Melbourne Day 5 – to the coast and back

Melbourne Day 5

Sunday morning we woke to a cool morning that showed promise of sunshine, which was perfect for our planned agenda: a trip southwest of Melbourne to the coast, to visit a few of the towns along the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s reported most beautiful seaside drives.

As the hotel was packed for brunch, we decided to grab a snack on the way out of town, and our local hostess took us over to a small café and food shop owned by one of Melbourne’s most well known chefs and cookbook authors, Stephanie Alexander. The Richmond Hill Café and Larder is part café, serving great, simple, well prepared food, and part food shop, selling seasonings, condiments, books, and equipment. In addition, the have the most fantastic cheese room that boasts racks and racks of aging cheeses beautifully displayed along with fine wines. I made a note to come back and pick up bread and cheese for lunch one day.

Armed with a few fresh muffins and coffee, we headed out of town on the M1 towards Geelong. The drive south took us about 1oo km down to the beginning of the Great Ocean Road. Winding along the coast west from just south of Geelong to Portland, the seaside route hugs the coastline, winding up and down through a series of picturesque little towns and offers a breathtaking view of the ocean which stretches South to Tasmania and beyond to Antarctica.

We were headed about 80 km along the road, and drove through Anglesea, stopped for a photo op at the Big Hill, a rocky bluff that had posed some challenges during the road construction following the first world war. We wound down towards Lorne, stopping briefly as an echidna crossed the road. The small mammal resembles a porcupine, but is more closely related to the platypus as the world’s only other surviving monotreme (a mammal that lays eggs).

Once in Lorne, we stopped for a coffee on the pier, and walked through the local fish shop, and then made our way the last 16 km to Wye River. We pulled up to the Wye River Hotel, and had a delicious pub lunch, starting with some warm olives served with sourdough bread and Moroccan spices to share, and then fish and chips, made with local whiting. We tried the local beer, the Otway ale, and enjoyed the view from the glass walled patio with an amazing view of the sea.

Turning back to the city, we were fortunate to get some pictures of a few sleeping koalas in the gum trees. At Anglesea we pulled up beside the golf course for another set of pictures, as they have had an ongoing problem with kangaroos all over the course. There was a pack of about 20 enjoying the fairway grass, and when a foursome played through, barely raised an eyebrow.

We got back to the city around 6:00 and had plans to go to The Night Cat,
a local club which featured live latin music on Sundays. The concierge informed us that the Spanish Festival was on in Fitzroy that evening as well, so we took a cab the few km to check it out. There were 2 blocks of Johnston Street blocked off, packed with street vendors selling food, drink, and a stage with live music at one end. The Night Cat offered drop in salsa lessons before the band started, so we joined in with the rest of the house, before grabbing a table to enjoy the live band, an 18 piece afro-cuban group called Los Cabrones. The place was packed on a Sunday night, with a crowd of mostly young folks having a great time, and we were treated to some great latin dancers on the floor surrounding the stage.