Summer on the coast: Marengo to Separation Creek

In this Summer Issue we thought we would go to the beach… and what a wonderful treasure trove of stories and beauty spots can be found along the short 40 kilometers from Marengo Beach, just west of Apollo Bay through to Separation Creek, just east of Wye River.


We don’t have the space to cover everything connected to this area: dinasours; Aboriginal middens; shipwrecks; whaling; fishing; farming and timber industries; the building of the Great Ocean Road by WW1 returned soldiers, and a marine sanctuary. From early history to contemporary community events, this area is rich with natural beauty and human endeavour.

Here is a snapshot of each of the communities along the road:



Napoleon on Marengo



Named after a horse or a battle? The name Marengo is derived from Cape Marengo (named Point Franklin by Flinders) which was named by Nicholas Baudin, the French explorer in 1882.Baudin was commission by Napoleon to explore Australia. Marengo, the horse, (c. 1793–1831) was the famous war mount of Napoleon I of France. Named after the Battle of Marengo, through which he carried his rider safely, (info provided by Apollo Bay Historical Society)

Beautiful beach, great place to snorkel, dive and kayak and there is the wonderful Marengo Marine Sanctuary with its seal colony. (see feature article)



Apollo Bay is situated on the eastern side of Cape Otway, along the edge of the Barham River and on the Great Ocean Road, in the Colac Otway Shire. The town had a population of 1,095 at the 2011 Australian census.



It is now a tourist destination, though it is smaller and quieter than other nearby places such as Lorne. It is also host to the annual Apollo Bay Art Show, Apollo Bay Music Festival and the Great Ocean Sports Festival.

In winter to spring, Southern Right Whales come to the area mainly to breed, to give birth their calves, and to raise them in the warmer, calm waters of South Australia during their migration season. Less frequently, Humpback Whales can be seen off the coast.


History Snapshot

AB Fishing Off Pier

Apollo Bay was part of the traditional lands of the Gadubanud or King Parrot people of the Cape Otway coast. (Profiled in Otway Life Magazine Summer 2014)

In the 1840s the Henty brothers established a whaling station at Point Bunbury on the western end of the bay. The bay was named by a Captain Loutit in 1845 when he sheltered his vessel, the Apollo, here from a storm.

The first European settlers were timber cutters in the 1850s, who subsequently established sawmills. Farmers later moved into the area and a small settlement on Apollo Bay named Middleton developed. A Post Office of that name (with a fortnightly mail delivery) opened on 1 May 1873 (relocated to the township of Krambruk in 1881 and renamed Apollo Bay in 1898). During this period almost all access to the area was by sea.

The township of Krambruk (Aborigina name meaning ‘sandy place’, later to be renamed Apollo Bay) was established in 1877, and a school was open by 1880.

With the upgrade of the road to the town in 1927 and the completion of the Great Ocean Road in 1932, the town became a tourist destination and an important fishing port.

Amphitrite_AustraliastampIn 1936 a submarine telegraph and telephone cable from Apollo Bay to Stanley provided the first connection to Tasmania from the mainland. The Apollo Bay Telegraph station closed in 1963 and is now a museum.

On July 10, 1932 the coastal steamer Casino sank while attempting to berth at the town jetty. Ten lives were lost. Earlier shipwrecks have occurred along the Cape Otway coastline.



Apollo Bay has a dynamic Historical Society and their premises at 1650 Great Ocean Road houses an extensive number of displays in the Apollo Bay Museum.

Open Weekends, Public and School Holidays, 2 -5 pm.

The Apollo Bay History Trail starts opposite Hardy Street, near the Information Centre and follows the path along the foreshore to the harbour.  View the signs showing Apollo Bay in the old days.


Trans otway bus c1950 P2225 Charlie Clark drivng coach

Events and festivals held in Apollo Bay include:

  • The Apollo Bay Music Festival (first held in 1993). A poster for the festival of 1999 by Jeff Ragus was featured on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post in 2006. 27 Feb to 1 March 2015
  • Great Ocean Sports Festival
  • Apollo Bay and Otway District Show
  • Apollo Bay Art Show
  • The Apollo Bay Surf Lifesaving Club was established in 1952 as a result of a meeting held on the foreshore by interested townspeople and Surf Lifesaving Victoria officials. The Apollo Bay SLSC became the ninth club to be affiliated with Surf Lifesaving Victoria. It is now affiliated with the new amalgamation between two Victorian lifesaving organisations: Life Saving Victoria.
  • The Apollo Bay Sailing Club aims to provide a wide range of opportunities in sailing to a diverse range of abilities and age groups.
  • Apollo Bay Golf Club is on Nelson Street
  • Apollo Bay Pony Club
  • The town has an Australian Rules football team competing in the Colac & District Football League.
  • Apollo Bay has hosted overnight stops on the Great Victorian Bike Ride five times (1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2009), including serving as the host for the rest day on the last four of those visits.


