one car an hour.
I stayed in Cottage 3 of the Points South trio. It was impeccable in every detail. Compact in size but wanting for nothing. The hero being the windows that showcase that view to the lucky occupant from every room. Yes even including the bathroom.
The furniture was stylish but more importantly comfortable. The king-sized bed dreamy. The kitchen had everything you would need including microwave and stove-top. There’s a wood fire next to the inviting window seat and a great entertainment hub. You can play your own music playlists on the SONOS system and there is an excellent explanatory cheat-sheet on how to use the four remote controls. A little touch that saves time and frustration.
The cottage is made for indoor/ outdoor living with vast sliding doors replete with insect screens so that you can be accompanied by the sounds of the ocean. Pleasingly the other two cottages are well screened by a mature tree line and the winding GOR below goes almost completely unnoticed. I was actually surprised by how little traffic seems to do this part of the famous route.
I have a quirky criteria to try and benchmark the appeal of the places I stay at. And that is – how much do I wish that I actually owned this holiday-home as my own weekender. On this scale Points South easily rates 10/10!
What to see and do in the area.
Do you remember that I had big plans and lots to see on this trip? Well it turns out I didn’t even make the trek up to the 12 Apostles. I stayed local. And here local is beautiful! I’ll list a few places I visited on this trip below. All plotted over a morning cuppa on the deck as the sun arose.
Sunrise on the beach.
Whilst this sounds like a cocktail, and maybe it is, it’s also something I did on my last morning. If you wander down the driveway there is an access point to the beach directly opposite. It’s a little like walking thought the wardrobe to Narnia as you bend down and navigate through a tunnel of thick scrub, but so worth it. Check the tides as the waves here can catch you out.
The Otways are famed for myriad waterfalls. Tall ones, short ones, thin ones, broad ones. I visited Erskine, Beauchamp and Hopetoun on my visit. All are beautiful but there are scores more. Tell your thighs in advance about your planned visit and perhaps placate them with a nice hot shower or bath afterwards. You’ll be using them plenty on the many stairs involved with the descents and the ascents. Yes don’t forget the going up bits. Don’t be put off however! Hey it’s exercise and the rewards are significant. Here are some of the best waterfalls in the area.
By the way if you hit Hopetoun Falls then about another five slow-dirt-road-minutes further along is the Californian Redwood forest. This was actually the highlight of my whole trip and I had these giants all to myself.
Lorne and Apollo Bay.
If you have a hankering for a good coffee, some retail therapy or don’t want to cook for yourself head into the hamlets of Lorne or Apollo Bay. Both have outstanding beaches and that relaxed ‘holiday town’ feel. Yes they will be quite busy – particularly on weekends – but they are both well worth a look. A cold beer on the expansive deck of the Lorne Hotel is one of life’s simple pleasures.
Drive – stop – drive.
One of the delights of this part of Victoria is just hitting the road and seeing what you find. Along the GOR almost every-other-corner has a pullover area or place to park the car on a whim. And at 60kph or so it’s easy to make a last minute decision. In the Otways it’s less easy to park but just driving along the fern-lined roads in the shade of towering Mountain Ash and Beech is awe-inspiring. From Wongarra the drive to Forrest and lunch at Bespoke Forrest cafe would be a great outing for the senses.
A stay at Points South by the Sea is a luxurious retreat. An escape from the everyday and a passport to relaxation and exploration. Whilst the deck and the view are the standouts the interior is modern and sleek yet homely and inviting. The hero however is the location. Easily reached in about 2.5 hours from Melbourne you are then transported to another world. One of sunsets, stars, waterfalls, walks on the beach and pulsating oceans. It all sounds a little bit like a fairytale really. And to be honest whilst you are there it also feels like one. Enjoy!
- Visit the Points South by the Sea website for more information
- Prices start fr. $260 per night, off peak.
- For more information on the Great Ocean Road visit the GOR website
Please note: All photography © Saxon Templeton excluding some house photography that was supplied by Points South as credited. I stayed as a guest of Points South. All views and opinions expressed are my own without influence.