Apollo Bay has often been overshadowed by its much more popular cousin, Lorne. Let’s face it, Lorne has considerably more tourist attractions and is an hour closer to Melbourne.
Despite all that Lorne offers, Apollo Bay has remained a family favourite. I went there most summers as a child and return there with my family now. It’s more laid back and is a great base for a lot of activities in the region.
Here are my favourite suggestions for where to visit with your family.
Apollo Bay Harbour
I know what you are saying. How interesting can a harbour be? Isn’t it just boats and stuff? It’s actually pretty brilliant, we go there most days to see what is there.
There are a number of sting rays in the area that will swim quite close to the shore. Some of them are quite huge! If you talk to the locals, you’ll learn that many of them have names.
As sun sets, you will notice more fish hanging around the edges of the harbour. We’ve never had much luck fishing for them
Behind the Harbour
If you walk behind the habour there is a small stretch of beach between the rocks of the habour and the barham river mouth. There are some interesting rock formations here that are a milder version of the ones further ahead at Marengo beach.
It’s a fun place to look at the rocks and can be the scene for beautiful sunsets. These are one of the safer areas for rock hopping.
Barham River Mouth
The river mouth is a short walk from Apollo Bay, maybe 500 meters from the main street. We love it because it is less busy then the main beach and doesn’t have the waves.
You do have to be careful in the summer months, as hooded plovers nest on the opposite side. I’ve also found double banded plovers and crested terns hanging around here once the families have left.
We also enjoy walking along the river past the caravan park and making a loop behind the town. You can get some lovely river birds here.
Marengo Reef Marine Sanctuary protects the only offshore exposed reef between Cape Otway and Cape Schanck (Explore Underwater Victoria). On shore, however, is where the magic lies for the kids.
Visit here at low tide and you will see dozens upon dozens of rockpools. We’ve spent hours here and discovered crabs, starfish and a variety of other creatures. It can be a good introduction to marine life and jumping over the rocks will tire the kids out… a little bit.
For the grownups, it can be a great area for landscape photography. You can get more tips here.
Visit the Marengo Seal Colony
Unlike the others, this activity isn’t free. It is definitely worth the money.
Apollo Bay Fishing and Adventure tours offer boat trips to the seal colony at Marengo. My nephew and I have done this and it was a blast.
It takes an hour and you get to visit the outer rocks where the seals like to hang out. You can see these rocks from the shore but you can barely see the seals, even with the binoculars or camera. This trip takes you near the rocks and you get to spend 15 minutes watching the seals swim around the boat. We thought it was magic.
Paradise Picnic Ground
Paradise Picnic Ground is a hidden secret of Apollo Bay – overshadowed by the considerably more crowded Maits Rest and Melba Gully. While it doesn’t have the formal walking paths and signage, it does have a sense of privacy that you don’t get at the other locations.
It is located 6-7 km away. Follow the signs that say “Barham River scenic drive.” This is actually a beautiful drive in the hinterland behind Apollo Bay. About half way, you will get to a toilet and sign “Paradise Picnic Reserve.”
This area is great for exploring the rainforest. There is a lot of fungi and bugs if you look close enough. Even better, there will be considerably less people then at other locations.
Shelley beach is about 7km away from Apollo Bay and 5km away from Marengo. The rock formations here are very similar. The main difference is that the rainforest meets the ocean. This can make for some brilliant rock hopping but the kids will definitely need supervision. The sealife is very similar to Marengo.
The location is isolated so you will definitely have to watch the tides.
Blanket Bay is very similar to Marengo rockpools, however on a much larger scale. The rock formations are entirely different and so are the creatures you will find. It’s well worth coming here on low tide to explore.
The birds here are magnificent and I’ve found koalas in the main camping area. It is popular with campers but is still pretty secluded. The walks here are lovely, the plantlife is different from many of the other areas. I recommend going a bit further to Parket Inlet for great views if you have the time.
The snorkeling is also meant to be great here.
Kennett River is another favourite of ours – we often stop here on our trip down to the bay. The area is well known for its koala population and it’s a lot more pedestrian friendly then Cape Otway.
You’ll also find a lot of wild birds here, especially king parrots and crimson rosellas. You can buy bird seed at the nearby store.
It can be quite busy with the tourist buses coming here to see the koalas.
Need more information?
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