cliff-diggingThe men worked with picks, shovels and crowbars to make a “road for motorists”.  Getting to Lorne was the first step and it was opened in 1922 with a party of 60 cars.  They left Geelong at 9 a.m. and arrived at 5.30 p.m, a distance of 40 miles and it is well reported in the newspapers. “It may be stated here that the only persons who arrived at Lorne with clean faces and clothes were the members of the vice-regal party.  That was only because they headed the line.”

The Trust then built the section from Lorne to Cape Patton while the Country Roads Board built the section from Apollo Bay to Cape Patton so my images from c1928 would be somewhere in that area. The opening of these sections was celebrated in 1932.  Remember it was really just a dirt track, not the beautiful road that it is today.  Ten years later I can remember when travelling by bus to Apollo Bay and at Mt Defiance, one of the high points of the road with rocks and sea directly below, the bus always had to do a three point turn to get around the corner on that narrow road.  I was always bus sick on that trip.


Beach picnic Skenes Creek c 1938 fricke bgreat-ocean-road-2-b

The occasion was a visit by the Fricke family and a couple of others from Apollo Bay to see how the building of the Great Ocean Road was progressing and the time was about 1928.


Story and images provided by Barbara Turner


P2225 Charlie Clark drivng coach LCART030 Pengilley Jack wins the Apollo Bay Handicap c1910 c1960 Greenacres Guesthouse 1

A panoramic view of the town, showing the main shopping strip on the Great Ocean Road (Collingwood St), the foreshore reserve with surrounding hills in background, and the Apollo Bay Golf Club backed by the beach and bay




Historical photos kindly proved by the Apollo Bay Historical Society

Information sourced from



Kennett River is a small seaside town in Victoria, Australia.

Situated 174 kilometres west of Melbourne, on the Otway Coast part of the scenic Great Ocean Road, Kennett River is a popular tourist destination 27 kilometres from the resort town of Lorne, Victoria.



The river was named by surveyor George Smythe after the River Kennet in Berkshire, England .

In 1882 Alex MacLennan was, with his cousins the MacReas, looking for an area suited to farming and fishing and chose this site west of the MacRea’s chosen site which he named The Kennet. His cousins settled on the other side of the creek at a site named Wye River. Kennet River Post Office opened on 15 December 1938 and closed around 1964.



The area is known for scenic coastal views, the Great Otway National Park, and surfing. Kennett River is also one of the best places in Australia to see koalas in the wild. Turn into Grey River Road, off the Great Ocean Road, and along the first two kilometres of the road you will be unlucky not to spot koalas in the eucalypts.

Kennett River has a Surf Lifesaving Club (SLSC) that was established in 1963.


Bird, Eric (12 October 2006). “Place Names on the Coast of Victoria” (PDF). The Australian National Placename Survey (ANPS). Archived from the original on 2011-02-09.

Premier Postal History. “Post Office List”. Retrieved 2008-04-11.

“Koalas at Kennett River”. Tourism Victoria. Retrieved 26 July 2011.


‪Wye River, Victoria‬

Wye_riverWye River is a small town in Victoria, Australia. It is also the name given to the waterway which flows through the town and into the sea at this point. Situated some 155 km west of Melbourne, on the Otway Coast part of the scenic Great Ocean Road, the Wye River township is a popular tourist destination about 15 km west of the resort town of Lorne, Victoria. It became a popular place for Melbournians to holiday after the Great Ocean Road was officially opened in 1932. The postcode of Wye River is 3234. At the 2006 census, Wye River had a permanent population of 144 although its holiday population is ten times that number.


The site was occupied by white settlers in 1882. Brothers Alex and Donald MacRea and their cousin Alex MacLennan were looking for an area suited to farming and fishing and chose this site. The MacRaes settled near Separation Creek, establishing a farm, which they named The Wye after a river in Wales. Alex MacLennan settled a little further west at a site he named The Kennet (later the town of Kennett River) after another UK river.

The rivers in question were probably the River Wye in Buckinghamshire and the River Kennet, tributaries of the River Thames in England.

Wye River Post Office opened on 19 January 1914 though before 1945 it was reduced to just a Telegraph office for considerable periods of time, mail being delivered from Lorne.


The area is known for scenic coastal views, the Great Otway National Park, and surfing.

