Enjoy an outdoor lifestyle in this stunning coastal haven
STORY: JANET BOND PHOTOGRAPHY: JAKE HOGAN jakehogan.com.au
Nestled between rainforests and the ocean in south-west Victoria, Apollo Bay is a world of its own.
In the winter this township on the Great Ocean Road touring route in south west Victoria enjoys a quiet, peaceful pace, but as the weather warms it is transformed into a summer holiday destination.
At this time, thousands of visitors discover the delights of this seaside hamlet – the beautiful beach, scenic golf course and the eclectic ocean-front shopping strip that does a roaring trade in holiday periods.
The natural beauty of Apollo Bay is the result of its unique setting – on the eastern side of Cape Otway, on the edge of the Barham River and the coastline of the Great Ocean Road. It follows that many of the local houses take advantage of the mountain, river or ocean views.
Apollo Bay’s permanent population is around 1600 (the wider region is home to 3000) and the majority of residents are families and older couples. And while there are still plenty of long-time residents, the town is welcoming escapees from city life – for good reason.
Newcomers are welcomed into a community that is environmentally aware and thrives on a healthy, active lifestyle. Like-minded residents have established no less than 18 local environmental groups, including the Apollo Bay Community Against Fracking, Otway Coast Committee, Friends of the Otway National Park, the Otway Climate Emergency Action Network, Coastcare, Landcare, a permaculture group, community garden, and a walking track association.
Joining sports clubs is also a great way to forge community ties. In Apollo Bay there are clubs for football, netball, surf lifesaving, fishing club, aquatic sports, sailing, bushwalking and horse riding.
Even though we had a wonderful life in Melbourne, the decision to move was primarily about the children. We really wanted them to grow up around nature.
Photography: Jake Hogan jakehogan.com.au
For newcomers seeking to meet people interested in the arts, there is the Apollo Bay Arts Inc, Tuesday Arts Group, Apollo Bay Community Choir, book groups, and the Happy Hookers – a local crochet and craft group. And while the town’s famous annual music festival has ceased, live gigs remain a mainstay of this community, with live music played year round at a number of local venues, including the Apollo Bay Hotel.
The coastal town hosts an annual seafood festival in February. Foodies are treated to an extravaganza of world-class seafood sourced locally. The foreshore is dotted with seafood stalls, pop-up restaurants, interactive cooking demonstrations and live music. The local concern for the environment is once again on the agenda with talks by experts about sustainability in the fishing industry.
Outside these summer tourist surges, life is enjoyed at an easy pace. You never have to worry about finding park or traffic jams. And there are no long waits for services.
Apollo Bay provides a broad health care services – a hospital, medical clinics and allied health providers – and childcare and education for preschoolers through to Year 12 students.
The local P12 College has a community of 240 students and is organised in three sub-schools: Junior which is prep to Year 4, middle school for Year 5 to 9 and senior, Year 10 to 12. The school has a tradition of strong achievements in arts, music and sports and the majority of its students move on to tertiary education.
This seaside town can provide the ultimate city escape for prices city-livers can only dream about. The median price of a three-bedroom house is $625,000.
If you compare that with the $1.555m median house price in the neighbouring seaside town of Lorne, just 45 minutes away, the value becomes obvious.
At the time of writing, there were more than 100 properties for sale in Apollo Bay and surrounding areas. Many of them sport views of the ocean or the lush Otway Ranges. And within that property pool you will find everything from apartments and townhouses for downsizers to family homes on acreage.
The Traditional Custodians of the Gabudanud country, on which Apollo Bay stands, are the Gunditjmara people.
WATTLE ROAD 🖤 The natural beauty of a town set between the ocean and the forest and its strong community connection.
DISTANCE FROM MELBOURNE: 2hr 42 mins drive along the Great Ocean Road, less via the inroad through Colac.
POPULATION: 1600 in the township, 3000 in the region.
WHO LIVES HERE?
According to the 2016 Census:
♦ Of the families in Apollo Bay, 33.0% were couple families with children, 50.5% were couple families without children and 16.5% were one parent families.
♦ 73.5% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were England 4.3%, New Zealand 1.2%, Ireland 1.2%, India 0.7% and United States of America 0.7%.
♦ The most common occupations included labourers 19.1%, managers 16.3%, technicians and trades workers 16.0%, professionals 13.1%, and community and personal service workers 11.0%.
♦ The median age of people in Apollo Bay was 48 years.
CLIMATE: Mild with significant rainfall. February is the hottest month with an average temperature of 18.2ºC. July is the coldest with an average temperature of 9.7ºC.
MAIN EMPLOYERS: Tourism, hospitality, fishing industry.
SCHOOLS: Childcare, kindergarten and a P-12 State School.
NBN CONNECTION: Fibre To the Node (FTTN)
PROPERTY PRICES: The median sale price of houses is $625,000; and the median unit price is $552,000. The median asking rent is $390 per week.
SPORTS & RECREATION CENTRES: Aquatic Centre, Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve and sports clubs including football, netball, surf lifesaving, fishing, aquatic sports, sailing, bushwalking and horse riding.
FESTIVALS: Annual seafood festival, Apollo Bay & Otway District Agricultural Show, Apollo Bay Art Show.
My family have always holidayed here, and my husband always surfed here, so both of us had a pre-existing love of the area.
Even though we had a wonderful life in Melbourne, the decision to move was primarily about the children. We really wanted them to grow up around nature. I was also becoming increasingly concerned by the competitive aspect of living in the city. I wanted them to have a more developed sense of ‘other’, that’s why we chose to live in a smaller community where people are just more connected.
There’s an entrenched concept that the city is where it’s all happening and if you leave, you’ll be going backwards, you’ll miss out on opportunities. If you actually spend some time in the regions you’ll realise that’s just not true.
When people asked “How could you take your kids into the country, what about schooling? Oh, your kids won’t have as many opportunities if they go down there.” My response was always, “Let’s define what ‘opportunities’ actually means.” Yeah, they probably won’t have 5000 extracurricular alternatives, but then they’ve got opportunities here in terms of being able to surf, ride mountain bikes and all of those things you’d struggle to do as much of in the city.
Don’t assume that opportunity is the exclusive domain of the cities. I really think we’ll probably have to be having different conversations about regional Australia in a decade or two.
Find out more about Tanya and her family’s move to Apollo Bay – click here.
Travel time is approximately 60 minutes.
TO APOLLO BAY
FIND A PROPERTY
85 Tuxion Road, Apollo Bay
3 2 4
10/4 Hardy Street, Apollo Bay
3 2 2
219 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay
7 5 4
80 Barham River Road, Apollo Bay
3 1 2