With its lush, hilly hinterland descending to sandy beaches that frame a horseshoe-shaped bay, Lorne – the largest resort town along the Great Ocean Road – has an idyllic setting.
By Sue Gough Henly
A popular summer holiday destination for Melburnians, Lorne offers beach, bush and cultural attractions to suit all tastes. It has a quintessential Aussie beach town vibe plus waterfalls, wilderness and wildlife in its hinterland, as well as a thriving festival and sports calendar. Its accommodation options suit all budgets, from resorts and beach houses to one of the best beachfront and riverside campgrounds in Australia. And, of course, it's located on the famous Great Ocean Road.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car from Melbourne it takes about two hours via the Princes Highway and the Surf Coast Highway to get to Lorne. Public coach transport is available. From Melbourne, there are also many options for day tours with accommodation available for short trips and longer stays.
- Swim between the flags on the wide sandy shore and bounce on trampolines by the beach
- Dine at Brae (in the Lorne hinterland), No. 65 on the World’s Best Restaurants list
- Walk to Erskine Falls in a pretty fern glade or pick strawberries in the hinterland
TOP THINGS TO DO IN LORNE
Experience a typical Australian beach town
Lorne is a classic Australian beach town where you'll observe and experience many things typical of Australian culture. Take part in the Australian sunset ritual of takeaway fish and chips on the sand at Lorne's beachfront, while you watch the area's beautiful sulphur-crested cockatoos strut about on the grass. Look for whales during the winter months (June to August) from the end of the Lorne Pier. Kids will love the in-ground trampolines, mini-golf, skate bowl and pirate ship playground along the grassy foreshore, as well as the opportunity to run barefoot on soft grass and sand. Browse the boutiques or catch a movie at the old-fashioned picture theatre on Mountjoy Parade. Don't forget to take pictures.
Hit the beautiful beach
Much of the town's activity centres around Lorne’s wide sandy beach, where there is plenty of room for games. Swim between the red and yellow flags under the watchful gaze of professional lifeguards during the summer months (December to February) or go for a paddle at the sea baths. At the end of the beach, enjoy a coffee or tasty meal at the weatherboard café, Lorne Beach Pavilion, beside the town's pretty swing bridge that spans the mouth of the Erskine River.
Soak up the culture
Stroll along the main street of Lorne and you will observe the town's thriving arts and cultural scene, evident in its galleries and studios. Discreetly tucked away from Lorne's beachfront is Qdos Arts, a gallery, café, ceramics studio and sculpture gardens surrounded by bushland. The perennially popular Falls Festival of rock, blues, roots and pop music is a fixture held between Christmas and New Year, while the Lorne Sculpture Biennale occurs along the foreshore every second March. The Lorne Festival of Performing Arts takes over the town for three days each year with cabaret, circus, theatre, comedy, visual arts and music and the town's famous 1.2 kilometre (three quarters of a mile) Pier to Pub Swim, described in Guinness World Records as the largest organised ocean swim in the world, takes place every January.
Dine on world-class cuisine in the countryside
Take a 30 minute drive through rainforest and undulating farmland to the cute town of Birregurra (well worth exploring) to dine at Brae, one of Australia’s top restaurants. You’ll be treated to chef Dan Hunter’s whimsical multi-course menu that is grounded in exquisite ingredients, much of which are grown organically on the property or sourced from nearby farms. Six luxury guest suites are also on site.
Go berry picking
Get straight to the source and pick your own strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries and silvanberries at Gentle Annie and then relax with a Devonshire tea and homemade sorbet in its country café.
Move through the rainforest
Lorne's hinterland is lush rainforest where you can feel the cool air on your face and admire giant tree ferns and soaring alpine ash trees. Marvel at the spectacular 30 metre (98 feet) Erskine Falls – 10 kilometres (six miles) northwest of Lorne – from the viewing point above the falls or take a sometimes steep track to the base. Longer walks include a 90 minute return walk (from the Allenvale Road car park) along the St Georges River to Phantom Falls, and a 60 minute return walk to Sheoak Falls set in a stunning natural amphitheatre. Start at the Sheoak Falls car park, six kilometres (3.7 miles) south of Lorne along the Great Ocean Road.
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