Having had 3 days of mixed weather along the Ocean Road between Port Fairy and Apollo Bay, we were really lucky with the second half of the route between Apollo Bay and Geelong as the clouds cleared, the winds dropped and the sun came out to shine on the wiggly road that runs next to the sea.
We stopped in Lorne for our morning coffee and sat on the beach watching families set up for the day, surfers stretch and the more active swim lengths – it’s a lovely town and we could have stayed all day but our route was a couple of 100 km to Healesville and the Yarra wine region so we had a good reason to push on. A quick stop at Bells Beach near Torquay for the Point Break lover in the car (no Jonny Utah or dead presidents to be seen anywhere!) and then we pushed on through Melbourne and out the other side.
Healesville is a cute little town, and we were staying in the iconic Healesville Hotel, the old pub, smack in the middle of the high street. It’s really lovely, all crisp white sheets and stylish bathrooms above a great bar and restaurant with a huge wine list – what’s not to love! We ate in the garden that night and tried some of the local cider – so nice to be able to sit outdoors long into the evening.
We’d booked a tour of the Yarra Valley for our second full day – that sounds like a nature tour but you know us… yep, it’s a wine tour – so day one we decided to see some of the animals we’d been catching glimpses of at the side of the road either in the surrounding fields or as road kill, and popped down to the fabulous Healesville Sanctuary. It’s a really cute zoo / sanctuary / animal hospital that features and fixes animals native to Australia. We managed to spend hours wandering around meeting all the locals, and we arrived early enough that we had the place almost to ourselves for the first few hours.
It’s really well done, and the staff obviously love their jobs, with talks from the keepers at the platypus, bird section and even a keeper taking the first steps to acclimatize a 7 month old Tasmanian Devil to life in the zoo. We watched as a Wombat who had been hit by car was brought into the hospital wing, anesthetized, x-rayed and checked over for injuries before being given the all clear and arrangements made for him to be released back to where he was found.
A lovely day and a great way for us to meet and learn more about animals that are so unique to Australia and gave us a chance to meet some of the nocturnal or shy beasties we are unlikely to see.
Following our lovely day we finished with a couple of tastings of local produce – first was the Four Pillars Gin distillery, a fab venue on the edge of town where half of the warehouse is taken up with beautiful copper stills and the other half with a trendy tasting room. We opted for a tasting board with 3 different Gins, served with FeverTree tonic.
Suitably refreshed we walked to the other end of town to take a tasting at winery Giant Steps – whose cellar door is a modern monster of a building complete with restaurant – where we tried the Yarra Valley classics – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – along with some Shiraz, cab Sauvignon and a cab Sauvignon Merlot blend before having dinner, hic!
A really good start to our 2 days in Healesville!