There are two caravan parks, the Seasonal Foreshore, located close to the main beach, and the BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park in the valley, which is privately owned and operates all year round.

There is one pub, the “Wye Beach Hotel” (formally known as “The Rookery Nook Hotel” and a general store “Wye General” which also contains the post office and a cafe.

In recent years, the numbers of Southern Right Whales and Humpback Whales seen around the shores are increasing as the whale populations recover as well as other species such as Bottlenose Dolphins.


Sourced from:,_Victoria


Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). “Wye River (State Suburb)”. 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2007-10-01.

Premier Postal History, Post Office List, retrieved 2008-04-11

Beckhurst A., 2013 WYE RIVER WHALES. Vimeo. retrieved on 01-06-2014

BIG4WyeRiver’s channel. 2013 Whale Watching Wye River BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park on YouTube. retrieved on 01-06-2014

Darby A., 2013 Whale boom on Surf Coast. The Age Environment. retrieved on 01 June 2014


Separation Creek, Victoria‬

Separation Creek is a small coastal locality in the Shire of Colac Otway, Victoria, Australia. In the 2011 census, the population of Separation Creek was too low to separately report; however in June 2014 the Victorian Electoral Commission recorded 24 enrolled voters in Separation Creek, living in 37 properties.

The village is situated at the mouth of the Separation Creek, on the Great Ocean Road, which follows the coast through the locality. There are no shops at Separation Creek; the nearest shop and hotel is located at Wye River, which is connected to the town by the Great Ocean Road and on foot by Paddys Path.

In July 2014, the federal government announced a $4m upgrade of the Separation Creek bridge, with a new pedestrian walkway across the creek to allow for safer access between the towns.

The Wye River Separation Creek Progress Association is a local community organisation which aims to “advance the welfare and protect the environment” of the two towns. Singer Mike Brady has a beach house in the village.

Separation Creek has a 250m long beach, which is unpatrolled year-round. Surf Life Saving Australia describes the beach as “suitable for a picnic or fishing, but unsuitable for safe bathing”. It gives the beach a hazard rating of 7/10 (highly hazardous).

The remainder of the locality, outside the township, is almost entirely covered today by the Great Otway National Park and the Otway Forest Park. There are only two inland roads through the locality outside the township itself: Wye Road runs inland from the coast, much of it forming the border with Wye River, and the Benwerrin-Mount Sabine Road runs roughly north-south around the western edge of the locality.



“Separation Creek (entry 102708)”. VICNAMES. Government of Victoria. Retrieved 26 June 2014.

“2011 Census QuickStats: Wye River”. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 13 July 2014.

“Locality Finder”. Victorian Electoral Commission. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2014.

“Wye River”. Otway Coast Tourism. Retrieved 13 July 2014.

“Separation Creek Bridge to be Upgraded”. Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.

“Great Ocean Road’s Separation Creek Bridge to have $4 million facelift”. Geelong Advertiser. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.

“Wye River Separation Creek Progress Association”. Retrieved 13 July 2014.

Pallisco, Mark (27 March 2010). “Hit-maker’s nice-a place”. The Age.

Information sourced from

For more information:

Otway Coast Tourism official website – Wye River Kennett River Wongara Separation Creek Great Ocean Road and Otway Ranges

Otway Hinterland

Great Ocean Road

Visitor Information Centres


The Lorne Visitor Information Centre provides accommodation information, travel itineraries and local attractions advice, local services and facilities guidance, directional information maps and brochures and a retail outlet offering local produce and souvenirs. Drop in on your way to the Otway Coast and get a feast of information.

Address 15 Mountjoy Pde, Lorne VIC 3232
Phone 03 5289 1152 /1300 89 1152
Fax 03 5289 2492
Opening Hours Daily 9:00am 5:00pm / Closed Christmas day.

Apollo Bay

The Great Ocean Road Visitor Information Centre at Apollo Bay provides information on accommodation, tours, things to see and do in Apollo Bay and the Otways. There’s also a fun Interpretation Centre, interesting souvenirs and gifts available to suit all ages. Free maps and general information handout sheets.

Address 100 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay VIC 3233
Phone 03 5237 6529 / 1300 OTWAYS
Fax 03 5237 6194

The Colac Visitor Information Centre is at the northern gateway to the Great Ocean Road. It provides free maps, accommodation & tour assistance for the Great Ocean Road and for the volcanic plains to the west of Colac. Drop in on your way to the Otway Coast and get a feast of information.  There is even a free BBQ. Open 9am-5pm daily

Address Cnr Queen & Murray St Colac VIC 3250

Phone  03 5231 3730

Fax      03 5232 2764




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