Wintry warmth on Victoria’s idyllic West Coast

Wintry warmth on Victoria's idyllic West Coast
When the weather turns cold there’s nothing more delightful than retreating to a coastal village on the weekend and sitting by an open fire with a  hot chocolate.Victoria’s west coast – the stretch between Portland near the South Australian border and Lorne on the Great Ocean Road – is an ideal place to plan a winter getaway with snug settlements ready to welcome those keen to wander along a beach as a Southern Ocean squall drives angry breakers to the sand. Port Fairy is just one of those villages and the best way to pass the time on a gloomy day is to dress warmly and find on a warm woollen jumper before finding a sheltered position to watch the waves and weather roll in.
Have breakfast at a cafe and read the paper while locals drift in for their morning coffee, browse the art galleries that sit between clothes shops and bookstores on the main drag, visit a day Spa for a massage, or pick up a copy of the town’s Heritage Trail and ramble the streets to learn more about the vintage structures.Apollo Bay, Wye River and Lorne are three more options. These Great Ocean Road regions destinations are allpeaceful havens during the cold months, when thesummer crowds stay away.There’s also a host of boutique accommodations in Victoria’s quiet southwest corner that are suited to weekends away, with many of the B&Bs and holiday homes sitting on the isolated plots between coastal villages.Aire Valley Guest House at Hordern Vale, Whitecrest Great Ocean Road Resort near Apollo Bay, Southern Heights Bed & Breakfast near Lavers Hill, and Rotten Point House on a cliff at Johanna are just some of the appealing alternatives.BEST FOR SHIPWRECKSI’m not suggesting you recreate the Titanic’s final hours during your next Victorian vacation, but do visit a part of the state that lets travellers step back in time to the days when the jagged cliffs along Victoria’s western coast sent dozens of ships to the bottom.The crews aboard boats aiming for Melbourne in the 1800s and early 1900s dreaded the journey past what would become known as Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast.A calm approach meant most vessels made it through the dangerous stretch of sea between the SA border and Cape Otway but for the passengers and crew on more than 140 ships, the long voyage ended when bad weather drove boats too close to land.Names like SS Barwon, New Zealander, Edinburgh Castle, Fiji and La Bella are now stops on the Historic Shipwreck Trail – a scenic drive between Portland and Apollo Bay that winds past the Bay of Islands, The Grotto, London Bridge and The Twelve Apostles, but between 1830 and 1915 they were ships that sank to form the legend.

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