Set against the lush Otway rainforest, this seaside town of Lorne was the first place to be declared an area of ‘natural beauty and significance’ by the Victorian government. How they come to determine that, I have no idea. However, I'm glad they did.
With the seaside setting and waters of Louttit Bay, the bustling cafe culture even in winter and the picturesque setting, there is little doubt why Lorne is one of the most popular holiday destinations in regional Victoria. After all, it is only 140kms south west of Melbourne.
The approach into town along the Great Ocean Road is truly spectacular, with the mountain scenery of the Otways on one side and the rugged Bass Strait coast on the other.
Lorne was established in 1871 and it quickly became popular with pastoralists from inland areas, leading to its development around the picturesque Louttit Bay. When the Great Ocean Road opened in 1932 Lorne became much more accessible; yet the area has remained relatively unspoiled with good beaches, surfing, fishing and bushwalking in the hills.
From the beach near the hotel, we could see Lorne's pier, which is at the Western end of Loutit Bay.
The first pier was built in 1879 to serve the logging industry. The pier was also used to land supplies to the small community of Louttit Bay as it was then known. However, as time passes, consultants determined that the old pier was deteriorating and some thing needed to be done. The options were to either fix it or replace it with a new one.
Construction on a new pier started on the 1st March 2006 and was completed almost exactly one year later at a cost of more than $5m. The new pier is nearly 200m long, the same as the old one. It was opened to the public on March 23rd 2007. A short section of the old pier was left as a historical reminder.
What stood out for us while at the pier was seeing a number of people swimming in the cold winter waters. What were they thinking?
I found out later that these people are volunteer life savers who belong to the Lorne Life Saving Club. The club organised and run the "GMHBA Lorne Pier to Pub" open water swim. It is said to be the largest open water swim in the world. If you are interested in such activity, click here to find out more. The actual swim race is held in January in the summer month.
The Lorne Pier to Pub started as an informal challenge among Lorne Surf Life Saving Club members. It's now an action-packed weekend attracting thousands who participate in the race and thousands more others who come just to soak up the carnival atmosphere. Sounds like a good time to come back to Lorne next year.
As with all piers, fishing is a popular activity. Garfish, salmon and barracouta are commonly caught here. Silver trevally, squid and pinkies are also found here.
If you fancy a seafood lunch or dinner, The Lorne Pier Seafood Restaurant is located on the water's edge at the start of the pier. Just next to the restaurant is a place where you can get really fresh fish. Hint, Hint, Blink, Blink.