It’s safe to go back to Lorne now. The behemoth that is the Pier to Pub swim is over for another year and the bumper-to-bumper traffic snaking down the Great Ocean Road have cleared. Thanks to the Geelong bypass, it doesn’t take more than an hour and a half from Melbourne to catch the first glimpse of Lorne. There is the pretty crescent of a beach, so well protected that the town’s surfers sometimes derisively refer to it as ‘Lake Lorne’, but there are also cafes, galleries and pick-your-own berry farms hidden away in the hills. These are our tops picks for a weekend at the beach in Lorne.
The Bottle of Milk
A saviour for Melbourne coffee addicts who need their daily fix, The Bottle of Milk serves up perfectly brewed Seven Seeds coffee alongside a burger-heavy menu. There are wooden trestle tables to sit at street-side, all the while attempting to wrap your mouth around the heft of the ‘What Everybody Gets’ burger. It’s a crisp, crumbed chicken schnitzel sandwiched in a burger bun with tomato and lettuce and doused with mayo and homemade chilli paste.
53 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne
(03) 5289 2005
It’s all about the pizza at Lorne stalwart The Ovenhouse. Pizzas are served Turkish-style in an oval shape with a crisp, charred base. We liked the lamb pizza topped with red onion, olives and tzatziki, not to mention the chicken calzone – a huge, bronzed football of pastry stuffed with a tasty jumble of napoli sauce, sweet caramelised onion and chunks of tender chicken.
46A Mountjoy Parade, Lorne
(03) 5289 2544
Ba Ba Lu Bar
There is plenty of outdoor seating at Ba Ba Lu Bar to make the most of a balmy summer evening with tapas and wine. The menu skips around the world, from Portuguese fish cakes to Mexican style chicken casserole. But during January it’s all about the paella, which is served on Saturdays and Sundays. Chef and owner Sacha Meier cooks up a huge pan of the Spanish staple filled with seafood, including prawns, pippies, mussels and calamari. 6A Mountjoy Parade, Lorne
Hidden in the bushland behind Lorne, Qdos Arts exhibits contemporary art in a stunning setting. Sculptures are dotted beneath the gum trees while the gallery is currently showing the beach-inspired work of painter Susan Sutton. There’s also a cafe that serves up cake, scones and coffee to offer respite from art appreciation.
35 Allenvale Road, Lorne
(03) 5289 1989
Kids with telltale red-stained mouths scamper around the Gentle Annie farm, which is about 15 minutes drive from Lorne. If you can beat their little fingers to the berries you can pick your own raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. For those who have not eaten the entire spoils of their labour, there is also a cafe which sells berry influenced dishes like berry smoothies and scones with lashings of cream and dollops of homemade jam.
520 Pennyroyal Valley Road, Pennyroyal
(03) 5236 3391
There are plenty of places to practice retail therapy in Lorne and this homewares store has a pleasant beach vibe. It stocks hand-designed homewares and some big names like Corban and Blair, Life With Bird and Zetta Florence. It’s a good place to have a browse or to buy a gift. 3/32-40 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne
(03) 5289 1533
Lorne Fisheries Co-Op
At the start of the Lorne pier, the Lorne Fisheries Co-op sells the local fishermen’s morning catch along with seafood from further afield. Crayfish are a specialty and look out for the musings of Lorne’s resident fisherman-poet, Christos Raskatos. He composes haiku and Greek verse on the blackboard outside the shop. Pier Head, Lorne
(03) 5289 1453
Like having your own beach house in the bush, Allenvale is 2km out of Lorne and surrounded by bushland walking tracks. Allenvale offers a choice of four different self-contained houses, each with their own kitchen and BBQ area. The place feels like a real country retreat, with the houses clad in grey weathered boards and plenty of room on the veranda to sit and admire the view. Ideal for a group getaway.
150 Allenvale Road, Lorne
(03) 5289 1450
This three-room French-style bed and breakfast is pretty romantic. Located right in Lorne, it’s a short walk from the main drag and has more of a beachside feeling with great ocean views. There is also a separate garden house for families or larger groups. Thoughtful details include Gant bedlinen, L'Occitane toiletries and iPod docks in rooms. Open the French doors onto your private balcony and enjoy breakfast made from local produce.
26A William Street, Lorne