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Top Spots Along The Great Ocean Road With Jenna Densten

Travel

Summer has arrived in Victoria! Though it’s been a strange week of unseasonal downpours, on Victoria’s coast, the water temp has risen over 18-degrees, and it’s looking like sunshine all the way to Christmas! It couldn’t be a better time for us to share our take on Australia’s most famous drive: the Great Ocean Road!

We’ve enlisted part-time Skenes Creek local, and much-loved renovator (who you may know from The Block!) Jenna Densten of design studio Bicker Design and Design School. She showcases her favourite stops for exploring, eating and a spot of shopping, from Torquay to Apollo Bay.

17th December, 2018

Crystal clear waters at Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Jenna Densten
Monday 17th December 2018

I studied Interior Design and work as a trainer at the Design School I started with my husband Josh. We are both all about good food and coffee, and are always on the hunt to find somewhere new, even if it involves a little roadtrip!

The Great Ocean Road has become one of our favourites, as a little under one year ago we purchased our little shack in Skenes Creek. We visit at least once a month, if not more… taking the scenic route when we can!

A group catches a wave at Lorne beach. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

More Lorne landcapes. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

No matter how many times you travel along here, it will continue to take your breath away.‘ – Jenna Densten.

The world-famous coastal drive begins in Torquay, under 90-minutes from Melbourne’s city centre, and spans 400-kilometres to Nelson, right on the South Australian border.  No matter how many times you travel along here, it will continue to take your breath away. We discover something new and amazing every time, whether it be a walk, waterfall, eatery or secluded beach.

I couldn’t list all of my favourites in-depth below, but also wanted to highlight Aireys Inlet and Anglesea, both really cute little beachside towns. You can find some great walks at both that make a perfect pit stop for an active toddler (like our Fred!). 

Lorne has a lot happening, and is a great place to stop off for a night or two, and is perfect for kids, with its amazing playground on the foreshore. Another highlight is Wye River, 20 minutes on from Lorne, which has a great pub and cafe, and is well worth a stop, even if it’s just a coffee break. From here to Skenes Creek is one of our favourite stretches of road, with breathtaking views looking out towards Apollo Bay.

Even if you can’t make it in the summertime for swimming, a host of markets, festivals and more, the area is also charming in cooler months. Many venues and accommodations have a wood fire, and there’s nothing quite like being toasty inside and looking out onto the rugged and beautiful ocean. The beaches are quiet and the walks and waterfalls are also spectacular this time of year, plus Apollo Bay holds Winter Wild (kind of a Great Ocean Road version of Dark Mofo) – no matter the season, there are always things to do and see!

Jenna at one of her favourite spots – a cute coffee stop in Apollo Bay, Hello Coffee Roastery And Cafe! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Jenna’s favourite: toasted banana and coconut bread at Hello Coffee Roastery And Cafe. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Cafe – Hello Coffee

A local from Skenes Creek alerted us to Hello Coffee Roastery And CafeI love that it’s tucked away in an industrial estate, and generally hidden from the bus loads of tourists that come through Apollo Bay.

I live for the toasted banana and coconut bread, but Josh can’t go past a pie at any time of the day!

16 Oak Ave, Apollo Bay VIC 3233

The view at Mariners Lookout, Apollo Bay, does not disappoint! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Activity – Mariners Lookout

We came across this Apollo Bay walk thanks to another local tip-off!

The view is breathtaking. We have walked up to watch the sunrise before, and it’s a must do on a clear morning.

155 Mariners Lookout Rd, Apollo Bay VIC 3233

If you want a longer hike with more challenges (sometimes river crossings!) the Cumberland River Walk to Jebb’s Pool is amazing.

Cumberland River Holiday Park, 2680 Great Ocean Rd, Lorne VIC 3232

Josh and Jenna love dining at La Bimba! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The fresh seafood dishes here are incredible. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Not to mention the views – ocean and hills, equally! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The menu is constantly rotating. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Dine – La Bimba

I’m passing on yet another recommendation from another Apollo Bay friend: La Bimba!

The fresh seafood dishes here are incredible and the gorgeous vistas overlooking both the hills and ocean make for a stunning setting. 

The menu is constantly rotating, with enticing new additions popping up all the time. I always find myself going with one with prawns, yum!

125 Great Ocean Rd, Apollo Bay VIC 3233

Josh and Jenna’s super cute shack in Skenes Creek, which we featured in full earlier this year. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Incredible views from the bedroom (!) at Josh and Jenna’s shack in Skenes Creek. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Stay – Skenes Creek Shack

Funnily enough, Josh and I had driven past this shack a couple of years ago, and actually said it would be our dream! We had been searching for a getaway for a while, but decided to put it on hold to focus on our North Melbourne renovation (stay tuned for part two!). Five-years later we started the search again and drove down one weekend to view a property just outside of Apollo Bay. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the one, but the same agent called us the following week to let us know she had a little property coming on the market she thought we may love. It was our dream shack!

When we aren’t there, it’s available for guests, making for a lo-fi experience in an original beach shack. You can walk to the beach, listen to a record, light the fire and watch a DVD… A stay is the ultimate way to switch off and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and it’s been really popular so far, with weekends are booked out a couple of months in advance.

Skenes Creek, VIC, 3233 – Bookings can be made here.

Arizona Living in Jan Juc. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Arizona Living in Jan Juc. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Owner Libby at Arizona Living in Jan Juc. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Shop – Arizona Living

We’re pretty active on Instagram, and that’s where I discovered this super cute little shop. Arizona Living features plants, pots and other gift items in a beautiful setting – there’s a pretty awesome dome greenhouse!

I often pick up little gifts here, or a cactus or two for our own home (the only plant I can’t kill!)

Stuart Ave, Jan Juc VIC 3228

Ocean House by Architect Rob Mills in Lorne. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Ocean House can easily accommodate several families, a large extended family or groups of friends in privacy. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Secluded North Lorne beachfront is outside your front door, there is forest behind the house to explore, or you can simply relax and take in the views from the rooftop terrace. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Another beautiful residential project by Rob Mills Architects and Interior Designers. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Stay Longer – Ocean House

The stretch of The Great Ocean that I have been covering (less than half!) could be explored over weeks, or even months. But if you are lucky to make a couple of nights trip out of it, another great base is Lorne.

Along with all those scenic beach shots above, Lorne is home to Ocean House. Designed by Architect Rob Mills, whose amazing contemporary residential projects have featured on TDF many times, this luxury accommodation offers amazing ocean views across Loutit Bay and North Beach. With five bedrooms, two living areas and three bathrooms, it can easily accommodate several families, a large extended family or groups of friends.

Lorne VIC 3232 – Bookings can be made here.

Looking across the sand to Lorne. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

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