In love with Apollo Bay

THERE’S something about the name Apollo Bay that conjures a dreamy blend of ancient culture mythologies, celestial bodies, and rustic fishing boats and nets.

The sleepy seaside town along Australia’s Victoria state’s historic Great Ocean Road, of course, does not have a direct connection to flaming orbs from outer space, or any mythical Greek gods.

But when you get close enough to the shores and hear the murmuring waves crashing in, the coastal reserve overlooking the Southern Sea presents a panoramic view that is out of this world.

Muffled by a blanket of cotton-like clouds, the late-afternoon sun rays gave a soft glow like a real-life Instagram filter, making the gleaming wet sand a mirror for the sky above.

A brisk three-minute walk from the beach and you can find yourself at the doorsteps of Captain’s at the Bay, a delightful bed and breakfast run by the husband-and-wife team of Duncan and Anna Watts.

This contemporary-meets-old-world accommodation with its own private cottage and loft is unlike your typical hotel stay.

It features warm hospitality, hot fluffy scrambled eggs, comfy beds, and even a lone bathtub in the middle of your room.

Apollo Bay is also home to La Bimba and its restaurant-owner chef Steve Earl.

The restaurant boasts a flavourful menu featuring locally-sourced produce from the Victorian region, valuing both the ingredients and the relationship with community farmers and fishermen.

From native seafood sourced right from Apollo Bay to free-range poultry from Port Campbell, and even mushrooms from Gerangamete, the sustainable approach to food at La Bimba serves also as a reflection to Earl’s personal ethos.

The restaurant’s menu is printed daily, depending on what is fresh and available that day.

A forkful of La Bimba’s savoury flounder cooked in garlic and butter, and even the pickiest seafood eaters would close their eyes and let out the happy sigh that TV food hosts so often show on camera.

About half an hour’s drive away from Apollo Bay is Kennett River, another coastal town on the Great Ocean Road. Here, you can spot koalas clinging on to eucalyptus trees in the wild.

Koalas sleep for most of their day, but even then, you won’t miss them, seeing how they are almost always comfortably nestled up in the trees.

The popular koala walk through the Grey River Road winds through the Manna Gum forest, and doubles as a leisurely stroll amidst native flora and fauna.

A place worth stopping is the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch in Eastern View, a commemoration to the thousands of returning World War I soldiers –over 300,000 Australians volunteered their service from 1914 to 1918 – who were responsible for building the now iconic stretch of road.

Symbolising the immense sacrifice and duty of the soldiers at war, the arch acts as a tribute to the brave people who constructed it.

Between Torquay and Anglesea, lies perhaps the most decadent stop along the Great Ocean Road.

It’s not unusual to hear even adults gasp in amazement as soon as they walk through the doors of The Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery.

On the counter, three massive bowls filled each with white, milk, and dark chocolate buttons sit welcoming you, and you get a sugar rush simply by looking around.

The chocolate-wonderland houses 250 varieties of the luscious dessert, made with love from locally-sourced ingredients and the finest Belgian chocolate.

When you’re done shopping all the chocolate you can eat, drink, and even apply on your skin, the impossible-to-miss viewing window gives you a glimpse of the nimble hands of chocolatiers from France and Belgium.

And if you feel like getting the full chocolate experience yourself, just sign up for a 30-minute Truffle Tasting programme or indulge in a one-hour Chocolate Discovery Master Class.

The writer’s Australian adventure was courtesy of VisitVictoria together with AirAsia X, before the Malaysian low-cost carrier transitions its Melbourne services from Tullamarine Airport to Avalon Airport on Dec 5.

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