Port Fairy, Australia

Photo: visitvictoria.com
Photo: visitvictoria.com

The Great Ocean Road took your breath away! You just spent the day driving along Australia’s southeastern coast. You saw the Loch Ard Gorge, the Grotto, the London Arch, and, of course, the Twelve Apostles. You attempted to surf in Lorne, stopped for lunch in the cute town of Apollo Bay, and saw bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Great Otway National Park. Now you’re exhausted. A nearly four-hour drive back to Melbourne is going to have to wait.

Port Fairy sits at the western end of the Great Ocean Road. The former whaling town, at the mouth of the Moyne River, is still one of the largest fishing ports in Victoria. White-washed cottages, little galleries, fragrant coffee shops, and Norfolk Island pines line the streets. Surfers and paddleboarders share the water with the fishing fleet. The beaches are seemingly endless. Plus an old bluestone house has been turned into a little retreat.

Some consider Drift House a bed and breakfast. Others think of it as a boutique hotel. The label doesn’t matter, as long as you feel at home—and it’s hard not to. Four suites are split between two buildings that are connected by a glass link. The original building was home to an undertaker, a stonemason, and an architect over the years. The modern extension is surrounded by a perforated metal skin. Each suite was individually designed, though all contain salvaged timber, collage artwork, and stocked maxibars.

Photo: Drift House
Photo: Drift House

Each of the suites sounds comfortable. Suite 1 has a deep veranda, Suite 2 features bright pops of green, and Suite 4 is filled with light due to louver windows in its lounge. But Suite 3 is where you feel right at home. In addition to the spacious lounge and bedroom, you have a private, walled courtyard with a huge open fireplace.

After seeing the space—plus the maxibar filled with everything from pasta and sauce to cheese and Basalt Vineyard’s wine—you decide not to walk into town for dinner. Instead, go for a swim in the solar-heated pool, soak in your deep stone bathtub, and eat outside by a crackling fire.

When you wake up in the morning, find a breakfast hamper full of eggs, sourdough bread, dukkah, locally made jams, and a newspaper at your door. Spend the day on the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail—the old railway was converted into a 37-mile trail. See kangaroos, koalas, and emus inside an extinct volcano at the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Or ride a boat out to Lady Julia Percy Island to see a colony of playful Australian fur seals. Just don’t return to Melbourne quite yet.

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