Relatives of mine live in one of the world’s magical spots. I may be exaggerating but that’s how it affects me. Aireys Inlet is on Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road, about 120 kms north-west of Melbourne. I’ve been dumping myself on them periodically for years, to clear out the cobwebs of the city and take advantage of the cliffs, the beach, the trees and birds and the quietness of nature, not to mention the free accommodation and some very nice cooking.
You can just see the Split Point Lighthouse in the distance in this (admittedly terrible) photo. The minute I come round the corner and see it rising from the cliffs, I start to relax. It feels a bit like coming home. Interesting how some places have that effect on you.
Aireys is part of the Great Otway National Park, which features rugged coastlines, beaches, rock platforms and heathland, and in the north, tall forests, ferny gullies, waterfalls and lakes, pretty much all a bush walker would want. I’ve yet to explore the Otway forests. It’s on my list.
The cliff walk is my favourite thing. You can walk from the lighthouse in either direction for hours, taking in the scenery of Victoria’s southern coast.
Aireys, being on the Great Ocean Road, is a very touristy spot, but has somehow managed to retain its village feel. Houses are dotted in and out of the trees and along the hills overlooking the ocean, which keeps the foresty feel, and there is no large supermarket. Locals drive the short distance to Anglesea to do the major part of their shopping.
The inlet is a lovely safe spot for children to play. A sand bank often closes the entrance and has to be dug out to avoid flooding and to allow the water through to Painkalac Creek, which divides Aireys from Fairhaven.
The lighthouse dominates in all directions. Affectionately known as ‘The White Queen’, it has, along with its maritime duties, been the setting for the famous children’s television series, Round the Twist, and also MASTERCHEF. There are tours where you can climb to the top but they never seem to be happening when I’m there. Probably a good thing; I’m not sure I’d make it, but it would be a great view.
There’s a cave underneath the lighthouse. Friends of mine got married there. It was pretty atmospheric, with candles around all the little niches in the rock, and looking out toward the ocean.
A smaller cave next to it allows for some quiet contemplation away from the tourists.