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Apollo Bay - Seaside Spectacle
apollo bayThe Great Ocean Road is best known for its scenic delights which travellers of this region well know. Driving along the traverse lengths of road, taking in the stunning ocean views, weird geological formations and thick forest is any holiday goer's dream! Journey over hills, along steep cliffs, through rainforest and next to beaches and you will be rewarded with an immense variety of landscapes in a relatively short distance. These amazing sights will stun first time visitors, while continue o satisfy the yearnings of those who return again and again. Many people unfortunately do not really take the time to truly appreciate everything that this great road has to offer. In fact, if you don't look closely you will probably miss out on a lot. Hidden away from the main stretch are some of the country's most beautiful and unique towns that encompass rich cultures and amazing attractions, all within a short distance to each other.

One such place is the cosy coastal town of Apollo Bay, which rests on Cape Otway, just 190 kilometres from central Melbourne. This getaway is extremely popular with city folk as a weekend hideaway, making it one of the key towns on this stretch of the coast. Apollo Bay is home to a population of 1700 and the community largely depend on tourism and fishing to support themselves. Regarded by many as 'Paradise by the Sea', Apollo Bay is nestled on the shores of a perfect semi circle beach of pristine white sands and azure blue water. The laid back attitude of its locals, friendly atmosphere of the community, excellent tourist facilities and its proximity to the rugged Otway Ranges justify this place as the ultimate resort town that should not be passed.

The fishing industry in the town has a long history and dates back over a century. In fact, the large fleet of commercial boats moored in the harbour have become something of a tourist attraction. A visit here will give you a pleasant morning of wandering through the wharves looking at the boats, followed up by a lunch in one of the seaside cafes. The seafood doesn't get any fresher than here! If you fancy taking some of the seafood home with you, visit the fisherman's co-op on the wharf, where you can purchase fish literally straight off the boats. If you would rather catch the fish than eat them, there are several charters available that will take you out to sea. Alternatively you can simply cast a line from the shore along with many other keen anglers.

If you venture into the hinterland of Apollo Bay, you will find an area matching the sheer grandiose beauty of the coas. The Otway Ranges are just a stones throw away, and these rugged ranges are a naturalists delight. Thick, green forest covers the spectacular mountain scenery and is home to a myriad of birds and animals that cause no end of delight and entertainment to bushwalkers and nature seekers. Protected by the expansive Great Otway National Park, these mountains are renowned for their beautiful waterfalls. The most popular of these would have to be Triplet Falls, which has become a visitor icon here and should definitely be on your 'to do' list. Set in the midst of tall ferns and towering blackwood trees, there are boardwalks here that take you deep into the dense forest and to the base of the falls. Another popular waterfall is Stevensons Falls, which is reached via a lengthy walking track which offers some stunning views.

Heading back into town, you will come across a strong tradition of arts and crafts. This is most visible through the Apollo Bay Music Festival which is held every March, and attracts performers and attendees from all over the globe. There are also plenty of galleries displaying work from local artists, who gain inspiration from the stunning surrounding landscapes and the tranquil setting of Apollo Bay. Much of their inspiration comes from the sea, and this is particularly evident in the 24 large sculptures built on the foreshore of the town. If you are here on a weekend, be sure to check out the markets that are on every Saturday morning. This offers the perfect opportunity to browse and purchase crafts and local produce from the region. Its a great spot to hunt down a bargain and support the local economy as well.

An established tourist resort, Apollo Bay has plenty of accommodation options available for any type of traveller. There are also numerous touring opportunities available, with the most common being to continue on down the Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell and the Twelve Apostles. Numerous drives into the Otways will take you past some stunning views and landscapes, and day trips to the waterfalls there come highly recommended. Whichever way you go from here, no doubt you will be thankful for your refreshing and relaxing time spent in beautiful Apollo Bay.

Christine Barton

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