WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS THESE WINTER SCHOOL HOLIDAYSby GREAT OCEAN ROAD
You may be asking yourself what to do with the kids these winter school holidays. Well, keeping your kids entertained (and dry) during the winter break doesn’t have to mean you’re all stuck indoors. Why not get out and about and discover something new?!
There is plenty to do along, and around, the Great Ocean Road in winter with kids, and plenty that the adults are sure to enjoy as well.
Hot tip - winter is the perfect time to grab yourself an accommodation deal too!
Here are our top things to do with kids during winter school holidays in and around the Great Ocean Road.
1. Canoeing in Anglesea
Let’s leave getting in the water during winter to the keen surfers, but for the rest of us, getting on the water is something special during the cooler months. Hire a paddleboat or canoe from Anglesea Paddleboat Hire and meander down the beautiful, quiet Anglesea River while staying dry and warm. After your paddle, stop for a well-earned lunch at one of the many places around. Whether your kids want to grab a burger at Last One Inn, or whether some wholefood goodies at Great Ocean Road Wholefoods are more your style, or a delicious meal made with local produce at Poppie's Nursery & Cafe (and you can pick up a plant or two while you’re there!).
2. Warm up with a walk at Aireys Inlet
There are spectacular walks in Aireys Inlet away from the coastal wind. From the Distillery Creek Picnic Area you can choose your walk depending on how long you have. These walks will take you through beautiful wildflowers and an orchestra of birdlife amongst the giant trees. After your walk, relax for a while by the open fire that burns all winter long at Aireys Pub (your kids will love their hot chips too!). With the current restrictions, we recommend calling ahead to make sure you can book yourself a spot indoors.
3. Check out the spectacular waterfalls around Lorne
Set your family up somewhere cosy in Lorne for a few days, only 2hrs from Melbourne, and you won’t be short of things to do. From Lorne you can get out and explore some of the amazing waterfalls close by that are at their most spectacular during the winter months. It’s magic to be in their presence while the heavy water gushes and falls over the side. Your kids will be awe struck at their power, just don’t forget your rain jackets! There are hundreds of waterfalls around the Great Ocean Road, but here are the top easy waterfalls to get to from Lorne:
- Erskine Falls
- Phantom Falls
- Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls (Lower Kalimna Falls even has a cave so you can see the waterfall from behind!)
- Sheoak Falls
4. Spectacular lookout at Apollo Bay
Apollo Bay is a beautiful place to be in winter. Grab a coffee for yourselves and a hot choc for the kids (Icaro Wholefood Cafe will have you covered) and head down to walk aside the roaring Southern Ocean. You might even be able to spot some keen surfers making the best of the winter swell. Warm yourselves up with a short hike up to Marriners Lookout, it’s well worth the walk for the spectacular view over Apollo Bay. If you’re lucky, you may even see some hang gliders, as this is a popular launch spot.
5. Immerse in the winter magic of the Otways
The Great Otway National Park absolutely comes alive in winter. There are so many spectacular spots that are at their best in the cooler months, not to mention more waterfalls. There are plenty of walks to do through the Otways, the ferns and trees all brimming with energy from the rain. We love the Lake Elizabeth loop walk where the kids can keep their eyes out for the local platypus! You can even book a canoe tour at dawn or dusk with Otway Eco Tours, where you’ll have a much better chance of seeing the elusive platypus. Make sure to stop in at Forrest Brewing Company afterwards for one of their tasty meals and local brews, or Forrest General Store across the road has some beautiful take away meals, beautiful local produce and great coffee to take you through the rest of the day.
6. Spot some Little Penguins in Port Campbell
Searching for Little Penguins is a favourite past time of many. Build those family memories and watch these little guys from the 12 Apostles and London Bridge viewing platforms as they waddle their way ashore. Local tip - arrive just before sunset as the penguins will usually appear about ten minutes after. Usually, the friendly team at Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre would love to loan you binoculars, however with current restrictions, we recommend bringing your own for the best chance at seeing these little guys in action.
7. Be in the presence of an ancient dormant volcano near Warrnambool
Only minutes west of Warrnambool, is one of Australia’s most unique locations (and best kept secret) formed more than 30,000 years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions – Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve sits inside a dormant volcano that has a spectacular 11 kilometre crater rim. The sweeping views across the crater are jaw-dropping.
There are a couple of easy walks here for the family and if you keep your eyes open, you’re likely to spot some wildlife such as koalas, emus, kangaroos, wallabies and echidnas as you wander. You can do both self-guided and immersive guided tours with Budj Bim Tours, where you will experience the history and culture of the Gunditjmara people from a Gunditjmara guide. During your tour you will see stone house sites, reconstructed stone houses and stone aquaculture systems that are over 6000 years old. Learn about native food plants, and how the Gunditjmara people engineered the landscape to ensure that they could live a settled, rather than nomadic lifestyle.
8. Watch some whales in Warrnambool, Port Fairy & Portland
Winter brings the Great Ocean Road to life. From May to September, our winter is a whale’s summer, and the giants of the deep journey from the Antarctic for their annual babymoon, breeding, birthing and raising their calves in our backyard. What is known as the ‘Whale Trail’, is the prime whale watching spots, stretching through Warrnambool and Port Fairy to Portland. This is one of the only places in the world where whales nurse their young within 100 metres of the shore. Check out the latest whale sightings along the Great Ocean Road to find your best chance of spotting a Southern Right, Humpback, Blue Whale or even the occasional Orca.